Monday, December 31, 2018

Design Wall Monday - a mish mash

I have several things on my design wall today, none of which have a lot of chance of being finished by the end of the day. But it's a good way to spend at least part of this windy, snowy day.  I need to take advantage of it since I'll have to go back to work on Wednesday.

I am working on a mug rug for an exchange I have coming up in a bit over 2 weeks.  My plan today is to get the top of it done and ready to quilt.  It will have a tropical theme, and this palm tree will be part of the design - once I find some appropriate scraps to use for the applique.

Second is to make the letters for another big floor pillow. My cousin would like one made for her nephew.  His name is Lukas, so only 5 letters to make.  This pillow is going to be all from my stash and she has requested blue and brown.  His birthday is next week so I know it will be late unless she decides I should just mail it directly to Virginia.

I hope to get binding made and attached to Hourglass, which came back from the quilter just before Christmas.  The quilting is beautiful as always and I'm looking forward to finishing this one. And I'll definitely be sharing some pictures of the finished quilt.

My 2019 UFO Challenge list is nearly done, but I have a few more spaces left to fill.  So I need to do more cleaning and organizing while deciding on more UFOs to put on this list. I could fill out more than one page, even after identifying 3 per month instead of only 1 like the challenge.

Check out other final 2018 Design Wall Monday posts:

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Some projects seem destined from the beginning to become UFOs. This was one of them. But I stuck with it and my perseverance paid off with a finished top. It’s 36" square with a zillion pieces. 

I struggled with the cutting and the sewing. And I hope the quilting will force it to lay flat. All of the plaids in this Kim Diehl pattern are flannel and I hate working with flannel. It stretches. Enough said on that topic. 

When making those weird flying geese blocks in the border I ended up with bonus triangle leftover. I’ve sewn them together and sliver trimmed all 24 of them. There are just enough to make 6 of these 6.5" pinwheel blocks. I see another mini quilt in the future. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Under a foot of snow

What should I do when we are buried under a foot of fresh snow and it's COLD outside?  The first thing that comes to mind is to sew for awhile, and then I have to work a couple of hours with some invoices.

Actually I was sewing at 2:00 am because I couldn't sleep last night.  I read for awhile, but just kept listening to the wind howl, so I got up and went down to the basement to work on Crackerjack.  The inner borders are now pieced and the 2 side ones are sewn on. This morning I'll add the top and bottom inner borders, and then work on the pieced outer border some more, which will take some time as it's "fussy" with a ton of 1" wide strips.  Each side has 3 of those flying geese units made of strips and half square triangles!  And last of all are the corner units made with square in a square units and those narrow striped sections.  

American Patchwork and Quilting has their UFO Challenge going again for 2019 and I'm working on filling in my UFO list. Their UFO list document just has 1 space for each month, but I've split them for up to 3 projects per month. That gives me something to choose from or do more.  In 2018 I put 36 projects on my list and finished 17 of them, with progress made on several more.  That is success!

Since they posted the number 3 for January, I plugged in 3 projects that I want to work on this month.  And I'm taking the printed list downstairs with me to look around for more projects to add. 

By mid-afternoon we'll be dug out and possibly go to a basketball "classic" event being held in town. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Snowy day sewing

The wind has swirled around and piled up the snow deeper on the deck than out on the lawn. But we’ve easily had 3 or 4 inches so far today with more expected. 

Morning progress on Crackerjack has the center section only needing 6 more tiny churn dash blocks and sashing. This is giving me fits trying to keep things laying flat. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Crackerjack and snow

Because everyone had gone home, I had lots of time on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to sew, but spent very little time doing that. Instead I did a little cutting, a little sewing, and then curled up with a good book.  And there may have been a couple of naps in there too.

Kim Diehl's Simple Whatknots are some of those projects that I'm planning to tackle this week. And since we may be getting 12" or more of snow between today and Friday I'll have plenty of sewing time. 

It's been snowing since dawn this morning already.  So far we've only gotten a couple of inches, but Dave decided to run the snowblower over the driveway now and get a head start.  Tomorrow is likely to be the worst day with LOTS of snow expected with wind.  Probably a typical South Dakota winter storm.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Well, for us, Christmas is done and today is just another Monday.  I'm very grateful to have been able to spend this time with family.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Our kids and grandkids were all here over the weekend.  I'm probably worse than the kids in terms of anticipation. There is this big build up of plans and anticipation, and then those plans kind of blow up and go awry. And then, much quicker than you want, it's over and everyone has gone home.

I think (hope) overall the kids (ages 3-7) had a good time together.  I had a craft planned for Saturday morning which was OK with the girls.  The boys were less enthusiastic but they humored me.  We had planned to take the kids to the Mary Poppins movie, but no one wanted to see it.  That really surprised me.   

Lesson learned for me. The kids really just wanted to play together, so that is what they did. 

Everyone did humor me again and allow some photos on Saturday afternoon right before we ate.  It just seems like I don't remember to take pictures until it's too late, so for once we managed it.

One year I got all of the kids matching PJs and we did pictures in those.  Those PJs all seemed to run small, so they didn't get to wear them much afterwards. One year we got them all matching Jackrabbit shirts for pictures. That was a year we had trouble even corralling the kids together long enough to get a photo.  This year I just insisted that everyone actually get dressed as not all adults or kids had even gotten dressed yet at lunch time. 

Thankfully both of my sons-in-law are good in the kitchen. One made the gravy and one cut up the meat, while I got everything else laid out.  One daughter made the mashed potatoes. I'm a less than average cook, and decided to keep it simple. And I made things that I like to eat.  We had a ham and roast beef.   The ham was good, but the roast beef was just barely OK.  A little on the tough side.  I made a broccoli rice casserole that I love but no one else likes.  I'll be eating leftovers of that casserole for days. The asparagus I bought was very bitter.  

About the time I had planned for going to the movie we decided it was a good time to open presents.  The 4 biggest kids can all read a little, so they checked tags on packages and sorted everything out to the right people.  But once the opening begins, you know how it goes. Three minutes later we are swimming in a sea of wrapping paper and bows and giggles. 

I do enjoy watching the kids opening gifts. From us they get something to wear, something to read, and something to play with.  I made the big pillows for the kids, and those were mostly a hit with them.  Ironically the gift that every kid wanted to play with the rest of the weekend was Jack's gift.  I got him a set of walkie-talkies, and they all spent hours playing with them.  Who would have guessed?

The 2 biggest grankids love Legos, as do both of their mothers. 

Some of the play time was with their new toys, and some was just playing hide and seek around the house or chasing each other up and down the stairs - which kept me very nervous. Very normal kid activities. 

Not everything was successful.  Besides the movie idea being shot down, we had one golden retriever lost in the neighborhood for about a half hour, a big dinner that was kind of lack luster (I'm not the best cook), and adult children who don't always play nicely with each other.  Even so it's always a let down when everyone has gone home and it's just us in the house again.  

I had leftover pie for supper last night and went to bed early.  My husband stayed up reading the book I gave him.  Merry Christmas to everyone! May all your holiday wishes come true!

Friday, December 21, 2018

2018 accomplishments surprise me

The actual amount of sewing I managed to do in 2018 has really surprised me as I worked on pulling together a list.  I made a lot of progress on UFOs in 2018, and have plans to keep plugging away at those unfinished projects in 2019.  I actually started some new projects too and finished them all in one year.  Yay! 

Some of the totally finished projects from 2018:

  • Red Bird Christmas quilt
  • Jelly Roll Christmas quilt
  • Purple jelly roll race quilt
  • 2017 Saturday Sampler quilt
  • Quilt of Valor panel quilt
  • pink One Block Wonder quilt
  • Friendship Exchange quilt
  • Polka Dot Pinwheel kid-size quilt (made from charm packs)
  • Unicorn Stars quilt (made from parts of En Provence mystery quilt)
  • ABC children's quilt
  • Patriotic Lone Star wall hanging
  • 2 more Sew Together bags
  • 2 small pineapple wall hangings
  • 3 Simple Whatknots mini quilts
    • Old Glory
    • Farmhouse Stars
    • Small Talk
  • 5 personalized floor pillows for grandkids
  • 4 personalized Christmas stockings
  • Numerous pillow cases (5 for the grandkids for Christmas)

Some of the projects seeing progress made in 2018:
  • Grand Adventure Christmas quilt (made from layer cakes) is a flimsy
  • Paris panel lap quilt is a flimsy
  • sewing machine door hanging
  • Saturday Sampler 2018 quilt is a flimsy
  • Thimbleberries Hourglass quilt (from 2004) needs binding as soon as it comes back from the quilter
  • French General wall hanging (Disappearing 4-Patch) is a flimsy
  • Raspberry Cocoa (Simple Whatknots mini quilt) is partially hand quilted
  • Patchwork of the Crosses - 3 blocks made, ready to add some "separator" pieces
Now - one of my next tasks is to do some more organizing in my sewing room, and come up with a UFO list for 2019.  Having the list really does help me focus on what I could be working on. 

Our kids, grandkids, and their dogs will arrive today for Christmas.  The lights are off and the door to the sewing room is closed for the weekend because there are more important things to do with those grandkids.  They'll all head home again on Sunday, and we'll have deafening quiet again in the house.  I plan to spend some quality time in my sewing room on Christmas Eve and Day.  Maybe I'll even pull out a NEW project to work on over the holiday break. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

An eclectic collection

Do you have a love affair with Christmas ornaments like I do?  Even though I struggled this year to get ambitious enough to finish the tree decorating, I still love pulling out each ornament.  This one is a counted cross-stitch/quilty ornament. I made it in 1990 and that year is stitched on the back side. I love the little quilt block on this side along with the  fabric folded star points.

I've been collecting interesting Christmas ornaments for decades. And yes, it's a good thing I have a very big tree to decorate.  I often purchased an ornament on trips over the years.  I love hand made ornaments or those with a theme close to my heart.  For example there are close to 3 dozen icicle ornaments on my tree of various shapes and sizes.  Some are glass and others are not.

This metal Jackrabbit ornament was a gift from my grandchildren this year. I really love it.

I purchased this little birdhouse ornament at an artist guild shop in the Blue Ridge Mountains many years ago. It's only about 4" high, but has that tiny little perch. I love the bark texture mixed with the silky smooth sections of wood.  You can just barely see the artist's signature along the bottom. This was purchased sometime in the 1990s.

This little lighthouse was purchased in Maine in 2002.  I had just started a new job after teaching in the same high school for 18 years.  It was a big change for me, and I was sent to Maine for some training.  This ornament, and a tiny red metal lobster magnet (on my fridge to this day) were my mementos of that trip with new co-workers.  Notice the red berries?  I also have lots of "picks" stuck in among the branches.  Most have red berries of various types, or have something sparkly on them.

We probably all have items in our homes that bring back good memories every time we see them.  I can feel the memories flowing as I lift the lid on the ornament boxes every year.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Design Wall Monday-Pillowcases

I have the pillowcases done for both families of grandkids.  These were kits that I bought this fall at The Pin Cushion with the kids in mind.  This has become a tradition - getting a new pillowcase at Christmas and on their birthdays.  Last year I matched the theme of the pillowcase with the book they received (like dragons or Bambi), but this year they are all Santa themed.

Check out today's Design Wall Monday posts:

Saturday, December 15, 2018

New stockings

Friday evening I got a text message from my daughter on behalf of Sophia. She said "grandma we have a big problem. We don’t have Christmas stockings."

I felt immediate guilt as I’ve been avoiding the finishing step on their stockings that I started over a year ago. So here we are - with appliqué names instead of machine embroidery names. I think they turned out cute. Edited note: I was asked how I did the names. It is simple iron on appliqué.  I printed the names using a font I liked on my computer.  The size is 90. I traced them backwards then traced that onto fusible web, ironed them onto fabric, and cut them out.  

I chose some vintage looking fabrics for my daughter’s stocking as she likes vintage things.

And my son-in-law’s stocking has a bit bolder fabrics.

Floor pillows are complete

With another week of absolutely no sewing time I am beginning to panic about getting things done before next Friday when everyone arrives.  Why do I procrastinate so much?  But I got the final pillow quilted and assembled this morning.  Next is getting the pillowcases all made. And then I must get the names on a couple of new stockings. 

I only bought of the big gift sacks - like garbage bags only Christmasy.  The really big pillows will go into those and hopefully the other 3 will fit in large paper giftbags.  I really don't want to venture out to Walmart to find more of the big bags. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Sometimes when you least expect it you have a moment of reflection and maybe "realization".  I had one of those moments yesterday.  So forgive this long rambling post.

We attended a funeral yesterday for the father of my husband's best friend since elementary school. This kind gentleman was 91 and lived a life of simple pleasures. He loved to camp, play cards, learn new things, dig into genealogy and spend time with his family.  Ironically my reflection really was triggered by the church itself rather than the man.

This little country church sits in a very small town with a population of 37, so obviously the congregation is drawn from the farms and towns around it as well.  Over the decades we've been to a number of events there as it was only 6 miles from where we lived for 28 years.  It's such a lovely church - with 18 curved wooden pews sitting in a gentle arc facing a small stage with the pulpit and an organ. The hardwood floor creaked as people walked in to sit.  The windows are simple rectangles of clear glass with squares of stained glass above each and the sunlight streaming in yesterday was so pretty.  The minister has been with this congregation for more than 30 years. Such simple surroundings, but such a lovely service. 

Thus began my "a ha" moment and lots of reflection. The organist was my husband's high school band teacher - and also my youngest daughter's high school band teacher. I taught with him for several years. The soloist was a good friend who served on a local board with me for a dozen years in the 1980s and 90s.  The ladies serving the lunch and the guys who had shoveled the walk - most were familiar community members or former neighbors.  And all of them - like that church and the little town - are getting old.  Yikes! That means WE are also getting old. 

The aging - and disappearance - of small towns in the upper midwest is not unique to this region.  The young people mostly can't find work in these little towns because there are so few businesses.  And so they eventually move away, like my husband's friend and his brothers.  This once thriving little town no longer has a school but it has a church, a volunteer fire department and 2 actual businesses:  a gas station that also sells heating oil and propane and does repairs, and the general store which also sells livestock feed, and is also the post office.  The owner of the store was our neighbor, and I taught with his wife. They are both in their mid-70s and I found myself wondering what will happen to the store when they finally retire.  Will the gas station start selling milk and bread and also become a delivery point for the mail? 

It all made think.  How far do those volunteer firemen have to drive to get to the hall to get the trucks before going to fight a fire?  Who plows the snow on the only street in town?  The closest hospital is 40 miles away in either direction.  The kids in the area either go 15 miles east or 15 miles west to go to school.  The school in this town closed in the late 1960s.  Was that the real death blow to this town?  I certainly don't have the answer, but I've been watching the same thing happening in the slightly larger town we lived in 6 miles west.  And in countless other small towns in the area. 

It gave us a lot to talk about as we drove home.  I'm so glad we made the time to go, both to celebrate this man's life, but to also reconnect with so many people who've been a part of our lives.  

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Design Wall Monday

One step closer to having Sophia's pillow done - the front is made.  Now to get it quilted and then add the envelope backing.  And I'm happy now that the 28" pillow forms I bought for Mason's pillow came in a 2-pack because this one ended up 28" square too.

These letters are all from Lori Holt's book Spelling Bee and they go together so easily. She has patterns for both upper and lowercase letters, and in 6" and 12" sizes.  The other blocks in the book are mostly pictorial, such as the canning jars, camera, typewriter, and more.  I really love her books and instructions.

What's on your design wall today? See what is on more design walls at:

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saturday Sampler step 3

The next step in our Saturday Sampler mystery quilt was given out today. And now that I have this step done I can report that the ultimate design is still a mystery to me. I suspect that something diagonal is going to happen to these units. And we do have triangles cut but they don’t seem to fit. So the mystery continues - which is the whole idea, right?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Return to Ritzy Cracker blocks

One of the very best things about social media is being able to share ideas with other quilters. I get so much inspiration from the blogs I read regularly.  I first saw these blocks done by Lori at, who shared with me the link to the tutorial on Moda Bake Shop.  This block is so versatile, but really lends itself to a scrappy quilt.

I made about 150 of these in a rainbow of colors for our family reunion last summer for signatures.  It's going to make a fun quilt.  Which reminds me that I need to get those blocks sewn together soon.

This fall Nancy, at began making these in red and blue to use in a Quilt of Valor.  What a fabulous idea!  On her blog she shows them all laid out with blues and reds alternated.  It's going to be a really striking QOV. 

Our guild members have been making Garlic Knot blocks for our QOV for the past year and a half.  We have enough for 3 or 4 quilts, which are in various stages of completion.  So maybe it's time to make something fresh and new.  And the Ritzy Cracker block could be the one.  It's fast and very easy. And because we square them up after sewing, they are very forgiving when many different people are sewing them. 

My design board has the pieces for a block all laid out and ready for the demo at our January guild meeting.  I have a couple of blocks made as samples, and I have condensed the instructions to 1 page for a handout.  I'm hoping 2019 will be a productive year for our newly formed Quilt of Valor group, started by several guild members.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Hourglass is ready to quilt

It is always such a good feeling when you put in the final stitches on a top, and can lay it out for a look.  Since these blocks were begun in 2004 and completed in 2018, I have an even bigger appreciation for the work I've put into this quilt.

Hourglass was a 2004 Thimbleberries pattern. The fabrics are all leftovers from Thimbleberries Club projects.  I didn't finish all of those projects, but I did finish most of them.  There wasn't enough of any one fabric for the outer border, so I pieced some red on the top and bottom borders to fill out the dark blue.  Maybe it's appropriate since the rest of the quilt is scrappy to have a somewhat scrappy border.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A little mojo 

I have to work this afternoon, but I spent a couple of hours sewing this morning.  Jonah's pillow is now done, which just leaves me with one left to make.  I picked up the right sized pillow form yesterday at Hobby Lobby.  Not a lot to choose from but they did have the 24" size I needed.

All of the parts and pieces for both Saturday Sampler quilts are cut and in the project box just waiting for some sewing instructions - which we should see on Saturday. I can't wait to start sewing these together.  Both options include a black print, but should look totally different.

And finally I prepped one of the 5 Christmas pillowcases for the grandkids.  Cut and all pinned together into a "sausage roll" ready to sew the first seam that attaches the top cuff and trim with no raw edges.

Check out Linky Tuesday -

Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas decorating 

What is your favorite Christmas decoration in your home?

Last week I was talking about just not having the motivation to get my Christmas decorations out and put up.  But I did finish the tree the next day, and by the end of the weekend I had the stockings hung on the mantle, a few Christmas quilts out, and some other decor.  I didn't get too carried away in the rest of the house this year, but it does look festive.  This living room is open to the kitchen and the front entry, and the family room opens from it with French doors. So we can see this from nearly everywhere in the house.

When my girls were little we lived in houses without fireplaces so we always had to find someplace else to hang stockings. Usually they hung around the door frame between the dining and living rooms.  But this house has 2 fireplaces and I love how the stockings look hanging here on the big brick fireplace.  My older daughter has a fireplace, but her husband built a lovely rustic ladder to hang the stockings on. 

Nancy at  suggested this morning that we show our front door with Christmas decor.  Over the years I've usually had a wreath, but last year I found this fun swag with burlap, and bells, and wooden trees. 

It's cheerful to hear those bells jingle when we open the door.  However, now that I look at the photo it is kind of drab looking without much color.  But I love the bells and the wooden trees.  I think next year I'll use the wooden trees and bells as ornaments on the Christmas tree and go back to a more traditional wreath. 

We mostly live in our family room where the big windows look out onto the back yard, and I have a huge round coffee table in that room.  It's almost always covered with a small quilt and some seasonal decor.  When the grandkids are here the quilt comes off and the coffee table is always covered with puzzles or Legos.  But for now it has a quilt, a lantern, and some holly with twinkle lights.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Saturday morning progress 

So far we haven’t seen the predicted winter storm. But I spent the morning hunkered down in my sewing room anyway. 

I cut the sections for one of my Saturday Sampler quilts. I think the next step will be sewing and so far I have no idea how these will go together. Guess that is why it’s a mystery quilt. 

Mason’s pillow is done. This one is 28" square.  Jonah’s pillow top is quilted and the back pieces are ready. But I need another pillow form a bit smaller than this one. 26" would be perfect.

Time to cut my second Saturday Sampler pieces and then start working on Sophia’s pillow and the kids’ pillowcases. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Coffee mugs and mug rugs

Sitting at my desk this morning, I looked at my coffee mug and realized that it was a Valentine's Day mug.  And I have several Christmas mugs in my dining room hutch.  So I spent 5 minutes and put away some of the miscellaneous mugs in the cupboard and got out some of the Christmas ones.  I don't have any "sets" of coffee mugs. They are all just single mugs that I've bought or received as gifts over the years.

I also have a couple of really cute seasonal mug rugs that I enjoy using this time of year. Now my desk looks much more festive. 

Do you have Christmas china or dishware that you use this time of year?  I always admire the ones I see but have never purchased any, except for a few serving bowls and platters. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Needing some ambition

Usually my tree goes up the weekend of Thanksgiving, and I begin to enjoy the Christmas decorations.  I don't get too carried away with decorating the house, but I do love the twinkly lights and seeing how cheery things look this time of year all around our community.  But I'm really struggling with getting anything done in my house this year. 

We got home from Las Vegas late Monday night, which is where I found the Christmas trees in the boot planters.  It was a mad scramble to get a little laundry done so my husband could leave again the next morning for 2 weeks on a job site.  He did help carry up the tree and the ornament boxes for me before leaving.

So . . . after stringing the lights, I got about half of the tree decorated before losing my mojo.  The rest of the ornaments are sitting in the box in the living room or laying on the top of the treadle machine next to the tree - waiting for me to finish the job. 

We are having Christmas at our house the weekend before the actual holiday and I'm definitely not ready.  I haven't done any shopping yet for the kids, haven't finished their big floor pillows or their new pillowcases, haven't bought any Christmas cards, haven't put any lights on the house, or done anything else yet that will make me ready for family in 3 weeks.  Yikes!

And we haven't painted the walls yet in the basement family room and bedroom after installing those new egress windows. But I'll need to clean and move the furniture back so we can use that bedroom, and no point in doing that before we paint.  Something tells me this isn't all going to happen in time.