Thursday, December 31, 2009

Random conversation

This conversation took place while coming home from lunch yesterday:

Charlotte (3+ feet, 40+ pounds): Grandpa, can I tell you something?
Grandpa (6'2", 240 lbs): Sure, Charlotte. What is it?
C: Grandpa, you're huge.
G: Charlotte, why do you think I'm huge?
C: Well, just LOOK at yourself!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Picture Perfect

Brooklyn Limestone is having a giveaway of her fabulous photographs, and I'd sure like to win some black and whites. So here I go again, diminishing my chances of winning by spreading the word...
This picture is a "must have." I didn't start my professional typing career on an Underwood, although I thought I had the ultimate when I finally owned my own IBM Selectric.

In our house, most of the artwork on our walls is photography. So please, random number generator, pick me!

Monday, December 28, 2009

What are these people doing?

Christmas Day. Waiting for Charlotte and Levi to wake up from their naps so we can open presents.

Some Wii game called "Raving Rabbids." But at this point we probably look like Raving Lunatics.

Wai fun....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Can I please speak to your union rep?

Picture via Jim Shore

The "sewing elves" finally arrived at my house last week. I'm SURE I made the request for them to start their work much earlier than December 15! In fact, I'm SURE that I always request they start as early as January, March at the latest. I'm SURE I make that request every single year! Somehow they never arrive until some time in December.

And they came with demands, such as setting up a sewing station in the family room because it was cozier, had a big screen TV and was closer to the Christmas cookies. When they finally started on their first project, turns out the supply list hadn't been filled completely (this was after supply shopping):

Geez. Doesn't the North Pole Santa's Workshop Trade Union take care of things like that??

In the last week, this is how much they have accomplished. One Nativity pillowcase:

Three (really CUTE) ornaments (pattern here--just in case you have sewing elves at your house with nothing to do:

and one other really small item (which I can't really post yet). That's IT! Turns out, they have work habits eerily similar to my own work habits this time of year: hard to focus on task, easily distracted, taking way too many cookie breaks (I think I need to check their union contract...). Well, all I can say is that they I better crank it up to high gear starting today. I'm clearly going to have to crack the whip. The licorice whip, that is...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We have a winner....

The winners have been posted from the Sew-Fantastic 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. The winner of Day 5, from yours truly, is Hi, my name is Erica, who left the following comment: "Amy Butler always has fun selvedges...that would make a great one!" And I totally agree. I'm already working on an Amy Butler pincushion for a friend. So, Erica, these will be on their way to you tomorrow!

Amy, over at Park City Girl, is hosting a giveaway. And I want to win.

Of course, I realize by posting this, it lessens my chances. But hey, it's nearly Christmas and I'm in the giving mood and that's why I'm letting you know about it too. Fat quarters of fabulous fabric. And we all know much I need more fabric....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rules for holiday cooking with Grandpa and Grandma

Rule No. 1: You can never use too many sprinkles (especially if it involves your favorite color, pink...)

Rule No. 2: It is important to clean all your cooking utensils when you are done (some ways are better than others...)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Take a tour

Have noticed that button the side bar? Over there--to the right....The one that looks like this:

The tour of homes starts today. And I'm nothing if not voyeuristic. I LOVE looking inside other people's homes. When Sue, Maggie and I go down to visit Sue's Aunt Audrie in Hermosa Beach, we always go out to dinner, and then walk backto Aunt Audrie's home by way of The Strand, where all the houses are practically on the sidewalk. And hardly anyone has window coverings. So really, people, if you don't want us peering in your homes, then move somewhere isolated, with lots of curtains. Anyhoo....

At last count, 729 people had posted pcitures of their homes on the Christmas Tour of Homes. *sigh*. I can't possibly check out each and every one, but I will definitely be randomly picking a few each day.

As for us, our big addition this year was something Mark picked up at an auction after Christmas last year. Santa climbs up and down (and up and down....and up and down) the ladder carrying his little strand of lights, while music-box Christmas carols play along. Charlotte and Levi love it. Fortunately, Santa is willing to go up and down even when the music isn't playing.

Oh, I do still have one item I plan on making. I saw this last year and have been wanting to make it ever since. Can you believe we don't have a single wire coathanger in our house? Not a single one. I traded them all out for plastic. I'm hoping one of my friends can help me out. Super easy to make. Old ornaments, a glue gun and, oh yeah, the wire coathanger.

So go on tour. Who knows what you'll find?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dear Santa,

Is it too late to add something to my Christmas wish list? Here it is: these luscious Anna Maria Horner dobby voiles, called the Pastry Line. Doesn't that just make your mouth water? I mean, you can't eat candy canes 24/7, can you??

Santa, I have taken the whole economic stimulus program quite seriously, and have worked hard on the behalf of several very deserving online fabric stores, sending much of my money to them in order to make sure they stay in business. As such, I find myself in need of a, ahem....personal bailout.

"Pastry Line" has arrived just in the St. Nick of time, this close to Christmas, but I know they won't last long. So I'm hoping perhaps you will find it in your heart to send your elves scurrying along to grab these up for me.

Promising to be good in 2010,


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Because I bought a bunch of these

to organize these
to sew these (and other new selvage items to come) (and it's still not too late to enter the giveaway here),

I thought this might be a good time to talk about Christmas music, which keeps me company as I organize and sew.

We have XM radio, which has its own holiday music channels, but if you listen for any extended period of time, you realize their play lists are really short. And we have 51 Christmas CDs (yep, counted them...).

First I thought I would do a David Letterman-type top-10 list, but then I realized the music you feel like listening to is so subjective--it totally depends on your mood.

So, in completely random order, here are my top picks.

Wait a sec. I'm going to disagree with that statement about completely random order, because if I had to pick only one CD, this would be it. Mark discovered Tonic Sol-Fa on a PBS special two years ago. Four guys from Minnesota, singing totally acapella. Amazing! There is a little bit of everything here, from the Grinch to Let There Be Peace on Earth. Bonus points: we saw them in Minnesota this summer and they did not disappoint.
A couple of years ago I discovered music from Clare College (on XM radio actually). These CDs are from 1967 and 1979, but the music is timeless and the arrangements are exquisite.

The college is located in Cambridge and how could you expect anything but beautiful music with buildings that look like these? I imagine high ceilings in a historic cathedral with flickering candlelight.
We have enjoyed this CD for twenty years and it is still one of our favorites.

A couple years later Michael W. Smith recorded this one, and my favorite cut is the very last one, a medley of I Saw Three Ships and Joy to the World, in a celtic arrangement that never fails to spread the Christmas spirit.
Which leads me to this one:

Mark is also the one who discovered the Chieftains (Paddy Moloney is part of the Chieftains) on a PBS special. About ten years ago we were snowbound in St. Paul and they were singing at Concert Hall in Minneapolis. We took a very "interesting" taxi ride in a snow storm to Concert Hall and heard them live. It turned out to be one of my most favorite days. Ever.

I have always loved the brass section of the orchestra, or any musical group for that matter. Chicago, Tower of Power. Gotta love all the brass. So of course the Canadian Brass always gets a lot of play time.
What is there to say about this one? It is a classic soundtrack and holiday movie. And John Williams is my pick for musical genius.

Before Keith Lockhart was the conductor for the Boston Pops Orchestra, they were under the direction of John Williams. But conductors aside, the Boston Pops Orchestra is one of my favorites. We have a lot of their CDs and someday, we will be sitting on the lawn in Boston on the 4th of July and enjoying their music live.

While I'm not a huge fan of The Three Tenors, the same can't be said for these guys. Love them. (Oh, and also Three Mo' Tenors, but I don't think they have recorded a Christmas CD. If they ever do, you can bet we'll own it!)

I don't think any Christmas season would be complete without some version of Handel's Messiah. This is my favorite, definitely not your classical orchestra version.

Yes, I jumped on the Taylor Swift bandwagon. This is only new purchase of 2009.
So that's it. My top holiday music recommendations.

If your tastes run to instrumental, particularly piano, definitely check these out. Mark discovered Mary Beth Carlson playing in Nordstroms at the Mall of America (the same weekend we saw the Chieftains).
And Lorie Line also got her start playing at Dayton's in Minneapolis. Are you noticing a trend here? Minnesota--great music! And it surely has caught your attention that much of this great music was discovered by my very own Minnesota guy, Mark. And the excellent artists who didn't make it to the very tippy top of my list but I still really enjoy listening to are Il Divo (The Christmas Collection), James Taylor (at Christmas), Roger Whittaker (Happy Holidays) and Josh Groban (Noel).

If you want something really, ahem, off the wall... you can add this to your collection. Yep, all the music is made by power tools.
We also own A Wild Christmas, composed entirely of animal sounds.
Yeah, I haven't listened to either of those in years. Probably not since the first time I heard them... but it's nice to know we have them in case that musical mood ever hits. Yikes.

And don't consider me the Grinch because I didn't include Mannheim Steamroller. We have all of them but I have heard them enough on the radio.
So what about you? Which holiday music lights up your Christmas?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Some Christmas musical snapshots

In the past week, Mark and I attended several Christmas concerts. Wow, did we hear some widely divergent music genres! The first was Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If you like your Christmas carols loud (L.O.U.D.), with lots of lasers and pyrotechnics, this is the concert for you. We were in a skybox (thanks to a doctor I work for) and the stage was straight ahead.

Yes, that is fire....Can you say "silent night"? Um... "All is calm"? Maybe they were just going with "all is bright."

This part of the concert took place right in front of us, with two violinists, as their stage kept going higher and higher, like a spaceship taking off.
Next we went to TubaChristmas. There are concerts all around the world and it'something we look forward to every year. It's free, it's short, only half an hour, takes place at a local mall, with local musicians (this is only about a third of the tuba players). We also heard a local university bell choir. No pictures, but the music was really great. Playing bells takes a lot of concentration and coordination!

But our musical highlight of the week was definitely the one that included this little singer. She was absolutely adorable and made our hearts sing... with love and pride. (Her mother got much better pictures than I did, along with a little video, so I'll just borrow one of them here.)

Some non-music-related snapshots:

Look at this super-cute hair clippie that Charlotte wore in her hair.
Saturday morning, Charlotte and I went to Borders for a bagel and chocolate milk...and a picture in front of this big Christmas tree.

See those big silver ornaments on the tree? Just begging for a funny face...

My 5th Day of Christmas giveaway over at Sew-Fantastic is open for comments (and therefore, a chance to win) until December 15th! And over at etsy, there are still some cute pincushions to be had--and there is free shipping on them until Christmas Eve. Oh, and a lot of other great gift ideas too!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Parade of the Pincushions

It's the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway at Sew-Fantastic, and today is my day! Remember these two cute pincushions? These are what is up for grabs. But I have been busy this week.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned my delight at all things organized. (Just don't ask anyone who has seen my office, because for some reason it seems to exist in a state of perpetual disorganization, so they won't believe it when I claim to enjoy organization.) I am obsessed with selvage edges and have been for quite some time. The names of the fabric lines are fascinating, the color dots along the edge, one for each color used in printing that particular fabric. Ahh....well, I could spend hours looking through all the selvages I have collected.

When I started making my pincushions, it soon became obvious that I was going with a "theme" for each pincushion. I have seen quite a few things made with selvages. In fact, there is a blog devoted to nothing else. But everything I have seen just seems to use whatever is handy. And I'm totally okay with that. But then I started having fun with my little theme game. And this is some of what I came up with:

Lightning Bugs (all Heather Ross selvages). And if you are at all familiar with Heather Ross, you know that at least two of these fabric lines are no longer available, which makes these selvages an endangered species!

Be Merry:

Fruit Basket:

Juicy Jungle:

Flower Power:

These are all available (or will be later today) in my etsy shop. A great gift for you, or a stocking stuffer for someone who loves to sew (and they are filled with environment-friendly crushed walnut shells). But first, head on over to Sew-Fantastic and enter the giveaway!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Salute! this new line of fabric by French General

(I got a Moda "layer cake," which is a 10x10 inch piece of each fabric in the entire line)

(and 1/2 yard cuts of two fabrics in the line for borders/binding) these two new patterns

..and to my mom and dad who gave me a birthday gift certificate to our local quilt shop, which allowed me to purchase these fun new items.