Saturday, December 31, 2022

Let's Wrap It Up

 It has taken me awhile to get around to wrapping up the year. 

Christmas Day was a little different this year.  Our family gathering is small to begin with--just us, Aaron, Christa and four grandkids. This year, Ella was sick and Christa had to stay home with her. We really missed them.

One of the first things that happened when the rest of the family came over in mid afternoon was that Gabe wanted to show us the gift Ella had given him. It was something that looked like a ball, with a launcher. It shot up in the air, and then a parachute opened up. It worked great the first time. And then it got stuck in the magnolia tree in the front of the house. Not a problem, said Mark, Aaron, Levi and Gabe. We will just throw something up and knock it out of the tree. 

The first thing that was thrown up in the tree was a football. It got stuck. They started gathering other things to toss up in the tree, confident that each one would knock the other things down. In turn, each thing they tossed up into the tree also got stuck. Charlotte and I were quite amused. 

Things caught in the tree...

They ended up getting a 10-foot ladder, but Aaron couldn't quite reach it. So they got two painting pole extensions and screwed them together. Still not long enough. 

They ended up taping a third extension rod and were able to get everything down.

By then it was time for a  little snack. It's kind of hard to see, but I tried to spell the word "JOY" with the cheese and the hummus in the middle. 
We opened up stocking stuffers. Normally just the kids have something in their socks, not much--we don't do a lot for Christmas. They always have Bombas socks, and this year I bought some unusual candy from a store at the coast. 

Aaron, Christa, Mark and I never exchange gifts. Which always suits me fine in theory. Until Christmas actually rolls around and I always wish I had just a little something to unwrap. So this year, we decided on a stocking stuffer, $20 limit. We were each given a letter of the alphabet--I used a highly scientific random letter generator (letters tossed in a brown paper bag...). Aaron and Christa ended up with A and I; Mark and I had H and K. The item could either begin with the letter, or come from a store that began with that letter. And we were quite loose with interpretation of said  letter.

Mark received Adidas flip flops. 
I received Icebreakers (I usually have a container in my purse for the kids) and Inappropriate socks (because of the boob drawings...)
Christa is a huge Kansas City Chiefs fan and Mark was able to find a Kansas City Kingdom mug, some Kettle chips, and some Kind bars.
I got Aaron two tickets for a walking scavenger Hunt around some of the buildings downtown, and gave him my grandfather's Harmonica. 

It was fun, we had to be a little creative, and I hope we do it again next year. 

Then it was time for dinner. I'm super happy with the Christmas tree napkins that I made this year, even though everyone seemed a little hesitant to use them, I guess because they were just too cute. :)

We always do a little scavenger hunt to prolong gift opening. This year we took pictures of things around the house, enlarged a portion, and used them as clues around the house. Figure out what the picture is, find the next clue... It's funny how different things look when you see just a small portion of something.

Aaron and Christa got Mark and me a t-shirt that says grUber. We always joke that we run a nonprofit business--Grandpa and Grandma Uber--driving grandkids to and from places they need to be--a highly unprofitable business in terms of money but highly profitable in terms of time spent with them. Now that Charlotte has her license, we will be losing some of our driving gigs and we are both sorry about that. 
And there you have it: Christmas 2022.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Just a Couple More Things...

 As we close out 2022, this made me laugh. 

I completed a total of 16 quilts this year--most of them projects that had been started years ago, many of them with precious blocks made by my friends. It's a good feeling to have the quilts completed and to the point where I can now enjoy them. 

Here are some of my favorites, both completed and works in progress.
Of interest, I started tracking my fabric in 2022 with the goal of buying as little as possible and using as much as possible. Here are the final numbers: 

Fabric in: 119 7/8 yards. 

That seems like a lot; however, it included very little in the way of impulse buys--most of it was either for backing or backgrounds for quilts that were actually completed in 2022. I will definitely continue tracking in 2023 because I really like how it made me rethink whether the fabric was something I liked but had no plan, or was something I would actually use. 

Fabric out: 384 1/8 yards. 

I know--that number seems astronomical. But I went through my entire stash and donated or gave away yards and yards to people (a total of 212 1/2 yards!) who hopefully will find it helpful, rather than just sitting on a shelf in my sewing room. 

So that brings the net to -264 1/4 yards for the year. 

That number is very unlikely to be repeated for 2023, although I will continue to routinely go through the fabric on hand and pass on what I know I won't use. 

And books. I ended up reading 99 books in 2022. I have never come close to that total. Ever. There were a few standouts, such as Incredibly Bright Creatures and How the Penguins Saved Veronica, and one that I just finished in December, Thank You for Listening, recommended by my friend, Felicity. I ended the year (but didn't finish the book in time to add it to 2022, which would have brought my total of 100)  by starting my very first Stephen King novel, recommended by my friend, Janice. I have always resisted reading a King novel because I thought they were scary, but I can highly recommend Billy Summers. 

I think that wraps up the sewing and reading for 2022. This expresses what sewing means to me. I'm anxious to see what 2023 holds. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Rock 'n Roll

 My last finish of 2022!

 I think I began collecting Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts back in the 1980s. The first one was probably either from San Francisco or Dallas. I'm really not sure when I realized I had a "collection" and things kicked into high gear. 

I began adding more t-shirts, and friends and family began adding to my collection as well. I always told travelers not to go in search of a HRC, but if they happened to pass by one, to please get me a shirt and I would reimburse them. I have documented each shirt with the name of who added it to my collection, along with the date. 

My friends and family have traveled the world. And there are some interesting stories behind the 95 t-shirts  (!) that are included in this quilt. 

I put off making the quilt for many years because I just knew it was going to be enormous. But because most of the t-shirts are the "classic" style with the logo and name of the city, I decided to conserve space by using the city name only. Once I had a plan, the quilt went together really quickly. 

Ready for some information about this quilt? 

The very first HRC was opened in London. The first HRC opened in the United States was in Los Angeles. 

I have t-shirts from Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, but the only HRC currently open in Canada is in Niagara Falls, and I don't have that one, although I do have the American side.

I have a couple of "counterfeits": Jerusalem and Athens. 

My friend, Maggie, was visiting Beijing, a huge city. She took a taxi to HRC and then charged me for the taxi ride. :)

My parents got me a t-shirt from New Orleans one week before Hurricane Katrina leveled it. 

Mark and I took a bus ride to the HRC in Lahaina on the island of Maui during rush hour, and were a bit concerned that we would not make it back to the cruise ship in time.

While on a tour in Cartagena, we briefly left our tour group to pop into the HRC, and when we came out, we weren't sure which direction the group had headed--a few moments of panic.

I have received the most from Aaron and Christa, either separately (she spent a semester in the UK) or together. In fact, the last one I received was from Aaron when he and Stacie visited Iceland in September 2022.

Quite a few of the t-shirts I have (by my count, 28) are from locations that have since closed so this is definitely a collector's item. Also, at roughly $20 per t-shirt, this is definitely the most expensive quilt I have ever made! 

Mark and I took the quilt to the Guitar Center, a local business that sells electric and acoustic guitars, among other things. It was just the perfect backdrop!

For the back of the quilt, I added a border fabric with electric guitars, and Darby used a music note motif for the quilting. I'm so thrilled with this quilt (and I'm glad that the collecting has come to an end). 

This quilt would not have been possible without all the cool t-shirts from around the world. 

Title: Rock 'n Roll
Made by: Cindy Wiens 
Collection started in the 1980s, quilt completed in 2022
Quilted by: Darby Myers
Size: 55" x 66" 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Really Random Thursday, 12/22/22

 Do you feel this way too? Actually, we are pretty close to being done, which is good considering Christmas is just days away. 

Last Thursday my brother flew in from Washington DC to see our father. Mark and I picked him up from the airport and he spent the afternoon at our house.  Gabe and Ella were over for a few hours and they had a chance to catch up (Aaron, Christa and the kids spent nine days with my brother and sister-in-law in the summer), although in this photo I think Jeff is actually trying to catch up on a little sleep as he had to get up really early in the morning for his flight.

We went to Charlotte's choir concert in the evening. She is front row, far left.

Then we drove Jeff to Reedley, about 40 minutes away, so he could check into his hotel. He stayed at a lovely historic hotel downtown called the Hotel Burgess. I lived in Reedley for four summers back in the day and never really noticed it before. It had a beautiful lobby. While he was getting checked in, I was enjoying the Christmas tree.

He spent two days with our dad, which is not easy. He has Alzheimer's and so of course conversations are super repetitive. But it was nice having him here and I know Dad enjoyed the time together, even though by now he probably doesn't remember the visit.

The cemetery is across the street from Dad's care facility and Jeff was able to find our mother's grave.

So this happened last week. The beginning of another new era. I'm happy/sad at the same time. She is enjoying new freedoms, but Mark and I enjoy being Gruber (Grandpa and Grandma Uber) as it gives us a chance for some one-on-one time, especially driving/picking her up from high school. But as they say, you can't stop progress.
We had dinner with friends the other day. Mark and Marvin do a lot of refereeing together but it was nice to sit and visit. And they didn't even talk football/basketball the entire time! 
Stacie was able to come down from Portland and spend a few days, and brought along her friend, Sam (they are on the right, Stacie in red and Sam in black). It was really fun getting together with friends who are definitely family.
Mark's brother, Scott, sent a box of family photos and other memorabilia. Included was this picture, Mark from college days. It's easy to see why I chased him. :)
The other day Mark said if I ran a bunch of errands with him, he would take me out for lunch. We went to a new Italian restaurant in one of our favorite places, The Galleria, downtown by the civic center. It has a long hallway with restaurants on either side. I've always enjoyed going there and the hall was beautifully decorated. The lasagna was very good too--we will definitely be back.

So...are you ready for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

WIP Wednesday

 Just a quick progress report.

I finished the Cog + Wheel quilt top and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

While I have been trying to use larger cuts of fabric from my stash particularly for the backing, when I saw this Rifle Paper print, I had to purchase it for Cog + Wheel. The colors are perfect, don't you agree?

I have had a pattern to make "snap" pouches for years. In fact, the pattern I used dates back to 2008. I'm not quite sure how it works, but you insert a piece of metal tape measure into the casing at the top of the pouch. The pattern included the little tabs on each side for ease of opening, and then the pouch just snaps back into place. It's pretty cool.

Natalie of Sew Hungry Hippie has a free tutorial on her website for these festive Christmas tree cloth napkins. It's as simple as sewing a half circle together. The tricky part is all in how it is pressed. I think they will look really pretty on our Christmas dinner table.

Finally, I have been wanting to sew a rope bowl for ages. I feel like they trended quite a few years ago, certainly pre pandemic, but I think they may be circling back around again. I had purchased some kits from The Mountain Thread Company. Their rope is a nice tight weave, tighter than clothesline rope. The kits include a denim needle and great instructions. This is my first attempt.

It was slow-going for me, but I have the hang of it and I think the next ones will go more quickly. So while it did not really take forever, I couldn't resist adding this label. 
Anyone else still doing last-minute Christmas sewing?