Friday, December 29, 2006

Almost Gone

2006 has only a few more days to go. And I will need to work on writing 2007 on things. Lucky for me (?) I have been stamping library books with 2007 dates for a while already. I know it's the time for *resolutions* but I have never been very good at making yearly decisions. Will this be the year I become a *better person*, *paint*, *lose weight*. I don't know. I will have new glasses if I ever get dressed and go out and pick them up.

Perhaps I should resolve to be up and dressed in *going out in public clothes* by a certain time each day in 2007?

I have done better with my journal writing but for a few months there have been no entries. I stopped around my birthday in September and never picked up the pen again. I got out all my canvas, stretchers and gesso and planned and hoped to do some painting. Instead, I have visited blogs of others who are painting.

I have tried --in vain-- to clean up the clutter in this house. Perhaps its a genetic failing as every member of my biological family has the same creeping clutter problem. Mine revolves around paper, fabric and art supplies. My Dad collects paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, string and empty jars (Depression Era). My son has wires, connectors, computers, game boxes, and DVD's piled up. My daughter has books and cats.

New News: My husband seems to be getting better. He has new and stronger penicillin and is napping less and looking less ill everyday. He has been going to work for 4 hours each day--all he can do-- and finished the BIG bowl of wonton soup at the Chinese restaurant last evening. And, if you can believe it-- his doctor called just minutes ago to see if he was okay. Yes, a doctor called to check on him.

I resolve to get dressed, go pick up my glasses and stop to get crackers, applesauce and bananas for my daughter who has been throwing up since 3 am. And that will be my day.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Back to Work

My Christmas tulips purchased at the same time as the second load of groceries. The things I forgot to buy on the first trip. The tulips have a candy cane look of stripes of red and creamy white. They haven't opened but haven't wilted either. I love the *look* of tulips with their nodding heads and sometimes droopey stems. I guess that's why I put tulips in my work.

G dressed up as Santa last week. He hasn't had the best of holidays. Working retail now rather than as a trainer, he has been on his feet for four months straight. And he has a cold. A cold which became something else on Christmas Eve morning. The whole left side of his face was swollen and painful and he had a fever. He called in sick to work and drove over to the emergency room. He has 10 days of antibiotics for the infection in his salivary glands. He can't hear in his left ear. He's exhausted. He slept most of Christmas Day and is working today-- 6am to 2:30. He'll probably get home from work and go straight to bed. Not much Ho, Ho, Ho.

No one listened. G got me a pile of presents. I liked two. A new electric frypan. A tiny tripod for my digital camera. I bought one gift. On the 23rd. I got Sam a terry bath robe. I made pillowcases for Sam out of flea market old worn sheets she had purchased awhile back. I got the pattern off the internet. Yes, that's right! I didn't *know* how to make a pillowcase. And I finished her painted fabric birthday gift. Surprise! Joann's had fabric (on the 23rd) that looked good enough to go on the back and then I quilted the whole thing and sewed the binding on on Christmas Eve. I'm sure she will post pictures on her blog.

I made the traditional Polish pierogi for Christmas Eve. Potato, Cheese and Sauerkraut. I made three balls of noodle dough and it worked out perfectly. Well, I could have made a bit more potato filling. I did it all by myself. No helpers. And when G got up (he was sleeping), I had him deliver Sam's plate of Cheese Pierogi to her house. That's correct. She didn't even come to our house to eat them.

I'm working extra hours this week because a co-worker is in California for the holidays and I picked up most of her hours. So I work on G's days off. It won't matter this week anyway. He'll be asleep when he isn't at work. And I have presents to return.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Cleaning

I'm doing my best to clean off the dining room table for the holidays. And that's where I do all my "best" craft work. Journal, collage, magazine page ripping and watercolors. So there's a load of crap --no craft--- on that table and I am sorting it into piles of like minded items and moving it into my actual work room. And piling it up on THAT table. We've had a few "slide-offs" and this is what has ended up on the floor. Sad, isn't it? And I think of myself as an organized person. Santa said I was doing "better" in the cleanliness department but he said I could take better care of my toys. So true.

G is sick. Sore throat and the start of a cold. He has some Airborne and some Cold eeZe and a big dose of Nyquil Green at bedtime. Bedtime occurs when he wakes up from his nap in front of the television. I had not planned to leave the house today. But G needed chicken soup when he came home from work, instead of the Baked Ziti I had planned to make. So I had to get dressed in "going outside clothes" and comb my hair. The things I do for that guy. Well, he does have to go to work.

When I had the soup bubbling away I started baking the Sugar Cookies. I made the dough days ago. The cookies were going along rather well with minimal sticking to the countertop, no flame outs in the oven. So I decided to make frosting. And I colored it green. Each little cut out sugar cookie tree got a big glob of frosting (G's favorite food group), sprinkles and a few mini M&M's. Festive. I ate one test cookie and my sugar levels went into orbit.

I picked out new glasses yesterday. Do any of you have trouble seeing what you look like in the new frames--because you wear glasses to see-- and the frames are just frames. I finally had the eye glass person try them on for me. She'd put them on and I'd look at her and try and imagine how I'd look in the frames. (What a sales concept) Next week I'll actually *see* what I bought. I *think* they are rather stylish. They certainly were expensive.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More Sad News

Another dear friend has died. Peacefully. In her sleep. At home. Beverly was in her 70's but ageless. She had the best smile and was always cheerful, kind and a wonderful friend.

For years, six of us met twice a month to quilt, sew, read each other's magazines and most of all TALK. We even made a set of six round robin quilts. One is hanging at the library now. Merry's Christmas quilt. Bev's quilt had swags of little leaves appliqued by me. Her Christmas card to me-- which arrived this Tuesday-- mentioned how much pleasure she found in sitting and looking at her robin quilt and thinking of all the evenings of pleasant company we six had shared.

The robin quilts traveled to each of us with a small journal. My entry in Bev's journal was about my struggle to do something beautiful and uniquely "me" for her. I used my polka dot fabrics and traditional needle turn applique. Each evening I stitched 20 leaves. And with each stitch, thought of how dear Beverly was to me. Perhaps this is what she felt as she looked at the quilt. The love and friendship of the six of us.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santa Says

Much more nice than naughty. Can be very thoughtful. Has improved cleanliness, which I like. Could take better care of toys. Says "thank you" often, but still not as much as I would like. Good mood often spreads to others. Hopefully, will keep up the good work!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Forest of Tiny Trees

I got the pattern from Little Birds Handmade and added the stem. A wooden spool and a red button for a color accent. And they do stand upright all by themselves. For hours. Even overnight. I added some of the red buttons as ornaments. This is the tree my co-workers would have made if we had had our regular ornament holiday party. So 9 lucky co-workers will get trees as a little gift from me. A surprise. I made ten and then got tired of making them.

I had so much fun making the paper collage trees for my Christmas cards this year that I wondered if I could get the design to translate into fabric. I also wanted to stop doing so much raw edge applique and go back to needle turn. This is 7 by 9 inches and took about 90 minutes to make. And I LOVE it. I'll be making a tree next with little applique berries. It really is nice to be able to do this quickly when you want and then slowly when there's time. And hand applique is so very nice to look at. And touch.

I had to make a quick trip to the cooking shop in Bath for a cookie cutter this morning. I must have given all the ones I had away. What was I thinking? That I wasn't going to make cut out cookies anymore! I made spice cookie dough (Speculatius) from Painted Threads and wanted a Santa cutter. No luck. So I made angels and used a chopstick to imprint eyes, buttons, wing detail and some skirt pleats. I'm gifting my library shelving volunteers with the finished cookies. Angel cookies for shelving angels. No pictures. Imagine perfectly beautiful cookies.

I also got a big heavy metal meat pounder. Just what I always wanted. A flat disc with a handle. Now I can flatten chicken breasts into thin cutlets. (And loosen all the nails holding the center island countertop to the cabinets.) Now all I need is some chicken. And a lemon.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Beta Blogs

Those of you fellow bloggers who changed over to Beta--- well, I give up trying to leave comments. It doesn't work no matter how many attempts and passwords I try.

Beta is a very bad thing in computer programming. It means "test product". Not a real, no problems product. Beta is a product with lots of problems, bugs and general misery.

Please, if you have regular old, blogger--- don't change!

If you did change, list your email address in your sidebar. It's the only way to get comments. From me.

Thank You

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

Yes, this is THE Christmas LAMB! My daughter made this in kindergarten awhile ago and it has been the star of the tree ever since. I can't imagine Christmas without the lamb on the tree. A manila folder cut into a lamb shape, with cotton batting glued on and then black paper features, red mouth and a red bow. What a lamb has to do with Christmas has always been a mystery to me. We lived in Georgia then. Maybe that had something to do with it?

Tiny Sock Monkeys. On an after Christmas trip down south, we visited many Cracker Barrel restaurants in search of "sock monkeys on sale". For some reason they were Christmas decorations. I got LOTS!. I love sock monkeys. One tree usually has all the sock monkeys and red ornaments on it. But last year I shared the monkey love with all the other tiny trees. Which reminds me. I need to find the carton of lights. The tiny trees need more lights.

I took a picture of the decorated stinky plastic tree but since our living room is on the north side of the house with a front porch blocking any sunlight; it's way too dark in there. So the pictures looked all blurry and dark. You will have to use your imagination.

Last night we had the annual library employee potluck. We had a sign up sheet on the door with the different menu items listed. Entree, salad, dessert. So I signed up for and made an entree. Lazy Lasagna. Homemade marinara (spiked with red pepper flakes), frozen cheese tortellini, sliced mozzarrella and frozen spinach squeezed dry. Baked till golden brown and delicious. Good thing. My dish was the ONLY main dish. Everyone else though "entree" meant "salad". And for dessert. Cheesecake. Three of them. And one Chocolate Cake. And Cream Puffs. And Cupcakes. So maybe all the salad was a good thing since we were going to be having quite a big plate of dessert. I was busy doing something when they divided up the leftover desserts so I didn't get a piece of something to bring home to G. He was sad.

We exchanged little $5 gifts and then picked up and went home. It's more fun when we make ornaments. I was going to have them all make little stuffed trees with thread spool stems. But then I saw little wonky stripe felt trees with tree branch stems and thread spools on a new blog I found. Now I want to make them.

And my book from Amazon came. Kokoro no Te: Handmade Treasures from the Heart and I can start making all the things JuJu has been posting on her blog this week. I just wish I had some small bits of Japanese kimono for these projects. When my son went to Japan for vacation in 2004, I mentioned wanting some kimono scraps. I guess I'll have to find a source and buy some bits and pieces myself.

So today is all about being "CREATIVE". No cleaning allowed.

Sam just called and needs canvas bags made for catnip toys. Is that "CREATIVE" ?????

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What Christmas Means To Me!

Christmas in my 60's means doing what I want to do. If that means no tree, no cookies, no present shopping and no stocking filling then that's what I'm doing.

I do love my Christmas Trees but all that effort for just me seems like too much. Last year we didn't get a tree simply because we never got around to buying one. This year we unpacked the fake plastic tree we bought somewhere/sometime. I sprayed it with Febreze but it still smells like plastic. Sunday evening after my first holiday party and 3 glasses of champagne, I put lights on the tree and showered the floor with plastic pine thingies which fell off the tree. My second string of lights ended with two female electrical connections and no male. So I had to take the second string of 100 lights OFF and start again. Somehow they got wrapped around the base of the tree and my foot. Everything was lit up and sorted out by the time G got home from work at 1 am.

Still no ornaments. The box waits to be opened.

I have ingredients for three kinds of cookies that I will be making for my co-workers at the library. Two include nuts which my daughter doesn't eat. I like nuts and am tired of making nutless cookies. My co-workers like nuts. G likes sugar cookies with frosting.

I have the pattern to make little stuffed trees and purchased little thread spools for the stems. I made paper collage Christmas cards. I have Christmas lunch dates with friends this week and next. I ordered sushi to be delivered to work this afternoon with extra wasabi. I listened to Christmas music while ironing shirts on Sunday. I'm going to attempt French Onion Soup as a special treat for G and myself. I want to make a reservation at Fore Street for an expensive and wonderful dinner with G after Christmas. I want to help G get into his Santa suit for one last visit to the children down the street on Christmas Eve. The kids are getting older and wiser. I want to walk down our country street late on Christmas Eve hand in hand with Santa.

I want to stop thinking about all the people in my life who died this year. I want to stop crying when I think about Corey. Or his parents. I wish my Dad lived closer so I could include him in our holiday meals. Or at least make him soup. My Dad always hated the holidays. Still does. I wish I could hear my dad say "I love you" just once.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

Last year I did NO decorating for the holiday. I don't know why. But this year I may do SOME. In years past we had 12 foot real Balsam trees covered with strings of tiny white lights and big fat, glittery ornaments. Snowmen. Santa. Loved to just sit and stare at my tree. Now it just seems like too much "trouble". Is it age? Is it "holiday" overload? Why have I stopped caring so much about Christmas? And I stopped wanting to shop. No gift from me.

My husband still loves Christmas and he bought me two more glittery balls to hang in my sunny kitchen window. The sun hits them and they send hundreds of "polka dots" all over the kitchen and dining room walls, ceiling and floors. See the bay window ceiling? Covered in little white dots of light.

What's New:
Oprah. Pandering to white women? Guess she missed me. I don't respect her opinion on anything and make it a point to NEVER read any book she recommends. The Oprah story is all over the news and is so much nothing about nothing. Guess there are no "stars" getting a divorce this weekend.

The "new" James Bond. I vote NO! Could not stand him!!!!!

Reading my second Elizabeth George mystery. Paying attention to her use of descriptive words little used in common conversation. You really have to look them up to see what they mean. In the next paragraph the author usually defines the word into common usage. So why does she use the unknown words in the first place? To prove she is well-educated???

Christmas Party tonight. An Angel Party my neighbor gives every year to thank people (women) who have been angels to her in the past year. I get an annual invite for taking the trash cans in off the street and putting them by her garage. And mowing the grass when the teenage boys forget. And keeping her spare key. I hope she has that really good chocolate cake again and of course the good champagne. Keeping a Journal is this year's theme.

This is my week for parties. My quilting chapter potluck is Wednesday and my Library Potluck is Friday. Got to think about what I will make.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

St Nick

December 6th was officially St. Nick's Day and in the morning good German children found their shoes full of candy and small treats. I put out my shoes but St. Nick missed my house. Again. He always remembered when I lived in Fischbach! Oh, well.

Today is my "day off" from work (at the library) but today I have a whole list of things to do here at home. Ironing. Cleaning. Tree trimming. Vacuum. Baking. The "holiday time" is certainly full of work for some of us. I printed off Stephanie's stuffed tree pattern and hope to make at least one today. I'd also like to make one of the darling little button wreaths she had on her blog "little birds". I collected all my red buttons in one of my favorite dotted bowls. I may just have this out for the holidays-- eye candy for ME!

I have a traditional hand appliqued quilt up at the library this week. One of the six round robin quilts my mini group made several years ago. The one on display belongs to Merry (born on Christmas Day) and it's red, green and creamy beige. The quilt is beautifully hand quilted and is generating a great deal of comment. I think the traditional handmade quilt will always be the "gold" standard for quilts. I'll try and get a photo and post it tomorrow. If I wanted to be truly successful as a quilter--well, I should be making these traditional hand appliqued and quilted wall quilts. Of course, I would have to sell them for a fraction of what they are worth in time and effort. But I may just make one. I do love Baltimore style applique.

All my ArtShare pieces have been mailed out. To Hawaii, the Netherlands and the Colony. I hope that Dianna, Emmy and Deborah like them. Sam has to wait. (she's family!)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas Card Collage

Today seemed like a good day to begin making some of the *annual* homemade cards I send out each Christmas. They are usually limited in number by my attention span. I gathered my refuse: printed envelope interiors, date due slips from the library wastebaskets, a Chinese or Japanese newspaper, and photocopies of fabric. And my glue stick.

I cut 8.5 by 11.5 sheets of 140# watercolor paper in half and did a bit of trimming with my decorative scissors. I made them the best size to fit into a manila envelope I have in bulk. The two here are: Left/first made. Right/last made.

These were quite enjoyable to put together. The *graphic* quality must be uppermost in one's thought process and the lights and darks must be very strong. There were a number of things I wanted to add but they didn't move the design forward. In fact, I had to actually *put* those weak elements in the trash to keep me from trying to use them on each piece.

This tradition of little trees for Christmas began in 2004 when I made tiny quilted fabric trees for 10 lucky friends. They kept them out all year. Last year everyone got a watercolor tree. and this year a paper collage. Now that I recollect: one person got an angel last year and another got a chicken. To reflect personal interests.

Halfway through the trees, I wanted more variety and so I took more stuff upstairs to my husband's office and photocopied things in black and white. If I have any advice here--use what you initially collected. Having too many choices makes for a messy thought process. Less usually works out best. I know there are lots of you who believe more is better but that rarely works out for me.

I have all my ArtShare art finished and ready to be mailed. I just have to prepare myself for the POST OFFICE. Our postal employees have had some instruction in customer service in the past few months and they are actually cheerful and helpful. This change in behaviour causes customers in line (always a long line) to stand and glaze over. Some even leave the line -- possibly believing they aren't in the right building.

I asked for 2 cent stamps on my Monday visit and when I paused to think about my answer to "how many do you want" the postal gentleman assured me that I could have as many as I wanted. You can imagine how this would startle unsuspecting customers.

Note to Edward: The British/PBS productions of PD James novels are excellent. They follow the books exactly. The only *fly* in the ointment is that the last two use all different actors and directors and they aren't as good. Murder Room is one of the new ones. Avoid it. They should be available on DVD at your local movie rental place or library.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gingerbread House- the inside story

The interior of the dollhouse I made into a Gingerbread House. If you check the archives for December or the last week of November 2005 you'll see the outside of the house.

Here's the little painted toy furniture. I painted and distressed the table and chairs and painted the tiny dish cupboard I purchased at Michael's for one dollar. I made the red dotted dishes out of one inch round disks. The package of disks cost three times as much as the cupboard.

The little toy living room furniture with new gumdrop legs. The little rocker was a contribution from a library patron. She went all the way home and back to add it to last year's decor.

The attic with a gingerbread train. I think this cost me $1.99 or some such low price at Grand City last year. I glued the train and everything else to the floor. And this shot is to show off the paint job on the floor with the decorated "cookie" look. I was going to do more but really--I wanted the kids to look at the outside not the inside.

This took me ALL day to paint. Certainly NOT what I wanted to spend time on but what can I say. People love the Gingerbread House.

Just Catching Up

We lost the ability to get on the internet for the past five days. I got alot done. It is amazing how much time I spend on this computer reading blogs, writing messages, creating my own blog posts.

So far today. I overslept. Missed my nail appointment. Realized I had forgotten to unplug my iron yesterday. Finished reading my first Elizabeth George/Lynley mystery. I liked it. Half way through I realized I had seen this particular mystery on television so I "knew" who done it but it was still a good read. Not as good as PD James. I will move on to the second book in the series eventually. There are ten. The newest is "What Happened Before He Shot Her". Lynley's Helen was killed off by the author and readers (if the patrons of library are typical) are EXTREMELY angry about this. Some refuse to read her any more.

I also finished "Blind Submission" by Debra Ginsberg. A first time fiction writer. She has written some non-fiction. Anyway, it was okay. I finished it. I'm a very picky reader. If I don't like the characters, the writing or the story--I just quit. This book was about a literary agent and submissions of book manuscripts etc. Shallow. Could have been a much better book. I have the new Tony Hillerman on my pile and may treat myself to that book next.

I have to regulate my reading. Once begun--I am lost in the book till finished. This morning at 2 am I finally got to the end of Lynley's case. Then I made G's lunch and set out his breakfast things.

We have been having reheated Thanksgiving Dinner every evening when G gets home from his 10 hour shift at Target (we eat while watching movies-- Family Man, Love Actually, and James Bond last night). I even remembered to "crisp" up the turkey wings in the oven the past two nights. I gave up on the turkey last night and had a Greek salad. The pies are delightful! Tuesday is G's 60th birthday. I think we should "eat out".

I'm so happy to have internet connection today!

Monday, November 20, 2006


Compart. Mental. I divide my life, my thoughts, my desires into separate compartments or sections of my life. Thoughts I share on the blog. Others that I record in my pen/paper journal and others that go unrecorded. This recording process has forced me to discover things about myself. Things which are uncomfortable. Ego. Superego. Id.

I think of myself as empathetic, sensitive--- a people person. But now I see myself as someone who keeps a good amount of distance from people. Even family. I just don't *need*. I do *feel*. But the need to be close isn't there. Perhaps there were bonding issues when I was an infant. So I have discovered --in the compartments-- that I am a "difficult" person. I want what I want. I may never want what you want.

I have also discovered something intriguing. My TrashFormation grid pieces have a direct link to Piet Mondrian. All those classes in Fine Art, all those layers of knowledge in my brain, are still there. Unconscious thought. As I drew these Mondrian sketches, I remembered an early acrylic painting of mine in college. My painting professor mentioned in the critique that my work was Mondrian-like -- but there was something very interesting in the way I had painted it. I had forgotten that. The making of these grids comes easily to me--almost automatic. As if someone else was doing the thinking and I was only the hand doing the work.

I have several ideas for future work. And a Pomegranite for my winter watercolor model. Red and round. I think I will cut the fruit open and explore the wonder of drawn and painted seeds and membranes. The inside of the Pom is compartmentalized. Each section full of seeds. Each seed full of tart, red juice. Coincidental? A series of symbolic events? I don't think so.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mid November

My husband brought these tiny orchids home with the groceries. Yellow because he loves yellow. Interesting shape. Almost like little party dresses.

Today has been busy. I finished up my Turkey Word Scramble at 2 am this morning. I refused to give up! And then I had to get up early, get dressed and drive over to the newspaper offices to drop off the entries. I completed my husband's also. I had company. People were coming in with their entries in hand. Everyone wants a free 20# turkey.

When I got home I washed all the bird poop off my car. Yesterday a particularly incontinent group of birds flew over the library parking lot. It was just my car. A co worker got hit in the head. Everyone said bird poop in your hair was "good luck". Where did they get that idea? Anyway, all the hoses are dry and stored in the basement so I had to haul buckets of water out of the garage and toss them on the car to wash off the suds. The weather is still very mild here in Maine but that could change in the next few minutes. It's been raining quite a bit and tree branches are down all over town.

G has the weekend off and we'll be moving stuff in the garage (the house shutters I never painted) and getting out the three 60 inch wide wreaths for the front porch. They look so very festive with all their tiny lights and they fit perfectly in the three arches on the front porch. I refuse to allow him to set up the blow up Christmas Tree or giant Snowman he got at Big Lots three years ago. Can you imagine my "delight" when I drove into the driveway and saw them all blown up, lighted up and wiggling in the wind--- on my front lawn? Whenever G was out of town I unplugged them. Now they are stored in the attic. It would be different if we had small grandkids--- I would "lighten up" and let him decorate the lawn. He really wants one of those ugly "Snowglobes" that have "snow" falling inside.

I'm waiting for a phone call from the library and will be going in to shelve fiction and mystery. My regular shelvers are away for the holidays. That's the thing about volunteers. They go about their business of being retired and the books go unshelved. Oh well.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Slacker's Weekend Off

I'm not saying I don't fall into this pattern all too often--but I have done NOTHING for four days now. I thought I might wash a load of towels but only got as far as putting them in the washer. I didn't start the water running. Just walked off. And now I'm just remembering I added the shower curtain. Which might come in handy tomorrow morning.

I finished reading Julia & Julie and have to say I enjoyed it very much. Not what I expected at all. It's wonderful to have a book surprise you. And, while I don't think I would actually like to f***in hang around with Julie, I will look forward to reading another of her books. Though it might have been the "foodie" subject matter that reeled me in--I so wish I had been a chef.

So while reading, not washing or ironing clothes, I made a nice pot of soup for myself. Beans & Greens as the Italians call this soup. White Beans and Escarole. With some carrot, onion and garlic in a broth of veggie boullion cubes and tomatoes. I like it with some red pepper flakes and small macaroni. I also like it with warm crusty bread and butter. And I made Posey Gets Cozy's Sour Cream Apple Pie. It's sitting on the stove waiting for my husband to get home and then we'll have a slice. Not sure about the white sugar and vanilla. I like my apple pie with brown sugar and cinnamon.

I've watched all the cooking shows that TiVo has recorded for me this weekend. It's all about Thanksgiving. Giada made butternut squash lasagna with bechamel and I will be making that soon (and her stuffed shells)-- since I have a wagon full of butternut squash in my garage--from my very own garden. Bobby made grilled turkey legs with this tomato sherry vinegar sauce. And they looked very good. Ina didn't make anything interesting. Well, there were the roasted Brussel Sprouts. Ina needs to stop chopping everything up into "nice, big chunks". Yes, it's "casual" but you don't get to taste everything in one bite. And when you eat chili, do you really want to eat a "nice, big chunk" of peppers and then a "nice, big chunk" of onion and then the big chunk of chicken? Do you?

I also spent a good deal of time working on the Turkey Word Scramble in our local newspaper. I have 10 business names to find out of 120 before the 16th deadline. For 15 years we have entered this contest to win a free turkey and, man, wouldn't you think it was our turn already???? I've been searching for names with the page upside down. It really is amazing what our little three pound brains can do. I found some of the most difficult--- on the diagonal and backwards--- so easily, with the page upside down. I'm seriously thinking of turning my next quilt upside down.

Got to close now. Get the washer going and choose my next book. I've got a mystery and two new novels by first time authors. I enjoy first timers. Beginners Luck.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


There has been significant discussion lately on whether we *Fiber Artists* are acting like professional artists. Since most of us have displayed work in local and state quilt shows in "dingy black curtained cubicles" we aren't prepared to expect art show venues for our work. White walls. Space around each work so the viewer has time to process. Themed shows so the whole thing doesn't look like the "dog's breakfast".

That being said--there aren't many places eager to show fiber art. You take what you can get. If coffee houses, libraries etc are NOT proper venues, then please suggest some alternatives?

I have found that small fiber works need to be framed to garner anything close to real attention. Small work looks too much like a potholder or placemat when shown on it's own. And anyone asked to purchase these small works (for large prices) wonders what to do with them once they own the work. Larger work dominates a space and that is difficult to hang in a home situation unless you live with bare wood floors, plain white walls and minimal furniture.

Oil paintings and watercolors are chosen by the owners because of the subject matter or colors and with the intent of the piece adding decorative value to a room. Architectual Digest has lovely rooms with fantastic art but it always looks like the room evolved around the art. Or the art was selected for the particular room. Are we creating fiber art with that in mind? Should we be???

Educating the public to the value of fiber art is primary to our acceptance in the professional art world. And I think shows in coffee houses and libraries isn't a bad place to begin. I display a new and different piece every few months in my local library and over the course of several years have educated a number of viewers on the possiblities of fabric art. They have sometimes even requested an encore for a favorite piece. I will always consider selling my work, but that is not my purpose in displaying work.

I work alone. No little group to critique my work. At times it is a creative vacuum. So the comments and attention to detail that my fiber work generates at the library helps me focus and refine my work. I do go outside the fiber art world for shows, galleries etc. to feed the artistic side of my work. I was educated and trained in Fine and Applied Art. I see fiber as just one piece of that. I also paint, collage and do mixed media. And truly, it is easier to be successful with my painting than my fiber.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thank Goodness It's Done

I have never started and finished anything this quickly. No time to second quess--just keep going. I knew I couldn't leave the Halloween Quilt up for too long--nothing like a "leftover" holiday quilt. Leftover candy? that's okay. So I layed out the background and put a few too many details on top--AGAIN. I may learn to do this correctly next time. But later on after the quilting and edge binding, it was very easy to add details to the piece. I liked that part a lot.

I added the cup and pear in the last few minutes before taking the quilt to the library and hanging it up. Now that I have Quilt Rule #2- The quilt is never done, you can always add and subtract, even years later. Patrons have complained that they can't make out the details of the fork, spoon and knife because of the fabric I chose. So that may change. Those patrons are really getting to be very good quilt judges!

Here it is hanging in the workroom window behind the Circulation Desk. It's 32 by 47 and not straight at all. Wider at the bottom than the top--just like me.

A young lady checked out books today-- her long pointy black Mohawk is growing out. I asked about it and she is growing her hair out and then going to color it Bubble Gum Pink. Be still my heart. If I was her age, I'd be wanting to do the same. Even at my age, I want to dress in black tights, short skirts and Doc Martens and have my hair sticking straight up and out--with the help of glue. I know--I can still do it-- just need to completely stop eating for a few weeks. The black tights/short skirt thing looks best on skinny girls, I think.

My next quilt is all about red and white polka dots. Sounds like fun!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Thanksgiving Quilt in Progress

Not my usual fabric choices but sometimes I have to actually try and use stuff out of the huge storage boxes along the wall. I am almost to the point of taking the storage items upstairs--far away. To the "out of sight/out of mind" section of the attic. These fabrics are from my Baltimore applique period. I'm really VERY good at hand applique. It just isn't FAST enough for me right now. What you see above is the PLATE.

Some polka dots have snuck into the mix. Don't they always. A girl's just gotta have fun, you know? This is yet another failed attempt with Pamela Allen's tutorial. I just can't stop at the background. I have to add bits of the quilt top. And that makes the topstitching and quilting so problematic. I also have not been able to add all those "doodads" that she adds to the quilt after the quilting. Clothespins, garters, bobbins, wooden wheels, plastic vegetables etc. I want to. But it seems so copy cat. Perhaps if I do it and keep it private--not showing it in public. What you see here are the SALT & PEPPER SHAKERS.

I'm making a table setting. Large plate, flatware, S&P, goblet, vase with flowers. No turkey. There are some pheasants on the fabric. Very much like Pamela's Fish & Chips. But no fish and no poker chips and no carrots. Since Thanksgiving is really about the food. Having enough and not having any.

G loves Thanksgiving dinner. We have it several times during the month of November. Really. What's not to like? And all the leftovers mean not having to cook for at least three days. I love that part. I may even make a pumpkin pie.

And last but never least is the ugly mess on the side of my workroom and under the work table. Those red lidded bins are full of fabric. Novelty, prints, batiks and wool. Everytime I walk around the table to get to the design wall, stuff gets caught on me and slides to the floor. I pick it up and stuff it someplace and then something else slides off. Then I kick it out of my way. I could just take it all to the dump. But I think there may be important stuff mixed in and so it all needs to be sorted. This is sort of a metaphor for my life right now. So much stuff and I have to sort it all out and just save the important bits. SAVE time for the important bits and stop WASTING time on the not so important stuff.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No Power

The power went out on Sunday and then late on November 1st we lost the internet and best of all---- all the people on television turned ORANGE. So something strange happened to my cable connection. It's all better now.

It was amazing how much WORK I actually got done while the internet was down. Do I really spend THAT much time on here??? Don't answer that!

I have another quilt backed, batted and basted and ready for quilting. And I am working on a deadline of 5 pm Monday to have it completely finished for hanging at the library. Got to replace the Halloween Quilt. At least it got to hang for a week. WOW. Two quilts in one month.

Then I have art to make for my ArtShare pals. Diana, Emmy, Sam, Deborah and one more....could be YOU! I think I'm forgetting someone. Got to check my list.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween Quilt-- ArtShare Meme

Here it is. Finished. Just. And hanging up at the library. I could have spent the next 15 years trying to get it "squared" up but by then the poor thing would be hankerchief size.

I have my First Rule of quilting. When you make a mistake. Make it big. Exaggerate it. Then it will look like you meant for the error to happen. Small mistakes look like mistakes.

If I had freehand cut the quilt to what passed for a rectangle, well, it would have been okay. But because I actually tried (more cuts than I will admit to) the result looks like I don't know what I'm doing. The top goes up a bit in the middle and the bottom does also. The polka dots don't help. Oh well. Live and learn.

Also, I began with the plan of following Pamela Allen's tutorial from QA. I did amazingly well with the background and then did not follow Pamela's directions to quilt, bind and otherwise finish that work before putting anything else on the quilt. Pamela was correct in this. It was very difficult to get around all the bones and stuff when quilting and I will try ever so hard to do the next one in Pamela's "correct order of things". I even think the squaring up would have worked out better without the lumps. Duh!

ArtShare Meme
I'm joining up with Emmy and Deborah for the ARTShare meme. The first FIVE bloggers who sign up on this post will get an actual piece of art from me. Fabulous, Huh? Could be a TrashFormation or a watercolor or a paper collage. Could be anything. We'll exchange info by email (address) and the little gift of art will wing it's way to you. The only requirement: then you must post on your blog and send art to five bloggers. Okay?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Here's Looking At YOU!

I'm cute right? Anyway, today I got off work at 1:30 ish and got home and made some lunch--well, I did eat the brownie first and the sandwich second --but it was lunch. And I stared into the fridge looking for something to jump start into dinner. I do so love the look of surprise on my dear husband's face when there is actually some food being prepared for dinner, in this house, not a restaurant. I found some flour tortillas and some cheese and I delved into the depths of the freezer and scored some ground beef. Looks like we'll be having some Burritos tonight.

I also did laundry, read blogs and finally ironed about 20 pillowcases and a bunch of red shirts. Target makes everyone wear red shirts and khaki pants to work. Red used to one of my favorite colors. Now I'm beginning to resent it.

I'm having those pesky feelings of guilt again. My husband has always been the sole provider of cash for this household. I'm sort of along for the ride, so to speak. I do work, but what I make doesn't amount to much. And I do spend it having my hair and nails done. I am SO shallow. What I have left over I spend on fabric, beads paint and other stuff for "my art". This looks so terrible when seen in black and white on the screen!

Every few years-- even worse, this doesn't ALWAYS bother me--- I get to feeling that my poor husband is being taken advantage of. True, he is the only one around here who has skills people will pay for, but still. See, that's what I think about if left too long with nothing to occupy my mind.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I first met him when he was about 3 or 4 years old. His parents (new friends of ours) dropped Corey and his sister (2 or 3 years old) off to stay with me while they went to an evening class. I put the two of them to bed in the middle of my king size bed. When I went in to check on them they were sleeping curled together like two little kittens. Probably scared and comforting each other in that big and very strange bed. That was 30 years ago.

Corey's little sister called early this morning to tell us that her brother had died during the night. She was crying but bravely making the calls because her parents couldn't do it.

My heart is breaking. Corey and his family are so much a part of the fabric of the last 30 years. Florida, Germany, France and North Carolina. Family vacations. Family. Friends.

There are no words. Just tears and pain.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Make it Your Own

I just read my Tuesday "Painter's Keys" letter and Robert had the Five Principles of Success for Starbucks.

1 Make it your own
2 Everything matters
3 Surprise and delight
4 Embrace resistance
5 Leave your mark

Robert felt that each of us--artists--do these five things each time we enter our work space to work. I think we do each of these things whenever. I know that these five principles are in place each day when I work at the library.

I mention my "library" often. It's really a pretty incredible spot. We live in a small town of 20,000 and our library does 350,000 transactions in a year. We rank third in the state of Maine. Our patrons love to read. They reserve tons (literally) of books. Families stop in for library visits weekly and I have stamped little hands from baby to junior high in the 8 years I have worked there. We have seasonal hand stamps for the children. This month we have Hello Kitty, a pumpkin, a scary bat and a dinosaur.

I have also chatted with senior citizens--perhaps one of the few conversations they had each week--remembered their names, saved books for them, asked about their gardens or family. I have also mourned their passing. We all do.

And that's what I love the most about my job. Each employee makes the job "their own". We smile, remember names, talk about quilts (me!), recommend books, laugh and enjoy life. For each of us, our library is the best place to be--the best job to have. Yeah, we have crappy days but we get over it. Tomorrow is always going to be better. And it usually is!

This week I am working at the library alot. I'm laughing alot. I just wish I could drag my sewing machine to the library and sew while chatting with the patrons. Now that would "make it my own". Maybe that would be a "good thing".

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Work, Work, Work

No pictures as I didn't even THINK you would want to see me working. At the library most days. Yesterday--Saturday--I worked in the morning. I am SO NOT a morning person and it was truly awful yesterday. I had worked Friday afternoon and we were SLAMMED and left a mess when we finally closed. Needed to face that first thing and clean it up. Then my co-worker, a really wonderful woman, said "Let me do that, I'm younger than you".

Made me wonder the rest of the morning. Do I "work" like an old person?

Then I returned home and made lunch out of the fridge leftovers for G and I and then out to the annual "Leaf Shredding". 20. Twenty. 30. Gallon. Garbage cans. Of leaves into the garden. And after scooping the leaves into the shredder I got to pull, carry, shove and tip those cans of leaves into the garden. So far away. Finally, G took pity. Carried the last 8 to the garden for me. We still ended up shredding in the light of the garage lights as the sun went down. Like last year.

One funny thing. G had one of the car garage door openers hung up to use to open the garage if we needed "beverages" or bathroom breaks. All other access to the house locked. Well, you can guess what happened. Battery failure. A quick run across the street to Peggy's and we had a new battery. We also had all Peggy's leaves. Nice Maple Leaves. Thanks, Peggy.

Now the garden beds have nice thick covers of shredded leaves. Good Night Sweet Garden. See you in the Spring! I'll see the rest of you later this week. I WORK every day!!!!! At the library. Wish I was working in the quilt room. Sewing my Halloween Quilt. Boo!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Halloween Quilt

A very quick post. Blogger and my internet connection are acting very goofy so this may go nowhere fast. This work is again less than the sum of it's parts. I free cut the skeleton and bones yesterday. I like it but I don't LOVE it.

You haven't seen the pumpkin head before. Pretty intense.

I couldn't get the whole thing in the picture without getting "extra" things which detract. So I moved as close as I could and then shot the other parts like the feet. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In Progress/Push Off

Yesterday I procrastinated and finally at 3:30 I actually attempted a "Pamela Allen" style background. The only "clean" spot for working was my bed. So I threw the covers back and cut a nice piece of black and white for the backing. Cut a piece of fusible batting. And then searched my overstocked fabric closet for Halloween polka dots. I made several mistakes. but eventually I worked out a pleasing (to me) background. I pressed. I ironed. I turned. I sprayed fabric adhesive. I pressed. Then I moved the fabric sandwich to the floor--where I should have been from the start.

I moved the aborted first attempt bits to the new background. Love the kitty. Scraped the dino. Scraped the convoluted waistcoat and tie on the Pumpkin head. Decided to make a skeleton out of white twill. I am feeling more positive about this new way of working. Making the background first. See, I never work that way. I make the center of attention and then fill in around it. Always have. But it takes longer and there are always "issues". But with polka dots it's never going to be easy. I may stop at three Tricker Treaters. I had been thinking of making cute feet and hands for everyone and a bag for the treats. There was going to be this cute commercial Halloween fabric border--but it got all "chippitychopchopped" up in hopes of being part of the background and then it got pushed off. In fact, great wads of fabric got pushed off.

And. And. I thought of a fabulous NEXT project to make. I actually have "future plans". This is so NOT me. Lately. I am absolutely thrilled to have a possibility in my future. Sonji was right. Nothing wrong with 2006.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tutorial Part Three of Three

I'm using the pictures in the exact way Blogger decided to load them. It's been one full hour since I decided to post. Anyway, this is the back of the house, no windows, so I usually do a "decorative" treatment. I used the adhesive backed candy foamies. Eleven of the big ones in the package. Eleven. Interesting.

Finished Little Spooky House. I cut the yellow vellum to fit the windows plus 1/2 inch and glued it to the back, inside of each window. You can also see the roof shingles all finished. And I used my garden snippers to cut the branches into window trim for each window. I glued the skeleton to the side of the doorway. I was going to put him inside the doorway but the door was too short.

This is how the house looks with the sunlight filling the house. You get the same effect by adding a little 10 watt nightlight to the inside of the box. My box has a bottom. It was a liquor box and has those inside bottle sections. I didn't want to do all the cutting to remove the bottom so I would have to cut a hole to insert the nightlight. If you removed the bottom flaps from your box--then just set the house over the nightlight. Easy Peasy. The number 11 big corn candy is next to the door and the smaller corn candy on each edge. There are four small candies on each side- two next to each other on the left and two next to each other on the right. Ten.
The peaked roof line. I used a scrap of Foamie and free cut a little bat. He has orange eyes. If I can find a small plastic spider or two (or three) I will add them to that branch sticking up off the roof. If I had some black gimp braid around the house, (my house not this house), I would hot glue it around the top roofline edge for a finished "look". I may add some of my Sculpty sunflower seed beads to the house--but they may overpower the simple design.

I'm very glad I went to the time and trouble (!!!!!!) to make this tutorial. I love my new little house. I think I'll take it to work with me tomorrow. Now to the workroom. I am making a Halloween Quilt and it sucks in a major way so far. So I'm going to take my Quilting Arts magazine article by Pamela Allen in there with me and make a background like she does. Yes, I am. I may even copy her tutorial--exactly--so I get a feel for the way it's done. Mine will look different because it's me. I just gotta be me. All polka dots.

Tutorial Part Two

If I didn't have to work or watch television, this would be getting done faster. Anyway, while I was gone, the cardboard box got sprayed with flat black (Joann's $3.49). I didn't shake the can for the full 3 minutes. The Paint Police will write up a citation. I also placed a ruler--12 inches tall--so you would know just how small this house is. All the windows are now cut with two on each side also. One over the other.

I went to lunch with a friend on Friday (the only day I didn't have to work or watch television) and suggested we go to a restaurant near Joann's so I could get supplies. I found a little rubber skeleton, some foam corn candy, a sheet of yellow vellum in the scrapbook section ( windows), and the last four 9 by 12 sheets of Foamie in black for the roof shingles. The branches are from my front yard. Or as we say in Maine-- yahd. The dooryahd to be specific.

Here I am this very morning in my red flannel robe cutting the sheet of 9 by 12 Foamie into strips that measure 3 by 12. Then I cut the strips into 1 by 3 inch shingles. I used the ruler for the big cuts and sort of "free-cut" the inch wide pieces. Some were fat. Some skinny.

Here I am at the breakfast table trimming one edge of each strip to make it rounded. Now when I made the REALLY BIG Spooky House I did this cutting and trimming for what seemed like weeks. Wasn't really. For this tiny house I was done in like 10 minutes. I cut up two sheets of Foamie (2mm-59 cents each).

Because the roof edges were "open" and didn't meet ( see first photo in this post), I cut a larger rectangle of Foamie (measure your own little roof edge to find out how much you need) I then cut a scallop into the bottom edge to look like shingles. I hot glued this piece to both sides of the roof edge and did all four corners. Then I made two rows of hot glue between two corners and placed roof shingles along the edge, even with the corners. My roof wasn't very deep so two lines of shingles was enough. I lined the second row up with the top edge of the roof line.

Now I'm going to try and load the final 5 pictures. Blogger is taking longer to load than it took to make the house. Bad Blogger.


A whole year has speeded past..... at times, it did seem to be crawling, but over all, it seems too fast. I began blogging as a way to write about my day, my thoughts and my projects without boring my friends stupid. Yes, I was even asked to stop emailing on "friend" if I couldn't stop with the "lists, garden info and other crap". So I stopped emailing her and started blogging.

Now my daughter (Slambo) has started her own blog and she has a lovely way with words. And televison reality shows. I love reading her "take" on Project Runway" and "Rockstar". I don't think she will ever watch, and report on, TopChef or Survivor but I'm sure she would be witty and cut to the quick.

I am amazed at the variety of addresses and world locations for the readers of my little blog--and it is little, compared with the mega blogs with thousands of readers each day and 100's of comments. I'm content with my small circle of friends. I thank you for reading, I thank you for your comments, and for those of you with blogs--I thank you for letting me read about YOUR life.

This is really an amazing thing. "You've Got Mail". Powerful.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Actual Cardboard Box Tutorial

This is my cardboard box from the liquor store and some extra pieces of cardboard I found in the library trash. My mat knife or carpet cutter. My ruler, marking pen and painter's tape is somewhere on the floor along with my hot glue gun. Ready? My box is 14 inches wide, 10 inches deep and 12 inches tall.

I used one of the extra pieces of cardboard to cut a center piece with peak. My box isn't as tall as I would have wanted--but we're working with what we've got here. I hot glued the center piece to the box. I marked and cut some of the window openings and now have to double cut the front center panels.

Here's the box after about 20 to 30 minutes (honest) of work. I have a little door that I later remove. The flaps are down. I remembered that this was the way I had done the roof--not the other way. Forgive me! These flaps are too long and will cover the windows so I had to trim about 1.5 to 2 inches off the edge of each flap all the way around. See how I removed a section of flap for the center of the roof?

In order for the roof to stick out from the sides of the house--I added hinges (hot glue) that I made from the cut off flaps. Fold in half, glue and stick onto the under side of the flaps. Then comes the hard part. Adding a line of glue at the crease, folding the flap down and HOLDING the flap down till the glue hardens. I am NOT good at WAITING. So I taped the flaps after awhile. A short while.

Here's my house. Taped and waiting for the next steps. I cut more windows in the bottom by the door and cut two windows in each side of the box--one over the other--level with the ones on the front.

Tomorrow I will decide if the house gets spray painted black or sponge painted Gingerbread Brown. I will also go purchase some black FunFoam to cut into shingles. If the local 5 & Dime has some Halloween items--I may get some "decor".

I'm going to have to figure out how to get the roof flaps to all connect. Right now the corners are open. Got to "sleep on it". It was good to actually make a house. I found some of my tutorial was way off base. But my box is looking way cute.