Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Crumby Retreat

Bonnie and I are having a marvelous time sewing crumbs. We started out from her scraps, but pretty soon added some fabric strips from my stash. Here's a peek:

Pokey is being social and sweet.

Stay tuned for more news.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

Everything is going great here. I have totally fallen under the spell of Florida. It's so warm and wonderful. I'm so happy I'm not trying to fly into Colorado to see family for the holidays, but boy do I feel sorry for all those folks stranded across the country.

I had some questions from folks the last time I posted an update of my quilting progress on Merry Penguins. Yes, this is regular old quilting thread. I do have pretty nice stitches if I don't say so myself, but that is completely due to not using any kind of hoop or frame. Really and truly. Check out my tutorial in the sidebar. This pic should get quite large if you click on it.

The M is 3 3/8" square if that helps give you an idea of scale. Hey, look at how uneven my freehand fans are - that's part of the charm.

I've been quilting bit by bit, but am not yet even half way done yet.

Everyone have a very safe, happy, healthy holiday.

Friday, December 22, 2006

News from Paris

My husband is slowly getting settled in Paris. Right now he's in a big, empty apartment with no phone, no internet, and no tv. But it's a gorgeous apartment and that counts for a lot. He has an incredible 20 minute walk to work, passing by Cleopatra's Needle (an actual obelisk from Egypt - how appropriate is that?) and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Our belongings from Cairo are supposed to be delivered next week, so things are progressing smoothly at that end.

The cats are doing well here. I usually have a terrible time photographing Howler, but he's been unusually photogenic in this light. If only I could get Lily to stop scratching at the mirrors and cheeping (she doesn't have a meow).

Met my new endocrinologist yesterday and now I tests I have to take, inc an echocardiogram because he heard something screwy with my heart. Sigh. If it's not one thing it's another thing. I didn't realize I had to go off the thyroid meds for 2 weeks before my whole body scan - I hope I don't get too fruitloopy. I'm going to try and reschedule the scan so that I'm not too whacked out during Bonnie's visit.

So today I'm off to the library to pick up some books to carry me through the holidays. I read Monster Island by David Wellington which was okay, but not fabulous. It's a zombie novel that the author serialized online and ended up getting a publishing deal that way. If you need a zombie fix watch "Shaun of the Dead" instead.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We're in Florida

The cats and I are safely ensconced in Florida and my husband should be in Paris by now. I don't envy him the gray skies there, that's for sure. Florida is glorious and sunshiny warm - very good for my soul.

Getting the cats here was stressful. I had to take Pokey out -- to put her carrier through the x-ray machine -- and carry her and she completely freaked out. She peed on my shirt, a bit of poo as well, and managed to give me a nasty gash across the fleshy bit of my palm. When my husband saw that I was about to lose her, he dashed through the security gate to help. Of course the alarms went off and we ended up having to re-do both the little carry-on cats. I completely had no problem with that - security comes first - but I learned a valuable lesson. It's a three person job to get the cats taken care of and don't rush the job.

I'd like to think I'd have held on to Pokey no matter what, but it terrifies me to think that we could have lost her. My husband later saw a little dog wearing a harness and leash that didn't set off the gate alarm, so I'm going to hunt those down for our next move.

Cats have settled in and are enjoying the bigger condo. No more slinking around, which is good to see. I'm hoping that moving becomes routine for them and not such a big deal.

I overdid it with Christmas. Bought a bigger tree than I intended to (smaller ones that I liked were sold out) so of course I had to buy more ornaments too. After seeing what was available in Target, I widened my colors from just lime green and pink, to include royal blue, teal, turquoise, magenta, purple and silver. It all looks fabulous next to the quilt Shells, which ended up finding a home here in Florida. It's on an angled wall from the tree, which is why this looks a bit screwy.

This pic has the purple beaded garland that I added to the tree yesterday. And there's Howler enjoying the sunshine. He's been a real pest at night trying to get behind the blinds.

My husband would totally hate this tree. He's a traditional red, white and green kind of guy. I love it tho, sparkly shiny and glorious colors. There are ornaments that look like disco balls. My sweet friend Siobhan mailed me some ornaments that work perfectly and I love the silver martini glass and shaker - very retro, but not very photogenic.

I bought the bottom of the line Bernette sewing machine, but haven't used it yet. I so wanted to upgrade to a Bernina, but I had to keep telling myself "second machine, second machine." I've now got everything I need to start doing some sewing, but it's been much easier to just sit in the recliner playing Sudoku and loving on kitties when I haven't been out fighting crowds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Poor Kitties

Here is sweet Pokey sitting in the window at our temporary apartment. We've had lots of gray skies this month.

On Saturday, my sweetie and I had to take all the cats to the vet to get health certificates so that we can fly to Florida. It was the easiest wrangling job we've ever had. I just hugged on Habibi until sweetie brought the cage over and I stuffed the kitty in. Howler started with his blubbering, but when cornered ran right into his cage. Good boy. I laughed and laughed at Lily who was trying to hide in an empty cereal box - she's small, but not that small. Pokey curled up on top of the fridge, as far back as she could get - that scared face just breaks my heart.

After the trauma of the morning, sweetie and I escaped to the movies. Casino Royale was excellent. Not nearly as cartoony as previous James Bond movies. Could have done without the obvious product placements tho. Action screetches to a halt as we discuss what type of watch Bond is wearing...

Cats were still rattled when we got back to the apartment. We could not, not find Pokey for ages. The little critter has learned how to open cabinet doors. I've caught her before sleeping in among the snack food, but I never even thought to look for her in the cabinets above the fridge, but that's where she was hiding. At least we know to look for her there next Saturday morning. I don't think it's going to be nearly as easy to get them then - they're still too spooked.

I'm looking forward to getting to Florida and settling in, at least for awhile. My hubby is flying down with us but can only stay one night before coming back up to close the apartment and do the last of his have-tos before jetting off to Paris.

I have something really exciting to look forward to later this month. My talented wonderful friend Bonnie is coming down for a week to sew and gab and keep me company. We'll find out if she's a good influence on me (work, work, work) or I'm a terrible influence on her (tea time - must sit and yack). Bonnie has just put all the lower-case letter tutorials onto Quiltville, starting here.

I'm going to buy a sewing machine for Florida since my regular Bernina will be going off to Paris. All I want is a machine that sews a fantastic straight stitch, no problems with tension. I'd love to have the needle-down option and a daylight light. Any suggestions?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hand-Carved Santas

Vera at KCQuilter has some photos of her gorgeous Christmas display here. Love the hand-carved Santas and the samplers. Go take a peek if you haven't already.

I really miss my Santas. Here is a small selection of them:

I am infatuated with Santas carved from cypress knees (bits of the cypress tree that grow up out of the water in the bayou) - they have the perfect shape for Santa. In this pic, the second and third from the left are cypress knees. That back one is by Bill Evans who is incredibly talented.

A few years ago, back when I was living in Georgia (the state, not the country), I tried my hand at carving cypress knees. Turn out that I LOVE finding the hidden Santa and carving him out:

But absolutely hate everything that comes afterwords. I have no idea how many years you'd have to spend trying to completely sand one of these. I hated that step and don't think I got a single one of them sanded down right. Then I was completely intimidated at the thought of painting on them. I hate cutesy faces and I just was having a heck of a time trying to get the eyes right on paper, let alone the wood. So these guys never got finished, although they have a certain amount of charm as is. They are living with my mom and dad now.

I took my tools with me to Cairo but never picked them up. I hate the idea of trying to carve with the cats around, but I'm sure I'll make another stab at this one of these days.

Anyone else have a hand-carved Santa they'd like to share?

I'm currently reading Heat by Bill Buford, yet another book about life in a professional kitchen. I never ever wanted to be a chef or cook, but I'm fascinated by what a hard life it can be. Routine twelve hour days, no taking off work when you are sick (which is rather repulsive from a customer's prospective) and the amount of abuse that is hurled around.

It has gotten incredibly cold here. Okay, yes it is much colder elsewhere, but still, it's COLD. I am not happy. We were actually walking in snow flurries last night. Definitely time to decamp. But first I have to go out in that cold weather to get books back to the library and buy cat food.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quilting Merrily

Here's a peek at my Merry Penguins wallhanging in progress. To see the whole top, go here.

I'm doing the freehand fans all the way around the borders. I'm actually on the last side now. Then I have lots of quilting left to do in the middle. By the way, isn't this a great photo? Took it with my new camera, a Canon Digital Elph SD600. It's very easy to use, takes gorgeous photos and is small enough to carry around everywhere.

I love the retro colors in this fabric. I might take it as my inspiration when I pick out my little tree and ornaments for Florida. I love the idea of using pink and lime green (which I bet my hubby would hate) so I can indulge myself. I'm sure other colors will creep in tho - I've never been able to stick to just one color or theme or anything for Christmas, I just get all that I love.

Did not feel very good yesterday. Had some chest pains, which sounds scarier than it is. It's a side effect from my thyroid medicine, which I am now supposed to be splitting into two and taking in the morning and then 12 hrs later. I'm hoping that evening out the dosage will give me more energy in the morning too.

I have been soooo bad about providing links, so I have a whole list of them. Here are a few:

Hanne made a delightful quilt called Love XOXO using the hugs and kisses blocks combined with hearts in a beautiful mix of pinks, reds and white. I'm loving her Dear Jane Christmas blocks too.

Quilting Rush Laurie Ann is playing with letters again, this time making a doggy-themed quilt for a friend.

Dordogne Quilter Clare finished a delightful family quilt full of meaning, made with wonky houses, letters and special quilting. Clare is issuing a Free Piecing Crazy Scrap Challenge to cheer everyone up in the New Year. Looks like it will be loads of fun.

Kim at Force Majeure Farm has issued the 2nd edition of the Bent Needle online quilt and textile carnival, this time focusing on the holidays.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Visionary Art Museum

Sorry for neglecting you all. A good friend was in town over the weekend and we had a great time eating out (Lebanese and French) as well as going to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Look at this magnet - isn't it just perfect for me?

I didn't love all the items on display but one artist in particular was loads of fun. Nancy Josephson uses lots of beads and sequins over taxidermy forms and urns - really appealed to the bright sparkly lover in me. The bear and ?gopher? were wearing fezzes, and that was a hoot as well.

I have not had tons of energy, I'm afraid to say. Don't know if it's cuz I'm recovering from surgery or don't have enough thyroid. I have been getting stuff done tho. Made arrangements to get down to Florida on the 16th of this month and have an appointment with an endocrinologist down there on the 21st. Trying to get some addresses changed and I'm sure there are all sorts of things I'm going to forget. Bit by bit, it will all get done.

To clarify my last post, my parents won't actually be down in Florida until January. That's a-ok, gonna have the cats's company for Christmas. I feel much sorrier for my husband who is going to be alone in a new place.