30 December 2014

2014 ~ Looking Back

2014
Another year has come and gone.  I do love taking time at the end of the year to look back at what the year brought and what I was able to accomplish in it.  Each year develops its own flavors and I've found that this year's were beautiful.  

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For our family, 2014 was the year of Jessie and David's wedding!  The ceremony was lovely and the celebration after was a delight!  Truly a precious day that will shine in our memories for many years to come! 

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Of course there was a huge amount of work leading up to the wedding in order to get the house and yard in shape!  With help from all  my kids and a few of their friends, we made terrific progress on the landscaping!  Together, the kids and I were able to make my yard dreams come true with the addition of new flagstone patios, flowerbeds and an arbor! The house got a facelift too with a new paint job, insulation, new gutters and a new fence!  The even more amazing part is that we accomplished all of this in less than two months! 

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All the new flowerbeds around the house helped in one of my favorite hobbies; taking photos of flowers!  Each trip also provided opportunities for more flower photos.  As always, they remain some of my favorite photos at the end of the year! 

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With all the work at home in preparation for the wedding, there wasn't much traveling this year.  There was a trip to Albuquerque, NM in March and a trip to Kansas City, MO in September.  Other than that, there were a few visits to Rocky Mountain National Park, Brainard Lake, and Pawnee National Grasslands. 

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No matter where I was, I found birds and critters to photograph!  A new camera lens made photographing the birds so much fun! 

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After hardly stitching at all in 2012 and 2013, I made up for it this year with lots of projects both big and small.  And the workings for many more to come!  

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I didn't do much in the way of artwork.  Something that I hope to change in the coming year.  I'd like to find a better balance between stitching and painting!

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I had so much fun stitching in three different round robins in 2014!  I loved stitching in all of them, but have to say that the Fans were my favorite to work on!  In each one, there was such lovely work being done!

Lisa P. Boni CQJP 2014 PincushionsAnd of course, my other big accomplishment that I've recently posted about, was finishing 15 pincushions throughout the year for the CQJP 2014 challenge!

So, it was quite a year.  Very productive!  It will be one of those years that will remain in memory as a happy and blessed year!  

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

29 December 2014

Getting Ready for CQJP 2015

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Ok, I know these are NOT the colors you were expecting from me!

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After all, ORANGE (and Yellow) are NOT my favorite colors!  I even did an art journal page once on that topic!  

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But last autumn, when the CQI Retreat went to the wonderful store, Florilegium, in Westport, MO, I spotted this tiny velvet pillow in luscious shades of peachy orange and yellow and fell in love!  This little pillow, lush as a ripe peach has stayed in my mind ever since and I've been wanting to do a block in these lovely colors.  Notice I said "A" block.  So how did it turn into a whole quilts worth of blocks?  I'm still asking myself that question too!  

Chalk it up to Pinterest!  I found this lovely block  and was inspired by the level of stitching on it.  As I've been thinking about CQJP, I knew that I wanted to do something different than pincushions this year, and wanted something that would stretch me to learn a bit as well.  My blocks in the past have tended to be all about the seams and sometimes a motif or two.  It's really the stitching that I love and this block on Pinterest captured my imagination.  I found another pin of the entire block.  I really loved the warm colors in the background and how it allowed the stitching to harmonize like a rich tapestry.  So for CQJP 2015, I really want to work on filling my blocks with stitching.  I haven't decided yet if I will add lace or not. 

If you look at my CQJP Inspiration board, you'll see lots of great photos of similar blocks and variations on the color scheme I chose. 

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So I chose my fabrics and taking a lead from Gerry K who recently had some great posts about piecing blocks, I found a CQ block that I liked, made a few modifications to suit myself, scaled it up to 8 inches square on the copier and then taking a lead from Allie Aller's Craftsy Class (which I highly recommend!), I tried piecing in a little different fashion than I usually do.   I normally am not at all fond of piecing and it takes me an inordinately long time.  But using this method, I managed to piece blocks for two quilts in two day-long work sessions!  A record for me! 

I need to say something here about taking classes.  Yes, I've been crazy quilting for a while now, so why would I take a beginning crazy quilting class?  Well, I've learned that no matter how much you know, there is always something else to learn and sometimes seeing how someone else does things makes something you do a little bit easier.  I learned so many little things from watching Allie's class, from watching how she uses the plastic templates as she works (something she never really talks about, but just does while she's working) to some of the tips and tricks she uses to make things easier!  I've tried all sorts of new things for this year's CQJP and as a result, I've backed all my blocks with knit tricot interfacing, learned how to use my large quilting templates so much more efficiently, definitely learned how to piece easier and glue sticks... who knew!  You'll have to sign up yourself through Craftsy to learn for yourself!

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Here's my fabrics with some of my inspiration printed out.

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When I first laid the blocks out this is what I came up with.  I had lots of inspiration photos with blue and purple that I liked, so had added those colors to my fabrics.  But I really didn't care for the purple in the mix, so I removed those pieces.

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I definitely liked the blocks better without the purple, but the blue and bright green still seemed a bit much. 

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I switched out the green for one slightly warmer and closer to the palette photo.  I removed all the blue fabrics and exchanged them for some other yellows.  Now at last, they have the feel of my color palette, heavy on the yellow/peachy/orange tones.  The colors of a sunrise or sunset with a bit of green! 

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Piecing blocks by Allie's method really made things easy and I was able to make all 12 blocks in two work sessions!

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I must admit that I did have my share of learning curve though!  Positioning that first piece correctly is really important!  I did manage to salvage this block by adding more backing to the spots where the piecing spread over the edge! 

I also learned that if I want more than a 1/4" seam allowance around the outside, that I have to greatly increase the extra fabric on the outer edges of each patch.  Lesson learned! When finished, though these blocks may start off being 8" square, they may end up closer to 7 1/2".  

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As you might imagine, after spending the better part of two days piecing orange and yellow blocks, I was beginning to have a little anxiety!  How in the world am I going to be able to stay motivated to stitch this many orange/yellow blocks without going mad?   

The solution is in another project that has been brewing in the back of my mind for a long, long time.  In the days before Pinterest, I saved a copy of this heart that Jo in New Zealand stitched.  I loved the green background and the floral stitching on top of it.  I've been wanting to do a project in a similar vein ever since. 

In the fall, I attended a small quilt show and one of the vendors, Liberty Homestead, had these great packs of hand dyed shaded fabric packs.  I immediately knew they would be perfect for my "green" project!  

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So I made 9 blocks in shaded greens as an antidote to the orange/yellow blocks!  I used Sharon Boggen's Quilt Block 56 as the basis for these blocks, though I did change it ever so slightly.  I can't wait to start stitching on these!  I am also making 4 Linen blocks so that for every month, I'll have either a green block or a linen block to work on when I can't stomach the yellow/orange anymore.  Here's hoping that I can manage to stitch not just ONE block a month, but TWO!  

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I wasn't quite done piecing yet.  As I slowly move my stitching stuff into my daughter's old room, I am trying to adapt it my needs.  Since I did not want to repaint the room just yet, I'm trying to find a way to integrate the pale grey walls and dark grey curtains into something that I find relaxing.  I decided upon a woodland scheme of brown, warm greens and cream to complement the grey - the colors of a Birch woodland.   The dark grey curtains cover more of the window than I would like, so a pair of crazy quilted curtain tiebacks seemed the perfect way to bring my colors into the room!  I tried three different fabric palettes in the colors I wanted.  These are the batiks. 

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These are the silks.

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These are some Japanese fabrics (which I really got for a completely different project that is on the far back burner).  In the long run, I decided on the silks as giving the look I wanted.  

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I only want to crazy quilt the part that shows, so I used some gray suiting fabric for the back sides.  

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I think they will look great when finished!  Can't wait to get started and I think that this us what I'm going to spend this snowy cold afternoon stitching on! 


27 December 2014

CQJP 2014 Completed!

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The Crazy Quilt Journal Project comes to a close for 2014!  What a year it was!  I had such a wonderful time stretching and learning with each new pincushion!  For the majority of the year, the blocks were 9" diameter and used old CDs to help form the base.  For the December pincushions, the blocks were 6 1/2" to 7"diameter and I used wide mouth canning jar lids for the bases.  

Many of the blocks were from old blocks that I had pieced or been given but had lost interest in.  Some were pieced new and for every one, I tried to stretch my skills and try something new.  In January, I did my first ever stump work butterfly on felt.  In February, the block had a silkie, which I usually am not terribly fond of, but I used it to set the theme.  In March I contented the stump work theme, but made the leaves truly three dimensional and standing up off the pincushion.  In April, I played with a three dimensional ribbon rose of a variety I had not done before along with some ribbon leaves. In May, I was inspired by a box of ribbon and trims from Helen Gibb and made the pincushion using nearly all the elements including the large piece of embroidered ribbon.  In June, I tried my hand at making morning glories out some wide silk ribbon.  In July, I made the pincushion into my daughter's ring pillow for her wedding and added a lace and ribbon ruffle around the base.  In August, I made a large needle woven sunflower.  September's pincushion has true to life flowers copied from my garden.  October was the most fun to create, with it's 3D elements of the little knitted cat and silk pumpkins and stump work leaves and corn stalks!  

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November's pincushion was actually my "white elephant" gift to Connie K at the CQI retreat in September.  I has lots of shells and embroidered fish. 

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For December, I made four smaller pincushions, only 3 1/2" diameter instead of the usual 5 1/2 to 6" diameter.  Once again, these were all made from old blocks that I had from long ago and repurposed into pincushions! 

I loved the three diminutional quality of the pincushions and how the blocks transformed once pulled into shape.  Some of the flat stitched blocks didn't seem like much to look at, but once they were shaped, they really sprang to life!  

Now it's time to think about CQJP 2015!  It's going to be something completely different and I'll post more once I figure out exactly what I'm doing!  I'm planning on a color palette that I usually avoid (but is growing on me!) and hope to create a larger quilt with the blocks with "uber" stitching as the focus.! 

25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!


Christ the Savior is born!
For unto you is born this day in the city of David 
a Savior, which is Christ the Lord
Luke 2:11

As we celebrate His coming to live among us, 
may your hearts be filled with His love 
and may peace, love, joy, & hope 
be yours during the coming year.


Wishing everyone a blessed and happy Christmas on this beautiful Christmas morning!  


The winner of the Fourth Advent Pincushion is LoriF!  Congratulations! Please send me your mailing address!


Edited to add some photos of our Christmas Day!

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Loved the view out my bedroom window with all the Christmas lights!

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The kids all came over for a little bit in the afternoon.  This year everyone contributed to fill everyone's stockings with a little something!  Lots of fun!  As our family grows, everyone's commitments to other families grow as well, so I'm grateful for the few hours we had together,. Though I must confess that I miss the days when everyone was able to come and spend the entire day having fun and relaxing together.  

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As always, there was plenty of food!  No one goes hungry at our house!

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Colorado had a white Christmas! By the end of the day, we had about 6 or 7 inches of snow!  It made for tense travel for the kids as they went from house to house, but gratefully, everyone made it home safe and sound at the end of the day!  

21 December 2014

Fourth Sunday in Advent - 2014

Love, Light and Life
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Today on this, the fourth Sunday in Advent ~ the Sunday of Love, or Revelation, of Fulfillment or of Birthing, we light the fourth candle.  The light grows and overcomes darkness on this winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. 

We live in dark times, when stories of despicable events fill the news and horrors are shared in our social media and evil things fill our minds and hearts with anxiety and fear.  As we watch the world around us descend into darkness, we are reminded at Christmas that Jesus the Christ comes, a gift of love bringing light and life to all who receive him.  

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

In him was life, and the life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4,5

Again Jesus spoke to them saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12    

Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.  John 11:25

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.  John 12:46

I have said to you, that in me, you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

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The winner of the Third Advent pincushion is
Melody!
Melody, please e-mail me (My e-mail address can be found in the column on the right just below the Google Badge) your full name and mailing address so that I may mail the pincushion to you!  

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To enter the drawing for the Fourth Advent pincushion, leave one comment on this post before midnight on Christmas Eve, mountain standard time.  I will then number the entries, removing comments from those who have won previously as well as multiple entries from the same person.  A random number generator will be used to choose the winner and a runner up in event that the winner does not respond in a timely manner (1 week) with their mailing information.  The winner will be announced on Christmas Day! 

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For this last Advent pincushion, I had no particular theme in mind, but simply stitched as inspired in my favorite combination of green and white.

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Wishing you and all of yours, a Blessed and Joyful Christmas! 


19 December 2014

Pincushion for Third Advent

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When I started embroidering this pincushion, I was inspired by one of my favorite, but infrequently heard Christmas carols, where Christ is referred to as the Christmas Rose.  

Gesu Bambino

When blossoms flowered 'mid the snows
Upon a winter night,
Was born the Child, the Christmas Rose,
The King of Love and Light.

The angels sang, the shepherds sang,
The grateful earth rejoiced;
And at His blessed birth the stars
Their exultation voiced.

O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Again the heart with rapture glows
To greet the holy night,
That gave the world its Christmas Rose,
Its King of Love and Light.

Let ev'ry voice acclaim His name,
The grateful chorus swell.
From paradise to earth He came
That we with Him might dwell.

O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.


by Pietro A. Yon

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Another of my favorite Christmas Carols that refers to Jesus as a Rose is:

Lo, How a Rose e're Blooming

Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
Mary we behold it, the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love aright, she bore to us a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger they found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.


Translation by Theodor Baker

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In addition to the larger rose on top, there is a smaller seam of roses along one side.

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A lovely piece of old Irish lace has a rose motif.

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As with the previous two Advent Pincushions, please leave a comment on this post to enter a drawing to win this pincushion!  Entries close at midnight, Mountain Standard Time on Saturday the 20th!   Only one comment from each person will be counted, and those who have won previously will not be included in the drawing.  Entries will be numbered and a random number generator will be used to choose the winner (and a runner up in the event that the original winner does not respond with their mailing info in a timely manner.)  Winner will be announced on Sunday! 

New Stitching Space
I have moved into my new stitching space, though I am still working around some of my daughter's furniture.  It is a light, bright space and I have a bit more room to spread out!  The room will continue to evolve once Jessie is able to get her furniture out!  Miss Kitzy Cat is happy to have me in her space more often and has actually been brave enough to venture out into other parts of the house since I started spending more time in there with her! 

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Last week, I was able to finish the Christmas decorating!  I ended up with 4 Christmas trees!  The one in the living room is a real tree, decorated in green and white (and a couple of spots of reddish pink from some antique ornaments that were my Mom's)  


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On the mantel, I decorated with 5 white nativity sets, some small trees and candles against a backdrop of a faux boxwood garland.

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The dining room has views to all four trees!  Down the hallway to the right of this photo, you can also see my bedroom tree!

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The little faux feather tree remains one of my favorites, year after year.  It's nearly always decorated with an assortment of tiny pinecone and acorn ornaments and tiny balls and little woodland critters.  

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The bedroom tree is a memory tree of sorts this year.  I put out all the ornaments that I have had since I was a child.  Most of them were given to me by my Mom or friends and some belonged to my Grandma Plooster.   I hadn't put them out in years.  What fun it was to go through the boxes and relive some lovely memories!


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Mollie Kitty likes this tree too and can be found curled up underneath it or sitting on the windowsill next to it! 

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The tree in the "studio" aka breakfast nook has a snowflake and redbird theme this year!  I had fun learning to cut paper snowflakes this year to hang in the window!  

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The top of the china cabinet hold the olive wood nativity set that my Mom brought back from her trip to Israel in the late 70s.  She also did the painting hanging above it.  

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The little white shelf in my bedroom has it's annual decoration of tiny bottle brush trees and miniature nativity sets!

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Thomas thinks he is a Christmas decoration too and insists on sitting on the corner of the dining room table, even though he isn't supposed to be there!  


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