Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's pushing noon on Christmas day, and this is how our house still looks (although these photos were taken earlier this week):

When you are a "second family" which shares your children with ex-spouses, Christmas doesn't begin until they arrive.  Since my son and my Honey's daughters both live with their other parents, we split Christmas day in two.  They wake up there to open presents, then get into cars and come down here (five hours) to finish with Christmas dinner and more presents.  My Honey meets his ex on the road halfway and is already en route.  My ex delivers my son to my dad, who loads up his car and comes all the way to spend part of the week with us.  So my Christmas present is a quiet peaceful house before a week of chaos, meals around the clock (so it feels) and voices of children trying to be heard above one another.

I had Thursday and Friday off from work, and we cleaned and prepared to host Christmas Eve dinner for my Honey's family of nine, so today is a true "free day."  I'll set up an air mattress in my sewing room for the overflow guests, precook a meal or two for later in the week, and otherwise I have the entire day to sew.

I began two projects this week in the time I left myself each evening to "reward" myself for busy days.  One was a comfort quilt for the guild with fabric they supplied.  They put in six inch squares to sew together for a quilt top, but of course I couldn't leave it at just that:
I had to make disappearing nine patch blocks out of them for a little more visual interest:
Maybe I will post some photos of the other project a bit later in the day.  It occurs to me that it's one of those things that happens when you give a gift and find that you've inadvertently received one in return.  More later ... but for now, I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas day (or Sunday, if you don't celebrate) in a way that brings you joy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winner announced! And Christmas countdown

Wow, my favorite football team - the Baltimore Ravens - played horribly last night, so I was glad for the distraction of assimilating all the comments I've received from you all to pick out a winner while watching the game.  This was not an easy task, especially because I wanted to be fair to everyone and stick to the rules that I had set out, so I went through and put in one entry for following and one entry for giving me the name of your favorite book ... extraneous comments and those posted after the giveaway closed on Saturday were not counted ... sorry!!

The winner is ... Michele!  She wrote, " My recent favorite books are all by Lisa See. Try her first one, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, and you'll be hooked by her."  Actually, she's right.  I love historical fiction, and last year for the family book-themed Yankee gift exchange, my Honey's sister contributed that book, which my Honey ended up with ... but I was the one who spent the day after Christmas reading it from start to finish.  Since then I've also gone through her books, "On Gold Mountain," "Peony in Love," and "Dreams of Joy."  I've also read several Anchee Min novels (slightly more history than fiction), both "The Painter from Shanghai" by Lisa Cody Epstein and "The Concubine's Daughter" by Pai Kit Fai which I received for my last birthday, and Ha Jin's "Waiting" is next on deck. 

However, I want to thank everyone who contributed the names of their favorite books.  Be reassured that I have already read the Hunger Games, Percy Jackson series, and Harry Potter (I do have an 11-year-old boy, after all), and am a huge fan of Jane Austen, rereading her books every few years.  I've read nearly all the classics, including everything by Dickens and Dostoyevsky, and much of Dumas (LOVE the Count of Monte Cristo), and Edith Wharton is another favorite author.  So I really appreciate a lot of the modern literature that others have recommended - I'm going to filter through the list and start adding some things to my library wish list!

Now, on the quilting front - the guild just posted photos from the December show & tell, including the Kaleidoscope quilt I made for my dad, so I'll share the photo here:
I was able to sew labels onto all three of my Christmas present quilts last week and need to get them washed and dried to give them that great "crinkly" look.  Most of the presents are wrapped and already under the tree, but the next thing on the list is menu planning.  Not only am I hosting Christmas Eve dinner for my Honey's family, but I have a whole week's worth of meals to think about for our houseful - three kids, my dad, and his girlfriend - who arrive on Christmas Day.  It's not easy going from two people to seven, and it tired me out last year, so I'm trying to do as much pre-planning (and freezing) as possible.  I think the crock pot will get a lot of use Christmas week!  We're also planning "theme days" with the kids during that week - one day where we get outside for a hike or to take the dog to the dog park, one day where we stay in our pajamas all day to watch movies and bake cookies, one day where we do some volunteer work, and so on.  But I'm planning on building in some good sewing time in there, including catching up on my charity sewing - comfort quilts, 4Patches4Hope, and pillowcases for the Million Pillowcases Challenge.  Does anyone else have any special sewing plans during the holidays?

Monday, December 12, 2011

post-weekend update

Hi and welcome to so many new visitors and followers from the Quilting Gallery Blog Hop Party!  If you're looking for the giveaway post, please click here or scroll down to see the jelly roll and pattern I'm giving away and enter to win.

My Honey and I had a wonderful weekend away together.  We went to a lovely B&B in Goshen, Virginia called the Hummingbird Inn, saw a hilarious one-man Christmas show at the American Shakespeare Center, and had delicious dinners at Brix Wine Bar in Lexington and Zynodoa in Staunton.  We also enjoyed a wine tasting at Rockbridge Vineyards and did lots of holiday shopping, but for me the best part was finding a new quilt shop - the Quiltery in Fairfield, Virginia.  They don't have a website but it was SUCH a lovely find.

One purchase at the Quiltery was a Honey Bun of Moda's "Neptune" by Tula Pink.  I'd never seen the line before, and that's probably because it was released in early 2009, when I was moving from Baltimore to Roanoke and had a million other things on my mind besides being up to speed on new fabric releases.  But I just LOVED the colors and could not resist buying it:
I am toying with the idea of a log cabin quilt with the coral shades in the centers.  Or maybe a Bento Box-style quilt. 

And then, I learned that the Quiltery carries the entire Marcus Fabrics Civil War Chronicles line that my BOM is from!  Oh, I wish I had known that earlier when I had the little cutting accident, ran low and had to use a different fabric! But I did buy the 108" wide backing fabric from them on Saturday.

Speaking of the BOM project, here is what I have put together/laid out so far.  Yes, I worked on it a little bit when I got home last night:

It's getting so big that it's becoming hard to photograph.  Not only that, but my sewing room is shrinking!  Well, not really, but it feels that way.  In the top right of the photo you can see a few of my mother's sewing machines that I blogged about here.  I finally heard back from the local sewing guild and they will help me in finding new homes for all of my mom's stuff, but in the meantime, it's taking up space, and there will be more (patterns, books, notions) coming home with me from my dad's house this coming weekend.  In addition, this is generally where I hide and wrap Christmas presents, so they are also stacking up at the edges of the room.  But when I get downstairs, I'm in the mood to sew, not wrap!  Still, I need to do something before the weekend, since my Honey's daughters will be coming this weekend and I am headed north to spend it with my son, so I will need to clean up and stash presents so they're not found - intentionally or accidentally.

What do YOU do to help stay organized during the Christmas season?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quilter's Blog Hop Party GIVEAWAY!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

As I mentioned previously, I'm participating in the Quilter's Blog Hop Party, which includes a giveaway at every site they list.  As of last night, they were up to 226 participants!  It begins on Saturday, when the page I linked to above will be updated with the complete list of people participating.  This is my entry.

I just began blogging this year, even though I've been quilting for twenty years now.  When I look back at what I've accomplished in the quilting realm this year, what I see more than anything are quilts made with 2 1/2" strips, including Moda jelly rolls.  So I am going to give away a jelly roll as well as the pattern for a quilt I recently made with one!
I'm giving away, to one lucky winner, Fig Tree & Company's "Jelly Girl" pattern, and a jelly roll of Moda's "Fruitcake" line by BasicGrey.  This was one of last year's Christmas lines, and is getting a little hard to find.  Here is the image of the fabrics in this line: 
But it can be yours if you're lucky!  Here's how to win:

1) Become a follower of Ten Quilts, and leave me a comment that says you have done so.
2) Leave me a comment telling me the best book you have ever read.  I'm looking for something new to read by the fire during these winter months, so help me out!

As a reward to my current loyal readers, I will double your chances of winning if your comment is dated before Saturday, December 10, when the giveaway party links are posted.  So if your comment is dated before midnight Friday telling me you're a follower, that's two entries, and if your comment is dated before midnight Friday about the best book you've ever read, that's two more entries, for a possible total of four.  Beginning on December 10, the most entries anyone can get is two.  And remember, I will ship internationally!

The giveaway week ends on December 17, so I will post a winner on Monday morning, December 19 after I get my act together and randomly pick someone from the entries received.  Please be sure that I can email you, either through your Blogger profile or the info you leave.

Thanks for visiting - take a look around while you're here - and good luck to all!

some time to sew

Honey's on the road so I got some time in my sewing room last night.  I went right to my Civil War Chronicles block of the month - we're in the home stretch now.  I cut the fabric and put together one of these King's Crown blocks, measuring 7 1/4" unfinished.
After I sew the other seven, there are instructions for completing the quilt top before borders.  I'm hoping it goes together as well as the first part of it did (shown again below).
To clarify, it will have four corners put onto it, not rows on the square sides.  I should be able to at least start that process tonight, I think.

I had not been completely lax in my sewing room.  One day, I managed to get in there for a brief project.  When cleaning out my mother's sewing room, I took her bulletin board off her wall and moved it home with me.  I decided to cover it with some home dec fabric I had laying around so that it would be slightly more visually palatable.  It now hangs above my cutting station and is a convenient place for all the slips of paper and fabric I want to keep handy.
One of the things I've posted on there is an article from the latest McCall's Quilting magazine entitled, "Quilt Happier in 2012."  It had a lot of great advice I need to remember so I put it up.  Two of my favorites are getting rid of UFO's and making something for myself.  It's amazing how much the mental weight of UFOs hangs on me, and they do tend to be the projects that I'm making for myself but put on the back burner to be able to do something for someone else.  I have a few that date back into the 90s!  I think that going forward, I am going to have a goal of finishing (or disposing of) two UFOs each year.  And I know which one is first up in 2012.

I want to post separately about the Quilting Gallery Blog Hop Giveaway that starts this weekend, so I will do that next.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quilter’s Blog Hop Party with Give-Away

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

I know that I've been a sporadic blogger lately, and in part to apologize, and in part to keep in the spirit of the holidays (and in part just because it's fun!), I've decided to participate in Quilting Gallery's Quilter's Blog Hop Party, which means Giveaway!  Actually, as of today, it looks like there will be more than 150 bloggers with giveaways!  It will begin on December 10, when the list is posted, and culminate in giveaway day on December 17.  I need to have my post up here by this coming Friday to let you know what the giveaway will be, or I won't be included in the count.

I'm thinking that it will be jelly-roll-themed, since that has been the name of the game in my sewing studio this year.  Unfortunately, the timing throws a bit of a wrench into this, since I just gave away a whole lot of goodies from my sewing room, including a jelly roll of Prayer Flag, to the quilt guild for last night's silent auction.  So I will have to put a little more thought into it than usual.

I showed off the almost-completely-bound Kaleidoscope last night at quilt guild and will put the photo here when one is posted.  I have labels to make for my three Christmas-gift quilts and then they will be ready to be wrapped.  I've not had a heck of a lot of time to sew lately, and didn't think I would.  Not that it's all bad - some of the insanity in the last week or so has been due to my Honey presenting me with a gorgeous engagement ring! - but I miss the ability to center.  I got my Civil War Chronicles BOM for December yesterday and hope to get back in there over the next few nights, especially while Honey is traveling this week.

So come back on Friday morning to check out my giveaway and link to the full list of them!  I will ship to an international winner, so if you're not in the USA, don't take yourself out of the running!