Friday, January 21, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tahoe Blue

This is a straight-out-of-the-camera shot of Lake Tahoe from a few days ago. Yep, it really IS that blue.

We are home and tired and now there is laundry to do -- and I was reminded upon entering the house that I need to put the rest of the holiday decorations away!  Oh dear!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I love my design wall

You know how every once in a while you make a purchase that turns out to be just wonderful?  You hesitated at the time, but after a while you realize that you are SO glad you did it?

I feel that way about my portable design wall. (Shoot.  I don't have a picture handy, but you can see it here.  I remember spotting them at PIQF when "Cheryl Ann" first introduced them, and I remember standing with my friend and hemming and hawing over whether they'd be useful and whether they'd be worth the price.  I didn't buy one that day, but some weeks later got the opportunity to get in on a bulk order and I went ahead.

I sure am glad I did.

I use it at home more often than I would have thought.  I don't have a big design wall in my little office/studio, so when I'm laying out a large quilt, I set it up in the bedroom and work there.  Twice a year, I take it to quilt retreat and if I don't use it, I set it up and some one else will need it.  (At the retreat, the entire large room is lined with these large portable design walls.)

And this week, I brought it with me to Tahoe and I've laid out two large quilts whose pieces have been in the UFO pile for quite a while.  Designing the quilts and laying out the blocks in preparation for sewing is one of those fun tasks that takes time and space -- so I've spent several peaceful mornings just moving pieces around on the wall. I have my own funny numbering and stacking system so I can remove pieces from the wall and have them ready to sew for later.

So I've been appreciating my design wall this week, and thinking about how glad I am I bought it.

Do you have any item that brings those feelings to mind?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Let it Snow, Let it Snow

We decided a few days ago to take advantage of Husband's extended winter vacation, and Daughter's flexible and portable home-school work to come up to the family house up in Lake Tahoe.  So we gathered up our winter gear, I packed up my sewing machine and supplies (imagining a winter quilting retreat sort of thing), we wedged a space for the dog in the back of the car, and away we went.  Cleverly, we came up before the start of the long weekend and managed to avoid active snow fall and traffic.

I started grinning from ear to ear as soon as I saw snow on the side of the road.  I loved living in the snow when I lived in New Hampshire.  I know it sounds ridiculous to those of you digging out from yet another blizzard, but I miss it and wish I lived in a snowy climate. (Sadly, I can't persuade Roger.) At least I get my fix up here and can then go back home and put away the boots and down jacket for another year.

Gemma had a tense first night, barking at every creak in the house and strange sound.  I suppose we can be grateful that she is such an alert watchdog, but there is such a thing as TOO alert.  Today, after a lot of wild romping in the snow, she is flopped on her side in front of the wood stove and she hasn't emitted a single woof.  

I must confess that I did more photo taking than sledding.  It's dryer that way.  But I loved watching Gemma dash and then claim the sled from Caroline after she'd rolled off.  She's smart enough to know it's more comfortable sitting on plastic than on bare snow.

When we're not flailing around in the snow, we're indoors being cozy.  I finished "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" which I adored.  I set up my sewing machine and worked on the machine quilting for a bed quilt (only to discover I left the free motion foot at home!  Ack!  So I did the in-the-ditch part and will have to wait to do the free motion part later.)  I baked brownies.  Caroline is drawing and working on a new animation video, and Roger is napping and reading and helping his sister by doing odd jobs here in the house. 

And that was only the first 24 hours.  More snowy fun to come!   

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sketchbook Challenge #1: Highly Prized

Because one of my goals for the coming year is to use my sketchbook more, I signed on to join the 2011 Sketchbook Challenge.  It promises to be inspirational and fun, and I'm hoping it'll prod me to return to the sketchbook a bit more regularly. 

This month's theme is "Highly Prized."  The first thing that popped into my mind was a pair of wooden spoons I have which once belonged to my Auntie Helen.  I know, it's odd.  Maybe it's all of the holiday cooking I've been doing -- using those very spoons, even, but that's what came to mind and so they became the subject for my first entry.

And these spoons do mean a lot to me.  Every time I use one, I think about my great aunt, and all of the meals she cooked using them, and how she stirred with them just as I do.  It's not just a link to my childhood, but a connection to my role in the women in my family -- making food, doing our humble kitchen chores, caring for our families.

My aunt Helen was really my great aunt, my maternal grandmother's sister.  She was a slender woman (I inherited several of her handmade aprons, and they look like they were made for a child's waist) with a quick smile.  She didn't have children, but she was always ready to play cards or do puzzles with us.  She was a lovely presence at many family gatherings, loving and kind and ready to play with any of us kids.  She died over 30 years ago, but I think of her every time I use one of these spoons. I guess it's my memories of my aunt that I so highly prize, and these spoons are just the trigger.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

My year in books

I've read a lot of books this past year, some better than others. As I look over my reading list, I see that I read more chick lit and light fluffy fiction than I usually do -- which correlated to some of the complicated real-life stuff we were coping with here. Nothing like good girly escapism to relieve a bit of life stress, I say. Here are some of the books I read in 2010 that I'd recommend (and most of these are not chick lit):

The Gift by Cecelia Ahearn
Roses by Leila Meacham
The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault
The Last Time I was Me by Cathy Lamb
A Year on Ladybug Farm and At Home on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer
Flying Changes by Sarah Gruen
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Faithful Place by Tana French
The English American by Alison Larkin
The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle

I hope 2011 brings us all great reading discoveries!

(By the way, I am enjoying the discovery of pretty blog backgrounds for a fun and temporary change.  Here's the January New Year decoration, courtesy of

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2010 in Pictures

Turns out I did more fiber art in 2010 than I'd realized. Here's to a creative and productive 2011 for us all!