Friday, November 30, 2007

Just in the St. Nick of Time!

I managed to finish the advent calendar. I sewed on all the buttons that Anna arranged and the letters by hand last night. Filled the pockets this morning before I went to work. As you can see on some of them, they are bulging. The pockets ended up a little small. Everything I had fit, but one. Anna will have to do a little treasure hunt to get that prize.

I also thought I would do an advent blog calendar. I think Christmas has become too much about consumerism and marketing. So, my blog advent calendar will concentrate on environmentally friendly ideas. I will put these thoughts, ideas, suggestions in red or green and any regular blog fodder in the usual black. I hope to be able to do every day until Christmas. Starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's starting to look like ...

something fun!

For about the past five years, we have gotten Anna a Playmobil advent calendar for December. The calendar had people and pieces that went with a scene. Anna loved them and used them to make her stop-motion animated videos (you can view here). Every year the last piece would be a Santa Claus. We have about five of them now. This year the Playmobil company changed the format. They have a calendar for girls and and calendar for boys and they are not Christmas themed. (I think this is smart to have two different ones if you had two kids.) Seeing as how Anna is not really into the fairy-tale princess, pink unicorn thing, I wasn't sure about getting it. I asked her if she would like that (or the boy knight themed version) but she seemed hesitant. I said maybe we could find something else or I could make a calendar. We saw a Littlest Pet Shop calendar but it had only three of the pets and Anna already had some of them.

So, above you see the start of her calendar, along with a new, huge tree skirt and some postcards I've started. The numbered pocket idea came from the "AllSorts" blog by Jenny Harris (you can see it here). She also has a pattern for the pocket. Her pockets were on a string, but I didn't know where I would put a string. Therefore, I sewed them onto felt with the stiff Pellon interfacing attached. I just did that tonight and now I need to add some more decorations. Anna asked me if I had stuff to put in the pockets. I said, "Oh, you put stuff in the pockets?" Of course I have stuff to put in the pockets!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wine and Adventure

Saturday after Thanksgiving we went wine tasting at the "local" wineries (not in Boise but outside Nampa near Marsing). We went to several that we had been too last year while my parents were visiting and one new one we hadn't visited before. This might be a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Anna came along with us although she was not so excited by it. She did manage to munch on cheese and crackers, soup and chocolate. Usually I would taste the white wines and then go outside with Anna to leave Frank to taste the reds and decide what to purchase. It worked out pretty well. But to add a little fun for Anna, we went geocaching in between. What is geocaching you ask? Well, you go on-line and find lots of places where people have left coordinates. You get the information and then you use your GPS to follow the coordinates. Then you search around the final location to find a hidden box, bucket or some kind of container a person has hidden.

Inside the container are things that people have left. You can leave something you brought and take something else from the container. Then there is also a notebook to log in. Afterward, you hide it again for the next person to find.

A couple of years ago, Frank and Anna made up a geocach box to put on Rimrock. They have instructions about what it is in case someone accidentally finds it but doesn't know what it is. But I guess some kids found it and took the whole thing as it disappeared.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

After Thanksgiving Wrap-up

I hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving. I am thankful that we have great neighbors to invite us over to their house this year. And in true Jane style, there were lots of people.

"Yum! Turkey!" Anna says.

It was so bright when we sat down to eat, Sadi had to get her movie star sunglasses on.

The next day we were doing stuff inside and finally I just knew I should get out. Anna and I went for a walk which was really just exploring the open, reserve area (Rimrock) - the field we walk through to school everyday and also the rocky, hilly area above. On the hill we saw the full moon rising above the horizon. It looked huge. But by the time I went to the house and got my camera, it was higher and looked smaller.

I am also thankful to have the final pieces of my Graduate Application mailed in and I don't have to think about it over the holidays. Yea!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Boxes and Bags

I know it is the day before Thanksgiving and here I am going to mention Christmas. I don't usually like that, but it is somewhat of a necessity here. We live in Idaho and the rest of our family lives east of Missouri. To avoid the mail rush, I like to try to have presents wrapped, packed and shipped before or just after Thanksgiving. I managed to do that today (take note family boxes are headed your way!). Some of the boxes contain bags like these below.

At one of our local quilt shops, they had an example of a gift bag that was very cute and very similar to these. I asked to look at the book which had the pattern. I think it is called Strippin' Time. I would have bought it if there had been any other projects in it that I was interested in, but there was not. I was pretty sure I could figure it out on my own (I'm pretty good at that). Mine are a little different but basically the same idea.

I did the piecing and quilting as I went along. I had not done that before but I understood the concept - put the pieces on top of the batting and backing and sew them together while you are also quilting. The seam lines are the quilting lines. And since I wanted to make these fast, I did not do extra quilting. I also was using up some fusible batting which made them a little stiffer than if you use regular batting. I made them specifically to fit the gifts they hold, but I might make some more to have on hand. I was trying to use up some old Christmas fabrics I've had for a while (I've made Christmas fabric envelopes and fabric buckets in the past).

I like using these because the recipient can re-use them to give to someone else next year. Or after I looked at these, they could be stuffed with something and used as little decorative pillows!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Morning Surprises

Yesterday as we walked to school, we saw a big rainbow. It faded pretty quickly but we enjoyed it while we could. The sun was just rising and there were many clouds in the sky. They were ripply and had a greenish color to them. Anna said it looked like an upside down ocean. Also, the sunlight hit one building downtown that just made it glow but none of the buildings around it. Some very interesting weather special effects. That's why I enjoy walking Anna to school. Otherwise, we probably wouldn't notice those things.

Today we woke up and the roofs looked frosty. Anna said she thought it was snow, but I didn't see it anywhere but on the roofs. However, when I looked out the living room window, there was a trace of snow in our yard. Anna said she wished it would snow more and about 5 minutes later we look out the window and it is snowing! Anna was so excited.

"I can't believe it's snowing!"

We walked to school in the snow and there were some pretty big flakes. By the time we got down to the flat part, the snow started slowing down. Anna was jibber-jabbering the whole way about snow because she was so happy about it. But by the time I had walked back to the house, it had stopped.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh my darlin' clementine

They are back in the stores, the yummy clementine oranges. These are great because most of them are easy to peel, don't have seeds and have bite-size segments. A great snack. Even Anna likes them. I've been waiting for them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here's Cocoa! (and Anna)

Cocoa is quickly getting used to us, albeit she's still a little jumpy. We let her out to run in the pen last night and after taking about 20 pictures, I managed to get a couple of good ones. She moves very quickly and it's hard to focus on her. In this picture you can see her white paws and a little bit of the white stripe that goes from her chin down to her chest.

Isn't she adorable? She is much taller than she looks in these pictures.

And here's Anna in her Halloween costume from two years ago. The fourth through sixth graders gave a musical performance at school today and they could dress up as Americans throughout history. Anna wanted to be a Native American. Isn't she adorable?

As we were getting Anna's backpack after the show to get ready to leave, a woman asked me if Anna was my daughter. I said yes. She said she likes watching Anna sing because she has such rhythm and really gets into it. She can pick her out every time. I said yes, she does and I think it is great. Most of the kids just stand there and sing without expression because they are suppose to, but you can tell Anna really enjoys it.

Frank is out of town on business so I was planning on videotaping the performance for him. I arrived at school and found a good standing spot for seeing Anna. When they started the first song, I turned on the camera and taped some of it but the battery indicator started flashing. I turned it off to save power. Yes, I did charge the battery last night!(and our back-up battery died a while ago). When Anna's class started singing their song on their own, I turned it on again, but alas, it was done in two seconds. Oh well, Frank missed out.

I think the battery has had it and it may just be time to get a new smaller, lighter, digital video camera (we are still using the old fashioned tape kind). I did think about bringing my pocket camera as a back-up as it does some video, but I really didn't want to have to mess with two things.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ready for Winter

The weather has become more autumn-like with cooler temperatures and some rain. Winter is on everybody's mind. Anna is wishing for snow already. While we were out shopping this past weekend, Anna found a "Heidi" hat that she liked. How could we not buy it for her when she looks so adorable in it!? It does have the ear flaps which will be nice on cold days walking to school. Her fleece hat didn't cover her ears.

Frank is ready for snow and winter as he has bought himself a new pair of skis and has properly pumped his anticipation by watching this year's Warren Miller ski movie.

I am ready to re-focus as well. It doesn't have much to do with winter except that I don't feel as guilty staying inside and working on projects when the weather is cold. I am in the finishing stages of getting the rest of my graduate school application and portfolio ready to send in. Below is my very unprofessional set up for taking pictures of artwork (I really need some light stands!) Once I finally have everything sent off, I'm ready to work on holiday projects, finish up some old projects, work on some house projects and other stuff. I might even finish the flannel quilt I started several years ago for Anna's bed. (My sister, niece and nephew all have a bed quilt I made for them. My mom has a twin size quilt to put at the end of her bed, but poor Anna has none. Neither do I, for that matter. Maybe I'll work on that. I already have the fabrics.) There are lots of misc. things I look forward to doing now that I can re-focus my attention for a little while.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Artistic Interlude

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you Anna's Art. I think this "squares" piece is a big deal because usually Anna wants to do things fast. I know this took her a long time to complete (she only had regular lined paper and had to make the perpendicular lines).

This is an appropriate picture to announce our new furry addition to the family, Cocoa, the hamster. She does not look like the picture above. Will post a picture of her after she adjusts to her new home.

At first, Anna didn't want to get a new hamster after losing Misty. But I told her we could never replace Misty, but we could make room in our heart for a new furry friend. Plus, we didn't have to get a new hamster right away. After a while, Anna decided she would like a new one and started getting excited about it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Two More

Despite the fact that I have finally caught the cold that has been going around Anna's school and I feel quite horribly, I managed to put this together this weekend and finish it.

As I have been following the artists of the Twelve by Twelve group here, I thought I might play along. There are twelve artists that will be making 12" x 12" art quilts with different themes. I guess they will eventually end up with 12 different quilts. Their first theme was dandelions and it was interesting to see all the different interpretations. I had an idea for the dandelion fluff and thought I would try it today.

Here is what I started with - a piece of light yellow cloth. I sandwiched it with batting and stitched on the "fluff" with white thread. It's a little hard to see in the picture.

Then I did the paint roller technique over the stitches. After that I added the background swirl stitching as I didn't want to see the yellow fabric with those stitches. Here is what it looked like.

Then I added a little more color with oil crayons and some slight shadows on the fluff. Here is the finished piece (without the edges finished yet).

As you can see, since I'm not in the 12x12 group, I decided not to use the 12" format.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Finished Experiment Plus One

I recently purchased this book by Linda and Laura Kemshall. I need more time to study and read it but it has a lot of great ideas. One of them is the technique they use of painting a quilt after it is already quilted. I wanted to try it.

As I was working on other stuff and thinking about this technique, an idea popped into my head. I thought I would just try it and not worry about the outcome. Below is the quilt I call "Black and White and Red All Over." The stitched words are the quilting and after I was done, I rolled red paint over it with a brayer. It left an area around the quilted words. The words are a list of all the things we read. There were many more words that didn't fit on the quilt. The words on the white part are "poetry, fine-print, notes (just the end of it because I wanted to run some words off the edges), hieroglyphics, blogs, postcards.

The black words are a little hard to see in the above picture, so I took a picture from an angle. The words in black are "instructions (partial), maps, email, newspapers, zines, magazines, textbooks, pamphlets, flyers, posters, letters (partial), tombstones. I'm excited with the possibilities of this technique. I also realized when making this how different the world is for someone who does not know how to read.

Plus here is one more piece I have finished. This one used the monoprinted fabrics again. Originally the three pieced sections in the middle started out together with another pieced section and no mustard color in a completely different configuration. It was all sewn together and sat around for about a week before I decided it wasn't working for me and I un-sewed some sections and decided it needed solid fabric in between to give the eye some rest from the business (busy-ness) of the pieces. Here it is now and I like it much better.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Another finished piece

This was a piece I created at Nancy's workshop. I have finished the quilting on it. I made it in the vertical orientation, this way...

...or this way...

...or maybe it should be horizontal. What do you think?

Here is what some of the quilting looks like on the back. Very dense again. I also used a striped fabric on the back.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Anna was a snow leopard for Halloween this year. Yes, we made the costume and painted on her "spots". She went trick-or-treating with her friend Lauren and Lauren's little sister.

This morning I did another art lesson with the kids. I had them make chairs out of twigs, string and model magic. There was some frustration but they turned out well. Below are just a few.