Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Quiet Christmas Eve

I think this is the first Christmas since our children were born that we've been finished with all wrapping of packages before midnight. All of the last-minute shopping was finished by 4PM. It's only 9:45, and all of the gifts are wrapped. Well, the ones that are needed for tomorrow, anyway. Since we celebrate with the different parts of the family on different weekends, we can spread out the preparations, as well.

The forecasters are calling for freezing rain overnight and tomorrow morning, so that could hamper our plans to go see DMIL. Hoping for safe driving conditions so that we can go to Orange.

Wishing everyone a holiday season with the joy of family and friends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quilt of Valor

Other than a border, I've finished piecing my Quilt of Valor. This one is from Mystery #13 on the QOVMystery Yahoo group. I like the way this turned out. The quilt tester approves, as well.

I started this one Sunday and finished tonight. Pieced while listening to the JMU Dukes WBB team win their fourth and fifth straight games.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday's accomplishments

Well, I had planned to get a lot done yesterday. I was going to make a bunch of Christmas fabric postcards and start a Quilt of Valor (QOV). I bought some new embroidery designs and used one of those to make a grand total of one Christmas postcard. - this design is Stella from The Country Needle.

Of course, the one postcard required a trip to the LQS to get some thread, and while I was there I got the green background fabric, and some red as well. Then I found a bolt of red with stars and a bolt of blue with a small dark print on the sale rack, so bought the rest of the bolts for those (40% off if you finish the bolt) and got some Kona white to go with, so now I have a simple plan for my QOV. I surfed my saved patterns to find something relatively simple to piece for the QOV. I picked a mystery pattern I had saved that uses three fabrics - that will be today's project, I think.

I have also been in the mood to bake for the last couple of weeks. Yesterday, while blog surfing, I found a recipe at bake at 350 for toffee blondies. I made a batch of those, and a batch of cinnabon-clone cinnamon rolls.

Friday, November 27, 2009


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday with family. Everyone brought something for dinner, and we had WAY too much food. With about 10 of us there, we barely touched most of the side dishes. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing with onion and celery, dressing with cranberries and pecans, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, apple and cranberry compote, tomato soup salad, green bean casserole, yeast rolls and cranberry/orange muffins. Dessert was pumpkin pie, pecan pie, pound cake and rum cake. It was all delicious. Hosted by my wonderful sister-in-law Kathy.

I have been thinking this past month of all of the things for which I am grateful. I have a husband I love and who loves me. I have three healthy children. I have two adorable grandchildren. DH and I have secure jobs. We have funds enough to have a comfortable life and to be able to help our adult children when needed. We have family who are there when we need them. We have friends we enjoy. Even though there are concerns and troubles, we are blessed with a good life and support. I am grateful for all of these things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Looking ahead to 2010

I'm thinking about quilting goals for next year already. Do I want to try to concentrate on completing UFOs? Do I want to focus on stashbusting? Is that really a goal for me? Do I want to set a number of yards to use? Should I at least try to use more than I buy? I know I don't want to do a "no buy" challenge - I like to get some new fabric now and again at least. I have been finding that I'll go into the LQS and come out without buying anything as often as not anymore. I will tend to buy at least something when I go to a quilt shop that isn't my usual store. Maybe since I see things that are different than what my local store carries.

Back to my original question:
I like to plan to work on UFOs. It makes me feel good to finish something that's in the stack. And I have so many things that just need quilting, or borders and quilting - they're almost done. I at least want to focus on those things. And I want to make sure that anything new I start gets finished.

Maybe my first goal should be to try to carve more hours out of every day.....hmmmm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Go Dukes!

The second JMU Women's basketball game was this afternoon. They played Virginia Tech at home. After spending most of the day down by as much as 11 points, they made their final run in the last 6:11 of the game to win by 7. The Convo was rocking today! This makes two games where they have looked like they were out of the game several times, and came back at the end to win. There is no quit in these young ladies.


We're having Thanksgiving dinner with my sister-in-law. She has hosted for Thanksgiving for several years now. I'm taking the bread, so I baked my rolls today. I have a wonderful recipe for brown-and-serve rolls - it's from an old Fleishman's recipe book. This makes 4 dozen rolls, so there are always plenty.

Some in-progress pictures.
I mixed up and kneaded the dough, then DH and I went in town for breakfast. When we returned, my dough was ready:

I got them all shaped, and let them rise again. These are then baked in a slow oven just until they start to turn color, and can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or more. Brown in a hot oven before serving, and you have hot bread with your meal. Four dozen rolls ready for taking to Thanksgiving dinner. Yum! And one of the best parts is that the kitchen smelled like baking bread.

I'm also looking for some other interesting bread recipes to take a variety. Maybe something whole-wheat? That will wait for later in the week.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday morning progress report

Not a whole lot of progress for the weekend. I did get some small gifts made for my two Secret Santa swaps. I'm pleased with how those turned out. No pictures yet. I keep getting distracted with the computer. I start following links to blogs and just keep going. There are so many fun things that people are doing and writing about!

This should be a short work week. I'm scheduled to take Friday as a vacation day. I may look to see if I can work out taking Thursday off, as well. I have vacation days I need to take before the end of the year, and am running out of year. The LQS is having a longarm teacher in to give classes all week. Thursday she is doing a class on ruler work - that would be fun.

Off to work to start the new week!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

At-home retreat weekend

I plan to spend most of the weekend in my sewing room as an at-home quilt retreat. I have to finish putting together two different secret Santa swaps. I may also get a chance to work on some Christmas gifts. I'll post of progress through the weekend.

Artisan bread - part 2

I baked the first loaf of my artisan bread this week. It turned out really good. I haven't gotten into the habit of taking pictures for my blog yet. Next time. I'll bake another loaf this evening. This one is a keeper.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Artisan bread

I love home-baked bread. I enjoy baking bread. But I about the only time I actually make yeast bread (other than in the bread machine) is at Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I make rolls.
I saw a book a couple of months ago for making artisan breads without all the fuss:
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I finally decided to buy the book this week, and have read it cover-to-cover. The premise is to make a bread dough that is very wet, doesn't need kneading, and keeps well in the refrigerator. You make a batch of dough, let it rise for a couple of hours, then put it in the fridge until you're ready to bake - take out a hunk of dough, shape it, let it rest for a little while, then put it in the oven - voila, homemade bread. Sounds great to me. I need a 5-qt container that will fit in the refrigerator for storing the dough, so will have to find one of those; I threw out all the mis-matched Tupperware last time I organized the kitchen cabinets, and that's where I had some larger containers. I did find a pizza peel (for letting the dough rise) at the kitchen store in the farmer's market yesterday, and I know where my pizza stone is, so other than the container for the dough, I'm set. I plan to make a batch of dough today.

I need to be more careful

Yesterday was a good day. We picked up DH's motorcycle from its service appointment. On the way home, I went to That Little Quilt Shop in Madison to do some shopping for my Secret Santa and Flat Santa swaps. Then I stopped at the Farmer's Market. I got some tea towels to be further embellished with applique or embroidery for Christmas gifts. I also bought a pizza peel, I needed that for the artisan bread I want to bake. Stopped at the grocery store to get salad fixings for the carry-in supper we planned to attend. Then managed to cut my thumb with the paring knife while I was slicing green pepper. A trip to the emergency room later, we had missed the party, but my thumb is glued closed. I know better than to get distracted while I'm using sharp knives, but....

Today is supposed to be beautiful. DH is contemplating a motorcycle ride. I have about a week's worth of things I'd like to do today.
To do:
clean up the kitchen
clean out the refrigerator
start reorganizing the kitchen cabinets
shopping trip - container for bread dough, gift shopping
mix up a batch of artisan bread dough
make up some crocheted snowflake Christmas ornaments for the tree
work on my Shakespeare in the Park - finish cutting the pieces; decide whether or not to increase to queen size
work on my sock (I haven't knit a stitch all week.)

I'll just start at the top and work my way down, and see how far I get.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Workouts tonight

First our weekly dance lesson - but not much dancing tonight. We analyzed the videos from the competition to decide where to focus for the next couple of months. Why am I not surprised that the verdict is posture, and use of feet and legs? We keep coming back to those. I'm convinced that feet and legs and posture are much improved from, say, 6 months ago, but it's still where we need to work.

And a new group class at the studio is Zumba Gold. It's a "slowed down" version of Zumba for those of us who are "deconditioned". This version of aerobics uses some basics from different dances - represented in the things tonight were swing or samba, cha cha, and belly dancing. This will be fun, because you can vary the intensity based on how extreme you make your movements.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Home sweet home

Back from vacation. We got home, unpacked the car, then went to the studio to practice. (stay left, stay left...) Back home, pick up DS and go out to dinner.

So far, I've avoided checking work email since Monday. At this point, will wait until tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow will start a new effort to get back into the gym on a regular basis. With the time change, it should be easier to get up earlier. We'll probably alternate between the gym and the studio in the mornings.

Speaking of the studio, there are a lot of interesting group lessons on tap for November - American Tango, Zumba, Charleston. We'll have full weeks this month!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shakespeare in the Park

I've pieced all that I can for now. As I laid this out, I realized I also have not cut the "K" triangles, so that will also wait until we get home.

DH says, " I really like the colors. I don't really notice the pattern." Hmm, maybe it needs a little more contrast in places? I did not take time to rearrange the blocks to get the best play of colors, so I am sure I can improve that. Or it might be that it's just not perfectly lined up, so it loses something that way, too. But I like it.

Vacation - Day 6

Yesterday had sewing and knitting and reading....

This morning we tried a new restaurant for breakfast, Surfers, in Southport. It was very good.

I've done some reading - I'd like to finish this book to leave it for DS when we go.

We took a long walk on the beach after breakfast. It was right at low tide, and we found some pretty shells.

Today I plan to finish putting the large star blocks together for Shakespeare in the Park. I ran out of the smallest light triangles, so finishing the small stars will have to wait until we get home. I may decide to make this larger than twin-size, in which case I'll have to do more cutting and piecing before I can put it together. As soon as I get the large star blocks pieced, I plan to lay it out on the bed to get an idea of what it is going to look like. The other thing I want to try to accomplish today is to finish the first sock. I have about another inch or so before I start the toe.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Vacation - Day 4

I'm posting yesterday's progress a little late. I finished the large dark squares for Shakespeare in the Park.

I also made a lot of progress on my first sock. I've finished turning the heel, and am getting ready to do the straight part of the foot.

Most of the day yesterday was spent on a trip to Wilmington. We took the ferry to Fort Fisher and went to the North Carolina Aquarium. What a neat place! The exhibits were centered on the types of aquatic life in the coastal regions of North Carolina. The albino alligator looked more like a plaster cast than a real alligator. If we get a chance to bring the grandchildren down for a visit, this will be a good activity for them. Lots of up-close-and-personal views of the fish.

Vacation is winding down now. Only two more days at the beach, then the drive home.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sunrise on the beach

Sunrise is beautiful this morning. The ocean is more tranquil than yesterday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vacation - Day 3

It rained last night. The waves have been bigger all day today. This morning, there was foam all over the beach.

It was another sewing day for me. I finished all of the dark star/light background evening star blocks for my Shakespeare in the Park. Eighteen of them are part of the border, and the other 6 are the centers for the larger stars. I realized that I did not cut enough dark small squares to make up all of the light center/dark background stars, so went to the local quilt shop for some more darks.

Angelwing Needle Arts is in Southport, NC. They carry supplies for quilting, knitting, needlepoint and cross stitch. Lots of beautiful hand-dyed threads, and yarn of all types.
And beautiful hand-painted needlepoint canvases. In addition to getting several dark neutrals to be able to finish my piecing, I decided I really want to knit a pair of socks, so I bought a set of DP needles, a couple of sock patterns, and this beautiful yarn:

I've knit socks before, but don't tend to wear them very often. I'll have to get a pair of clogs to show off my hand-knit socks. I plan to start these tonight watching the baseball game with DH.

Tomorrow, we're going to take the ferry to Kure Beach, then in to Wilmington for some shopping with DS. I'll try to get a little more sewing done tomorrow evening.

Vacation is being just what we needed it to be - a time to relax and recharge.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vacation - Day 2

It's been another great day at the beach. As it becomes evening, it's just about low tide. It has been cloudy, but in the 70's. Only a couple of small spells of drizzles.
We found a crab living in the front yard of the beach house - he comes out of his hole in the ground and looks around every once in a while, but if you move or make noise, he scurries back into his hole.

I've been sewing today. I've finished all 20 Snail's Trail blocks for the twin-size Shakespeare in the Park. I'm using Judy Martin's piecing directions - I haven't cut all the pieces individually for a pieced quilt in a long time. But this is going together SO smoothly! Everything fits and the finished blocks are very flat. I haven't yet measured to make sure they're really 12 1/2", but I'm confident, since the final round of pieces went on so easily. Now I have 18 large stars and 36 small stars to piece. Tomorrow's goal will be to finish the small stars, then Thursday's goal will be to make the large stars.

Last night I worked on the hand-quilting project I brought with me - a queen-size pieced album quilt. This has been in the works for several years, and doesn't come out very often. I actually enjoy hand quilting - I think I'll try to keep an hand quilting project going for sitting downstairs in the evenings. But once I finish this one, the project will probably be smaller.

Monday, October 26, 2009

High Point Classic Results

The High Point Classic was very well run. The facility was very nice - I just wish the dance floor had been a little bit bigger - we had to rework our set routines Saturday evening because they wouldn't fit. But we broke them into pieces and never had a "brain lock" moment, so that worked. The floor itself was great - smooth, no ridges from the metal rims that some of the sectioned dance floors have. The people were great! We'll come back here if they hold this again next year.

Best part - DH ordered a new tailsuit. I'm excited about that. It should be ready in time for the MAC in January.

I think we danced about as well as we could. We made all of our finals. We got videos, and have posted them to YouTube. We're couple 152.
Sr. 1 Silver:
Sr. 1 Bronze Finals: http ://
Sr. 1 Bronze Semifinals:

Vacation - Day 1

Sleeping to the sound of the waves is very soothing.

We started the day with a walk on the beach. A flock of pelicans swooped by. Then there were terns - they wanted us to feed them, I think. And finally a group of little birds - don't know what they were - they kept running down behind the waves to get to something left behind by the water, then running up the beach when the next wave came in.

We've done some grocery shopping - dinner will be comfort food - meatloaf, baked potatoes, peas and corn.

We've decided we like this idea of renting a beach house as a vacation.

I've never been a "beach person" - mostly because I don't care for crowds, and I'm not fond of hot weather. Oh, and I sunburn too easily. But the beach in October is really nice.

I has been raining off and on all day, but that makes for an interesting view of the ocean. And for today, we've been content to just relax - a little bit of computer time, a little bit of reading, and probably some sewing before the day is out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Almost a Weekend

The hectic work week has continued, but is coming to an end. And this will be the first weekend this month that I'm not working through the weekend.

The weekend will be devoted to dancing. The High Point Classic DanceSport Championships are this weekend in High Point, North Carolina. This is a Regional qualifier for USADance National Championships. This will be our second qualifier this season. I'm looking forward to competing, even though we haven't been able to spend as much time in the studio this month as we normally would. I think we've fixed more than we've broken in the last few weeks, so our dancing is improving. We're competing in Sr. 1 Bronze (WQ), Sr. 2 Bronze (WQ) and Sr. 1 Silver (WTF). What a great way to spend a weekend!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shakespeare in the Park

I've gotten the piecing started on my Shakespeare in the Park (SITP). I'm pleased with how the blocks are going together - everything fits beautifully. I'm using light and dark neutrals. There are a few places where the contrast is not as strong as it could be, but I want subtle, so I think it's OK.

Secret Santa shopping

This weekend is Tour de Quilt in central Virginia. My local quilt shop (Patchwork Plus, in Dayton) is participating. Because the end of the week at work was crazy, and this weekend is not really any different, I haven't been able to do the shop hop. But because it is shop hop, the LQS is open late (and on Sunday). I stopped by after leaving the football game and started collecting little things for the two different Secret Santa exchanges I'm in this year. Each one has different requirements, and I didn't have the rules with me, but I'll be creative in making the things I found fit the rules, LOL. In one, we are to put all of our gifties in a 6" to 8" decorative tin; for the other one, everything has to fit in a flat-rate envelope from the Post Office. So I was looking for flat things. I found a few to get me started. The items do not have to be quilt related, so I'll do most of my shopping just around and about. I'll probably finish while we're on vacation at the beach. (one more week - YAY)

The only quilting I've managed to do this week is cutting for the Shakespeare in the Park quilt I'm making along with a Yahoo group ( ). Well, I'm sort of making this along with the group. I'm not following the weekly "assignments" but am enjoying seeing the different color combinations that are being worked on. Mine is in neutrals. I'm almost finished the cutting for a twin size. I just have to cut the squares in half for the smallest triangles and trim the corners. Then I can start stitching together. All of the pieces are in their Ziploc bags. I plan to take this project with me to the beach and do some sewing while I am there.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My new blog

I've decided I want to get into the world of blogging. I faithfully follow several blogs, and this looks like fun.

A little about me. Beyond my family, my two passions right now are ballroom dancing and quilting. One hobby with my husband and one of my own. We have three children (two on their own, one still at home) and two adorable grandchildren. We live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia - a beautiful spot nestled up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, where I'm active in both the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of USA Dance and the Shenandoah Valley Quilter's Guild. At the moment, dancing gets more time and attention than quilting.