Saturday, December 31, 2005

Here's to Perfect Moments...

I have been thinking alot lately about "Perfect Moments". My little 2.5 year old's mood can so suddenly swing from perfect to - well, not so perfect. Truly, I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect day, but Perfect Moments abound. As an example...

Here is a photo of me - trying to fish - on Cape Cod, Mass. A more perfect day could not be wished for. Almost the end of October and it was a perfect beach/boating/fishing day. Little Boy, my sister, brother-in-law, their little dog (a Shitzu) and I took the boat over to this beach and enjoyed the warm sands. Little Boy was excited about his "boat coat" (life jacket) and got to help drive the boat. We had lots of yummy food with us. AND, my sister taught me how to fish (ok, I caught lots of seaweed, but it was still fun).

However, as soon as we got back to our cars I managed to lock my keys in the trunk - plus my sister's purse and the diaper bag (read - her money, my money and diapers). Sigh. A BMW with high tech anti-theft features that not even AAA could by-pass. The next day the BMW dealership offered to get me another key - from Germany - which could take 2 weeks. Can you imagine? The very helpful girl thought maybe I should smash a window to get into the car and collect from the insurance company (most insurance companies won't pay for this type of claim - and the only way I would have even considered this route for 1 second was if Little Boy was locked in the car, which he wasn't, thankfully!) Fortunately, in the end, I remembered that I had a spare key locked in my RV (of course the RV keys were locked in the car). A locksmith opened the RV and shortly thereafter I was back in my car.

So, it wasn't a perfect day, by anymeans. As a matter of fact, the whole key thing took 2 entire days to figure out and was a bit stressful at times. Still I am so lucky that I had the help of my brother-in-law (who waited for AAA), my sister (who actually had spare diapers at her house AND lent me a car), and that I actually had a spare key in the RV (because I almost left that key in Canada).

No, not a perfect day but the day was still filled with lots of "Perfect Moments" and I think this picture of me fishing captures some of that magic.

This is just one "Perfect Moment" in my past year... there are so many... hugging my Dad after being away for a long time, spending a lazy day in my sister's fenced in yard, seeing 2 of my very best friends in the same year, a perfect moment at the beach (never mind how long it took to pack up to go to the beach), arriving at my destination after driving the RV by myself for 2 days with Little Boy as a co-pilot (never mind that I took a wrong turn and ended up on a dead-end street - that is another story), an unexpected package in the mail, the fog horn waking me up in the summer so I know it is foggy outside before I even open my eyes.... so very many "Perfect Moments"!

Here's wishing you a New Year filled with many "Perfect Moments"
! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Trying to add this photo to my profile

OK, this is a test! Judy has sent me an e-mail trying to help me get this photo over to my profile, so let's hope this works! Boy, I sure am learning lots of computer mumbo jumbo with this blog. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Broken Dishes Progress and Pattern Review

Here is a photo of my Broken Dishes top - in progress. I just need to add the border(s) but I am a bit undecided about my border fabrics. No rush though - I can't send it to my long arm quilter until I am in the USA in April, so I have time to think about it.

I think it will be a good size once the border is on (66X78 if 1 border, add 4 inches all around if I add a narrow border, which I will probably do).

I was very happy with the pattern. Everything fit together pretty much perfectly (ok, I had to ease some blocks a little, but that is probably due to my aggressive ironing technique - on triangles, no less- than the pattern). All my seams butted up against each other and I even think that almost all my points are intact. What more could a quilter want? I did have to cut a few extra strips compared to the directions and that could be because of the way I cut - not sure - so if you want to make this quilt, you might want to buy just a bit more fabric than called for - ok, so we all do that anyway in our pursuit of building stashes, but just to be sure you get extra - extra!

Here is a photo of how I pin my fabrics when I come to a section that needs to be eased. My pins run with the fabric if everything is OK and then stick out where I need to ease. In this photo the easing needs to be done in the center on the cream fabric. The top (cream) is larger so when I get to these pins I gently pull the bottom fabric and it all eases together. If you do this - it is easier to put the larger fabric on the top.

And, here is a photo of the book that I got the pattern from - Scraps to You, Too by Debbie Caffrey.

I ordered the book on-line (sight unseen) from Big Horn Quilts for $22. When I first got it, I was disappointed. Really! I would have never bought this book "in person". At first I was annoyed because the directions are a bit different than what I am used to - and I like the familiar. But, the technique of making Birds in the Air blocks intrigued me, so I started. And once I started it was so easy I kept going. Now, I want to make another one of these tops, plus at least 2 other patterns in the book.

The book has a neat design section for your reference and some basic quilting math too.

The Bird in the Air block is actually made from pieced squares and rectangles that you cut with a triangle ruler. Viola! Perfectly aligned Birds! I can't say enough about this super simple technique and am anxious to try making lots of Birds once I get back to my big scrap pile.

So, if you are looking for a new book that has a neat technique - this might be for you. Birds in the Air blocks are very versitile and make a good stash buster block.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

About Those 2" Strips...

Here is a photo of a log cabin quilt I made (it is about 85X85 and does lie flat - it is just on a bed full of folded up blankets underneath, plus the headboard and footboard were in the way). Actually, once I started to cut those 2" strips, well, I just kept cutting and cutting. Each time I would go fabric shopping I would come home with more darks and lights and cut some more. I used a folding clothes rack to hang my cut strips on - seperated only by light or dark. I sewed and sewed, and in the end, made FIVE of these quilts with various log cabin settings.

This quilt is with a cut 3 1/2" red center square (finishes at 3") and the 2" strips (finishes at 1.5"). I use 3 1/2" because I have an old top that either my Nana P. or Great Aunt made - circa early 1900's - and it has 3 1/2" center squares! I think this old top uses 1 1/2" strips though - I will have to post a photo of it when I get back to Canada. Anyway, I just cut long strips and trim them as needed - I do not pre-measure each strip ahead of time - that would drive me absolutely crazy! And I chain stitch about 5-6 blocks at a time, all in various stages of construction so I can use up left-over shorter strips as I go along. Does that make sense? All my fabric was from Joanne's fabrics... hey! I happen to like Joanne's calicos - they all look great together. Here is a close up of some of the fabrics and top quilting - varigated thread. I am not sure this will show up too great, buy if you click on the photo it will enlarge.

I sent the top to my long arm quilter - here is a photo of the pattern she used from the back... I just LOVE her work!

With the left over light 2" strips I pieced a rail fence top which is just too sweet; it is currently at my long arm quilters right now! And I still have left overs - the only thing to do now is to cut MORE 2" strips to go with the ones I already have and see what happens. I think that this must be how these 2" strips multiply.

And in closing - we did have decent weather for Christmas, so were able to enjoy the weather outdoors. And at night I was able to get some knitting done too, so - stay tuned for those photos. Here is a photo of Little Boy enjoying the Christmas tree (yes, those are REAL candles on that tree and glass balls - every toddler's Momma's worst nightmare, but all in all, he did very well at leaving it pretty much alone - now the chocolate bowl - that is another story altogether!).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Plans

Tomorrow we are heading out of the city - to the mountains, for Christmas! We probably will stay until Monday. This is a snapshot from the living room window that I took last year. Absolutely beautiful, huh?

The very best part - if the weather is nice - is that there are miles and miles of groomed walking trails. Cross country trail on 1 side, wide walking trail on the other. Here is another photo that I took last year...

Here you can see the walking trail - that is DH pulling Little Boy on the sled down in the lower left corner. The cross country tracks are on the right.

1 more photo (also from last year)... just because you guys have got to see this goofy sled that everyone has over here for their babies - think winter stroller for the mountains. I don't know why these sleds are so popular because they are very tippy. You have to be careful when going down an incline that the sled is perfectly straight or it will tip over, baby and all!

As you can see, baby is snuggy wuggy in that soft leather/fur lined sack thing. These sacks are also used in the city for strollers. Of course, now that Little Boy is 2.5 he won't have any of this being pulled around business. He now likes to pull the sled.

Usually the temperature up at the mountain is about -12C (translates to about 10 F). We bundle up, use lots of sunscreen - sunglasses are a must because the snow is so bright and also have a special cold weather cream for any exposed skin. Actually, it doesn't really feel cold unless it is windy because the air is so dry.

The big BUT here is - if it snows. If it snows, it snows and you are house bound. So, just in case this happens, I went and bought some yarn and a pair of knitting needles today. This is all entirely Sam's fault - I left my knitting stuff in Canada, but with all her posting about knitting it got me to thinking that a scarf would be the perfect "take along in case of emergency" project.

On the quilting front - I have my entire Broken Dishes top pieced together - I just have to add the border now, which I will do when I get back. Once that is done I will post a photo with a review of the pattern, which is really great - so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for all your warm welcomes to the Stash ring!

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Night in Graz

So many of you have commented that you enjoy my snippets of life in Austria. Thank you! Tonight was fairly warm (in the 30's F or about 2 C), so we decided to take a family stroll downtown to enjoy the festive Christmas spirit. Come along with me and I will point out some of the things we saw along the way.

This first photo is taken from an elevator that you pay 1 Euro to go up. It stays up there for 1 minute before coming back down. This is looking down the street toward the main plaza. Many people out and about tonight, but you will notice that the middle of the street is empty... no car traffic! This road is for electric trams. I love all the stars over the street this time of year.

With a 2.5 year old in tow, I tend to do more window shopping than actually going into a store. I love this store window display - full of GLASS ornaments. I own nary a one glass ornament, but that green Edelweiss cow is so tempting! Edelweiss is a delicate white flower that grows way up on the mountain tops and chances are - you won't ever see a real one unless you are an extreme mountain climber. The Edelweiss is a popular Austrian motif.

'Tis the season of Heisse Maronis! No walk downtown is complete without stopping for this wonderful treat. For 1.80 Euro you get a little paper cone filled with steaming hot, roasted maronis (they are sweet nuts, about 2x the size of walnuts). They fall to the ground in a spiny sack, which you remove before roasting. You have to cut a slit around the remaining soft shell before roasting too, which splits open when it gets hot (if you don't slit the shell it will explode on you). These are the nuts that kids also like to play Konkers with - if you are familiar with that game. A sweet, healthy treat that also keeps your hands warm. You can see the guy turning the nuts over by hand so they are evenly roasted. Yum!

Our intended destination on this "oh so warm" evening was going out to eat. Literally going OUT. I swear, Austrian's don't mind the cold. This is a super popular 'hotdog' stand (you can get a bunch of different varieties). The people who work here barely wear any coats (the man had a fleece jacket tonight, but the 2 women wore vests and scarfs). Yes, it is outside, yes it is cold. BUT lookie - they give my Little Boy a cushion to sit on to keep his bum bum warm. They also cut his frankfurter into pieces for him served with a big pile of spicy mustard and horserdish in the middle - with a crusty roll on the side. Showing his true Austrian colors he really likes mustard and horseraddish! Most any meal in Austria is served with several different varieties of senf (mustard). My sister-in-law makes a GREAT horseradish condiment that is made with old rolls - served on the side of meat. So good.

Just in case you think he might be a wee bit cold - he is wearing heavy-duty ski tights under his pants to keep him snuggy. All boys over here wear tights in the winter. Much easier to walk in than the bulky ski pants!

And to top the evening off, we took a ride on the snow train. Isn't it cute? I don't know what it really is - some kind of tractor or something. It has several more cars behind the one you see, so is quiet long. The ride is about 15 minutes and goes in a loop through these little alley ways with Christkindl Markt stands, down the street, across the river, etc. We took this ride last week during the day, which was very scenic with lots of old buildings to see and some nice views. Tonight was more about the Christmas lights, but it was still fun. You can see a Christkindl Markt stand behind the train. We got home around 7 pm and the Little Boy had some hot chocolate, watched a bit of Kipper (MUST have videos for any 2 year old!) and was out like a light by 8:30 - a happy little pumpkin!

Thanks for joining us in our family fun! I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned something along the way.

And to keep this post a TINY bit quilty - my original intent when I first started this blog - I am still working on my Broken Dishes quilt. The pattern is wonderful and as I am sewing my rows together, almost all my points are intact and the seams are lining up almost perfectly on just about every section. Got to love that! I thought it was a bit goofy to post a photo of just 1 block, so thanks for your compliments!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Internet Shopping, Trick or Treat?

Graz is a beautiful city. There are literally 100s of these little statues on many buildings - on top of doorways and windows. All you have to do is look up! Little faces looking down on the goings on below. I've started to bring my camera out with me, with a zoom lens, so I can capture some of these little details.

Anyway, this photo goes with tonight's post about internet shopping - trick or treat? You see, I spent a fair amount of time on-line last night trying to assemble some fabrics for quilting. Trying to use my goals from an earlier post, I had a list - yes, an organized list! I had one quilt all picked out, but when I clicked on 1 vital fabric - it was sold out. So, there went that quilt fabric theme. Trick!

On another site I found some great light blender fabrics on sale, sale, sale! I bought 5 yard cuts of several. Of course, these fabrics will work with almost any scrap quilt as a background so this was a no-brainer. AND, background fabrics were on my list. Treat!

But 2 other fabrics that I had picked out earlier that I absolutely need were also sold out. Trick!

It would be nice if a site would take a fabric off the preview pages if it is gone. I look and look at these little bits of internet fabric, plan my quilts, write it all down in my notebook (trying to stick to my goals here) and then go to order it - gone. Trick, trick, trick.

Still, it is nice to be able to shop on-line so I guess it is a Treat! afterall.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Broken Dishes Block

This is a block for the quilt I have been working on - I have all the blocks sewn and squared up! Yeah! This is another 5 fabric quilt (the 5th quilt is the border). The original pattern calls for a solid where I have the light floral. Well, I had the light floral so that is what I used and I like it! I have never used a "biggish" print before for a background, but the colors are subtle enough that I was willing to try.

OK , remember that photo of my winter stash? Well, 2 of the 5 piles are now gone (1 pile for the Trip Around the World, a 2nd pile for this quilt).

Well, that's all for now - my little boy is jumping all over and wants to play!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Trip Around the World, ala Bonnie

This is my Trip Around the World, ala Bonnie ( - in progress. Since this photo I have finished piecing all the sections together and now am wondering about a border... Hummm.... I know this is a terrible photo and I will try to take a better one later, but was anxious to write a bit on my blog and I like to post a photo with my text. So, here it is.

Anyway, a few thoughts about this pattern... I love the technique! The pattern used 5 fabrics - 4 of them were 1 yard cuts with about 3" left over. The 5th fabric was less than 1 yard, but I am not sure how much less. Somewhere along the way I went wrong with the pressing directions, so had to repress some rows as I sewed. This was really no big deal and in the end I got almost all my seams going the right way - butting up against each other. Because I LOVE scrap quilts - well, it was hard to do a quilt with 5 fabrics, but this is certainly not the patterns fault. It was a quick and easy pattern that I am happy to recommend. So, if you have 5 fabrics (1 yard pieces) in your stash and you like how they go together, this is a great pattern! And the good news for the "scrapper" in me - I got some usable strings to toss into the empty plastic tote for scraps!