Showing posts from 2010

Ringing out the Old, Ringing in the New

. . . Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times:
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace. . .

From Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam

Wishing a very happy new year to all of you and your families!

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of you the most wonderful of holidays with lots of great times with family and friends!

Fall Reading Challenge

I posted here about the Fall Reading Challenge hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer Reads. During the time of the challenge, September 22 to December 20, I read 15 books. My local library holds a series of book discussions each spring and fall. Five books based upon a theme are chosen for each discussion series. This fall's books were about other cultures and they turned out to be the best reads of the season. Here are my top three books for the fall.

The Latehomecomer by Kao Kaila Yang tells the story of a young Hmong woman who immigrated from Thailand to Minnesota with her family. The book tells about the family's challenges in assimilating themselves into a new culture.

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder is one of those books everyone should read. Although I thought the story was sluggish in spots, I learned a lot about genocide in Africa. The central person in this story is a young man who was in medical school when the genocide began in a country I have never befo…

The Magic of the Season

Two of my children arrived home from college last week. I've been looking forward to this winter break in particular as it will be the first time that no one has a homework assignment to be done over winter vacation. And, as unhappy as I am with my current job assignments, one of the perks is that I work in only one building and I find I rarely have to bring work home these days. This has allowed me to stay on top of the shopping, decorating, and baking for Christmas and I now have some free time on weekends. So do the kids as they are no longer busy with high school activities, so on Saturday we took the train into Philadelphia and indulged in an old tradition.

The photo is from the light show at Macy's in Center City. This is a long-standing Philadelphia holiday tradition and thousands of people gather each day in the Grand Court in what used to be (and will truly always be in my mind) Wanamaker's department store to take in the sight. The "magic tree" is the ce…


I've spent the last few evenings sending out Christmas cards. Some years I print a "newsletter" and in others, I just include a handwritten note. This is a year when I'm doing a shorter, handwritten note, mainly because I just couldn't get it together to type up the longer letter. I have a long list of relatives to send to since my father came from a family of eleven. I've got a shorter list of high school and college friends and writing notes to them has caused a sort of mental exclamation mark.

Let me explain. I grew up in a very small town in Nebraska and went to a very small college near Omaha. The summer after I graduated from college, I got married and moved to Pennsylvania. First to the western part of the state and then shortly thereafter to the western suburbs of Philadelphia where I've lived for the past 35 years. So now when I'm writing to those Nebraska friends about my son in Brooklyn and my daughter in DC, I think about how my li…

Friday Night Sew-In

Heidi is hosting Friday Night Sew-In two times this month. I'll be curled up under one of the quilts I'm binding. I got three of them back from the quilter on Sunday and need to have all of them done for Christmas morning. One is done and I've finished about half of another. With the cold weather we've been having, this is the perfect way to spend Friday night.

Stop the Insanity!

Have you all heard about this challenge starting in January? Robin, Anna,Coni, and Siobhan have either signed on or are thinking about doing this. 15 new projects in 15 days? No way, no how! OK, I'll admit that I did briefly entertain the idea of doing this (and yes, I am easily entertained). Robin's rationale really appealed to me and then there's the fact that I would get to make a new list of projects and I love lists. (Again, I was entertained by reading Anna's potential list of projects and being able to suggest revisions to it.) I certainly have 15 projects of a variety of sizes hanging out in storage tubs so this wouldn't involve buying any new stash. But those four ladies above actually finish projects. Me, um, not so much. Just take a look at my sidebar.

So here's my own personal Stop the Insanity Challenge for 2011. On January 1, I'll take out one of my WIPs, probably my oldest one, and stitch on it every day for 15 days. This might b…

A Finish!

Postcard for Paradise (Blue Ribbon Designs) is done! When I started this a year and a half ago, I thought it would be so easy to do three of the squares a day and knock this out in a month. Wrong! But it was a fun stitch--until I did the border all the way to the bottom right corner and realized it wouldn't meet. That's when I went back and found out I was supposed to be doing that herringbone stitch over three threads and not four. I wondered why I wasn't getting good coverage. . . Since I had done some of the top and some of the left side correctly, I decided to frog. It was a pain, but I like the result so much better. So this goes in my to-be-framed pile. I have a great framer, but I haven't given her much business this year. It seems I can't get myself motivated to prepare things to take in (you know, clipping threads on the back, doing a final check to be sure every stitch is crossed). I think I'll make it a New Year's resolution to get c…

Trains, No Planes and Automobiles

Our empty nest is filling up once again as our three children arrive home for the Thanksgiving holiday. The first to arrive was our middle son whose Tuesday afternoon biology lab was cancelled, allowing him to snag a ride home with a fellow student. Our middle child usually comes home with a large bag of laundry and a shaggy mop of dark hair (just like my husband used to have before he went white. Thank goodness all my kids inherited his thick hair, and not the fine, thin, superstraight locks that are bane of my existence. But I digress.) Since he is such a creature of habit, he didn't disappoint on either the laundry or the shaggy front, but he has added a full beard to the mix. This may take some getting used to. It does make him look more mature, but please don't tell him I said that. Our daughter arrived from DC on Amtrak about 15 minutes later than scheduled. Which was a good thing as I had crawled east on the Schuykill Expressway, (also known as the "Sure K…

Shop Hop Recap

Last weekend, I participated in a local Shop Hop for the first time. It was an event that I was greatly anticipating and my goal was to explore some new shops and do a bit of stash enhancement. I started out from work around 4:00 and pointed the car east to the first shop. It was one I had been to several times before and didn't expect to be wowed by the merchandise so I wasn't disappointed when I didn't find much there. I was a little discouraged at Shops 2 and 3 when I didn't see any "must have" fabrics in them either. I began to doubt my wisdom in embarking on the adventure especially since I was driving around at night in unfamiliar territory and had already gotten lost between both Shops 1 and 2 and Shops 2 and 3. But Shop 4 was a real gem since that's where I found these yummy Civil War fabrics that I'll use to make the blocks I collected at each establishment. I arrived at Shop 5, my LQS, about 10 minutes before closing. After a quick stop to p…

You Know You're a Quilter

or maybe you just know you're crazy when go on a shop hop on Saturday morning and choose a pattern for a quilt, gather the fat quarters and fabric for border and background at one shop, purchase the backing at another, begin cutting immediately after completing another quilt and work on it until 11:00, get up at 6:30 and sew all day in your pajamas until 20 minutes before it's time to take said quilt to the LQS where you have an appointment with the longarm quilter so the quilt can be done in time to cover your oldest son on Christmas morning. I didn't stop to eat (and if you knew me in real life, you'd realize how obsessed I must have been) and only took time to brush my teeth, get dressed, comb my hair and put on a little mascara before heading to the shop. On the way there, I realized I had forgotten my camera so I don't even have a picture to show you until the quilt comes back to me. By the way, the other quilt I finished yesterday was for my daughter's Ch…


My readers of a certain age will remember the commercial that portrayed the long wait for (supposedly) rich, thick ketchup while the Carly Simon song "Anticipation" played.

Well, that's sort of how I've felt this week. I'm anticipating my first shop hop beginning tomorrow afternoon. This is something I've wanted to do since I began quilting a few years ago but it wasn't possible while our daughter was still a high school student. My husband is going away for a conference this weekend and my time will truly be my own for the next few days. I'm planning my route, printing maps, looking at patterns, making lists of things to look for and just generally looking forward to the whole experience. My lesson plans are done for next week so I'll be able to walk out the door at 3:45 and be on my way to the first shop. Oh, the anticipation!

Order Among the Chaos

As I've written several times before, my work life has been pretty crazy this fall. When I've had time to stitch, I've been drawn to projects are made up of lots of small squares, like Postcard from Paradise and Rainforest Crunch, a needlepoint design I found while stalk-stitching
Coni on her Spinster Stitcher blog. There's something so satisfying about completing each one of those little squares. Who knows, if this work situation continues, Nova* may come off the WIP pile and get finished.
*(No affliation with this shop, just a good picture of the design.)

Home Sweet Home

Aaah. . . That deep sigh you hear is my house thanking me for staying home and cleaning this weeked. Honestly, with all the traveling we did in October, things were getting a mite grimy around here. I spent nearly all of yesterday at home scrubbing, dusting and vacumming and now we can pass the health inspection. I was the lector at the early church service this morning and had to go back to help count the money after the late service (I find it highly amusing that I'm tapped to do anything remotely connected with math, but the chairman of the finance committee begged me). In between, I attacked the mountain of ironing that was on the back of the chair next to my sewing machine. Of course, I had an ulterior motive for doing so since it was geting difficult to actually sit on the chair to sew. Then my afternoon was free to work on the quilt I'm planning to give my daughter for Christmas. Made good progress on it and should have a finished top by the end of the week. I…

Thursday Night UFO

A few years ago, my local needlepoint shop offered a "club" for a series of Faberge eggs. One a month for the entire year. Thought these would be a great decoration for the fireplace mantle in the living room. I made a start on January's and that's as far as I got. Until a group of us on a bulletin board I visit decided to work on a UFO every Thursday night. My job issues are starting to ease up and I can finally sit down to sew at night a few times a week. Plus Big Bang Theory is on at 8 and since it's one of the very few shows I watch on a regular basis, I try not to miss it. (It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm fascinated that someone can portray a person with Aspergers/high functioning autism so well. And it is a pretty funny show, too, although I'm sure there are physics jokes that I just don't get.) But to remain on topic, I decided to work on this piece since it's small. It's way outside my comfort zone with the sti…

On the Move

It's been a while since my last post. My husband and I have been on the move the past few weekends, spending time with each of our children. I went out to Gettysburg, PA, in the middle of October to watch our second son run in a cross country meet. The course is actually laid out on part of the land you see in the picture here. This the third time I've made the trip to this particular meet and it's become a favorite--an easy drive, lovely fall foliage and a course where I can see a lot of the race. This year, the race fell on the Saturday of my son's fall break, so I brought him home with me. During the break, he had surgery to remove the pin that was inserted when he broke a bone in his hand last summer. The surgery was delayed a bit when he lost consciousness as the IV was inserted. His heart rate is really low due to running and also to a medication he takes. The plan had been for my husband to drive him back to school in the early afernoon, but we ended up taking …

It's Been a Heck of a Week

Who am I kidding--it's been a heck of a school year. This new assignment has me working my tail off. I'm usually in between 7:15 and 7:30 and most nights I don't leave school until after 5. I'm getting way too old for this and quite frankly, I regret that I didn't take the early retirment package last spring. I was hoping to leave by 4:30 today, but thanks to a phone call from one colleague and a visit from another, I didn't get out until 5:15. And I still brought work home this weekend. But in a few minutes, I'm going to get comfy and settle myself at the sewing machine with a book on tape (Laura Lippman's In a Strange City) and a cup of tea and sew the night away. Hope all of you are doing something nice for yourselves this weekend too.

We Return. . .

. . .to the main purpose of this blog. I've had many posts lately about our activities, but no updates on quilting and stitching. You've all been kind in bearing with me as I navigate this period of change in my life. In between moving the kids and enjoying the freedom of not having them around, I have been working on a few projects. My quilting guild had a UFO workshop a couple of Saturdays ago and I completed one top and sewed the backing. That inspired me to sew the backing for a top I completed last spring. I'm nearly done with a quilt made from Boy Scout fabric for my son or I will be as soon as I replace the inner border. All these will be shown in good time. In the meantime, I give you a progress picture of Postcard from Paradise. This has been fun to do. Stitching the grid for the boxes has been perfect for the nights when I'm really tired (as unfortunately I often am due to my new assignment at work). As you can see, I'm nearly done with the squares and…

Seasons Readings

Susan over at A Southern Daydreamer Reads is hosting another seasonal reading challenge. I signed on for her summer reading challenge and read 15 books between June 21 and September 21. Most of them weren't the ones in my original list, because, well, it was summer and it was hot and I just indulged in a lot of light fiction and mysteries. Three of the books I read deserve special mention, though. I purchased All the Tea in China after I visited my aunt in the spring and we went to the Celestial Seasonings Tea factory in Boulder, Colorado. The book chronicles how an English botanist smuggled tea plants out of China and made the drink available to the rest of the world. I always enjoyed Nancy Pickard's mysteries featuring Jenny Cain who runs a philanthropic organization in New England and I was sad when that series ended. Since then Ms. Pickard has written several novels in a new series that I didn't care for …


Early in August, a good friend and co-worker who knows that my husband and I are foodies and that we were about to be empty nesters alerted me to the dates for Restaurant Week in Philadelphia. I immediately snagged a reservation at Le Bec Fin, one of the finest restaurants in the city, if not the entire nation. My husband had been there for business dinners, but I had never had the opportunity to go. As it turns out, I had to spend a good part of Friday in a meeting with a lawyer due to a lawsuit brought against my school district by parents of a former student. Reminding myself that we were going to Le Bec Fin that night helped me get through the meeting. My anticipation was high and I was certainly not disappointed. We were seated in the main dining room which has wonderful high ceilings with gold trim. The ceiling height helps with the acoustics so that even though there were probably 50 people in the room and the tables are fairly close, it felt like we were alone. There were legi…

Tonight, It's All About the U

Ninety percent of the time I can totally ignore sports. I don't much care how the Eagles or Phillies are doing and the Sixers and Flyers are pretty much non-existent to me. But I am a closet college football fan and when my son went tot the University of Miami, I transferred my loyalty from the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the Hurricanes. So tonight I'm planted on my couch stitching away on Postcard from Paradise while I watch Miami pound the Pittsburgh Panthers. Go 'Canes!

Out and About

I've gotta say that this empty nest thing has a lot going for it! After nearly 25 years of arranging our lives around the kids' schedules, my husband and I are enjoying the freedom of being "home alone." We took advantage of Philadelphia's Restaurant Week and had a lovely $35 prix fixe meal at Fork in center city. On a Sunday night. Since Restaurant Week is actually two weeks long, we're going to another restaurant in the city on Friday night. A couple of weeks ago, I found half-price tickets to a play and only had to check my husband's schedule to see if it was OK to buy them. We love coming home from work and throwing together a quick meal that pleases us. I love being able to get out of the house in the morning so I can get to school early when it's quiet and no one talks to me while I try to get ready for the day. I love being able to do things like going to the quilt show last weekend and not having to worry about who needs me at home. N…

Outside the Box

My sister and brother-in-law from Iowa visited us over Labor Day weekend. They've been to the Philadephia area several times and we've been to all the historical sites as well as Valley Forge at least once. We were all looking for something different to do and a quick Google search gave us several possibilities. We chose to tour the Eastern State Peneteniary which is located right in the city only a few blocks from the Art Museum and the Franklin Institute. And are we glad we did! The facility hasn't operated as a prison since the 60's or 70's and is now a National Historic Trust property. It once housed Al Capone and Willie Sutton, however. We arrived in time to take the architecture tour (one of three or four special tours included with the admission) and had a very informative guide who pointed out lots of things I might not have noticed. For example, inside the prision the corners of the outer walls were curved to make it harder to climb over them to escape. A…


Here's the last carload of stuff to leave our house. Last weekend, my husband and I loaded the van for the third weekend in a row and drove up to our older son's new apartment in Brooklyn. The trip went smoothly until we crossed the Verranzano Bridge. We zigged when we should have zagged. Or more correctly, we think we should have crossed on the lower level and not the upper. But I don't think we'll ever really know for sure. We were enjoying the drive along the bay and pointing out the sights, including Coney Island, when all of a sudden we were past JFK and seeing signs for Long Island. Definitely not where we wanted to be! Through the magic of cell phones and Google maps, my son was able to guide us to his place. He' paying rock bottom rent for Brooklyn, and believe me when I tell you that his room is miniscule! Oh, well, he's young, he's not there that much, he's paying month to month and maybe, just maybe, he'll get a raise soon so he can move …

More Multitasking

During those long car trips to take my two younger children to college, I've used my time wisely and stitched these canvas ornaments.
These are Kathy Schenkel designs from a series called "Countdown to Christmas." The first two or three ornaments took me around five hours to complete. Now I have it down to a science and each one takes about three hours. Except for this one which took me about three months. That pesky satin stitch on the candle (see close up below) was ripped out, oh, about four times, before I could get it to a reasonable facsimile of the way the stitch looked in the diagram.
Fronts will be joined to backs (not by me--way beyond my finishing competencies) and embellished with ribbons and hangers to go on a small tree that serves as an Advent calendar. In fact, I tried to drop these off at the needlepoint shop on Monday, but forgot they aren't open on Mondays. It wasn't a wasted trip as I had breakfast near the shop with a good friend and enjoyed m…

Going, Going. . .

We're becoming expert movers as the past two weekends we have loaded up the van to move two of our children to college. Daughter's move is on the top and middle son's is on the bottom. LOTS of stuff is now gone from our house and we are technically empty nesters. Just have to get rid of the mountain of stuff my older son has parked in the basement and we will truly have a more empty nest.

Both college moves went smoothly. Our daughter's roommate is from Hawaii (I've already researched flights) and didn't arrive until early evening. That gave us the chance to work in the room without bumping into anyone else. After everything was set up and we retrieved the refrigerator that I had ordered (LOVE being able to order online and pick up in the store at Best Buy!), my husband and I waited with our daughter for awhile. Eventually we decided to go to our hotel and she contacted the girl from her high school who also goes to her university so they could get together. We …

For the Good Times

Today is my 35th wedding anniversary. We were married in the church in my hometown in southeast Nebraska. No air conditioning and people thought my husband was nervous when they saw him shaking his leg. He was just trying to get the sweat to run down it a bit faster! Mine was the first of three weddings my parents planned, and since I had spent the summer in Pennsylvania working and setting up our new apartment, most things fell to my mother. My parents decided to have the reception in my hometown and that meant there was only one venue--the "supper club." Actually, this was the basement of the local pool hall/bar and had formerly been a bowling alley when my mother was a teenager. Although there wasn't a private room, my parents figured very few people other than wedding guests would be there since it was also the weekend of the county fair. Sometimes I miss life in small town Nebraska. Mostly not. Turned out they were right, but choosing that venue also meant that the…

Comings, Goings and Suspicious Behavior

Our children are on the move this month. Here's some of the stuff my oldest moved from LA and has dumped, I mean temporarily stored, in our basement while he looks for an apartment in New York.

And here's some of the stuff that my daughter will be taking with her to college on Saturday. I didn't bother to take a photo of what has been in my middle son's room since he came home from college in May because, well, you get the picture.

And speaking of the middle one, I spent the day traveling up and down the Pennsylvania Turnpike from our house to his camp in the Poconos and back again. He hurt his left hand on Thursday evening and finally went to the ER near camp on Saturday afternoon. X-rays confirmed that he had fractured a bone near his little finger. They gave him a splint and told him to see an orthopedic surgeon in 5-7 days. So I spent Monday morning arranging the appointment, dithering between whether he should go to someone close to his school or come home. We…

The Winner Is. . .

Sherry! Please send me your address so I can send the Bloom chart to you this week. Congratulations!

Multitasking at Its Best

I periodically attend inservice presentations at a local center that is part of a statewide training network. Usually the presentations are telecast to the center that I go to. I often see the same people at the inservices and one of them is a woman who brings her needlepoint to work on while whatever expert is on the screen talks away. I've always wanted to join that woman in stitching while learning and now I have--only not in public. Before and after vacation, I listened to an on-line conference for about 30 hours (lots of different presenters, thank goodness). While I listened and occasionally glanced at the powerpoint slides, I sat on my couch and stitched on Hester's Needle Grace and Truth and all that multi-tasking led to another finish. I'm sure someone is going to look at my collected works someday and comment that 2010 was a very good stitching year.

I started this sampler last year as my reward for having the scale dip below a certain number. The sampler is …

Home Again

I'm back! (Although you didn't even know I was away). We were in Orlando for five days to attend the wedding of a very good friend and to get in a short vacation before we start the work of moving our children to various places in August. We enjoyed strolling around Lake Eola in Orlando, wandering on Park Avenue in Winter Park, and eating dinner at the Millenia Mall.

We spent one day at Universal since my daughter wanted to see the new Harry Potter area. I am so not a rollercoaster person which is one of the two reasons my family has never visited Disney World. (The other reason is that when they were younger, my kids were not good at waiting in line.) But I was brave and went on the Dueling Dragons ride which turned me upside down a time or two. I kept telling myself that I had been through childbirth three times and really, how much worse could a rollercoaster ride be. My daughter is an amusement park veteran and advised me to sit on my sandals so I wouldn't lose them du…


"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams

Here's my Keep Me Sampler (Moira Blackburn) in all it's wrinkled glory. I finally finished it on July 22nd after having it has a WIP since August of 2004. It wasn't finished in time for Robin's WIP Challenge but I can count it for my sampler guild's 2010 WIP "stitch-along." (Instead of doing a group project as a guild, we are each choosing a project to complete during the year.) After all this time, I still love the colors in this sampler. Here's a close-up of the willow tree that attracted me to this piece in the first place:

We had a willow tree near our garage for many years. Although it was a pain to clean the leaves off the driveway, we were sad to lose the tree in a storm and it's nice to have a memory of it. One other thing--this piece is heavy! It has a lot of solid stitching in it and that added weight.

The other deadline I missed was a 3 for…

New York Beauty

These are the first three (and only) blocks I've completed from a workshop I took from Linda Hahn back in April or May. Her method of sewing the curved seam works really well and so far, each one has been perfect. These are Kansas Troubles fabrics. I was a little unsure about using them and having the center of the block the same as the outside. And sure enough, when I got to the workshop, everyone else was using fabrics that were a lot jazzier than mine. But now that I've done some of the piecing, I like the effect. I was planning for the completed project to be a wall hanging for the sewing/guest room that I wil be remaking my older son's bedroom into (we refer to it as "The Shrine" since it's almost exactly the way he left it six years ago when he went off to college--minus the clothes on the floor, of course). But we recently got the good news that he will be relocating from LA to Brooklyn by the end of the summer for a salaried position with hea…

Polishing My Halo

"Polishing my halo" is what my mother used to say to congratulate herself when she had finished a large or tedious household task. I've been taking advantage of the uninterrupted time I have with my husband at work and all of the kids away to do some serious cleaning. The using a toothbrush to scrub the tiles kind of cleaning. My house is thanking me and my halo will be shining brightly by the end of this week.

When I take a break, I've been reading Stuff by Randy Frost. It's about compulsive hoarders, a disorder that has fascinated me since I saw a TV show or two about it. The book is extremely readable even though it presents Frost's research about the basis of hoarding. I think one of the things that makes it so good is that he really seems to like the people he studied. Reading their stories makes it a lot easier to clean out the closets.

Double Dipping Again

I've been participating in a year-long reading challenge hosted by Vickie. I decided back on January 1 to go for the gold and read 100 books this year. Vickie allows participants to include audio books in the total and thanks to that I'm up to 52 books this year, about half of them books on tape. Now A Southern Daydreamer has posted her summer reading challenge. Should be no sweat to meet the challenge by reading these books I've pulled from my shelves:

1. Evan Blessed by Rhys Bowen
2. Winterkill by C.J. Box
3. Glittering Images by Susan Howatch
4. Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
5. For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose
6. look me in the eye by John Elder Robison
7. Letting Go by Karen Levin Coburn nd Madge Lawrence Treeger
8. Murder on Waverly Place by Victoria Thompson
9. To the Hilt by Dick Francis
10.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by (do I even need to write this) J.K. Rowling (and yes, I know that I'm the only person on the planet who hasn't f…