Friday, December 31, 2010

So Long 2010

I can say I am glad 2010 will be heading on its way out.  If I had to sum up the year in one word, I guess it would be formidable.

Work was  is challenging because of the reductions-in-force (a new meaning for the word "riff" this decade. Also used as a verb "you've been riffed"). I figure the remaining staff is all doing 2-3 people's jobs plus new initiatives added monthly.  Another year of no cost-of-living pay raises.  Thanks Gov. for 8 years of no raises remember some of those years were "good" years.  So glad to see you go. Oh I forgot we are all supposed to just be thankful to have a job. 

I did resign from my second job in April after 8 1/2 years at Starbucks.  I really miss the good things about  working there--my fellow co-workers and regular customers--but do not miss the damage to my health, relationships, and well-being.  It took me until August to recover.  I hope I can make it through 2011 without having to go back. We'll see.

On to better things...2010 was another year of being inspired by all the fabulous creative quilt blogs out there. New fabrics and more time to quilt.  I'm really looking forward to sewing my way through 2011!

Everyone (2- and 4-legged) in the house was healthy all year.  Please let this be so in 2011!!

 In March, my niece was born and after a rocky start she is a happy healthy baby that has brought so much joy to my family!!!!   She visited her first quilt shop at 6 weeks old and as you can see, we still drag her to quilt shops.  She loves fabric and seeing all those colors!!      

 My dad taught her to stick out her tongue and blow "raspberries" LOL!
Hope everyone shares the rest of this year with family and friends! 

S. and I will be staying in (we always do) with dinner and wine from Whole Foods and movies from Netflix.  The cats, most likely, will be snoozing like this.

May 2011 bring all of you (and all of us) peace, health, love, and prosperity!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Limbo Week (no not the dance...)

Yes it's the week between Christmas and New Year. I don't know why I've been so slack in blogging; I just it's just the slow-down-quietness of the week.  I've been one of the few people at the office this week (I love driving to downtown Atlanta during Limbo Week--no traffic :) Trying to get projects done before the end of the year when the phones and emails are quiet.  I love Limbo Week.

Let's see what have I been up to...

working on the gazillion of 1 1/2" finished half-square triangles for the Bonnie Hunter mystery. I have 240 of the 600 needed so far. I'm using Thangles to make these and it may never end...

Here are a couple of cool lucky wins I won right before Christmas
from Sinta and Sherri's Le Petite Projects of the Year monthly giveaway a gift certificate to Quilt Taffy.  Here's my loot with a sweet note from lovely Corrie.  You can visit her blog here and the etsy shop at the link above--great prices and fast shipping gotta love it!

and a giveaway from the most wonderful Alma of Blackbird Designs
Little bitty cutie charm packs of 2-inch squares of their new line for Moda called Antique Fair.  These are too cute and precious to open! 

Ah hem I also bought a wee little bit of a present or two for myself during those great holiday sales that kept overflowing my inbox (I have no willpower....)
A fat eighth bundle of "Morris Tapestry" (I CANNOT resist William Morris fabric especially in purple and especially with the Strawberry Thief design) and a couple of charm packs of the new Kate Spain "Central Park" (great new line love it!) from Crazyquiltgirl Fabric Shop (another great shop with super fast shipping!)  And a couple of patterns from Fat Quarter Shop's sale.
And lastly, a recommendation of an excellent book for history buffs.  I borrowed my copy from the library but lots of you bloggers out there got those spiffy new e-readers so you may want to check it out electronically. I really enjoyed Simon Winchester's previous books:  Krakatoa: The Day the World ExplodedThe Meaning of Everything:  The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary; and A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906. If you like well-written, accessible, and interesting  history, science, natural phenomena, weather, naval history, military history, social history, oceanography, biology, anthropology, and many many other ologies, you will probably enjoy this book.  I like lots of ologies but that's just me.

OK I think I'm all caught up.  One more day of 2010 to go.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas & Boxing Day 2010

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas!  And a happy Boxing Day!

(I just love this antique print I found online with dogs and cat conspiring to get into the Christmas pudding.  It's called "Christmas Day--The Uninvited")

It has been a very low-key and lazy holiday here at Chez Stella Bella.  Lazing around under quilts, frequent snacking, reading, and dozing off. Actually, it was a typical day for the cats lol!

The cats enjoyed their new toys and we watched with amazement as snow fell in the ATL for the first time on Christmas since 1882.  There is about an inch here at my house but other areas in Georgia have more. 

Today is bitter cold and windy so I'm not leaving the house and am working on the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt.

Tomorrow is back to work. Boo.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas!!

A Merry Christmas to all who celebrate from our house to yours!

Holiday Baking or My Kitchen is Covered with a Fine Layer of Flour & Confectioner's Sugar

I meant to post this last night but was too tired by the time I got back from delivering goodies to my Starbucks peeps.  I definitely got my bake on yesterday and by mid-afternoon my little kitchen was covered with flour and confectioner's sugar and the kitchenaid got a work out.  I started the morning making cranberry bread pudding to take to Starbucks along with cookies.  (I had homemade rolls in the freezer and milk I needed to use up so bob's your uncle...bread pudding.)

Next was cranberry-orange tea bread for my vet.  Every year I bring treats and coffee to my veterinarian's office as a thanks for keeping the four fuzzy ones healthy.

I only made a few types of cookies mostly to give away or take to the office next week because we definitely don't need to keep these around the house:  chocolate thumbprint cookies (left), a gazillion sugar cookies (above), and gingerbread cookies with lemon drizzle (below).

Today is one last batch of cookies and ham dinner (ham, mashed potatoes, corn, okra, homemade whole wheat rolls).  Rest of the weekend is sewing time woo hoo! 

The cats are being extra good today so Sandy Claws may visit after all lol!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse/Winter Solstice and Black Cats Do Not Mix

Lunar eclipse/full moon/winter solstice and black cats do not mix. 
Thanks to Morpheus, I've been up at 3AM for the past 2 nights (er mornings). I appreciate his interest in astronomy and the passing of seasons, but really a calendar is fine.

This is not my photo of the eclipse; it's from  
I didn't even go outside to see it because I was too busy telling a certain mr. cat that he was not getting any Christmas presents (or winter solstice presents for that matter). 
If you are keeping track (as I am) only Stella and Gomez are being "good."  Edgar Poe and Morph better be on extra good behavior these next few days or Sandy Claws will not be visiting.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt RRCB step 3

Instead of working on my to do list yesterday, I goofed around and played with fabric and surfed around blogland before scrambling around to get the laundry, housework, cooking, and oh yeah picking up S and E at the airport.
I worked on my Le Petite project Saturday night and now just need to do the borders. 

I also worked on Step 3 which is 60 - 8 1/2" string pieced blocks.  I had two boxes of neutral scraps of all shapes and sizes so got those out....
and made a huge mess!!!  Poor Stella nearly got lost in it.

I am so happy to use these scraps up! What was I thinking saving crazy bits and pieces of all sorts of sizes???!!?? I now cut scraps up in usable sizes and sort by size rather than color. 

I have 10 blocks made (you can always tell when I take late afternoon photos in winter).
And 50 more to go...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

UFO Containment Plan

Before my house continues to ends up looking like scene from Mars Attacks!, I'm joining Judy at Patchwork Times' UFO challenge for 2011.  I definitely need a containment plan for my UFO's as they are taking over Roswell, New Mexico the house.  Click on the link in my sidebar if you want to join in!

So 2011 will bring, at least, these 12 projects to completion:

1.  Scrappy Nines--bits and pieces of this are all over the place; I really need to get this together.
2.  Binding on two (!) quilts that have been quilted for over a year. WTH??
3.  2 table runners that are already cut out and aging in bags (poor dears!)
Here are some of the list (hope one of these are picked first or I'll have to go sewing space diving)
4.  Start and finish a quilt from this honey bun of Neptune fabric (it is already trying to escape from the roll so I hope this number gets picked soon)

5.  Finish top for "Stars of Provence" --languishing since February 2007 
6.  Finish top called "Damask Rose" using Clara Barton  fabric from the book Layer Cakes, Jellyrolls, & Charm Packs
7.  Finish top for "Firecracker" quilt--I think this just needs borders and the backing pieced
8.  Finish top for Kaffe Fassett quilt from Jelly Roll Quilts--top is halfway done and need to piece backing
9.  Finish top for Stitch n' Quilt shop BOM from 2007
10.  Start and finish one of my oldest UFOs "Wild Rice" kit purchased in August 2004 (OY!)
11.  Start and finish one of my newest UFOs (I don't think it's really a UFO yet but it has the possibility to be so I better add it to the list just in case) Whittier Crossing kit for "Bali Sea Star" from the book Scrap Basket Surprises--purchased November 2010.
12.  Finish two I-forgot-I-even-had-these projects (seriously these need to be finished before I forget them again.

Here is Kristie's in progress last year
Baker's dozen # 13 project to fit in:  "Kristie made me do this project" Bunny Hill Scotty Dogs

Whew!  This was scary and exhausting.

I think I need to eat a cookie and drink a cup of coffee to recover.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Comfort and Joy

Even though today was a dreary, gray, cold, drizzly, damp day in the ATL, quilters at the Silver Thimble Quilt Club were comfortable inside and sewing with joy.  We snacked on tons of goodies from today's "Bring a Thing in a Dish" (other people may know this as a potluck but this is what Pat called it).  Quilters sure can bring lots of food--we had lots of ham, bread, rolls, desserts, munchies but no fruit or veggies (cracked me up!).

There's always great show n tell at Thimbles.  Here's Karin with her X-Block quilt.  Love the fabrics.

And this is a STUNNING Baltimore album block by (a different) Pat, who took a class from the expert Baltimore album lady Elly Sienkiewicz. The birds are made of silk ribbons and are just wonderful.

Some quilters were working on Bonnie Hunter's current mystery quilt including me. I did all the easy steps. Here is my step 4 blocks.  I'm doing different colors--purple, green, black, and something else that I haven't decided yet.  We all discussed the best way to make 600 half-square triangles for step 5 (face it, there isn't a best way to make 600 HST...).  

 While on the topic of obscene numbers of blocks to make, our little swap group is making a quilt that takes 848 -1 1/2 inch squares.  There's another crazy number.  Kristie sewed 846 and realized she need to cut 2 more (this cracked me up too!)   

Lots of us were planning new projects for 2011 and making lists of UFOs to work on.  Karin was already moaning and complaining about doing applique in 2011 (she calls it heinous applique!). Melisa at Sweet Home is hosting Pat's new Block of the Month pattern called "Comfort & Joy".  Karin has signed up to make this quilt and she is going to LOVE LOVE LOVE doing applique in 2011. 
Comfort & Joy by Pat Wys, Silver Thimble Quilt Co.

Everyone is going to support her through it but we may end up as one friend said "jibbering in the corner" LOL!!!  If you want to join Karin's support group in on the fun, you can order this BOM via Melisa's website.  

I am so thankful to have such fun, wonderful, talented friends in my life.

This evening, I'm working on Le Petite project for this month in between catching up on blog posts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My To Do List is 5 Miles Long....

Hi everyone!  Remember me ;)  I feel like I have been gone from my blog forever! Here's a quick recap of my week:  I did make it back from Michigan on Monday, later than planned because of yet another flight delay. So go home around 10:45PM and to bed way too late.

Tuesday at work was a crazypants, insane day, which reminded me of why I don't take week-long vacations and included among other things (I kid you not) a burst waterpipe in floors above which threatened our archival files and required a madcap scramble to empty bottom drawers of file cabinets, move them to cubicles and empty tables, round up empty recycle bins to hold the water and all kinds of fun and games like that. OY!!!! Home late and made up a dinner out of thin air. Note:  I have now been impacted by a snowstorm, high winds, and a flood--wow! What's next? An earthquake...wait let's not go there.

Wednesday was grocery shopping and errand running day after work. Home late again but at least there is food in the house. Did about 2,000 pounds of laundry (but now I have clean clothes to wear to work).

Thursday home late again because met friends for drinks after work then out to dinner.

Friday (finally! I made it). Home not-too-late but a little because took S. and E. to airport. Now it's on to my to do list that is 5 miles long... 

I need to post about all the fun in Michigan (which may include more photos of my sweetie pie niece Mackenzie).  I also need to unpack and upload photos from said trip. I have 350+ emails in my inbox and over 700 blog posts to catch up on.  I also need to address & mail Xmas cards, make cookies for tomorrow's Thimbles club, make cookies for gifts, catch up on steps 2-5 of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, sort through mail, clean house, and a zillion other things...

all before Monday morning....

How long is your to do list?  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Extra Vacation Day

My flight back to Atlanta was canceled yesterday so I get to spend an extra day in Michigan!  It is COLD here--I mean really COLD!  7F with a windchill of -12F when I got up this AM.  Brrrrr!  There is about 5 to 6 inches of snow here and it's really beautiful (from inside!)  Photos and fun when I get back home!  Can't wait to catch up with all my blog friends (although I may need another vacation to get through all the posts!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homemade Holiday

My family is not really exchanging gifts this year.  Well except for buying my nine-month old niece Mackenzie her first Xmas presents :)  We decided that no one really needed anything (except for boring expensive things like I need new tires for the truck...) and I think everyone is just grateful for health, loved ones, jobs, and houses.
I did make a couple little projects from Groovy Girls from stash and clearance fabrics.
A stand & stow bag for mom (left) and my sister-in-law (right). I bet these are used for sewing stuff or Mackenzie stuff.

For my brother who has to travel a lot for his job, some travel totes (a large and 2 medium bags). He is interested in the American Civil War so I used reproduction fabric for his.

I made these for my dad too just because dads are hard to find presents for and I figured he would find a use for them. These were easy to pack in carry-on luggage too--always important to think about gifts & traveling especially nowadays.

Voila!  I even used ultra-green wrapping by folding neatly and re-using ribbon remnants.   

I'll let you know how they liked the gifts (I'm pre-blogging before my trip!!!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog for a Special Report...

I may have the cutest niece EVER!!!  

Having Christmas with Mackenzie & family so I'll catch up with everyone next week! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Neighbor

I have a new resident in the neighborhood--a red tail hawk.
I was immensely surprised to see this hawk perched on the fence by my big oak tree in the back yard one evening when I got home from work.  He/she didn't even fly away when I pulled into the drive. After sitting on my back stoop watching the hawk just sitting there looking around, I went and got my camera to try to get a photo.

It was dusk and overcast so it's a dark photo but at least you get a sense of how close the hawk was to the house. It was there for at least a couple of hours.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Freezing Cold Atlanta

OK who forgot to pay the heating bill for the metro area?  It is f....r...e...e...z...i..n...g!  Yesterday, I don't think it got above 40 F.  Last night I made matzo ball soup and cookies to help warm up the kitchen.

I also discovered a new use for blue painter's tape--taping the edges of drafty windows and taping dish towels to window sills to keep the wind out. A five second fix. Although it would look better if the tape was color-coordinated to my kitchen.  I think I'll ring up Martha and suggest she do a line of painter's tape for Home Depot.    

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Busy Time of the Year

Well it's that busy time of the year for everyone.  I can't believe I haven't posted since Friday. Let's see I had Groovy Girls on Saturday, make Hanukkah dinners for S. and E, made homemade holiday gifts all weekend, caught up on watching Martha Stewart, and did fifty-eleven other things too.

Here is the one project I finished that I can show: The 10-minute table runner in cool Hip Holiday fabric.  Melisa showed us how to make these and how to make ruching.  I think I need Remedial Ruching because mine looks pitiful (so don't look close!) Ugh looks like I needed to press this better and check the lighting for the photo too.

Well this is about as good as it's gonna get tonight.  Morpheus and I are settled in on the couch watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas." What is everyone else up to this Tuesday evening?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is it really December?

 I think I am still in denial about the whole December thing.  It's been a busy week at work which means it's been a slow sewing week.  Nothing new going on right now.

Tomorrow is Groovy Girls at Sweet Home.  I do have my project done from November.  The theme was entertaining and we got a great pattern for making cloth napkins, some recipes, and napkin folding tips.  I decided to make napkins for everyday and not buy anymore paper napkins--"green" and stashbusting.

I used a small bundle of 30s fabrics to make these napkins.

As I dig through my fabric stash, I've been pulling out fat quarters and making a pile to turn into more napkins. As Martha would say "It's a good thing!"         

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Le Petite Project: Butternchurn

Here's my Le Petite project for this month.  The pattern is Butterchurn by This n That patterns and the charm squares are Moda "Rites of Spring" by Brannock & Patek from a couple of years ago I think.

I love this fabric line with my favorite colors of purple & green. The designers have a new purple & green line coming out in the spring called "Lilac Hill."  You know I'll be getting a little bit of that :) 

And because no post (or quilt project) is complete without a cat.
Guess who had to get into the photos this time?
Here's Morpheus who missed me terribly because I was gone overnight last night for work.  Poor Morph had no blogging time.

And just so you don't think she is neglecting her photo of course....

Monday, November 29, 2010

November Coffee Musings

I love Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend!  Starbucks introduced this coffee a couple of years ago and it really is a perfect accompaniment to all kinds of foods, sweet and savory, and great for after dinner.  Being home for four days (not to mention how damp and cold it was), I went through A LOT of coffee (one of these pounds is gone).  The Thanksgiving Blend is sold out at my SBux so I'm moving on to the new Christmas Espresso Blend.  I'll give a review soon.

I can't believe it's been 7 months since I left SBux. Doesn't seem that long.  I still remember it all to vividly. It's very strange not working Holiday at SBux.

All those red cups. The instant change from making frappuchinos to caramel apple spice and hot chocolates. 

Do you have a favorite SBux holiday drink? (check out the owl on the grande size cup)

One thing I do not miss is eggnog lattes.  Bleh! I know a lot of our customers love them but I am not an eggnog fan and really do not like making them.  Eggnog is loud (!), I mean really really loud and high-pitched, when you steam it and has a tendency to spray all over you.  We had a set of "Eggnoggles"  (goggles) in our store as an inside joke. Little Sbux secret for you there.

This red cup was a quad grande nonfat latte.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Block" Friday and Small Business Saturday

The only "black Friday" shopping I did was at Sweet Home Quilt Co.  Melisa opened the store at 7AM and had some great deals (and yes I was there at 7).  I *may* have bought some thread, a ruler, a book, and some various fabric goodies. My co-conspirator Kristie and I will never tell. It was a bunch of fun getting to the store nearly before the sun and shopping and chatting with Kristie.

That was about the extent of the excitement to my day yesterday.  I did finish catching up on my jelly roll BOM--it was BLOCK Friday after all.

Only 3 more blocks to go.

I bought Mackenzie's presents online and had them shipped to Michigan.  No waiting in line or traffic there.  Hope the economy is not relying on me lol!

Today is the first "Small Business Saturday" (started as a Facebook campaign I think) so make sure you visit your favorite small business in person or on-line (preferably your favorite quilt store) and shop local.  As Martha would say "It's a good thing!"

Edited to add: Oh I forgot to give my Thanksgiving report.  Wednesday I made 2 pecan pies with homemade crust.  I was in the kitchen from about 7AM til noon and made roast turkey, homemade rolls, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and gingerbread cookies. I made green bean casserole for S. (I don't like the traditional dump-out-of-cans green bean casserole so I improvised and made steamed fresh green beans, a sauce with organic mushroom soup and fresh onions.)  I had eleventy hundred dirty dishes and used all my dish towels (all this for just S. and I!). S. helped by opening the can of organic cranberries lol! The cats had bites of turkey and they napped all afternoon. S. and I took a huge plate of food and a whole pie and the cookies up to Starbucks for my former co-workers.  They loved it!! And by 4PM were ready for some breaks and food. The best thing about the day was sharing dinner with friends and I didn't have to clean house.  A fun, laid-back day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out in Blogland!  You know I am thankful for every one of you that reads this little blog about my cats and quilting and ramblings about whatever!! 
I am ever so thankful to have an adorable, happy, & healthy niece Mackenzie
 As well as being thankful for my cats and S. & E. and family & friends & my house & having a job, etc. etc., I am also thankful that I don't have to work a second job right now and I can enjoy the holiday and cook to my heart's content so I'll be taking platefuls and a pecan pie to my friends at Starbucks working today.  Please remember to smile and thank those hard-working retail and service people out there this holiday season.  It is a hard job for little pay and lots of stress. A little kindness goes a long way. Believe me.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Choose Your Own Caption

I am brain dead from working on two big projects at work trying to get them finished before tomorrow. 

Stella thought you would enjoy coming up with a caption for this photo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Day Done; Two More to Go

I am so excited about having a short work week this week.  I am really enjoying not being crazy working two jobs and dealing with Thanksgiving madness. I actually get to enjoy the holiday!  I have all the grocery shopping done and even though it's just me and S. (and the 4 cats who meow for whatever we are eating), I am cooking the turkey, dressing (in the South it is cornbread dressing never stuffing), mashed potatoes, yada yada all that, the whole nine yards, and pecan pie. I'm sure we will be eating leftovers for eons....

Oh I forgot to post my goodies from Saturday's trip to Little Quilts.  We had a great trip to Marietta with lunch at Williamson Bros.and walk around the square antiquing and a stop by the quilt shop.

Oh look there's Stella again....
A few new Jo Morton fat quarters and a free yard of fabric (earned by collecting receipts). I did look at every-single-last-thing in the store (just ask S. who was beyond patient).  

Yesterday, I watched four (count them--four hours) of the new AMC show "The Walking Dead" (Zombies!  In Atlanta!  Love it! and a friend of mine was a zombie in the first episode) and cut eleventy hundred 2" strips from stash for Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt. 

Here's Step one finished.  I changed the colors to purple and green instead of pink (not a fan!) and green.

I also started getting caught up on the U.K. jelly roll BOM (I'm a few months behind).  So that is the latest here. Two more days of work and then four days off. Yea! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November Thimbles Meeting

This month I decided to go to the Friday night Silver Thimbles club instead of my usual Saturday. S. needs to go to Marietta today and I said I would go with him provided that we go to Little Quilts (a fair deal I think) and we eat at one of my favorite BBQ places, Williamson Bros.  [With Atlanta traffic, even on the weekends, it's nice to have someone to sit in traffic with you.]    I am trying to be patient while S. stalls finishes grading papers.

Although I missed seeing some of the Saturday people (namely Karin, my-partner-in-crime for lots of quilty fun), I did get to see Karmen and Brenda and also Saturday regulars Kristie and Becky.

I did buy the kit for this month's project (although I didn't start it). This great quilt is from the fabulous book Scrap Basket Surprises and the fabric line is by Little Quilts called  "Whittier Hill"

We could choose different border fabric so I chose the darker purplish-brown paisley. Here's my fabrics.

Just to show you that it's nearly impossible to take photos around here without a cat or two wanting in on the action.... Here's Stella with Whittier Hill fabric.
Improve every photo by adding a little Stella

Although it was a small group, we had lots of show n' tell from Sarah (no blog).  Sarah is very productive and a fabulous quilter.   Here are four of her quilts (four!)


For the December meeting, we are to bring a "thing in a dish but don't stress yourself out" which roughly translates to:  a potluck dish.  [Our fearless leader Pat just finished writing her quilt book and mailing it out and then realizing the holidays are hererightnow. Go visit her blog and give her a little hello, happy to see you back from book-writing-craziness].

For January, we have the choice to do this quilt (or as always work on our own projects).  Although it is a very striking quilt, I think I'll pass and just enjoy the photo.  It's not like a have 900 gazillion projects to work on...
 Alright, time to light a fire under Mr. S. and tell him to hurry up.  There is fabric waiting you know!!