Wednesday, December 31

Happy New Year!

Last post of 2008. Here are some random photos and thoughts from the past 10 days...

We had a wonderful time with my family at my parents' place over Christmas; my older two loved decorating the tree with their Uncle Al.

Played outside in the snow a lot! In addition to the large snowman, there was also a snowbunny. (Heidi loves bunnies!!!)
And using the mound created by the snowplow along with the slight slope of the front yard, some of our crew built a fun little sled run right in front of the house.

Even Lucy enjoyed it! And I loved having huge amounts of floorspace on which to lay out the quilt designs. Here's the "structured" side, missing its border still.
We ended up going with Diamonds2; Al was fine with any of the designs but did mention the zigzags were maybe a little too "Charlie Brown-ish." The light is a little off in this picture -- in reality, the light greens and beiges are not that similar.

And here's the "eclectic" side. Got the idea to just sew squares on top of squares from this lovely "ragged squares" quilt.

I was amazed at just how hard it was to get a pleasing "random" layout. One of my brothers quipped that it's kind of like when we set up our Settlers board "randomly": "no, there's already a mineral there," "we need a better number on brick here," etc.

And I've heard of panting yourself into a corner, but quilting yourself into a corner?... : ) (Thanks to sis-in-law Jen -- and her gorgeous DSLR -- I'm actually in some photos for a change.)

Of course, sewing the pieces together would have worked a lot better if I had brought not only my sewing machine but also the power cord for it!!! Argh. Oh well, will start sewing it in 2009.

Our week at the "cabin" was fantastic... and then I came home to an over-the-top gift from a wonderful friend who made me give her a house key before we left town. What can be better than walking into your house after a vacation and seeing this:
Or this:
Especially considering the state it was in after the craziness of our departure day. She tidied up, she vacuumed, she dusted, she organized, she even cleaned the bathrooms! Aaaaah - deep contented sigh!

Before I even came hom, I knew I'd be in for a treat: my brother had driven to our town to pick up his girlfriend at the airport there and stopped at my house to hang out before her arrival. On the phone with me, he was asking how to turn on the TV. (It's complicated. Truly.) I told him first he needed to find the right remotes.

Al: "You mean the ones in the remote basket?"

Me: "Oh, I didn't know I had a remote basket."

Meet my new remote basket. Suzanne, you are an amazing genius angel.

So, resolutions for 2009:

1) Build on the beautiful gift Suz gave me by maintaining some order in my home.
2) Finish Al's quilt. Preferably well before his July birthday.

P.S. When the previous owner of the hibiscus told me that tree would probably have blooms this winter even, I didn't believe her. Clearly, she knows her stuff. Two blooms are almost done, this one just opened up today, and loads more coming soon. Sweet!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22

Unconventional Side Table

On my birthday, I took in a free – and very large – hibiscus tree. It was a little spindly and bare (what little leaves it had fell off after the “stress” of the trip to my house) but nothing a little time and TLC won’t fix.

See, it’s already getting loads of new baby leaves.

Plus, it looks like it’s gearing up for a number of blooms. There are at least a dozen buds in various stages, and more emerging everyday!

In the meantime, we’ve added some color by nesting Sophie’s cardinal in there, folded months ago while older sis was at Kindergarten. (I was wondering what happened to the fourth egg, but actually I’m more astonished that the rest of it has survived this long.)

But, aside from its current non-beautiful sparseness and legginess (I can’t prune it anymore til it gets more leaves!) here’s the problem: that’s a BIG surface area of dirt. Also know as Lucy’s personal indoor sandbox.

Black dirt on white carpet. Not good. After cleaning that up about 3 times a day for the last few days, I've had enough. And a simple towel draped over the surface is unfortunately NOT enough to deter her.

Besides, how can I attempt to keep my living room tidied up when I have that bit of plastic ‘n’ brick ‘n’ ripped cardboard box ugliness sharing the space?

Since neither my woodworking skills nor my time allow for a nice wooden “end table/plant cover-up,” I went to the next best thing, a combination of:
tape (and knife skills)

and cardboard (sidenote: note the box? Our playroom is getting organized too these days)

and some fabric from the stash.

A little unconventional, to have a tree growing up out of the middle of one's side table, but I figure it's better than it was before. Let’s see Desctructo-Girl get to the dirt now.

P.S. Got all the squares for the back of the quilt cut out this morning. So now it's time to start sewing...

Sunday, December 21

Chicken Noodle Soup & Coq Au Vin

Mmm, this is what my counter looked like yesterday afternoon. Getting ready to make Chicken Noodle Soup. I love it when ingredients are all measured out in little bowls. Mise en place Martha would call it, I believe. I used to do that as I kid whenever I baked a cake. Pretend I was on a cooking show and use almost every bowl in the house. Drove my mom nuts.

But even better than all this pre-measured goodness is the fact that my man was doing the cooking. I have no idea what's with his expression. Looks like he's saying, in a nasal British accent, "And that, my love, is how you chop parsley." (He did it one-handed, i.e. didn't mash the parsley into a tight little ball with his other hand like I do. But him and sharp blades don't have a good history, so his unorthodoxy is probably for the better.)

And even better than my man cooking me some soup, he was cleaning up as he went! See that stack of clean dishes drip-drying in the foreground?

It. Was. Delicious! So so good! Way to go, honey!

And even better than delicious home-made soup made by husband who cleaned up as he went: enough for leftovers!

And did anyone notice the wine bottle(s) on the counter? That was for today's meal, Modern (a.k.a. Doesn't Take All Day To Cook) Coq Au Vin. And once again, made by The Man. I was going to help him -- he bought enough to make a double recipe, which means we ended up with dinner tonight and 5 two-person servings in the freezer! but it's a lot of work -- but I've been feeling queasy all day, so it was all up to him.

Didn't take a picture of dinner tonight but it looked a little something like this (photo from which is also where the recipe came from), except that his bacon was actually mixed into the sauce (as stated in the recipe) not sprinkled on top (to make a prettier picture?) and we ate it over white rice. Two winner dinners in a row. But I think poor Cinder-daddy (what he's been calling himself the last two days -- he did laundry too!) is pooped!

Any good dishes being made for Christmas coming up? We'll be with my parents -- i think my mom is making duck!

Friday, December 19

Decisions, decisions...

I'm stuck. My mom and I started a quilt for my brother over Thanksgiving. One side will have large squares/triangles, i.e., 10" on each edge. So the images you see below would essentially be the entire quilt top, except they don't show the 15"-wide border of light green, tan and brown. And the whole quilt will be a square so the design can be either way on the bed, i.e. zigzags going from pillows to feet or from side to side...

The triangles are already all sewn into squares but then we decided we didn't like the design we were going to do. So then I started playing around with other designs. (Sidenote: when my mom delivered the sewn squares she made me promise I wouldn't spend "all" my time on this quilt. I went to the opposite extreme and have spent NO time on it, til today! Eek.)

So, do YOU have a preference? 'Cause I just keep going in circles! If you have specific comments about what you like/don't like about any of them, please leave those below. Otherwise you can also vote for your favorite(s) in the poll at right. In the meantime, I better work on the other side...

P.S. I'm not completely insane, i.e. i don't expect to have this done by Christmas. But I would love to be able to show him the top... In 6 days.

Thursday, December 18

Bouncy & Boo, and Chestnut too

More baby softies done. I named the first few. Now the girls wanted a turn. Meet "Chestnut" the Squirrel:

And "Bouncy" the Kangaroo, with her little joey, "Boo", shown with the whole gang, minus Lumpy who's already been shipped out:

I learned something about fleece last night - direction matters! My first attempt at a tail didn't work so well because I just cut rectangles out of the scraps of various reddish colors I had, sewed them all together down the middle, and then started cutting fringe.

By accident, I pulled on the first little fringe and it stretched and then curled up all cute. Sweet. So I fluffed up that whole first color. Moved on to the next color, pulled, pulled some more. Nothing! Some fringe curled up, some stayed straight. Aargh! I was determined to make the best of it, just accept it and use it. But then I put the tail next to the little red pyramid. Oh my. The tail was about 4x as big!!!

So, armed with my new knowledge of stretchable directionness of fleece, I cut new, SMALLER rectangles, going the right direction on the fleece, and got a happy fluffy-tailed squirrel! (Or, Delilah, here's your first lesson: eichhörnchen in German. Say that three times fast. Or even one time. Slowly.)

P.S. Mo had more ideas today on the phone. "How about a skunk?" And then when I mentioned wanting to make something that crinkles but not wanting to make another elephant (too complicated), she suggested a beaver. Wouldn't THAT be cute, a flat little tail in back and then two little buck teeth in front! I thought I was done, four was enough, but this... not sure I can pass it up!

Wednesday, December 17

A Kristmäs Poem...

I'm so excited -- I've had a gift idea for my dad in my head for... I hate to say it... over a year. It was just one of those things that seemed like it would be really hard, take really long. So I kept putting it off. Over a year.

Til this week. Got started on it, emailed the necessary people from whom I need stuff, got the hardest part done today (it didn't even take that long. Will I ever learn?!?) and it looks like I might even get it done in time for this year's Christmas! And oh how I want to spill the beans! I think he's going to love it! But of course want my dad to be surprised...

So instead, here is a poem (orig a song by Udo Lindenberg, I think) for my Dad (who is German) and Susi (also German, experiencing her first American Christmas) and all other friends, family, and acquaintances who understand both English and German.

For the rest of ya, it'll just be one big "Huh?!?" so I've interspersed it with photos of German Weihnachtsmarkte (Christmas Markets). How I love them. The first one is from my Dad's hometown in Bavaria.

Happy Kristmäs

When the snow falls wunderbar
And the children glücklich are,
When there’s Glatteis on the street,
And we all a Glühwein need,
Then you know, es ist soweit:
She is here, the Weihnachtszeit

Every Parkhaus ist besetzt,
Weil die people fahren jetzt
All to Kaufhof, Mediamarkt,
Kriegen nearly Herzinfarkt.
Shopping hirnverbrannte things
And the Christmasglocke rings.


Merry Christmas, merry Christmas,
Hör the music, see the lights,
Frohe Weihnacht, Frohe Weihnacht,
Merry Christmas allerseits...


Mother in the kitchen bakes
Schoko-, Nuss- and Mandelkeks
Daddy in the Nebenraum
Schmücks a Riesen-Weihnachtsbaum
He is hanging auf the balls,
Then he from the Leiter falls...

Finally the Kinderlein
To the Zimmer kommen rein
And es sings the family
Schauerlich: "Oh, Chistmastree!"
And the jeder in the house
Is packing die Geschenke aus.


Merry Christmas, merry Christmas,
Hör the music, see the lights,
Frohe Weihnacht, Frohe Weihnacht,
Merry Christmas allerseits...


Mama finds unter the Tanne
Eine brandnew Teflon-Pfanne,
Papa gets a Schlips and Socken,
Everybody does frohlocken.
President speaks in TV,
All around is Harmonie.


Merry Christmas, merry Christmas,
Hör the music, see the lights,
Frohe Weihnacht, Frohe Weihnacht,
Merry Christmas allerseits

Another Recycled Robot

Yippee, Sophie is pretty much back to her healthy self. Now the older sister has "it." But at least "it" didn't start in the middle of the night like yesterday.

So it's Wednesday, which means it's Trash Day tomorrow, which means our recycling bin in our kitchen is overflowing. (We eat way too much cereal and drink way too much juice in this house!) Well, ever since that day last May when Heidi and Sophie made this little friend (with some taping/assembly help from Mom)...

whenever the recycling bin in the kitchen is overflowing, one of them -- usually Sophie -- asks if she can make a robot. Today was no exception. Plus, Lucy was asleep and Heidi was "languishing" in front of the TV; apparently, Sophie needed a companion. Here are a few "in process" shots...
In the photo below, she's just finished saying "Mo-om, stop taking pictures. Wait til she's done!" I tried to comply.
I had to help on a few things, like cutting out the circles for the "arms" to go in. But it was fun to see how serious Sophie was about her "work."

Finally her new companion was done.

She carried her pal around for a while, danced to some Christmas tunes, ran races, etc., then asked for my help carrying her downstairs so they could watch "Martha Speaks" with Heidi.

Called for my help again later on. "Mama, can you put Sally in the other chair so we can do"
Sally even inspired Heidi to get up off the sofa for a while so she could run the robot around a little too. I wonder what the Sunshine Sanitation guy would say tomorrow morning if he found her on the curb. (I'm thinking less "Oh, isn't that precious?", more "Grr, can't these people sort their trash?!?")

And my thought for the day:
Oh, that I could accept my accidents and mistakes as easily as Sophie does hers...
based on the following incident:
At the start of the process, Sally (actually, only her head so far) was up on the counter where I'd been helping Sophie tape the "wire" to the "eye," whatever that meant. As she was climbing off the stool, she started to say, "And now I have to...", then accidentally knocked the robot off the counter, but without skipping a beat continued "...drop the robot on the floor" in a very matter-of-fact voice, like she was reading it off her to do list.

So, if you have kids who are getting a little stir-crazy, why don't you throw this idea at them, along with assorted boxes, containers, tubes, caps, string, and whatever other junk is laying around.** Oh, and don't forget: loads and loads of tape. : )

**For those of you who don't HAVE junk laying around your house, you can come get some of mine. See, I'm so generous!


Related Posts with Thumbnails