Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goodbye 2010!

What a roller-coaster ride this past year has been for me! Here are some highlights.

During spring break in March, my teacher-friend Meg and I headed down to the Washington coast for a girlfriend getaway. We spent the night in this wonderful B&B in Port Townsend, a town filled with historic homes.
In April, my first book, "Country Comforts" was published by Martingale!
What a day that was, when my advance copy arrived, along with a bouquet of flowers.
In May, my Monday night quilting group had its annual weekend retreat in a lakeside house near our home.
We've been doing this for years and as always, we enjoyed great company and amazing meals.
Also in May, I took a road-trip before Spring Market in Minneapolis to visit "Primitive Gatherings" quilt shop in Wisconsin--something I'd wanted to do for years. Definitely worth the drive!
My book debuted at Market and I did a couple of book-signings there. In June, I visited Schoolhouse Quilts in Georgetown, Ohio (another great shop) for a trunk show.
Afterwards, hubby Ben and I drove through Amish country near Berlin.
Then I exhibited at the National Quilting Association Show in Columbus.
In July, Ben had nerve-graft surgery to try to repair the damage done to his right arm after an accident last December. Since nerves take so long to heal, we still don't know if the surgery was successful.  He'll be having tests done in January to determine if any healing has happened.  He's now been off work for over a year and if the tests show that the nerve isn't healing, it's unlikely he'll be able to go back to his previous job, which he's had for 33 years.  2011 could bring a lot of changes! 
Later that month, a group of quilters from France came to visit me in my home. The trip was organized by Martine (on my right) as part of a tour of quilt shops and shows. Martine and I had not met before but instantly became friends.
In August we spent a week with two other couples in a house on BC's "sunshine" coast.
Going back several years, this has become an annual tradition for us. We are so thankful for these close friendships and as always, the scenery was spectacular.
Also in August, we attended the beautiful wedding of my niece, Tessa in Washington state.
Then it was off to The Buggy Barn near Spokane for their annual show.
In September, three other Canadian designers and I hosted the second "Quilts at Tanglebank Gardens" near our home. The forecast was for rain but thankfully, they were so very wrong!And then, what has to be the highlight of the year for me, Ben and I spent an incredible 3 weeks in France.
The French version of my book was for sale at the Patchwork show in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in the Alsace.
We visited my friend Martine at her home near Tours.  She was a wonderful hostess!
And we spent a couple of amazing days with another friend and fellow designer, Vero Requena, who owns the "Born to Quilt" shop at her beautiful home in Burgundy. 
Whew, I'm exhausted! When I think of all the wonderful friendships and experiences that quilting has brought into my life, I am amazed beyond belief.  And so very, very grateful.  Thank you all!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Last Project of 2010

With all the busyness of the season, I don't want to start any new projects, but I can always find something to finish or clean up. Being of the pack-rat persuasion, it's amazing what I find in the bottom of my closets or in the back of drawers. Like this collection of candle remnants, for example. What to do with this? First, it's off to Michael's to pick up some 3 1/2" pre-waxed wicks.
I had these containers on hand (yes, for another "someday" project),
but you could use any heat-resistant container.
I put a bit of glue on the bottom of each metal disk and centered the wicks in containers.
All the candle odds and ends went into the top of an old double boiler.
Please, never let the water in the double boiler run dry and never leave the pot unattended!
As the wax melts, I use metal tongs to pick out the wicks and other debris.
When all the wax is melted, I use my candle thermometer to make sure it's the right temperature for the containers.
I added a bit of cinnamon essential oil and stir it into the melted wax.
Then I pour the wax to about 1/2" from the top of the containers.
I save a bit of melted wax in the double boiler so that I'll be able to fill the depression that forms around the wick as it cools. Just make sure to heat the wax to the same temperature it was when you first filled the containers. (You may have to do this a few times before the top of the wax is level.) Trim the wick to about 1/2" above the wax.
If you have some extra wax leftover, spray some vegetable oil spray around the inside of small metal tart molds. Pour the wax into the molds and let cool. Don't pour any leftover wax down the drain! Rather, save it in a clean can for a later use.
To clean up any wax spilled on my kitchen counter, I use a blowdryer to melt the drips and then wipe them up with a paper towel.
Now, cut a circle of tea-dyed cheesecloth about 1" bigger all around than the container. Tear a strip of homespun and tie it around the cheesecloth just below the rim, inserting a cinnamon stick into the knot, just to make it pretty.
When the wax in the tart molds has cooled, turn upside down and they should slide out. You can melt these fragrance tarts in a burner designed for that purpose to fill your house with a wonderful scent!
Such a simple way to reuse and recycle.
I can't believe I didn't think of this before!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This is my favourite Christmas special. I think I've watched it every year since it was first aired and this scene still chokes me up.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Third Sunday of Advent

I've added a few more Christmas decorations to my home this week.
I cut some greenery from the pine tree in our front yard and put some sprigs around the house.
My Santa collection is arranged on the mantle and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.
I cross-stitched these stockings for our family many years ago.
They took so long to make I joked that we'd better not have any more kids, cause I didn't want to make any more cross-stitched stockings!
I like to collect Santas when I travel. This Claus couple is from Key West, Florida.
And this one? From New Orleans, of course!

These two spool Santas are from a quilt shop somewhere.

And I had to have this Santa holding his quilt when I saw him at the show in Sisters, Oregon!

Over the years, I've made a lot of Santas too!
This "Santa's Goose" pattern by Country Harvest was one of my first.
This pattern by Country Cupboard is another one of my favourites.
I love this primitive Santa by Crows Roost Prims.
And this one by Pineberry Lane. This crow Santa on his sheep (by Soft in the Head) is just too cool.
And finally, I designed a sleepy Santa who's ready for bed after a VERY long night!
I dyed an old pair of long johns red to make his pj's and put a fuzzy red "nose" on his slippers to remind him of his best friend. He's got his favourite dolly and quilt to take to bed with him. The pattern is called "To All a Good Night!"
I've also set out my "Santa's and Rudy's" candlemat.
Christmas is a time for presents and I received two wonderful gifts this week.
First, Martingale published their 2011 calendar and guess what?
I'm Miss October!
(Actually it's my Tulip Time quilt pattern from my book.)
And then, I got this wonderful special issue of Quiltmania magazine in the mail.
It's got some great country Christmas patterns in it and my "Peace on Earth" tablerunner pattern is in it as well! (I've posted a picture of it on the right side of my blog.)
What else have I been working on? Well, I'm in the process of getting my website rebuilt after it disappeared into the nether-regions of cyber-space several weeks ago. It's taking much longer than expected. In the meantime, you can see pictures of my patterns by clicking my logo on the right side of this blog.