Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

While Waiting for Santa...

...I have been working on a few things!
This is the center of my Winter Wonderland.  I'm adding the fly stitches between the center stitcheries so I can begin sewing the quilt together!  Have you ever used these stick-on thimbles?  I love them - they can be repositioned a number of times before the glue finally wears off - and they don't slip off your finger!

This is going to be a neck warmer for a very tiny person!  I am "testing" the pattern while waiting for the proper yarn.  This yarn doesn't give the correct gauge, so I will be on the lookout for a little girl who might like to have this when its done!
This wonderful stack of vintage squares was given to me last year by a very dear friend.  I've come up with something to make from it - I'll surprise you later.

This was our backyard on the first day of winter.  More snow is on the way, so Santa will have a clear path to the Squash House!

Speaking of Santa....he brought one present a little early - he didn't want the reindeer to carry such a heavy load on his busiest day of the year.  I love the wrapping - Santa gets more and more clever each year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Beary Fun!

Yesterday I met my friend Carol at her house to help her with a very special project.  Every year Carol shops the after Christmas sales, makes deals with stores on overstock and comes up with some really fun gifts for needy kids to give out the following Christmas!  I knew it had something to do with helping her sew something, but I really didn't know just what! 
When I first walked into Carol's studio this glass of buttons with a spool of red on top caught my eye!  Hmmm...I wonder what we're going to be doing?

Then Carol explained the project!  She had a big bag full of the cutest stuffed bears and wanted to make vests and bowties for them before giving them to the kids!  After all, bears like to show off their new duds, too!  Being the very creative person she is, Carol designed this cute little vest for each bear!  The vest is made from fleece which she had in stash.  She also had this cute fabric in stash, so she decided each vest needed a couple of pockets for the bears to fill them up with nuts and berries!  And of course the buttons finish off the vest quite nicely!  Carol sewed the vests while I stitched the pockets and buttons on them!
Here is one of the bears in his birthday suit.  He looks pretty sad and probably a little cold, too!
Here he is all dress up and ready to hunt for nuts and berries in style!  Carol already had the bowties made, so all that was left was to dress each bear and show them off!

Here is the whole gang!  Blonde bear's vest was still in the making - a pretty blue vest to contrast with his unique personality!  Remember that old song that starts "If you go out in the woods tonight, you won't believe your eyes..."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thanks for the Memories & A Winner!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed all of your comments about your favorite Christmas decorating memory! I laughed and cried reading them and so many brought back memories of my own! Thanks to all of you who shared your precious memories! I wish I could have picked all of you to win, but the random number generator came up with #35 which is Chris from Miller's Last Resort! Congratulations, Chris! I really loved her memory:

"Some friends made us a beautiful gingerbread house when our kids were little (2 & 3), and I proudly set it in a place on honor in the living room. Imagine my surprise when I got up the next morning and went to admire it and it was gone. Everything!! Even the cardboard it was displayed on. Then I noticed a trail of crumbs on the floor. I began to follow them and they led to the bathroom trash where I found only the cardboard and the paper cones that *had* been icing covered trees. My adorable children had been in bed when the gift arrived, gotten up and found it, and had eaten it all up!!! "

Here is a photo of our small (5 1/2 feet) tree downstairs. There isn't much daylight in this corner, so it was hard to get a good shot. I love this little tree - all the decorations are nature-inspired and either gold or coppery colored. I used to have them on a feather tree in the bedroom - that tree was just never Mr. Squash's cup of tea (wink). Now I really like these decoration on pine - much to Mr. Squash's relief!

I'll be back in a few days. Still trying to round up before and after photos of our Squash House transformation as promised - turns out they aren't all saved in the same spot!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Squash House Christmas & Giveaway!

The Squash House is now decorated for Christmas! I've had a great time this past week figuring out just how to decorate so I thought I would give you a little tour around the main part of the house! I expect it will change a lot next Christmas as I pretty much used what I had in the old house except for a few new purchases. But that's the fun of decorating a new place and I love coming up with new ideas!

Here is my new quilt rack by the front door with a Christmas quilt I made a few years ago. I found the little Santa Train this year and thought it would be a perfect fit for the shelf! There are some other loved little treasures on it as well.

This is our main tree and the skirt I made for it. Would you believe the skirt is too small and I made the large one? Gives you an idea of how large this tree is - about 7 feet! There is also a tree downstairs but since there isn't a lot of natural light where it stands I couldn't get a good photo. If we have a sunny day before Christmas, I might give you a peek!
These are also new finds from the recent local Christmas craft fair in town and also the consignment shop, which I found isn't just for clothes anymore!
Here is the upstairs mantle - again all new purchases. I bought the pine bough and didn't realize it was a lighted bough until I unpacked the box - bonus! Even Miss Sophie has her own stocking in the center!
Below the mantel are some cute little holiday buckets filled with holly from our yard and matches to light a fire - another consignment store find!
I think I'd previously shown you this santa table runner that I made a couple of years ago - I decided to use it on the coffee table this year.
I've had this Christmas Village for a long time and love putting it out each year. In the old house we had it in our entry which wasn't visible from anywhere else in the house, so I'm now happy that it has a great new spot on the sofa table right in the middle between the living and dining room! Although small, each piece has a specific reason for being in our village!
Here are the garden and quilt shops - two things very near and dear to my heart! See how the postman is delivering more boxes of fabric to the quilt shop? Santa has also been there, after first stopping at the garden shop!
I photographed these in various lights, so this picture of the wine shop is a little dark, but you can click on any of them for a closer look. Since we live in Washington wine country and also have a very dear friend who lives in the Napa Valley, we thought we should definitely have a wine shop!
At one time we thought about someday building a log cabin, but didn't, so why not add one to the village? To the cabin's right is Barnacle Bill's boat house - Mr. Squash's favorite shop in the village! In the back is the lighthouse that watches over the entire village. We both love lighthouses and have visited many, including one just like this in the Outer Banks! You are all welcome in our little village any time!

And since it's the season of giving, why not have another giveaway! This is for a charm pack of Lumiere de Noel by the French General, and a 5-pack of Mary Ellen's Best Press, each with a different scent! The rules are very simple: Please leave a comment telling me your favorite holiday decorating memory. Please do not blog about this and you need not become a follower, but in order to qualify, you must either have a blog with contact info, or if you're commenting without a blog, a way to contact you back. In my last giveaway there were many of you who thought that your blogspot ID automatically contained an email address, when it fact it didn't. So please check that I have a way to contact you! I'll pick a winner on Monday evening!Good Luck!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Winner & the Littlest Snow Shovelers!

We have a winner today! Using a random number generator, number 23 emerged as Kathy, of Troublesome Creek Quilters! Congratulations Kathy! I have emailed you, but in case you see this first, please send me your mailing address! Kathy commented that she would really love to remodel their master bath and make it into one large room rather than two separate rooms. I really had fun hearing what so many of you would do if you decided to remodel parts of your house!

The other day we heard a very loud knock at the door. I didn't see anyone through the glass at the top of the door. I assumed a loud knock would be someone big! When I opened the door, a darling little girl dressed in a pink parka was holding a large show snovel and her two friends - one even much smaller were outside, nearly finished with shoveling the driveway and sidewalk! She wanted to know if they could shovel for $1.00 total! I mentioned that it looked like they had nearly finished, so Mr. Squash and I proposed that we give them each $1.00 to finish the job! I couldn't resist snapping a quick photo of them hard at work! I'd say they really have the entrepenurial spirit at a very young age!

I meant to bring you some more before and after photos today, but we got sidetracked with putting our two trees in their stands over the weekend. It turned out to be nearly a day-long job - one that we don't want to repeat, so we decided to take yesterday off and rest! Please come back soon as I do plan to post more photos and - oh - have another giveaway (after all, it is the Christmas season)!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Squash House 1 Year Anniversary & A Giveaway!

Today marks our first year at the Squash House! It's been quite a year - and every day was worth it! Mr. Squash and I are very happy here - we feel we landed in the right spot! I thought this month I would bring you some before and after photos of how we've transformed the Squash House! I might even throw in a giveaway here and there, too - starting today!

This is what our kitchen looked like before and after our transformation. We kept the original footprint, but added 1.5 inch thick butcher block counters, Marmoleum flooring, new cabinet doors, drawer fronts and hardware, new sink and faucet, a beach-glass tiled backsplash, new lighting, paint and of course, all new stainless appliances. I love it all - the only thing I would do differently next time is have a darker stain on the butcher block, a gas stove (gas was not available when we did the work), and I might think twice about stainless appliances - they are so hard to keep clean! You might be able to get a better look by clicking on the photo. The "before" is something I enlarge from the real estate listing, so it will be a bit blurry.
I've been busily decorating for Christmas - something we had no time to do last year as we were mired in boxes and unpacking. I had to have this Jim Shore music box! I've got it right inside the front door on an oak secretary. When switched on it has little lights around the sleigh! I wasn't going to get it because of the price, but I got on Google and was able to find a seller who shaved a very considerable amount off the retail price! It pays to go to page two and three of Google searches when you really want something!

Okay - now to the giveaway - a charm pack of 12 Days of Christmas and the Lil' Twister Tool which is a fun way to make pinwheels! Perhaps this will give you some inspiration for that last-minute gift, or you can make something for next Christmas! In order to qualify, you must either have a blog with contact info, or if you're commenting without a blog, a way to contact you back. So please leave a comment telling me what remodeling/updating job you would love to do in your house! I will pick a winner at random this coming Tuesday, Dec. 7th!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Bitty Project and Sweet Ingenuity!

A while back I was asked by Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs (via my friend Anne over at Cotton's N Wool) to help test her latest pin cushion pattern - Bitty Mouse! I was so honored and nearly in disbelief that they would ask little old me! Both Anne's had worked on the pattern extensively, but because it was so detailed, they really wanted a third eye. I was happy to oblige, but there was a limitation - I had to complete it either the day I was asked or the next day so that they could get the pattern to print. I happily agreed, but did not have time to run out for any supplies, so I totally needed to use what I had on hand!

For the most part, I had most of what would work. The only thing I lacked was a narrower trim for the neck and hem of Bitty's dress (I didn't have enough of the pretty green trim on the cuffs), and smaller buttons. Nevertheless, it was all about pattern correctness, so even if she's a little "shabby" I managed to finish her and get my input to Anne! I can't remember what I used the dress fabric in, but the green linen was left over from one of my Supreme tests for Stephanie! The twine for Bitty's tale came directly out of my garden tool carrier - I think I last used some of it late this summer to tie tomato branches! This was a lot of fun!

Today I finally got to attaching the binding to my Christmas tree skirt! Since I had quite a lot of bias binding and octagonal corners, not to mention the cut-out circle for the tree, I wanted to make sure the tail of the binding didn't get bunched up or caught under my chair as I was sewing it on. So, I gave it some thought and wound up with a fix! I wrapped the binding around an empty bathroom tissue roll, then popped it over my table lamp and angled the lamp so the roll wouldn't slide off. Worked * like * a * charm!! Now that's what I call Sweet Ingenuity!
We've had one snowstorm after another the past couple of weeks. A tiny bit might melt, then another blast comes along! This was our patio right before Thanksgiving. I measured 6 inches on top of the table, and we've had more come and go since then! We wanted to be retired in a place that had real seasons, and so far we're right on the money!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Baby Rose Finish!

Mr. Squash and I wish everyone a Very Happy Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for this year - our Squash House, our happy retirement and wonderful friends, not to mention each other! Two of our good friends were unable to meet with relatives this year because of the awful weather we've had this week, so they will be spending our first Squash House Thanksgiving with us! I finished another top for Lenni, which by the way is now being delayed until Jan 10th or so. I told Heidi I was more than happy (well, sort of - wink) to wait until all the proper parts were in place for the Bliss table! This is one of Jo Morton's Little Women series called Baby Rose. It's very small - 26 x 26. I decided to use wool for the applique and Civil War fabrics for the blocks. I think it turned out pretty well! It does not have a border and uses a single thickness binding. I'll post another picture when I have it quilted.

As I mentioned above, we have had a wild Autumn storm the past few days! The photo above in our backyard was taken yesterday morning and it snowed all day, so there is much more now than what you see. Oh - and don't worry about the empty bird feeder - the squirrels clean this one out so fast that I had to set up squirrel-proof feeders on the other side! Highs today are in the low to mid teens with last night getting down to almost zero! The entire state has been nearly paralyzed by this, so you know what that will do to Thanksgiving travel! I hope everyone gets to where they are going safely!

I had to show you this photo from Halloween. Our neighbor came home from being out steelheading all day and no one was home at his house, so he came over to show us his big catch! Way to go, Ted! By the way, those are all pumpkins from my garden! Mr. Jack O'Lantern is the biggest at 36 pounds! I carved him that day and the next evening he was gone - I hope he at least got taken to a loving home!

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Unplanned Hiatus is Over!

Not only did many of you wonder where I went the past three weeks - so did I! I'll have to chalk it up to an unplanned hiatus. After helping Mr. Squash prepare for and successfully recover from back surgery, I somehow felt a need to cocoon and hide from the "outside world". Actually, when I think back, this whole year has been a whirlwind of moving, unpacking and settling in to the Squash House, so I think a little break was well deserved - don't you? Thanks to so many of you for your kind emails checking up on me! I appreciate it more than you know!

While I was cocooning, I was having some fun! At the Portland Quilt Show I came across a wonderful wood craftsman, Phillip Galyon, of Wooden Images in Tualitin, Oregon. He makes and sells all kinds of furniture including sewing cabinets and quilt racks. I had been looking for a rack to hang inside our front entry to display quilts for some time. Phillip sat down with me and we came up with a custom rack, perfect for the entry.

Here it is...with the first display! The rack is made of Alder and stained in a golden oak color. It also has a 4 inch wide shelf on top to display knick knacks. When it arrived, I immediately made a sleeve for one of my fall quilts to display through Thanksgiving. The next day I was in a little gift shop downtown and saw the adorable "Harvest" sign - just perfect for the shelf. Click on the photo to get a better look!

I've also been sewing up a storm in my studio. I thought it prudent to have quilt tops ready for Lenni, so I've been hard at work! I still don't know when Lenni will arrive, but hope to hear from Heidi any day now. This is my Christmas Tree Skirt flimsy. I began quilting it on my Bernina yesterday - just a simple cross-hatch throughout. I didn't want to wait for Lenni because I hope to have our tree up the first week in December. After it is quilted, I will then cut the opening and attach the binding. I think it's really going to be gorgeous!

We've had some spectacular Autumn weather the past month! My daily walks, sometimes with Mr. Squash at my side, have been quite a treat! These photos were taken in Pioneer Park which is only a block and a half from the Squash House! The trees above are a mixture of Elm and Maple and are at least 100 years old!
This is a little pond in the park which spills into one of the many streams running through town. It's usually filled with Mallard ducks and if you walk right up to the edge some very large koi will come right up looking for a treat!

Suddenly yesterday, all that beautiful Autumn color was replaced with something else - the first snowfall of the season! This is one of our Dogwood trees just a bit after the snow began to stick! We got a little over an inch when it stopped. Today we're supposed to get up to 4 inches!

Come back Wednesday when I'll have some more finishes to show!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New York Beauty Ready for Lenni!

Oh - My -Gosh! I can't believe it's been nearly two weeks since I posted. Since Mr. Squash's back surgery, I've been a busy gal helping him recover, taking care of things around the house, and OK - I'll confess - spending a LOT of time in my studio!

Yesterday I finished my New York Beauty flimsy! I wish I didn't have to wait until later in November to take delivery of Lenni. I really want to get this quilted, but I'm practicing patience and Mr. Squash is teaching me how to chant from his days in Peace Corps, Nepal ... Lenni, Lenni, arrive soon to the Squash House, Lenni ... somehow I don't think that will speed her delivery, but I can dream! Actually, you should know that Mr. Squash helped me with the layout on this! Those of you who have made New York Beauties know that there are endless ways to arrange your blocks and we had a lot of fun figuring out which we liked best! The fabric used in this is Pat Sloan's Old Blooms from 2003 - gosh - can't believe I've had this around for so long!
Speaking of beauties, Autumn is finally in full swing here! You wouldn't know it to look at our yard. Most of the annuals, perennials and roses are still blooming, but I did plant garlic and put the raised beds to rest for the winter by spreading straw on top of them. Check out the neighbor's gorgeous maple tree! I can't believe ours to the right of the photo hasn't even changed as yet!
This is going to be my next project. I've been wanting to make a tree skirt for ages, and I love this pattern from Perkins Dry Goods! I'll be making it with Northwoods by Holly Taylor. I ordered a fat quarter bundle of it today from Green Fairy Quilts - more than enough for the skirt (maybe both) and stockings for the mantel! Hard to believe that Christmas is two months away - eek!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Patiently Quilting and Lenni Update!

Oh, where to begin? The past few weeks have been a blur around the Squash House! Let's go to the major activity first - Mr. Squash had back surgery last week. He's had back pain ranging from mild to "get me outa here" for a couple of years now. Recently a new MRI detected a large, bulging disc and some other minor issues that needed to be addressed. A wonderful, young neurosurgeon worked his magic, and now Mr. Squash is in recovery mode - doing quite well! Nowadays recovery is up and about, not down and out! He has to walk every day and by the end of 4 weeks, he needs to be up to a mile. There are restrictions, though, that limit him to doing much of anything else, but he's happy playing with his new iPad, reading and watching movies!

Being that we can't venture far from home for a while has given me the opportunity to get back to some quilting! That's where the "patiently" (Mr. Squash) quilting in my post title came from! A while back, Stephanie had a tutorial on New York Beauties. She has known for some time that I've had the fabric and pattern for one, but have had a mental block on the paper piecing part! Thanks to her fantastic tutorial, and some diligence on my part, I finally "got it"!!

Here is some of what I've finished so far. The purple you see is really more of a deep red/burgundy - not sure why the photo translated to purple! I have four more of these to go, then I'll be adding to either side of each piece, then two borders are added, then it gets quilted. It's a pattern by Mabeth Oxenreider from Love of Quilting back in 2004! Yes, I'd been struggling to understand how to do this for some time!

Speaking of quilting, I had a lovely conversation with Heidi Kaisand today about my APQS Lenni. Heidi is National Sales Manager for APQS and is finalizing my Lenni purchase. She informed me that just last night APQS announed they would be offering the horizontal and Bliss drive for the Lenni. It will be debuted at the Houston International Quilt Show next month. Well, it didn't take much thought for me to go ahead and order the horizontal drive - I've heard there is a world of difference between it and the vertical drive Lenni comes with! The only problem is that I'll have to wait a bit longer for Lenni to find her way to the Squash House! The slight delay just gives me more time to piece quilt tops!

Shortly after our company left a couple of weeks ago, I had another "Supreme" sewing job for Stephanie. This afternoon's mail brought a lovely thank you from her in the way of some yummy Essex cotton/linen and a gyoza maker! A while back Mr. Squash and I searched all over and couldn't find one anywhere! I mentioned it to Stephanie one day, and what do you know! How thoughtful, wouldn't you say? I won't be able to show you what I made for a while, but stayed tuned, it's really adorable!
There has also been a lot of yard work to know, end of summer, beginning of Autumn stuff. Earlier in the summer we saw a gorgeous tree at one of the local nurseries and decided if it was still available in the Fall, which is prime planting time, we would get one. Sure enough, there were two left and one now resides here at the Squash House! It is a Hakuro Nishiki Willow. In the spring the leaves are a variegated pink, green and white - so pretty. Right now the leaves are just green and white and as they turn and begin to drop, they become yellow/green. There is still work to do, but I'm having trouble tearing myself away from my sewing machine and Mr. Squash this week!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Potatoes, Pumpkins, iPads and Quilts!

First I have to show you the surprise we found on the front arbor today! H. Bernard, the Clematis, made a late comeback! He was done blooming a couple of months ago and for some reason had to make just one more showing!

And here are three of the "Boys of Autumn"! Aren't they handsome? Each weighs about 15-20 pounds! There are four more larger pumpkins still in the patch that are just beginning to turn color - I sure hope they make it before Halloween or the first frost!
We harvested the Potato Tower today! I'd say this is a pretty good showing for a small tower! Lots of buttery Yukon Golds just waiting for some Fall comfort food dishes!
Before I leave you with some more fantastic quilts from the Portland show, I wanted to mention something about iPads. A while back I had a comment from a new reader who said she loved my photos, but could not read my text - it was "all brown". I had no idea what she meant and she was one of those commenters with no contact info. While we were in Portland, Mr. Squash purchased an iPad. He got on my blog and said to me did I know that my text was unreadable - it was all brown! Well, it immediately clicked that the iPad doesn't seem to want to display all of the colors in my background, rendering the text unreadable. Has anyone else noticed this while surfing blogs on their iPads? I emailed the gals at Cutest Blog on the Block who designed my blog and asked if they knew anything about this. They prompltly replied this was the first they had heard of it, but would look into the matter. I would appreciate anyone who has had this issue leaving me a comment!

Here are some more gorgeous quilts from the Portland show! I am off to appointments in the Big City today, so will respond to your comments later today!