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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mitchell Park Domes

Spent some time in Milwaukee, visiting the Mitchell Park Domes.  The Domes are a conservatory to exhibit plants from all over the world.  One dome is a tropical environment, one has desert plants and the third is the Show Dome - which varies throughout the year. 

I snapped pictures of some of the plants that intrigued me.  I've been known to design quilts based on the colors of flowering plants. 

Here red, white and  yellow peppers are growing amongst the pointsettias.

I love the lilac buds on this pink flower.

I have some pink pointsettia fabric.  Seeing the real ones has inspired me to get that project underway.
Though I've never seen the Domes at night, they do have light shows.  In fact, they were promoting an evening of fun, magic and lights on New Year's Eve. 

For more info, see:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Placemats - Bound

A strange and wonderful thing happened yesterday - there was nothing I HAD to do.  So of course I sat down to sew!  These poor placemats were quilted in November, but got moved to the back burner as Christmas preparations got underway.  This time between Christmas and New Years is a welcome repreive from the hustle and bustle. 

I started some napkin rings, and hope to have then ready to show you soon.  Meanwhile, I'm contemplating projects for 2011.  (There are quite a few I never got to in 2010!) 

I hope we can all enjoy a little "down" time, and begin the new year refreshed!  :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hallmark - The Beauty of Birds Series

Got lots of questions about my bird ornaments.  Hallmark started this series in 2005 with the Cardinal.  I didn't catch on until 2007, so my first bird was the Blue Jay.  From that point forward I got one bird each year.  Last Christmas my Sweetie found the Cardinal (2005) for me on e-bay or amazon, and my boys got me the Red-Headed Woodpecker (2009).  I still need to find a 2006 Chickadee.

I just learned there is more than one bird this year.  There is a Lady Cardinal ornament too!  If you have any interest in these ornaments you should get them while they last at the Hallmark stores for $19.99.  Collectors are selling the older ones for over $300.00.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Tree is Up - Finally!

Its so fitting that this year's bird is the Blue Bird.  This year was the first time I ever saw one in my yard.  Never saw one here before and haven't seen another one since.  A rare treat!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nativities - Real and Electronic

Still no quilting going on, but the full nativity is up - complete with Baby Jesus, the star, angels, kings, camels and shepherds.
Here's the rest of Bethlehem.  Decided that since the shepherds left their sheep unattended, perhaps one angel stayed behind to look after them (artistic license, you know).
Still can't decide where to put the ducks.  They would get trampled by the camels at the stable, and I doubt the Roman gaurd would pause for them to I guess they will be on the outskirts of town with the sheep. LOL

For a WAY cool techie nativity see:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby Quilt & Baby!

Here she is; Savannah Rae at 3 weeks old. What a little peanut!
Those are 8" blocks, so you can see she's got lots of growing room! :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

GF Cookie Production

Not even 4 hours of shoveling could dampen my enthusiasm for baking Christmas cookies.  (Did'ya notice a few are missing?)  Despite a lot of wind and snow, the storm moved through and was followed by bright blue skies and dry conditions.  In our household, that can only mean one thing:  Its time to make the pink cookies (aka Raspberry Meringue Kisses)! 

Meringues turn out best when made on a sunny day.  For the recipe see:

In addition, I tried a GF butter cookie recipe from Land O Lakes.  Seriously - these  could easily replace my regular recipe.   The search for the perfect GF sugar cookie is over.  Thank you, Land O Lakes!  See:

These cookies are a little putzy, but worth the extra effort.  You make the batter, and then divide it into thirds, which you shape into thick sheets, to be wrapped in plastic film.  Chill these bundles.  Later, you roll them out, only taking one out of the frig at a time.    Unlike other recipes and mixes I've tried, this product handled and baked up just as the recipe indicated.  AND it tastes good too!

Land O Lakes also has a spritz cookie recipe I want to try, and more importantly, both a sandwich bread and multi-grain bread.  Still trying to find the "perfect" loaf.  :)

Pre-Christmas Nativity

Not much stitching going on here.  But my nativity set is up, in its pre-Christmas state.  Mary is still great with child, Joseph is watering the donkey, and the manger is empty.  The shepherds tend their flocks, while the Roman guard is at the gate, taking the census. 

The shepherd's camp is new this year - a 50th birthday gift from my sister.  I'd been wanting that for several years.  Thanks Laura!  The ducks are also new.  All the other animals have had a story card in the box - and the stories are quite dramatic/sappy.  I couldn't imagine what sort of tale the Fontannini family might come up with for Mama Duck and her babies.  Alas, there was no story card.  I guess that's where the Fontannini's draw the line.

The star, angels and magi will be set up closer to Christmas. 

I'd love to do some stitching today, but it looks like (more) snow shoveling will take priority. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Diet & Sleep

Ya know what's great about the holidays?  We do things and see people we haven't seen or done all year.  Ya know what's not so great?  Burning the midnight oil - to decorate, shop, wrap, bake and travel.  This often means results in sleeping less and eating more - exactly the opposite of what our bodies need.

People who get only 5 hours of sleep a night are 73% more likely to be overweight than people getting a good night's sleep.  When we're sleep deprived our bodies crank out a hormone that ramps up the appetite and promotes fat storage.  Reliance on caffeine can compound the problem.  It may keep us on the go all day, but it can interfere with the quality and quantity of sleep at night. 

To learn more see:

Star Chain Label

Remember my Star Chain quilt?  Today it is truly finished.  I was waiting for little Savannah Rae's birthdate for the label.  Tomorrow I hope to meet her and see how she likes her quilt. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Its Better with Butter... they say.  Gluten free baking has been a challenge.  I've wasted time, effort and - worst of all - perfectly good butter on recipes that don't pan out.  So imagine my delight when a coworker sent me this link:

Who, but the makers of butter to understand my dilemma?  Land O Lakes is  putting their product and reputation on the line, so I'm guessing these recipes will be tasty and reliable.  Perhaps there's still hope I can enjoy a GF rolled sugar cookie (or two) this holiday season.  Can't wait to get baking!  :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hermione's Purse

Have you seen (or read) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? 
Now I want a purse like THAT!  :)

What's Wrong with This Picture?

Gluten free Bisquick costs 2-3 times regular Bisquick, and the box is a fraction of the size.  Today I discovered that dang little box is only half full!  Gotta find a reliable GF cook book!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Tree Au Naturale

I took down a spring/summer wall quilt at work, and put this one up.  Its bright and cheery and breaks up the monotony of endless beige cubicles.  Its always fun to get out seasonal items - they look fresh after being packed away for a while!

Some of you may recall this little quilt from last year.  I started it in mid December, to submit in Sew Cal Gal's Virtual Quilt Show.  Entries had to be submitted before the 25th.  I submitted it at 11:51 pm on the 24th - truly the 11th hour! 

Had some lime green fabrics I was itching to play with.  Had seen a Christmas card with a green/lime green tree - so I started sewing strips together until I got the look I wanted.  Once I had the tree shape put together, I decided to base the wildlife on the birds and animals in and around a pine tree in my backyard.  The rabbit and squirrel figures were adapted from cookie cutter shapes.  The critters are hand appliqued.  This was my first experience with embellishments.  Every bead and snowflake was stitched on by hand.  I find hand stitching really relaxing - its a nice contrast to all the annual Christmas hype.

Friends on quilter blogs and Facebook provided suggestions about how to proceed at various junctures - so it was a collaborative process.  Each time I look at it, it makes me happy to think about all of you who contributed to its design.  :)