I finally finished the binding on the Holly Berries quilt and went over it with a narrowed eye and a lint brush. It’s done but for a label. Hurray!
I designed this quilt in EQ a long time ago, and it feels so good to see it in the fabric, as it were. If you want to read about the process of making it (starting at the beginning of August) just click on the "holly berries" tag. This is also the first quilt that I've developed a pattern for, since another quilter asked me where the pattern was available. It's been quite an experience! As always, click the photo to go to my Flickr account and see it slightly larger, if you like.
There was a little extra push on getting this quilt done, so that I could enter it in the 2012 Christmas Quilt Show at Quilting Tutorials. Click on over and take a look at all the gorgeous quilts in the show!
After pondering the border trees for a bit longer and not achieving any clear vision, I decided to set them aside and work on the border houses, where I did have a much better feel for what I wanted to see. The sewing has been fast and furious, in part because the quilter should be done with my log cabin quilt sometime this coming week, and if I can finish this quilt I can take it along when I go to pick up the other and have all three quilts finished and off to the quilters in good time.( Fruitcake intervened... )
Today is dedicated to doing stuff around the house; I am taking down the tree and finishing up kitchen cleaning, looking at our route to the Keys and making tentative hotel plans. With the tighter schedule, MIL and I will drive down together in her van and make our overnight stops at hotels. J will take the trailer and the cats and overnight at rest stops. MIL and I may arrive at the Keys a day before the trailer, so that she can have a non-driving day to rest up before the fishing trip.
Tomorrow and Wednesday will be schlepping stuff out to the trailer and packing, checking everything out so that we’re all set to go whenever we get the green light. I will be very happy once we’re actually in Florida. Sometime in all this I need to look at places to stay after the stay on Kings Key, but we should have 8 to 10 days down there and that can be done once we are on site if need be.
Christmas was actually very nice indeed; we exchanged small gifts, talked to relatives on the phone, and generally relaxed. I let the mail pile up at the forwarding service so we got nearly all our cards at once, and spent a pleasant lunchtime going through them. It was like opening presents. A lot of people commented on our change of address, so clearly I owe some followup correspondence.
Now we start ramping up; the lists have come out and been revised. It will all work out!
Merry Christmas everyone!
The tree is up, the presents wrapped, the last shopping foray complete. We’re expecting rain all day tomorrow but we shouldn’t have to go out in it.
It took about half of the ornament collection to decorate the tree. This is good, the ornaments have been divided into two bins for use in the RV, and we’ll trade off each year. The little artificial tree is lovely but it won’t stand the strain of any of the tree-toppers I own, so some of them and the heaviest ornaments are set up on the table. The cats were vigilant in their inspections of the ornament wrappings, before everything was gathered up and put away..
We're looking forward to a quiet peaceful holiday, and wishing the same for you and yours.
My grandmother was a wonderful baker. She made fruitcake by the hundred-weight for Christmas, cookies by the thousands, tiny yummy cakes with butter icing, but the holiday recipe I liked best was honey fruit bread, toasted with butter, if you please.
When I first tried to make this bread myself, after she had passed away, all I had was a list of ingredients. Knowing little about baking at the time, I turned to usenet for help. (Remember usenet? Yeah, it was a while back.) The usenet baking group was able to come up with a set of instructions based on generic bread baking, which I’ve used ever since (with some refinements as my experience grew.)
A couple of years ago, my hard drive crashed and took with it all the recipes I’d saved, including the honey fruit bread. I really missed it this year (last year was far too rushed for holiday baking) so I asked my extended family if any of them had the recipe. Thankfully my uncle was able to send me a copy. Interestingly this one had the original instructions, and it’s very different from what I remembered doing (I remembered the method fine, it was the amounts I was stumped on.)
Some of the changes are stylistic. I use golden raisins rather than dark because they are so pretty in the finished loaf. I substitute pecans for walnuts because my mother in law is allergic to walnuts (and actually I think they’re a little better in the bread.) This bread is also great with mixed dried fruit instead of candied fruit if you’re making it out of season. The candied fruit gives it that particular taste that just says Christmas to me, and takes me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen, and my grandfather buttering the toast.
Going into Charleston proper two things become clear this town was never ment for cab and chasis duel rear wheel F350's and these people know how to fleece the unwary.
The first stop summed up both. Took me three try's to get parked in the garage ment for RV's this without the fiver just the truck and two go into the "Welcome center" and get directed to a time share type pitch to "save money on the tours in Charleston". No thanks my time is worth more then that.
Turned out the visitors center was in a different building and they were helpful. The guy pitching the time share didn't eat his teeth but it was a near thing.
We then drove around the down town area to get a feel for what we want to see. Sumter of course, a couple of the historic house and the carriage tour was the short list. We then looked for a place to eat and found a great little French place Mistrial or Mistrel something like that. [Mistral -- it was delicious and just what I wanted. -C]
Good food friendly people.
The tree is up! I’m behind on all the Christmas prep, but this weekend we got the tree up, at least. And I have plans to work on Christmas cards this week. It turned out really nice, despite a real lean in the trunk (not apparent when we cut it) that necessitated a discreet wire to the mantle.
With wideset branches, it’s a great tree for ornaments. I got what I thought was everything onto the tree before realizing that I must be missing a box. Many of my larger and/or heavier ornaments are missing. Of course, this year I think we’re full up, so perhaps I’ll find the box for next year.
Our two new cats, Mercedes and Mister Guy, were by turns alarmed and approving. Mister guy was eying the tree, completely nonplussed, when Rufus came down the stairs, looked it over and yawned, obviously bored with the whole thing. Mister Guy went over and sniffed him, as if to say, “You aren’t freaked out? Why aren’t you freaked out!? This is alarming!” Mercedes has decided that it is a cat hidey spot especially for her, or at least she had before we messed with it and put on all the lights and ornaments. They both think it’s a great shame that I keep moving the cat toys to higher branches.
One of many favorite ornaments:
The quilt inspired by the online swap is done! And a very nice holiday mood-setter it is, too. I think this one will stay up on the design wall through the season, lending a festive air to the living room. I'm going to call it "Boxes and Bows", in keeping with the season as it were.
This went together really quickly, even though it did turn out larger than planned. The nine-patch border was supposed to go right up against the center "bows" but when I tested it on the design wall, it looked way better with a larger gap. That took another trip to the local quilt shop, because the white snowflake fabric was used up in the center blocks and nine-patches. It was a good thing too, as the gold and white holly fabric of the inner border was just the ticket to help integrate the outer holly border. Once it's quilted, I'll use the candy cane fabric to bind it, as shown by the test strip on the left side.
I found out in doing this that I really, really like holly fabric. Of the 18 fabrics (mostly from stash) used for this quilt only 5 are NOT holly patterns.
We won't get to shop for presents until J gets back from his trip, the weekend before Christmas (double ack!) And I may or may not be able to get enough done to put up a tree here at the house. We'll decorate one at my mother's, but it's not the same.
But all is not bleak. One of the blogs I read regularly had this link to share recently: http://amblesideonline.org/
I've been reading a story at a time. They're old-fashioned Christmas and Thanksgiving stories, and excellent selections; I especially enjoyed "This Way to Christmas" (which has some.. antiquated.. notions, but then again, it was written in 1916.) I adore these sorts of stories and it's been a treat reading them.
I'm in the process of making a keyboard shelf to raise J's keyboard and make it more ergonomically correct, so there's sawdust all over the kitchen, but the shelf will look spiffy (and work, more importantly) when it's done. I mismeasured the supports the first time, and bought ones that were about 1/4 inch too high. Rather than spending literally hours trimming off 1/4 inch from two 30 inch pieces with the inadequate tools I have on hand, I went out to the hardware store and spent 12 dollars to get a piece of stock that is the right size. Expensive, but just right, and well worth it on the cash for time equation.
And J is home, a little early because the weather was bad, and the problem with the truck which I thought was going to be a 400 dollars plus repair turns out to be fixed with a 39 cent fuse. So things are looking up. I've been sitting here drinking hot tea and reading and working on the quilt and listening to J play WoW. I feel like a cat on a warm lap.