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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wishing You All The Best in 2014!!

Here we are about to say good-bye to another year and welcome a new one.  2013 wasn't really a bad year for my family, but honestly, it could have been better.  That said, it depends on what criteria you're using for judging a year.  If I'm really taking stock, we were all together and healthy through the year, and as my Gram always said, "if you have your health, you have everything!"  Here, here, Gram.....then 2013 was a good year, indeed.

My New Years post from January, 2013 spoke of how I don't make resolutions so much as set goals.  Every year I decide on some things I've always wanted to do, and try to make those goals a reality.  Last year, I wanted to focus on making delicious soups, becoming a scratch pie maker, and to be a more gracious person to others.  I guess my 2013 goals were heard loud and clear by my family and friends as I received these cookbooks for Christmas!  L*O*V*E!!!  I did pretty good on the soup front, and not as well on the making-pies-from-scratch front...but that's about to change, so stay tuned!  (Fun story you won't want to miss!!)  As for being gracious...well....we don't hit the "I'm gracious enough" mark ever, so that's just something I'll always be working on. This world can always use more grace from everyone.

So, here we are with a New Year and new goals.  I've been thinking about this for a couple of months now.  I'd really love to learn to speak Italian, but honestly, I don't have the time to really devote to it right now.  Maybe another year.  I've always wanted to learn to drive a stick shift, which my husband tried heroically to help me with for my last birthday, but we just couldn't make that happen then.  Hhmmm.....what to do?  

Then, it hit me....what I really, really want to do is......find more time to do.....

What Makes Me Happy!

What Makes Me Joyful!
Now, I know this sounds kinda dumb, but honestly, most of the time, I get caught up in the "must do's" of life, and not nearly enough time to do the things that make my heart sing.  I love my work, but it feels like work a lot of the time.  I'm talking about sewing more, planting flowers, reading more, playing....just playing.  So...that's my main goal for 2014.....to.... 

MAKE time to play and enjoy myself!
I'm also gonna try to explore Instagram to see what that's all about.  Well, who knows what else my playtime will bring?  

So, I hope this New Year brings you good health, much happiness, and lots of time to do the things you love and that make you happy.  And, thank you so much for visiting my blog.  I enjoy it so very much, and you, dear reader, are the reason why.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Counting The Days 'Till Christmas

Cross Stitch design by Blackbird Designs
As we count the days until Christmas arrives, we make our lists and check them twice....a much different list than  Ol' Saint Nick, huh?!  My many to-do lists keep me organized and on track.  (I live by my to-do lists!)  Why is it so satisfying to cross things off a list?  I don't know, but for me it is.  I must say, things are in pretty good shape for the coming festivities, thanks in large part to my DH, daughter and son who really pitch in and help a lot.  Every day, the house smells divine as our daughter has taken over all the cookie baking.....Bless Her Heart!  I've been trying to take some time off from work to prepare for the holiday, and I wanted to update my blog, but didn't quite know what to post.  I've had more than a few email requests to share pictures of my home all decked out for the holiday which is not something I would normally think to do myself  because I wouldn't occur to me that anyone would want to see it....nothing special, ya know, but I'm happy to oblige.  

I love grouping things in old treenware.  The little Longaberger basket is full of dark chocolate M&M's.   I LOVE dark chocolate!!  I made the little cinnamon gingerbread men many moons ago.  I'm amazed they've lasted this long.  Know what else I love?  Bottle brush trees!

This is one of my favorite Christmas decorations and I have had it for years and years.  Every time I open the boxes of Christmas decor (which I have sorted into boxes for each room in the house...I'm organized to a fault!), it's like seeing an old friend.  Since I can't draw a stick person to save my life, let alone paint something, I collect lovely works of tole painting like this one.  I so admire the art and the artist.

The sweet little quilt on the wall designed by Annemarie Yohnk of Quilts Remembered

This grouping is in my kitchen and the tree is one of three in the house.  This one and another are pencil trees, so no assembly required, and they're small.  This tree holds all my favorite ornaments that I've made or collected over the years.  The bowl on the floor is for Bella, our Yorkie.  We kid that she has her meals under the tree like at the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields, which was a beautiful store in downtown Chicago.  

Many years ago, I started my career doing craft shows and I made lots and lots of dolls.  Eventually, I began designing them, which turned into my first pattern company.  Chef Santa, on the right, was one of my designs.

Cross stitch design by Blackbird Designs
Elsewhere in the house, here are a few of my favorite vignettes.
Cross stitch design by Blackbird Designs

This angel was the last doll I designed back in the day.  I never did make it into a pattern, so here she is....a one-of-a-kind remembrance of my doll making days.  She has a patriotic twin, and that pattern was completed.  I enjoyed making dolls, but once I learned to quilt, I never made another doll again.

I almost didn't become a quilter....it's true!  I honestly didn't think I could do it, but three friends convinced me to give it a try, and if not for their encouragement, I'm not sure what would have happened.  My heartfelt thanks to Mary Mc, Lynn, and Nancy...you know who you are!

This angel's message is to "Rejoice".....and to remember the Reason for the Season!

Merry Christmas to All!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Good Read

A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of this book by Sarah Maxwell & Dolores Smith, all about nurses of the Civil War.  If you enjoy reading about early American history, this is something you won't want to miss.  It is full of wonderful stories about how nine women became nurses during the course of the Civil War, often mistreated and unwanted by the doctors despite the overwhelming need for care by the wounded.  Several went on to make lasting contributions still in effect today.

Treat yourself, or someone special, this Christmas to a wonderful read.....not to mention some pretty inspiring quilts!

Off to wrap presents!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nabby's Dowry "Airing of the Quilts" ~ Part Four

We've had a lovely snowfall this morning and everything is covered in a new coat of pristine white snowflakes.  It has been very cold and will be brutally cold tonight with wind chills deep into the minus zone.  Winter is definitely here in Chicagoland.   I like it...it's the arrival of the fourth season, and exactly how it should be in December.  We all hope the snow will visit again for Christmas and New Years.  After that, it can go back to the Arctic and not return for another year!  HA!  No chance of that!  One of my favorite times of year is right after Christmas, when all the hustle and bustle are over, and winter settles in for the long haul..  It's the perfect time to piece a new quilt and snuggle under all the quilts folded on the couch waiting for us.  

All this talk about quilts is the perfect segue into the last bunch of photos from my Nabby's Dowry Sew~Along.   Here we go.......

Betsy from Illinois

Kathy from Connecticut

Mary C from Washington

Pam from Utah

Pam from Wyoming

Pat from Texas

 Patsy from Illinois....did you notice that Patsy changed the direction of the four Flying Geese blocks!  Love that!!

Rena from Georgia

Sandy from Maine

Sandy from Washington

Sharon from New York

Susan from New York

Terry S. from Tennessee

Yolande from France

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I adore small blocks.  I think my love of small blocks has rubbed off onto my friend, Deb, who works with me.  Look what Deb did with her Nabby's Dowry!

My quilt is on the left, and Deb's little quilt is on the right.  It is so darn cute!  As with all of these quilts, the photos just don't do justice to how nice they are in person.  Deb's blocks are 3 inches finished!  

You have no idea how jazzed I am that all of you were sewing along with me.  It is sooo cool to think about all of us around the world, working on the same project together!  Often, along with sending my the photo of a quilt, I receive a touching email, telling a story about what was going on in the lives of the quilter while the sew~along was in progress.  I received one such email from a generous woman who wishes to remain anonymous.  She gave me permission to share her story with you.   She writes:

I live in a rural area.  I am a self-taught quilter, and I have always quilted alone in my quilt closet.  10 years ago I bought a computer, now, I "quilt" with friends (you) all over the world.

Last spring I got a call from a neighbor.  She is a minister's wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 3 1/2, works part-time, etc, etc, etc.  (busy, busy, busy)

She is also a self-taught quilter, trying to finish a quilt that she started 5 years ago.  Could I help?  Could I be her mentor?  Me? I'll try.

Now Monday mornings are OURS!  Don't mess with Monday Mornings!

Nabby's Dowry came out and I thought that it would be a fun project for us.  So, I dug into my re-cycled shirt box and made all of the HST's, plus a couple extras.

Next Monday, I gave the HST's and a pencil drawing of the first block to her and pointed to the design wall.  Have fun.  After a hesitant start, she was off.  Laughing, changing this HST for that one, moving it one place over, and back again.  She loved it.  Next Monday, I did the same...........and the next Monday, and the next. She was disappointed when the last block was finished.

I let her dig into my shirts for the sashings, corner triangles and the border.  The last she saw of it, it was pinned on the design wall in many pieces.  (I have her working on another project now.)

She has had a "rough" summer.  The parsonage is being gutted and re-built, so, they have been living in a borrowed house, for months.  It is almost over, and they can move back in by Christmas.

Nabby's Dowry will be my house-warming present to her.

Thank you for a fun project.  It was a great learning tool.  I hope that others have had as much fun with it as we did.

 I maintain that quilters are the most kind and generous people on the planet, and I'm so proud to be one along with you!

I hope you all enjoyed making Nabby's Dowry....I surely did!  And, yes!  To those of you asking if there will be more sew~alongs in the future, yes, yes, yes!!  I already have two planned for next year, with perhaps a third one....we'll see.  

If you'd like to participate in future sew~alongs, the very best way to do that is to receive my blog posts via email.  That way, you can easily print the email containing all the instructions.  To do this, simply type your email address into the "Follow by Email" icon, found on the right hand sidebar of my blog.  You will receive an email to confirm your subscription.  Follow the instructions to confirm, and you're all set!  

Again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who sewed along with me, and for those of you who sent in the photos we've all been enjoying.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nabby's Dowry "Airing of the Quilts" ~ Part Three

At last!  The house is all trimmed and 95% of my shopping is done.  Christmas is coming fast!  Now, the wrapping will begin.  I remember in my younger days, I'd have my house decorated, gifts bought and wrapped and under the tree much earlier.  So much so, that I used to have to dust the presents!  I don't know how I did that?  I suppose it was BC (before children) and we were renters, and...well...a lot has changed.  Funny how our Christmases (lives!) have changed over the years.

Well...onto more interesting endeavors than my reminiscences.  Here's the next batch of lovely and inspiring quilts made by some very talented quilters from around the world.....Enjoy!

Judith from New Hampshire

Judy D in Washington.  It looks like Judy made a miniature version!!  So adorable.  Gosh...those little, tiny blocks get me every time!!  I have another mini to show you soon.

Janet from New Jersey
Karen J from Oregon...lovin' the stripe border!!

Karen S from Illinois....am I seeing some make-do sashing, Karen?  Love that!

Kathy from Ontario, Canada....very striking with the brown plaid setting triangles!  Good job!

Kerry from Melbourne, Australia
Lesley from Nova Scotia, Canada   Lesley's photo is not black and white.  She made her quilt is grays, neutrals and black.  The design really pops, doesn't it!

Lucille from Ohio

Marcia from Ohio

Marcia from Texas.......who also sent along a photo of the quilt as it is displayed in her home.

Marcia said it was the perfect quilt to go along with her rooster and lovely red dishes.  It sure looks great!!  Love the table, too, Marcia!!

I don't know about you, but I'm just lovin' the show of all the different versions of Nabby.  The show will continue in one more post....coming soon!

Among the hustle and bustle of the season, take time to enjoy the festivities and the reason for the season.  I think I'll take my own advice!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nabby's Dowry "Airing of the Quilts" ~ Part Two

As you continue to deck your halls and wrap gifts among other holiday preparations, I hope you will take a few minutes to, once again, enjoy the piecing and creativity of our fellow sew~along quilters.

Carlene from Ontario, Canada

Doris from Utah

Ginny from Illinois
Guylaine from Ontario, Canada
Jackie from Maryland
Janet M from Ohio who made two pillows and a tablerunner as well!!
Janet O from Utah
Jean from Minnesota
JoAnn from Massachusetts
JoAnne from Virginia
Jodie from West Virginia

More lovely quilts in my next post!  Off to do the last of my Christmas shopping!