Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 New Year's Greetings: Odds and Ends

Hello, everyone, and Happy New Year 2014!  I just finished reading The Hobbit with Lars, and have a few moments to spare before the dryer finishes up and the clothes need folding, so I thought I'd share a few photos briefly.

iPods and Kindles as Pattern Weights
I've been plodding along on the center applique medallion for my Jingle BOM quilt, and discovered that my family's assorted iPhones and iPods make fantastic pattern weights in a pinch, holding my fabric in place over the paper pattern while I position and glue baste my applique shapes.  I'd be able to see the pattern through the background fabric better if I went upstairs to the studio and used my light box, but I'm only gluing a few leaves at a time and it's more convenient to just squint and fudge it on the kitchen counter.

Sewing all those stems down was tedious work, but now that I have the center poinsettia stitched in place and my branches are sprouting leaves, it's fun to see the whole thing coming together.  I'm really enjoying the mix of emerald green fabrics with those crimson reds.  However, now that I'm nearing the end of the project and looking at all of my blocks up on the design wall, I'm not sure that I want to finish the quilt exactly according to Erin's directions:

Erin Russek's Jingle BOM Layout, patterns found here
I have auditioned so many green fabrics with my blocks, and I just don't like any of them well enough to use that MUCH of it in my quilt.  I also feel like too much time and effort went into the individual blocks to just add plain setting triangles and borders and call it a day. 
I really love how another quilter, Pam of Hip to Be a Square Podcast, a.k.a. Pantsfreesia in the Jingle Belles Flickr group, substituted pieced setting triangles for the large green setting triangles around the center applique medallion.  (Much thanks to Janet L for helping me find her blog so I could credit her and link back to her blog.)  I think Pam's Jingle quilt is just gorgeous and I HAD to share it with you:
Completed Jingle Quilt made by Pam of Hip to Be a Square Podcast; read her post here
 Isn't that gorgeous?  You can see more photos of Pam's quilt, including detail shots of the machine quilting, in her blog post here.  This quilt got me thinking about ways I could personalize my own Jingle quilt, maybe adding pieced setting triangles around the center medallion similar to what Pam did, or perhaps adding some pieced borders to the quilt if I can figure out the math so everything still fits together at the end.  I also have a couple of pieced blocks that I really don't love, and I'm considering replacing them with different star blocks instead.  Adding borders might end up enlarging the quilt and requiring two more blocks, anyway, so we'll see.  There's a lot of stitching still to be done on that center medallion.

Kings of Nintendo Playing 3DS Games
Meanwhile, Lars and Anders have been enjoying their Christmas break from school immensely.  Lars got his Science Fair data analysis and conclusion completed, as well as an independent novel project for Language Arts class, and Anders has been working with his dad to get his Dragon Naturally Speaking software to play nice with his little laptop for school.  There has been much practicing of violin, piano, and trombone, and much more playing of video games, as seen in the blurry photo at left.  Here's a better shot of them at Best Buy, scrutinizing the secrets of the LEGO Marvel PS3 Cheat Book as they wait in line to exchange duplicate video games:

Anders and Lars at Best Buy

To my great appreciation and delight, Bernie finished and installed the doors for the built-ins in the living room a few days before Christmas, hiding much of the clutter that has been on my nerves for YEARS:

Living Room Built-Ins Today

Doesn't that look great, just like it has always been that way?  He built the doors from scratch, perfectly matching the paneled cabinetry in the kitchen and throughout the house.  The bookshelves on the sides were original to the home, but the whole center section was missing except for two weird boxes at the top.  Here's what this wall looked like before we bought the house, with the old carpeting and the previous owners' furnishings:

Same Living Room, Before We Bought the House

Bizarre, right?  So I had Bernie subdivide those two oddly proportioned boxes by adding shelves immediately, and he built the base cabinetry at the same time so the built-ins would frame his gigantic television.  There were always supposed to be doors on the bottom, but there are so many things to do when you move into a new home and you get sidetracked with other projects.  After awhile, you get used to the way an almost-finished project looks, and you don't notice it anymore.  So, here's what the wall of built-ins looked like for the last SEVEN years, waiting for those doors:

Unfinished Built-Ins with Lars, Bernie, and Puppies
Scroll back up to see the way it looks with the doors installed again.  HUGE improvement, don't you agree?  It's one of those things that makes you think, "Why didn't we do this a LONG time ago?"  Thanks, Lover!  :-)

Another fantastic gift I received were the completed puppy portraits that my mother finally agreed to paint after much badgering, whining, begging, and insinuation that dog portraits equal love.  Do you remember when I posted about this idea here back in April?  I asked my mom to copy a couple of Renaissance portraits I had seen in the Louvre on one of my trips to Paris, but with my Rottweiler pups' faces instead of the somber humans in the original portraits. 

The Originals in the Louvre

Lulu and Otto, Painted by Mom
 Didn't she do a great job?  I LOVE it!  My puppies will celebrate their 3rd birthday in four days.  It seems like we just brought them home a few months ago, doesn't it?

Says Lulu, a.k.a. Princess Puppy, "Rub my belly, slaves!"

Says Otto, my Sweet Baboo, "PLEASE throw my ball!!"
Oh, and I had one other fun surprise.  My sister Susan sent me this coffee mug that she bought at a Starbucks on or near the Great Wall of China when she was there running a marathon last year.  Doesn't it look great with my granite?  Best of all, I love that it is stamped MADE IN CHINA.  The Starbucks mugs sold at the Louvre say PARIS on the front of the mug and MADE IN CHINA on the bottom, so they are not nearly such authentic souvenirs as this one from Beijing.

Ah, well -- the clothes dryer has been peeping at me mercilessly, demanding my attention.

Happy New Year, 2014!


Carrie P. said...

Your quilt is looking great. I have a tendency to start out with a pattern but then get different ideas about how I want to set the blocks.
That quilt that you showed from another person is just great.
The boys know how to relax. :0)
Your husband did a great job.

JanetD said...

Happy New Year Rebecca. The maker of the Jingle quilt is Pam of Hip to be a square. I also like what she did with her setting squares. This should take you there:

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, JanetL! I added links back to Pam's blog.

Pam said...

Thanks for the credit and the link back to my site! I need to do a better job with linking my flickr photos back to my blog.

I'm impressed you're doing handstitching on the applique! I used monofilament thread to stitch mine down.

Happy New Year to you and your family!