Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Start with Lily Gilding 101 down below...

I know it will be posted in reverse order, and had I thought it through I could have done this backward and then it would have been easier on my gentle readers, but its early and I am not that clever. So if you are reading this first, then go back two blog entries earlier to Lily Gilding 101 and start there.

Steve may not have brought home 10,000 Italian twinkle lights, but we do have a hand carved wooden Italian nativity. We bought it in the Black Forrest of Germany. We spent more than we should have, but I have never regretted it. Its a true heirloom. It makes me happy every time I see it. We take turns from year to year arraigning it. This year was my turn. I wonder what Steve will do with it next year?
By now you must all realize I have an addiction to Christmas ornaments. We have 5 trees up in the house this year, though its not as grave as it sounds. There is the one big one, the aluminum one in the dining room, and all the rest are wee little trees. One in our bedroom that has my miniature Hallmark ornaments, and the two pictured above, the first one is in my craft room. I figured I spend so much time up there I ought have a tree to enjoy, and the last one is Steve's tree. He has been collecting the White House ornaments, so we devoted an elegant blue and gold tree for them. Having the extra trees eases some congestion on the big tree and showcases the ornaments better. I will have to curb myself though. Its getting stupid and I know it. My only relief is to branch out and do trees in other places...which I have. The office Tree trimming party is on Friday (my idea) We donated our old, overly large tree to the office and will be decorating it in a blue and silver Air Force theme...I have already bought a lot of the ornaments!

Lily Gilding, the saga continues

I don't know why I have such penchant for Christmas decorations, but I do. The trouble for me is that it is like the snow in Omaha. Growing up in New Mexico I saw plenty of snow, we got some most every year. Sometimes we would get over 6 inches in one snowfall and that was a lot for us! But it would always melt away. The only reminder that it had snowed at all would be the grubby piles of parking lot snow slowly shrinking away over the next few weeks. In Omaha it was different. It would usually snow for the first time in late October and then turn too cold for that snow to melt and then over the course of the winter the snow would accumulate till the piles on either side of the driveway would be too high to throw another shovel full on to them. After that first winter I learned to throw the scoops deep into the yard to make way for the next dozen snowfalls...So like the snow in Omaha my ornaments and decorations are starting to accumulate. I love them and want to keep them, but then I love the new stuff too and want to get it...I am putting myself on a 5 year self imposed ornament moratorium...I have promised not to buy another new ornament for 5 years and furthermore, I have promised to cull the collection of at least 5 ornaments each year (but that included accidental breakage) I am incorrigible though, I have already decided at the front end of my 5 year restriction exactly what I will buy when my time is up...green! I do not have enough green ornaments. Don't you know I will window shop for 5 years looking at all the wonderful green ornaments...I wonder if I will be able to do it? When I was struggling to find room on the tree for one more ornament, it seemed like a good idea, but already I am having serious misgivings!

Lily Gilding 101

I think the next time I need a name for some online adventure I will call myself "Lily gilder" I absolutely belong to that group of people who believe more is more and good can always be made better with just a little sprinkle of glitter and that is never more true than at Christmas. I get teased a lot by Steve and others for the amount of decorations I have accumulated, but he always enjoys the house when its been decked out for Christmas, and I see him inching toward Griswald status with every passing year in the exterior illumination category. When he comes home from Lowes with 10,000 Italian twinkle lights my years of justifying my Christmas ornaments will be over for sure. I am almost free and clear now if you add in his penchant for Christmas CD's...Anyway, you requested it Junie, so here it is...My Christmas house 2010. Be advised it will come in multiple posts because I can only fit so many pictures in each blog entry.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

'Ohelo Berry Wreath

I can hardly believe it myself, but its true, I have finished the second block in my Aloha Album. I really did not think I would even begin this quilt for years, let alone actually make reasonable progress on it, but there you go. I have two of the seventeen blocks done. Of course one of those 17 is a monster center medallion block that will take months to complete, so I am still trying to pace myself. This one is an 'Ohelo berry wreath, I had not heard of 'Ohelo berries before so did a little research on line and found that they grow wild on the big island and make a nice jam. Like the breadfruit, I have never tried it, but I might since I also found that you can order jars of it online, or maybe a kind hearted friend who lives in Hawaii will take pity on me and send it in a care package one day (hint, hint)

I think the dark background is working pretty well. I will feel more comfortable in my decision as I get more blocks done and can get a better idea of the end result, but I feel good about it at this point. Now back to my sewing room where block number three is sitting waiting for me to move it toward completion. Its the block I went rogue on and decided to redesign entirely to suit me. Wait till you see it, I think its going to be a doozy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Treasure Hunt, the first of five

This is the first of my five miniature quilts that I am making to submit to IGMA The International Guild of Miniature Artisans for an Artisan certificate. Artisan status within the guild is highly prized and not easy to get. Most who apply are turned down on their first submission, so I really do not know what to expect, but I do know I am pleased with this, my first effort. I call it "Treasure Hunt" because of the jewel tone colors, the central theme of gold and for the over 20 "I SPy" motifs I have embroidered on the quilt. See if you can spot some of them...A mushroom, a bouquet of flowers, a key, a pair of cherrys, a spider and her web, a peacock feather and a tropical island...I know its not easy to see them on the screen, but if you look closely you might find a few. While your at it, notice the gold feather stitching, about sixteen of them to the inch!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Just like in traditional patchwork where the first block you are likely to learn is a 9-patch, the first block you will likely do in Hawaiian quilting is the Ulu pattern. Ulu is Hawaiian for breadfruit and it is a tradition in the islands for novice quilters to make this pattern first, doing so is said to ensure many more happy adventures in Hawaiian quilt making. Since my Aloha Album is a huge undertaking, I thought it wise to follow the advice of the quilting Kupunas and Kahunas. Its good advice too because the Ulu pattern is excellent for cutting your applique teeth on. It has plenty of points, as well as inside and outside curves...no wonder they tell you to do it first, it will teach you all you need to know, except what breadfruit actually tastes like...thats one of the things I would have liked to have done while in Hawaii but did not get the opportunity. But at least now I have quilted it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

great great great grandpa Bole

A long time ago I heard a statistic that stuck with me; that most people cannot name their great grandparents. At the time I heard it I know I couldn't. So it pleases me that I can finally name all eight of them and many more still. Not only that, but I have seen pictures of all but one of them, my Granny's mother who died when Granny was just a little girl. And whats more, I know a little bit about some of them by piecing together little snippets that I have collected through my research and now have a sketchy pixelated composite idea of what some aspects of their lives might have been like. I like knowing my families place in history, it helps me understand my own place a little better I guess.

This summer on my trip back to South Carolina I made a point to go to Camp Ford in Tyler Texas. It was a rebel prison camp from the civil war and it was where my great great great grandfather Sampson Bole died of disease just months before the war ended. As prison camps went, it was one of the better ones, and had it not been for overcrowding toward the end Sampson might have lived. He was from Ohio and from his muster records I know he was 44 when he enlisted, that he was tall and dark complected, and was a carpenter by trade. He enlisted in April of 1864, was captured at the battle of Marks Mills in Arkansas and was marched to Camp Ford and was dead by October. He is buried in a National Cemetery in Pineville Louisiana. I made a point to go there too. He was not listed on the record there meant to help make finding grave sites easier. But Steve found it back in the corner,one of the older graves in the cemetery. Yes, Sampson's grave was there in spite of being left off the "helpful" list. We left some flowers, a note in the record book suggesting they update it and include Sampson in it, and then headed back to South Carolina. I don't know if any other of his descendants have been to his grave, but I have. I wondered what he must have thought as he lay dying alone and far from home. I wondered if he worried that he would be lost and forgotten, if his family would ever know what became of him. I know they did eventually learn of his death , his wife Lydia petitioned for her widows pension, and William Hook, the man who as a friend of the family vouched for her having been married to Sampson was to become her own daughter Sarah's father in law and one of my own great great great grandfathers when Sarah married his son William Bernard Hook, I even have a picture of him and William Bernard too, Sarah eventually divorced him...I wonder if I will ever know why? I do know that Sampson was not forgotten and I think it pleases him to know that even now 140 years and 5 generations later he is still thought of, loved and remembered.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sturm und Drang in South Kakalaka

So Steve and I were sitting at Five Guys last night enjoying a tasty cheeseburger when all of a sudden Steve says "Oh Crap!" "What, WHAT?" I say...Steve then tells me that he just realized his high year of tenure, the magical thirty years that mark his retirement date from the military will fall a few months short of a full three year tour in Germany. SO this means there is a good chance we will NOT be able to go. All bets are off, but because his assignments come out of the Chiefs group and not the general enlisted assignment system, they play by a different set of rules and he may still be as eligible as we had originally thought before the Five Guys Epiphany. We wont know till Monday, and even then I will not trust the answer what ever it is. The Air Force has a remarkable way to make things work when they want them to. The general rules may not apply here at all, or may be waived "in the best interest of the Air Force" Or they may well say in Air Forcese "Sucks to be You" They are pretty good at that last one...

Well its Monday morning and the answer so far is "no, you cannot move" So now thoughts have turned from beer and bratwurst to buying a big ol island for my kitchen to make it more user friendly and finding a reputable rat terrier breeder...

By the way, anybody recognize the castle? You should! The bridge was washed out and we had to stay the night...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Aloha Oy!

I finally did it. I finally began working on my Aloha Album. Its a bit of a risky move because I did a complete 180 on my choice of background fabric for the quilt. In the picture of the completed quilt that comes with the pattern you can see that they chose a pale honey colored fabric. My choice is pictured above. It's a fabric line called Stonehenge, and I chose the color way called flint.

One of the things I thought was most beautiful in Hawaii were the lava rock structures and walls you find there, or the lava fields on the big Island with ferns and plants just starting to grow. Plants show their tropical colors more vividly against the dark lava and that was what I was hoping to capture. Its not as simple as swapping out backgrounds though, as I am coming to find out. First how do you trace a pattern on dark fabric? With white transfer paper, I have learned. Also one of the keys to a good quilt is controlling contrast in the fabrics to make them do what you want them to do. My overall objective was for a high contrast quilt, that's easier to do on a light background. So I have spent the $100 for my flint fabric, now its my job to turn it into what I had envisioned. I will have to choose brighter and lighter fabrics than I had intended, I sure hope my gamble pays off. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chubby Cheeks

Well, after what just happened I had to write about it on my blog...

I was upstairs in the FROG (Family Room Over Garage) doing my exercises when I heard an unusual commotion coming from Mr. Humphries cage. Its unusual because Hamsters are nocturnal and Mr. Humphries barely stirs when she hears me in the room during the day. The noise coming from her cage this morning was remarkable for its volume and length, enough of a fuss to make me quit my exercise routine to go see what was happening.

What I found was Mr. Humphries dangling from between the rungs of a little bird ladder in her cage leading from the bottom to one of the platforms. She was hanging not from her paws, but from her over stuffed cheek pouches! I guess she got a case of the midnight munchies, stepped out for a little nibble and decided to take a load of tidbits and bedding back to her upstairs house she has been sleeping in lately. She must have lost her footing on the ladder, slipped through until she got hung up on her chubby cheeks. Good thing I was in the room when it happened! When I looked over all I saw was a bulging hamster mouth, slightly agape with bedding poking out from between her teeth. I wish I had taken a picture, but it would have been cruel to leave her hanging by her face while I went looking for a camera. So I did the right thing, lowered the ladder and let her free herself. She made her way back to her house, taking the longer but less treacherous route and I went back to my pilates ring. While I am sorry for any trauma the incident brought to dear Mr. Humphries, I can't help but wonder what good things are in store for me on a day like this with a start like that!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kit's block

When you move around as much as I have you have the chance to meet lots of people, not all of them are keepers. Some are interesting and are good company while you are with them, but when you go, you leave them where you found them and move on to the next place and the people who inhabit it. Once in a while though you do encounter a "keeper" someone who's value far exceeds the trouble of keeping in touch. I have found a few keepers along the way and you know who you are...One of them is my friend Kit from Omaha. She is as smart and as talented a person as you are likely to find. She is pretty and funny and has a dry wit that would be the envy of any Englishman. She is the one who first showed me what good applique work could look like, I still see in my minds eye the half finished applique quilt she showed me once and the startling blue bow that she had so finely worked that accented the floral applique...it was love at first sight. As a going away gift she gave me several fat quarters of fabric to begin my own applique project.

Funny how things come full circle...Now eight years later, I mentioned to Kit that I was looking for a pattern book for an applique masterpiece called The Little Brown Bird. I had decided that the time was nearly at hand for me to begin work on something of that magnitude, but finding the book was proving difficult. She said she thought she had the book on her shelf and since her body is in full blown mutiny she knew she would not ever make the quilt and wanted me to have the book. So she sent it to me and in return I promised to work one of the blocks from the book for her. She chose the rose basket block . I was so glad she did, because it was the one I wanted to do most of all. I was eager to try my hand at one of the blocks to see if I had the right stuff for this level of work. I think I do...what do you all think?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This one is for Junie

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The leaves on the little maple tree in our front yard are just turning red, and there is a nip in the air first thing in the morning that makes me wonder if its time to turn on our heaters. I missed Autumn while I lived in Hawaii, at least the autumn that I had always known, of leaves turning colors, days cold enough to want a jacket, but warm enough that you could manage without one or the smell of wood smoke in the air. But for what Hawaii lacks in those sorts of autumnal delights it makes up for with the constant need to rake up dead leaves. I grew to hate the plumeria tree that grew in our front yard. Our neighborhood was a tidy one, and when I neglected to pick up after my dirty tree the neighbors did it for me, and nothing shamed me more. I resented having to pick up leaves year round. Other than the wonderfully sweet smelling flowers the only thing that Plumeria tree was good for was helping me pretend that Autumn had come to O'ahu. On nights when the wind kicked up I could hear the dead leaves scraping along the concrete of our driveway, and if I lowered the thermostat on the A/C a few more degrees I could almost convince myself that it was cold outside and the autumn leaves were rustling. As my time there grew I did actually learn to perceive the change in seasons. Its subtle, but its there. Still nothing beats a little fall color when you are deprived, so this post is for June, Enjoy the color and if you get a rainy day, make a pot of tea , lower your A/C enough to want a sweater,listen to the dead plumeria leaves rustling around outside and pretend you are snug in a house nestled in some autumn woods.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gifts from My sister

Imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang the day before my birthday and what I found was this
gourmet Chocolate Birthday Cake, sent to me by my sister and her family! I ask you what could be better than finding a chocolate cake on your doorstep? We put it in the Fridge and waited for my Birthday and had it for desert after my birthday dinner out with our friends the Craines, Steve and Paula pictured above. It was delicious and even with four of us feasting on it we had enough left over to have a second slice the next day. Good thing that finished it off though, or I would have kept on eating it and undoing what little good I have done recently in an effort to fit back into my pants.

I titled this entry "Gifts from my sister " because you can just barely see the turquoise necklace and earrings I am wearing in the picture. They were also a gift from my sister last Christmas. She made them herself which makes them all the more dear to me, not to mention they are the perfect match for my new turquoise shirt!

Thanks to my sister my birthday was everything it should have been, a great dinner, a cold beer, good company and CHOCOLATE CAKE!