Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hindsight 2009

Every year on New Year's Eve, I do a silent inventory of what I have (or haven't) accomplished over the past 365 days. It can be quite a depressing exercise, but it's unavoidable. I think it's human nature to be retrospective on December 31.

I was all ready to head into 2010 with the same attitude... then I took a look at my early blog posts (I started my blog in January) and the list of projects on my sidebar. And I discovered that I actually did quite a bit this year.

First, an update on the 2009 New Year's Resolutions. I didn't like to call them resolutions, but that's essentially what they were.

* I had resolved to lose 15 lbs. You know what? I actually did that. I didn't get serious about it until August, and I never once blogged about it, but I went back to Weight Watchers and I am now down 15 lbs. (Well, maybe; I weigh in on Saturday and Christmas was tough - I might be up one or two.)
* I also said I would start (re-start) my master's degree. I am now 1/2 way done! I have decided to take a break for the next semester and not take a winter course, but I'll be back at it soon enough.
* I set out a quilting to-do list for myself. This is where things kind of went off the rails... On my project list was a quilt called "Snowmen in the Woods." I had started cutting fabric for it. Status as of today: still not finished, barely touched. Relegated to the 2010 list. I also bought fabric last December for a quilt called "Christmas Checkerboard." I didn't buy Christmas fabric, though; mine is browns and greens and turquoises and is just beautiful. Status: not even started.
That's not to say I didn't do anything, though. Let's take a figurative walk through the year and see what I actually did accomplish:
In January, my friends Bethany and Paul had a little girl named Jane. Her 'snowball' quilt was my first 2009 finish:

In an effort to put an end to what seemed like the longest, dreariest winter in history, I created the Spring Spell quilt and matching table runner from a Soiree jelly roll and some white-on-white floral fabric:

I finally finished "Let it Snow", in time for my very best friend Cheryl's 40th birthday in November and a pillow cover to match:

And I put together Swanky using a jelly roll and the Old Red Barn Co. summer quilt along pattern for the OnlyChild's best friend:
So... four quilts. Not great, but much more than I usually accomplish.
What else did I make?
* Two dresses and two skirts for me * Two dresses for the OnlyChild * Two Union Jack pillowcases - one for me and one for Mum * Two Itty Bitty Kitties * Five little change purses * One purse for a giveaway * Two Pink Penguin Baskets * One quilt block for a charitable cause * Ten out of twelve BOM blocks for two different quilts * Eight knitted scarves and two knitted hats * One elf stocking for my mum * Two Christmas pillowcases for the OnlyChild *
Other accomplishments of note:
* The OnlyChild told me last night (via Skype - she was in the basement and I was upstairs - this is how we communicate) that she wants to learn to sew. She is inspired! Hurray!
* I met all of you and, although Mr. P finds this weird, I feel like I have made some good friends through blogging - friends who share the same interests as me, who inspire me, and who have a lot to teach me.
* I have reignited my love of sewing, quilting and knitting. I've always enjoyed these pass-times, but often felt like I was doing them in isolation. Now I can share my projects with people who do more than nod, say "that's nice" and angle their heads to better see the t.v. that I am blocking with my new quilt.
* I joined an ATC swap with Cheryl, Stacy, Cory, Deb and Jill. This has allowed me to explore areas of creativity I didn't know existed. I have gotten to know four lovely ladies (Cheryl and I have known each other since junior high) and every month I now receive five tiny works of art to display and cherish.
* I travelled to Italy, Switzerland and France. Going to Paris has been a life-long dream for me and I finally did it... and before I turn 40!
* I am writing - it may not be the novel I've always wanted to publish, but I love writing and this is a start for me.
What's ahead for 2010?
For starters, I'm not making 'resolutions' again this year. I have some plans instead:
1. Continue with weight loss, attending meetings, and return to regular exercise. Between the business at work and a minor back problem, I haven't been exercising (other than my dance class) for a couple of months.
2. Travel - another trip to Italy with another group of students, and my friend Sandi and I are putting together plans for our stay in Paris this summer. (Fingers crossed it all works out!)
3. Maintain my sanity at work. If I have another semester like this one, I will crash and burn. I don't know if I need to re-organize my time, spend less time on the computer, or have a frank discussion with my department head, but something has to change!
4. And, last but not least, projects. This year I'm not going to post my projects on my sidebar until they are "Finishes". I don't need another To-Do list; I need a Done list! Having said that, there are some things I'd like to try:

My mum sent me these two awesome books for Christmas. I can't wait to do one of the French Braid quilts - so cool!

I do want to get my two un-finished (or un-started) projects done, but no timelines. They'll get done when they get done!

I'll finish my two BOMs.

I have an Oh Cherry Oh! jelly roll and honey bun that I'd like to put to use.

And I'd like to try this neat little project to use up some scraps.

Of course, there will be other projects that come along in between, but that's okay too. I love to sew clothes, Halloween costumes, and smaller items that deliver a quick finish.

Anyway... I didn't mean for this to be such a long post. It's 11:30 and I'm still in my jammies (but who cares, right?). It's time for me to toodle along, take a shower and get down to what's really important... marking.

Thanks for sticking with me to the end (of this post). I wish you all a Happy New Year! All the best in 2010 - may it be a wonderful year, full of great fabric, fun projects and steady friendships.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Knit Happens!

In my off-hours before Christmas (when I wasn't marking or complaining about how much marking I had to do), I managed to do some knitting. Some of these items were gifts, but I feel quite safe in showing them to you now, since all Christmas parcels were delivered and (I'm assuming) opened.

Clockwise from upper left corner:

Handsome Scarf from knit with Patons Shetland Chunky for my friend Cheryl's husband.

Robin's Egg Hat (pattern can be found at knit from Patons Softee Chunky for me. I like this so much I think I'll make more to give away.

Seed Scarf from knit from Bernat Satin Sport in Raisin. I made two of these in the same colour - one for the OnlyChild and one for me, so now we match.

Slouch Hat (also from twoandsix) knit with the leftovers from the seed scarves. This was a 'guinea pig' version of the hat. The OnlyChild wants one but I wanted to see how it was made first. I think I'll have to make some changes to the pattern; it wasn't very 'slouchy' and seems a bit small for the style.

Another Seed Scarf, this one in Sapphire for my neighbour Shannon who loved mine when I visited her a few days before Christmas. Sometimes a few gushy compliments is all it takes...

Blue Bamboo Scarf (pattern from Stacy at made for Cheryl. I can't even remember what the yarn was, but it was beautiful and tweedy.

And finally... another version of the Blue Bamboo Scarf, actually knit in Bernat Natural Blends bamboo yarn in a beautiful soft sage green. This one was for my mum, a perfect colour for her!

I also made a Handsome Scarf for Mr. P in black Softee Chunky. No picture - I think he's wearing it.

In other news... Swanky was a big hit with the OnlyChild's best friend. I wish I'd had my camera - you should have seen her face when she opened it. She squealed, she jumped up and down, she hugged me and told me she loved me. Now that's gratitude!
Okay, I'm off to get my hair done, grey covered, split ends snipped. I've packed up today's pile of marking (yes, it's all divvied up into daily rations - less overwhelming to look at that way) and I'll try to get something done while I'm under the dryer.
I hope you're having a wonderful day!

Monday, December 28, 2009


Swanky is finally done!

A little lap quilt for the OnlyChild's best friend. It's not too late for a Christmas present - she's been away for a week and just returned last night.

I got up this morning and headed straight to the sewing machine. Bernice was waiting, all threaded and ready to go.
I quilted my little heart out. Sewed on binding. Hand stitched until my fingers bled.

And it's ready to be wrapped and delivered tomorrow.

That's good news.
But I'm still feeling grumbly and miserable.
Now back to that pile of essays...

Sunday, December 27, 2009


So... how was your Christmas?

Ours was quiet, just Mr. P, the OnlyChild and me... as usual.

We opened our presents, ate our turkey, then spent the rest of the day in separate rooms... as usual.

Yesterday, we skipped the malls and the Boxing Day madness in favour of staying in pajamas and, for me, marking. Yep, back to the old marking pile.

Today wasn't much better, although I did put on real clothes. More stupid marking. I have over 100 essays left to mark.

I attempted to have a 'family night' tonight, but it didn't quite work out. Mr. P wanted to go to a movie, but we couldn't all agree on a movie and it defeats the purpose of going to the movies together if we end up in different theatres. So instead we got pizza and started to play a game. It didn't end well. Can you say 'cabin fever'? I'll be glad when he goes back to work.

I woke up Christmas Eve with a cold, so between the marking, the grumpy husband, and terrible sinus pain, I'm not a happy girl.

Some Christmas vacation, eh?

Blah blah blah. I'll be back when I have something nice to say.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The First Snowman (and other stories)

This is what started it all... this crazy snowman collecting. The First Snowman - given to me by my mother about 10 or 12 years ago.

He's perched quite happily atop two antique quilts I bought at an auction on Prince Edward Island.

Also in the cubbies above the front hall closet are these two darlings. The pink one on the right was a gift from the OnlyChild when she was in grade six. She bought it herself from a church craft sale and was so proud of her purchase that she gave it to me early. She tends to do that quite often.

This little fella is propped up with a bottle of something. Me, I tend to fall over when I have a bottle of something inside me...

And then there's the skier. He looks a little unbalanced - maybe he has a bottle inside him too?

We don't have a fire in our fireplace. It has been long sealed over, unfortunately. We do, however, have a snowman and snowballs in the fireplace. Ironic.

A picture to show the mantle with the Dickens Village houses and the mantle scarf I made a couple of years ago to replace the ratty old piece of quilt batting that was masquerading as 'snow'.

The OnlyChild's Christmas Eve present for this year - a set of pillowcases made from this tutorial. She will also receive new pajamas and a silly snowman plate-bowl-mug breakfast set (I couldn't resist).

The presents are wrapped, the stockings are hung, the turkey is defrosting and Mr. P is napping on the couch under a quilt with a dog or two.
We are ready for Christmas and for our réveillon de Noël, which as per family tradition, will consist of meat pie after Midnight Mass (which actually takes place at 8:00 pm at our church, not at midnight as the name suggests).
To all my bloggy friends, and to those I actually know in person:

Joyeux Noël à tous et à tous une bonne nuit!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two hundred

In case you didn't know (and you probably didn't), this marks my two-hundredth post! Yay me!

I thought about having a celebratory giveaway...

but I think I'll wait a little bit. You see, in early January I will also be celebrating my first year of blogging and in late January I will be celebrating a quite significant birthday...

so I will have a party sometime in January for all three wondrous occasions... and you're invited!

But first we have to get through Christmas.

A few years ago, when we first moved to the city, Mr. P and the OnlyChild bought me five pieces of the Dickens Christmas Village, with the idea that we would add to it each year. I love it, but I still only have five pieces. This suits me just fine, given the fact that there is limited space in my little old house to display anything.

Our tree is up and decorated. Each one of us had a part in the decorating this year. Mr. P started, I tidied up (haha) and the OnlyChild put her own decorations on it after.
(By the way, not one of those presents is for the OnlyChild. Honestly, we have not wrapped a thing for her yet.)
Here is the 2009 edition of the annual cross-stitched ornament I make for the OnlyChild. This year she wanted a cupcake (the trend continues). I was happy to oblige, as this was an exceptionally quick and easy pattern. Start to finish, the entire ornament took less than two hours. Yes, for once I wasn't toiling over it on Christmas Eve. You may not be able to see, but I embellished the frosting with little bead sprinkles.

Not all ornaments in the cross-stitched collection are actually cross-stitched. This is one of two that were made from another method. This particular year marks the adoption of Bernice (my sewing machine) into the family. A tiny log-cabin quilt for 2001.

My mum's friend Ola made me these crochet snowflakes the first year I was married - eighteen years ago. I wish I had more of them. Maybe she still makes them and I can put in another order.

I love this little angel. I got her when I was four. That year we were living in Norway at Christmas time, so I always refer to her as my Norwegian Angel. Mr. P and the OnlyChild don't get the fuss, but I think she's beautiful. I don't really remember the story behind my getting her, but she means a lot to me. (Mum, are you out there? Do you remember how I got this angel?)

This is a limited edition light bulb snowman. I think I made two or three of these. I know Mum has one; maybe my friend Kim does too. I think he's pretty neat. His nose is a piece of leather and looks just like a dried up old carrot.

Didn't you know that Santa was a Scot? Here he is wearing the family hunting tartan. Very stylish, wouldn't you say? We had him custom-made about five years ago.

So, there you have it - another peek at Christmas in my house. There's more to see.
Marking update: I have one-and-a-quarter inches marked so far, a little behind my target but I took yesterday off. Still plugging away...

Friday, December 18, 2009

White Christmas

It's officially Christmas Vacation here! Woohoo.


When I say that I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, I mean white, as in paper. Here is my stack of marking, all of which must be done by the time school starts again on January 4.

The bottom pile in the file folder is essays (I estimate about 140 of them), the middle set is assignments for one class, and the top consists of assignments for my grade 12 social studies class. I left another entire class of tests and assignments sitting on my desk at school. They can wait.

I thought it would be fun to measure it. Seven-and-a-quarter inches of marking. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. It looks like so much more than 7 1/4".

I would have exaggerated and said at least a foot of marking. (Never mind the Canadian metric system - I still work in feet and inches, and pounds and ounces. I just can't do temperature in imperial measurement.)

So, I will update my progress in terms of inches of marking completed. Unless, of course, you've heard enough about my stupid marking trials and tribulations and just want to enjoy your Christmas...?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deeeaaar Santa,

How have you been? I hope you've had some time for rest and relaxation during this busy season.

It's been a long time since I wrote, but believe me, you have been on my mind. I have wonderful memories of past Christmases and always appreciated how well you treated me when I was a young girl.

Santa, I have a few Christmas wishes this year. I really, really want to go back to Paris. Can you help?

Perhaps that's too big a wish. I don't want to appear greedy, so I'll give you some other ideas. Like you, I love red, so how about some Inkwell Reds fabric from The Fat Quarter Shop?

Or a fat quarter bundle of Cayenne 19th Century Reds...

Or some yardage of this beautiful Rouenneries Turkey Red Josephine?

I like this Blush fat quarter bundle, too, even though it's not red.

Santa, I know you're busy making sure that all the good little children's Christmas wishes come true. I've tried very hard to be good this year. I've worked hard and haven't complained - well, okay, I have complained a lot. Oh maybe I haven't been that good after all, but I'll be better next year. Promise!

(Want to play? Go here to send your quilty Christmas wish to Santa.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Sara is going to think I am copying her because every time I see a Simple Woman's Daybook post by her, I do one too. Well, actually I am copying Sara. Her posts inspire me.
For today - Monday, December 14, 2009
Outside my window - the sun is shining but I can't really see it because I'm in a classroom with the blinds closed. It's another very cold day in Alberta!
I am thinking - I should be doing some marking while the kids are working quietly, but I marked for an hour and a half already today and I need a little break. I am also thinking about how Edmonton was the coldest city in North America and the second coldest place in the world on Saturday (beat out by a town in Siberia).
I am thankful for - Christmas vacation, which will start in 4 1/2 days.
From the learning rooms - my knitting skills are improving. I'm really enjoying this "new" hobby, but my sewing is suffering because I haven't spent anytime with Bernice lately.
From the kitchen - the OnlyChild has been baking lately ~ cookies, butter tarts ~ I'm having a hard time resisting temptation. But she's not baking for me... she has a little crush.
I am wearing - a black skirt, a rust-coloured blouse, a black sweater, pantyhose (yes, really) and black heels.
I am creating - still working on the Swanky quilt for the OnlyChild's best friend. I was trying to do some quilting on the weekend but I kept making mistakes (I think my needle was dull) so I put it away and finished my second Seed Scarf.
I am going - to Costco after work today with Mr. P. Why am I looking forward to this?
I am reading - The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel.
I am hoping - to get most of my marking done before the Christmas break starts so I will only have essays to correct over the holiday.
I am hearing - very little. My grade 12 class is working industriously, which is more than I can say for myself.
Around the house - Christmas decorations are up but shopping still needs to be finished. I was hoping to make more gifts this year but ran out of time. I won't beat myself up about this; I have been extremely busy.
One of my favourite things - is the vacation time I get as a teacher. We work hard for it, though.
A few plans for the rest of the week - marking, marking, marking. And I'm hoping to do a bit more quilting on Swanky. I would also like to make a seed scarf for my neighbour because she admired mine yesterday. She likely won't get it for Christmas though.
A picture thought I am sharing -

My sweet puppies. I wish I could be home with them, snuggled on the couch under a quilt!


Have a wonderful Monday. Stay warm wherever you are.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Today's weather (9:26 am):

That's -36.4 F.

Tell me again why I live here...

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Some years ago, my mother sent me a snowman for my birthday (which is in January). For some reason, that set off a storm of snowmen and I continued to receive them as gifts as well as to make/buy them myself. I now have well over a hundred snowmen (and snowladies, I guess), all of which make their way onto every flat surface in the house during the Christmas season.

My friend, Kim, gave me this pattern a couple of weeks before Christmas last year. I had it made within a week. I had to adjust the pattern a bit because I wanted it to fit into this window frame, which came from our Prince Edward Island house. This hangs above the fireplace in our living room.

I picked this little cutie up from the fabric store, of all places, at 50% off after Christmas a few years ago. I have it sitting in the window of the stairwell so the light shines through the coloured glass. When the sun is shining, it's quite pretty.

These snow couple wall hangings were actually 'prototypes' for the Snowman in the Woods quilt I keep saying I'm going to make (I have it cut out but still not sewn).

Before I knew anything about quilting, I made this primitive snowman wall hanging. The pieces are just fused on the background because the fusing was so stiff that I couldn't applique them down. Really, I didn't know better.

One of my students gave me this lamp about 8 or 9 years ago. I have it sitting on the baker's rack in the kitchen.

My mum gave me this cute little tray for Christmas one year.

Another 50% off special after Christmas. I think his little face is so cute. He is sitting, with many of his snow friends, on one of the bookshelves in the dining room.

This is a tealight holder, but I never put a candle in it. Another one from Mum, and another cute little face.

I wish my camera took better photos. I'd like to have blurred out the background a bit so you could focus on the snowman. I wanted the OnlyChild to take the pictures for me because her camera is much fancier (and she knows how to use it), but after two weeks of asking, I just gave up and did it myself... as usual.

This is our Prince Edward Island snowman. He is made out of wood from the Island and wears a scarf from PEI tartan. His heart is formed from red PEI clay.
There are, of course, lots more to show you, but little time for me to take more photos and write more today. Such a busy weekend!
Yesterday I skipped out of work a little early (it's okay - the kids are done at 12:50 on Fridays) to attend a practice for the dance show in which I'm performing on Saturday. Then I came home and did my marking - yes, on a Friday night. What fun! I missed my staff party because I just feel so tired and needed the time to get other things done. But that's okay - with that crowd, it's just drinking and eating and silliness.
Tonight is Mr. P's work Christmas party; it's much more formal than my staff party would have been. I'm quite looking forward to this, mainly because I have a pretty new dress to wear. Nothing like a pretty new dress to make you feel like partying. It was an early Christmas present from Mr. P and the OnlyChild.
Tomorrow... dress rehearsal for the dance show, then the show itself in the evening. More marking in between. And my neighbours are having a get-together in the afternoon so we should make an appearance.
FIVE more school days until the Christmas break. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas Tree

Mr. P and the OnlyChild bought us a Christmas tree last night... finally!

They set it up and put the strings of lights on it. Then, while we were at work/school today...

I wish...

As much as I was hoping to farm out... I mean, share... the decorating task this year, I ended up doing it tonight, with a little help (ahem) from Mr. P.

There's still a box of ornaments for the OnlyChild to put on the tree. I've made her one every year since she was born. They're all cross-stitched, except for two: one year we made salt-dough ornaments and painted them and the year I got Bernice I made her a mini log-cabin quilt ornament.

Pictures soon. I must vacuum first and learn how to use the OnlyChild's very nice camera. Mine takes lousy pictures in dark-ish rooms... and everything's dark-ish lately.

Christmas is coming together at our house. And only 8 more school days until VACATION!

Monday, December 07, 2009

November ATC Swap

I was finishing off my Artist Trading Cards for the December swap, when I realized that I hadn't even posted about November's cards. So let's go back to November for a few minutes, shall we?

Here are the wonderful cards I received from my swap buddies. I have found a way to display them so I can enjoy them all month. I just attached them with tiny little clothes pins to a brown ribbon tacked to the wall above my sewing machine. I love to look at the cards while I'm sewing (or, lately, marking).

From left to right the cards are from Jill, Deb, Cheryl, Stacy and Cory. There's such a wide range of interpretation of the theme every month. It's neat to see what everyone creates!

And here are the cards I created for the group. As you will notice, I strayed off the beaten path this time and did something a bit different.

I found vintage family pictures on the internet and injected a touch of humour to my interpretation of the theme "Family".

I added some fancy letters, typed words...

Colourful paper...

Silly accessories...

And even did a bit of "hand-tinting" with my pencil crayons.

It was a lot of fun!
My December cards are almost ready to go... I just have to let them dry.
Yep, dry. You'll see...