Monday, December 26, 2011

'Tis Better to Give: Part 2

Well, the Christmas cards didn't happen (sorry if you were expecting one!) and I was wrapping until the wee hours of Christmas morning, but somehow I managed to finish the projects that I was making for my mom and sister AND I finished binding them before noon on Christmas Eve.  Now that they've actually seen their presents, I can finally share photos of them:

My mom's present - 12 1/2" x 13 1/2".
The pattern is "Carolers" by MH Designs.

My sister's present:  9" x 19 1/2".
The pattern is "Winter Snowmen" by MH Designs.

My mom's and sister's reactions were, as ever, one of the best parts of my Christmas and I spent several happy moments with them discussing the cuteness of the patterns, my fabric and color choices, and possible locations for displaying the quilts.  It was, as I'd hoped, wonderful to give.

My mom and sister were also feeling creative this year.  My mom made this charming miniature quilt ...

Actually my mom made two of these sweet quilts,
one for my sister and one for me.

And my equally talented sister painted beautiful signs for both my mom and I...

I love their handmade gifts because every time I see the quilt I think of my mom and every time I glance at the sign I think of my sister.  Their gifts look beautiful in my home and, as a bonus, my juices are flowing and now I'm feeling inspired to create miniature quilts and paint signs.

And I forgot to mention the icing on the cake -- my mother also gave me a fat quarter bundle of Lynette Anderson's "Secret Garden" fabrics and my sister also gave me a gift certificate to Keepsake Quilting.  I've got to be honest.  When you're getting beautifully crafted creations from people you love AND thoughtful gifts of fabric to support your habit, it's pretty darn fun to receive.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Welcome Casey

I'd like to say that the Christmas cards have been sent, the shopping finished, and the presents wrapped.  I'd like to say that I've been a quilting machine and that for once, I won't be binding on Christmas Eve.  I'd like to be humming Christmas carols and baking in the kitchen.  And I'd really like to be writing a post that is remarkably witty and subtly inspirational.  But alas, the Daly family has grown by one and today I'm running around after a puppy with a bladder the size of a thimble.

Casey joined our family on Friday.  I haven't cared for a baby for almost 10 years and it's been twice as long since I've had a pet other than our fish Jaws and Schmoopie.  After the chaos of the past weekend, I'm beginning to despair that I will ever be ready for Christmas, much less make it back to my sewing room.  But despite the fact that I'm typing this post one-handed because Casey wants to be held again, I can't deny that she is very sweet.  And of course my husband is smitten and kids are already in love.  We may not experience the peace of Christmas this year, but hopefully (fingers crossed) we'll have plenty of joy!

May your homes be filled with peace, joy, and love this holiday season.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Be Not Afraid: Part 2

Well, I did it!  After years of wanting to paint, but being afraid to try, I just finished a 6-week painting class.  Here's what I learned:
  • As a painter, I make a better quilter.
  • Big white canvases scare me.
  • Being the only beginner in a 3-student class is very intimidating.
  • Painting is hard work.
  • I can not create with someone standing behind me watching.
  • I can survive 3 hours a week of humiliation and still go back for more.
  • Let your brush do the work.
  • Painting with a palette knife can be a liberating experience.

My instructor really liked this still life of random objects
that I did with a palette knife on day 3.  He told me that I
wasn't experienced enough yet to understand some of the
good things happening in this painting.  I'm still confused.

  • I babble and giggle when I'm nervous.
  • I don't know who my influences are.
  • Other painters are nice enough not to laugh at your creative missteps.
  • If I could do it again, I would take more Studio Art and Art History classes in college.
  • People can tell by your brush strokes if you are confident.  I shudder to think what my brush strokes say about me.
  • Don't get too precious about your work.
  • Don't think, just paint.
  • Mixing paint to make the color brown is tough.
  • Every painting has the color brown in it.
  • Buy brown paint.

Midway through the 6 weeks, I realized that, sadly, I don't appear to have a hidden talent for painting.  There were moments when I mixed a color I liked or accidentally made an effective brush stroke, but I think painting, like any other worthy endeavor, takes a lot of practice.  With three kids, a busy life, and my little quilting habit, it may take me a long, long time to become a better painter -- not to mention, I'd still like to try rug-hooking, stained glass, the piano...  But I'm still happy I took the class.  There may not be enough time in my life to be good at everything, but hopefully there will be plenty of time to try it all.  The medium and the end result don't really matter as long as you keep on creating. 

This, at least, is recognizable,
but I still have to add the wick.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quilt Therapy

After a weekend spent trying to squeeze in a celebration for my husband's birthday, selling Christmas trees for a hockey fundraiser, and driving my sons all over the state of New Hampshire for their 5 hockey games (yes, I'm a hockey mom), I awoke on Monday morning to chaos.  My husband was out of shaving cream, one son had run out of his flavored toothpaste, the other couldn't find comfortable pants to wear on his field trip (the horror!), and while writing a check for school lunches (one week late) I discovered that I had neglected to make note of the last 4 checks I'd written and that I had absolutely no memory of writing them.

We left the house late and had to follow a bus all the way to school only to discover upon our arrival that my youngest had forgotten his saxophone.  I did manage to remember my dentist appointment (don't know what I was thinking schedule a cleaning on a Monday morning), but during the drive there I came to the shocking realization that Christmas was less than three weeks away, that I had yet to send out Christmas cards, that I'd barely made a dent in my Christmas shopping, and that I'd made even less progress on my Christmas quilting projects.  After my appointment (and the scolding I received for not being more consistent with my flossing), I drove home for the saxophone, delivered it to the school and finally returned home to start my day at 10:30 with absolutely no energy, a pounding stress headache, a to-do list the length of my arm, and only 4 hours before it was time to pick-up the kids, supervise homework, and get to hockey practice.  Pretty standard stuff.

I managed to call my sister (I'm a master procrastinator), clean the kitchen, and start a load of laundry before the panic began to set in and I found myself roaming the house asking:  What should I do next?  How am I ever going to get it all done?  Why doesn't my family help more?!?  And then in a brief and unusual moment of clarity, I decided to sew.

The minute I plugged in the iron and sat down to my sewing machine, I could feel myself beginning to relax.  My breathing and heart rate slowed, and instead of running in circles like a headless chicken, my mind grew quiet.  As I focused on the pieces of fabric in front of me, I finally calmed down and the horrible feeling of being overwhelmed began to recede into the background.

Forty-five minutes later, the phone rang and the spell was broken.  It was time to get back to reality.  I still had more to do than I could possibly accomplish in a single day, but everything was different.  Just a few minutes of quilting had stopped the downward spiral that would probably have ended with me drowning my sorrows in ice cream and wine (post 5:00 pm, of course) after having accomplished nothing all day but talking on the phone, surfing the internet for crock-pot recipes, and plucking my eyebrows.  My little session of quilt therapy helped me to regain my footing and I was able to return to the demands of my life with renewed determination, a sense of humor, and maybe a bit of optimism.  Not bad for a few minutes of quilting.

But I still can't remember writing those checks!