Friday, December 28, 2012

A Scottie-themed Gift for Eleanor

My friend Eleanor is one of my few close friends who is not a quilter. We met at work and became good friends. We love to go out to eat, shop, get pedicures, and go to chick movies. Eleanor is a shopper extraordinaire. She loves the thrill of a bargain hunt. If shopping was an Olympic sport, she'd be a gold medalist. She shopped with me for weeks to help me find the perfect wedding dress and the most amazing fuchsia satin wedding shoes. She was my friend who got up at 7 am on my wedding day and went to the beauty salon with me. She is also a dog lover. Her little man is Cole Haan, who is a Scottie dog.

This Christmas, I went a little Scottie dog crazy while shopping for her. It all started off innocently enough this summer when I found these adorable salt and pepper shakers at a shop called Tuesday Morning. Lucky me! They came in a pug version too!
Next, I found both a Scottie dog chalk board and a Scottie dog bulletin board at Target. These unfortunately did NOT come in a pug version. Aren't they cute? They are just the right size for Eleanor's office cubicle.

I was then inspired to make Eleanor this Chubby Charmer tote bag, modeled by Larry Pug. You can read more about the making of this bag here.
The inside of the bag is really pretty too. Check out my Scottie dog pockets. All of the fabric came from my stash. I made Eleanor a pillowcase last year with the pink Scottie dog fabric. The polka dots were originally intended for another project, but I thought they looked perfect with the Scotties. The pink fabric that is the handles and the lining still had the sales tag on it from the original Fabric Place, before it was Fabric Place Basement. I bought it in 2007. If you think that is old, the pillowcase I made last night also had the original Fabric Place tag on it -- from 1994! At least I'm using it up!

I also made two yummy flannel Scottie dog pillowcases. I purchased this fabric online at JoAnn's.
Lastly, I found Eleanor a Scottie dog nightgown at Walmart!
Pretty cool, don't you think? Eleanor was thrilled with her gifts.

Linking up to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Richard and Tanya Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Two hours in the studio

Two hours in the studio today was enough time to cut out six pillowcases (three for gifts and three for our Etsy shop) and to start to piece together a Star Wars fleece blanket for my nephew Ben. I bought two different Star Wars no sew fleece blanket kits a couple of months ago at JoAnn Fabrics. One has a horizontal orientation (featuring the Star Wars logo), the other depicts the primary characters in a vertical orientation. I'm using the blue fleece that was included for the backing to piece extra borders to make the whole thing larger and make it reversible. Nothing to show you yet! I'm sewing tomorrow night with the Thursday Girls, so check back soon for photos.

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Romeo!

My little pug Romeo turned 11 on December 23rd. I got Romeo after 9/11. Having spent that day crying and praying and not too certain that the whole world wasn't going to come to an end, I decided that I needed a dog. I've always loved dogs and I realized that life was short and that while I was pretty happy with my life in general, I was going to stop waiting for the right time to get a dog.

Everyone told me not to get a dog. A dog will tie you down, they cautioned me. What if you have to travel for work? What if you want to go away for the weekend? Nevertheless I plunged ahead. I read books and scoured websites and decided that a small dog would be right for me. I narrowed it down to several breeds and decided upon a pug. One of my favorite clients had two pugs and we used to talk daily about their antics. I went to a dog show and met a darling pug and got the name of his breeder. I did initially try to adopt one through Pug Rescue but they were very off-putting.

I contacted the breeder in October. Romeo was born on December 23, 2001, one of four puppies to Pinecone and Hercules. I fenced in my back yard in February. In March, my then-boyfriend and I drove six hours to Maine to pick him up. Romeo was just 4 1/2 pounds, even smaller than the LL Bean boot that he tried to hide behind when we first met him. I remember that the breeder's steps were icy and I clutched the puppy tightly as I carried him to the car.

I can't believe that 11 years have flown by so quickly. Romeo has brought me nothing but joy. He was such a perfect angel that I brought home his half brother, Elvis, the week before Romeo's first birthday. Romeo loves everyone he meets, human or animal, and greets them with an enthusiastic wagging of his curly tail. We call him the Pug Ambassador and joke that he is more popular than our neighbor, the Mayor. Several of our neighbors got pugs after meeting Romeo. He is a wonderful big brother to Elvis and Larry. He loves his PugMom and his Daddy, Mike.

Romeo in the quilt studio

Snoozing in his crate, also known as Romeo's Happy Place

Dressed up as an angel for Halloween several years ago. Naturally brother Elvis was a devil.

A younger, and chubbier, Romeo

Cuddling with his baby.

On the patio

In the kitchen
Brothers Elvis and Larry wish Romeo a Happy Birthday!
Our neighbor, George, lost his golden retriever, Toby, this past week. He was the same age as Romeo and a good dog friend of ours. Is it wrong to wish that Romeo lives forever?

I close with a few of my favorite dog quotes.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  ~Roger Caras

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.  ~Author Unknown

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet.  ~Edith Wharton 

Merry Christmas to all of my friends!

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rudolph the Red Nose Pillowcase

AAAaaack! I just lost my whole blog post after linking it to four different blogs!

I made two adorable Christmas pillowcases for my little neighbors, Thomas and Damian. The fabric features Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and his girlfriend, Clarice.
Damian, at left, and big brother, Thomas
Elvis does his best "Vanna" imitation with the pillowcases
Happy Friday!

Pugs and kisses,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Going to be a Green Christmas

I took this photo yesterday. See those little green things? Those are my Spring bulbs that have gotten confused by the mild weather and are coming up to flower for Christmas. I live in Massachusetts, so this is extremely abnormal. I'm going to be so disappointed next Spring when I don't have any pretty flowers. We've had a mild December which makes it great for taking the pugs to the park, but I know that a lot of people are wishing for a white Christmas. I know that my skier husband Mike would like some white stuff so he can go skiing.

Have a great day!

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Things in Life Are Hand Made

The thing I love most about a hand-made gift is that it is really a gift from the heart. Not only is the maker giving you their time, but they are also giving you a little piece of him or herself. I guess that is part of the reason why I love to make quilts. Some of my favorite treasures include: a gorgeous cedar hope chest made by my brother Jeff; several painting by my Mom (my favorite one is beside my bed so I see it first thing in the morning and before I go to sleep), as well as the lovely quilts we received for our wedding that I blogged about previously.

So I was thrilled to receive a couple of hand made gifts for the holidays from two of my girlfriends. My friend Marion made me this lovely scarf in my favorite colors of pink and purple. Marion knows that I love ruffles and frou frou. Can't wait to wear it!
I let Elvis model it because he feels that Larry has been over-represented in the blog and he was feeling a little left out. The vibrant colors stand out nicely against his black fur. (Note to Marion: I only let Elvis wear it for a minute while I took the photo).

Joannie surprised me last night with a couple more hand made gifts. First, she gave me this really fun M&M's pillowcase. This year alone, I've made 43 pillowcases, and I don't even own one.
Once again, Larry Pug sneaks into the photo.
 She also made me a set of bunny place mats, featuring Patch.  Patch was part of a Dedham Public Art Project this summer. 15 bunnies were painted by different artists and placed around town. The original Patch is hand painted by artist Iris Sonnenschein and is about 4 feet tall. I was in love with Patch. The bunnies were auctioned off for charity and I think that Patch went for about $7,000, which was a little rich for my budget. At least I now have Patch place mats and a framed photo of Patch (also by Joannie). These placemats are Joannie's original design and she claims that all of the fabric came from her stash!
Up close

...and on the table
Hope that you are enjoying the holidays!

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Easy Street Mystery Part 4

To be quite honest, the Brown Bagger Bonnie Hunter Mystery Team is not getting a whole heck of a lot done...except for Kim who has finished Step 4.

Marion came over on Saturday morning and worked on Step 2.
Joannie came over and visited us (she was too busy to sew, she was running errands) and she brought us brownies with mint frosting!
We love you Joannie!

I am busy working on Eleanor's Christmas present. Hopefully she's not reading my blog this week!
This is going to be a Chubby Charmer Tote Bag. Eleanor has a scottie dog (named Cole Haan) and she likes pink, so this will be perfect. I also made her two flannel scottie dog pillowcases and found a bunch of other cute scottie items, including salt and pepper shakers and a mini cork board and a mini black board that she can hang in her cubicle.

The rest of the gang's progress:

Me: Still on Step 2, busy making Christmas gifts instead
Sally: Still on Step 1
Marion: Finished Step 2
Terri: Working on Steps 1 and 2; has changed her background fabric since making 4-patches
Joannie: Has printed out all of the Steps, and promises to sew her butt off in January.

I'm linking to Bonnie's Monday Linky Party

Looks like we're number 163 this week.

Pugs and kisses,

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Chanukah!

Larry and Elvis

Romeo (right before he jumps off the bench), Larry and Elvis

Romeo, recaptured, Larry and Elvis

The best one, albeit without Romeo. Larry is a poser and loves to have his picture taken. Elvis is afraid to jump off the bench.
This is my little Chanukah wall hanging mentioned in my previous post. I made it a long time ago at The Button Box. It is Gerri's original design.

Happy Chanukah!

Pugs and kisses,

A Plethora of Hanukah

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out my box of Hanukah fabric. I didn't have anything particular in mind, but I wanted to see what was in there. I've been collecting it for years. I've had grandiose plans that included making Hanukah bed quilts for my niece and three nephews. So far I have made a small wall hanging...
I spread all the fabric out on my cutting table and sorted it by size: fat quarter, half yard, yard, and larger than 1 yard pieces. When I finished, my cutting table looked like this.
I had a lot more Hanukah fabric than I had realized. A little overwhelmed, I folded it and put it back in a bag for next year.
Want to guess how much fabric is in the bag? Unbelievably, over 25 yards! Next year all my friends and family are getting a Hanukah pillowcase, table runner, set of placemats, apron, etc.,  even if they're not Jewish.

Happy Last Night of Hanukah!

Pugs and kisses,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quilters don't do buttons...

I'm not a big fan of hand sewing. In fact, among my quilting friends I'm known for machine sewing my quilt bindings on both sides. One, because it's faster; two because it's sturdier; and three because I really don't like hand sewing. I don't like to hem pants either and usually wear my jeans with the bottoms cuffed up a couple of times because when you're 5'2", everything is too long.

This lonely little button fell off my leather jacket  almost two years ago and has taken up full time residence in my jewelry box so I don't lose it. Typically, I wear a dressy scarf with my jacket that hides the fact that the button has fallen off and I'm too lazy to sew it back on.

Recently, the second button fell off my black winter coat, luckily on my kitchen floor, so I was able to find it. I've been wearing the coat which had been missing one button for a while, but now that the second button has fallen off, I may have to break down and sew them both back on. Otherwise it may be a chilly winter. The first button is long gone, but the coat does have a spare button sewn to the inside.

Ironically before I discovered quilting, I was addicted to counted cross stitch, which is handwork to the extreme. Detailed and intricate, a small piece takes FOREVER to complete and no-one truly appreciates how much work you put into it. My new (now 20 plus years) quilting hobby, increasing age, poor eyesight, and three pugs that took over my lap, put an end to my flourishing cross stitch career.

Enough about buttons. Here are a couple of photos that haven't made it to the blog yet.

I made this pillowcase for my husband, Mike, for Chanukah. Michael plays classical guitar, so I am always on the lookout for guitar fabric. I bought this fabric two years ago when I visited Mood in New York City. It is a Michael Miller fabric. I love the colors. This was one of the mystery projects I showed you in this blog post:

This is my friend Carol. She likes to buy fabric but really doesn't like to sew that much. She came over a couple of weekends ago and I helped her make this lighthouse pillowcase that she is going to give her Dad for Christmas. Carol and I have gone on many fabulous quilting trips together, including the Houston Quilt Festival!
Here are Larry and Elvis on the "Couch of Quilts" (named by my nephew Josh). They are dressed in their warm coats for a walk outside.
Time to go to bed. A new Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt step awaits tomorrow!

Pugs and kisses,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Easy Street Mystery Quilt, Part 3, or Much Ado About Nothing

My friends, Kim, Joannie, Sally, Marion, and I (the Brown Bagger Bonnie Hunter Team) are all working on the Easy Street Mystery. We met up a week ago last Sunday and I blogged about our progress last week on Bonnie's Linky Party, . Step 3 was published this past Friday, (scroll towards the bottom, but before the blogger comments). I am linking to Bonnie's weekly Linky Party

My progress this week has been a big fat ZERO. So far, I have printed out two sets of Step 3, one for me and one for Marion, who can't get her computer to like Bonnie's printer friendly directions. While I was slaving away at work today, I got a cheery post from Kim who happily reported:

  I’m surprised at myself that I am keeping up with Easy Street.  It’s not making a dent in my stash.


Yes, Kim's finished Step 3 already. And to add insult to injury, she sent us all a photo (or maybe it was to keep us motivated...)
Here are Kim's lovely Step 3 blocks.
Next, email I got was from Sally:

Looks great.  Am jealous.  Just finished part 1.


Right before I went home tonight, the group got a funny email from Joannie:

Note to self:   Don't open Kim's email's  -- she is way ahead of me.  Kim's looks great while I have only printed part 1, 2, & 3. Sewed strips on part one--no 4-patch cutting yet.  This just reminds me of how far I am behind...

I called Marion to find out where she was and she reported that she had finished Part 1 and has cut 40 units for Part 2.

So, fellow bloggers, don't despair if you are far behind, you are in good company! Don't feel guilty when you read all those blogs from other people who post promptly on Monday morning that they have finished Step 3 or are making the Mystery Quilt in three different colorways... we are with you!

So, you're probably asking what did I do all week, if I didn't work on the Mystery Quilt? 

I DID work on the Mystery Quilt, Step 2, on Monday night last week with Joannie; Tuesday night, I took Larry Pug to Obedience Class (he graduates tomorrow); Wednesday night went out to dinner with my husband Michael; Thursday night made pillowcases for my nephews with my Thursday night sewing friends; and went to a holiday party on Friday night, with same friends. Saturday, Joannie, Marion, and I went on a fabric acquisition expedition. 
I bought these two fabrics above at Sewphisticated in Framingham--only $2.99 a yard. I found this funny fabric below in the $1.99 stack at Fabric Place in Framingham. I'm going to make pillowcases for my Dad and my brother, Jeff. Tools Rule!
I also bought some wonderful Kaffe Fassett fabrics at The Button Box in Wellesley for a class that I took with Joannie on Sunday because you can never have to many unfinished projects (UFOs), especially around the holidays!
We used this Leaves Galore template by Sue Pelland and cut curvy shapes with a rotary cutter. The class was held at Quilter's Way in Acton. More about this class in a future blog post.
Sunday night, Mike's sister and her family came over for dinner and we celebrated Chanukah together. I gave my nephews the pillowcases that I had made.
Josh, on left, shows off his half minkee, half flannel pillowcase, I'm in the middle with the skateboarder pillowcase (I made two of these, one for each of them), and Sam, on the right, who has suddenly become a head taller than I am, models his mountain bike pillowcase.
Sam said his mountain bike pillowcase was sick, which is apparently a compliment in teenager-speak.

Good luck with Step 3. I don't think I'll be working much on it this week either, but I'm with you all in spirit.
Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Easy Street Mystery Quilt, Part 2

Four of my friends and I are all working on Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt, Easy Street. You can find the directions here:
from left to right: Joannie, me, Sally, Marion, and Kim
Here we are holding assorted pieces of Part 1 and Part 2. Kim, a Bonnie Hunter pro, who has almost finished Orca Bay (last year's mystery) has finished Parts 1 and 2. I've finished Part 1, and am working on Part 2, and Joannie, Sally and Marion are working on Part 1. Our friend, Terry, may be joining the Easy Street Quilt Gang--she was admiring our color choices on Sunday when our quilt group got together.

These are very tiny pieces. Much smaller than I typically make quilts with! And there are A LOT tiny of pieces! I guess I should be happy that this is supposed to be one of Bonnie's EASIER projects. I'm happy to report that my sewing is pretty accurate and the blocks are coming out the right size.

Here is my tip: use an empty tissue box as a mini trash can to
contain your trimmed off dog ears. When you're all done, you can
just throw the whole thing in the trash. Great for trimming threads too!

First 10 finished flying geese of Part 2
(only 118 more to go... Oy Vey!)
Have I mentioned that I hate making triangles? But using the Easy Angle ruler and Companion Angle ruler to cut them wasn't too bad. As of Monday evening, I've finished 20 of my Flying Geese and have 14 more ready to sew. I need to cut out some more center purple triangles.

Here is another oldie but goodie that was in the black and white stash, can you say "moo?"
I gave all of the girls a piece of cow fabric for their mystery, except for Joannie who is only using batiks.

Here are Elvis (the black pug) and Romeo in the
quilt studio waiting for Joannie to give them a cookie.

Here is baby Larry keeping busy with a chewy bone.
I am linking up to Bonnie Hunter's Linky Party, Part 2:

On a side note, I read two very good books this week, check them out: The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi Durrow and The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.

Sew on!

Pugs and kisses,