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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year from Anguilla

Happy New Year to everyone from the island. Our friends, Kris and Bill have been kibbutzing with the blog as they've had their coffees after a nice dinner. I must say it's the first New Year dinner here that we've had an actual dinner on the table before midnight!

Sea Bass with a nice rice paper finish, Italian pasta for starters and some sort of unidentifiable (therefore uneatable)soup. A nice tart passion fruit pie for Kevin and I was a good (dieting) girl and watched.

Tomorrow is another sleep in day, with a walk on the beach in the afternoon.

What a way to start the new year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

More on the beach

Yesterday, we spent a long day, bathing in the sunblast on the beach under an umbrella. We watched kids playing in the surf, took a few walks along the beach, and napped a bit. With all the time there, I got a bit more sun than I intended, so today, I am just sitting by the pool, reading my book.

Speaking of reading books, so far since we've arrived, I've read:
Ann Rule, Worth More Than Dead
Paolo Coehlo, The Alchemist
Anita Shreve, All He Ever Wanted

and now I am reading Alice Munro's short story collection: Runaway.

Today, Kevin went on the ferry across to St. Maarten for his annual shopping trip. He always comes back from the day with a treasure for me. Last year, it was a beautiful Lalique purple heart on a silk cord, saying it was my reward for taking care of him so well during the last year. I wonder what this year's treasure will be?

Last night, we had dinner at our very special place, Cove Castles. The chef is from Lyons, France, and the staff always welcome us "home". We had lobster, infused with truffles. I skipped dessert, but Kevin had his traditional mango creme brulee.

Tomorrow, I think, we are are going to try to make it to a small art gallery for a showing of Haitian art. I've heard there is a quilter there, too. It will be intersting to see what's there.

If only I had a sewing machine.......

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

News and dinner menus from the Island

Lazy sleep in day while K went to breakfast. Then a slow walk on the beach, read about half a book, and snoozed under the beach umbrella. Back to the villa for another short nap and cleanup. Dinner at E's Oven. Entertainment The Happy Hits on their homemade banjos, base drum and steel drums.

Starters - Trigger fish on a bed of roasted fennel in a phyllo cup
Main - Red Hind on a bed of sweet and sour coleslaw
Dessert - Neopoleon of Pumpkin Fritter
Starters - Fish soup
Main - Grouper on a bed of rice and peas with plaintains
Dessert - Ginger creme brulee

Lazy sleep in day while K went to breakfast. Then we went to two grocery stores (actually little markets) looking for our staples for the next two weeks. Went in search of shorts that K forgot to pack, as well as some T-shirts. I found a new two piece swim suit (for an old lady!) so the day was well spent. A short nap, then clean up and out to dinner at the Top of the Palms. Entertainment was Dumpa and the Boys on the steel drums.

Top of the Palms
Starters - mozarella and tomato salad
Main - Sashimi
Dessert - coffee
Starters - Pumpkin soup
Main - Local Crayfish
Dessert - Banana creme brulee

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas stars!

This is not actually a Christmas stars quilt, but I count it as one of our many blessings. My two best friends made this star quilt for my husband during his liver transplant in the summer of 2005. It is presently hanging on the design wall in my stewdio, which is now officially called the Christmas room. It's where the tree and all the trimmings are, and it's the room where we will all gather Saturday throughout the day to celebrate the special day together.

My mom's downstairs apartment is all ready. Clean sheets and towels, freshly vacuumed floors; refrigerator loaded with her favorite snacks. I'll pick her up Friday afternoon from her retirement community, and she'll stay with us until Christmas afternoon.

My daughter's family will be arriving Saturday morning after "The Boy's" nap, and having a light lunch before departing for the other side of town, and the other side of the family. Hubby's dad and significant other will be stopping by for a light early dinner Saturday afternoon - they don't like to drive after dark, so that means my mom, my hubby and I will be having a nice quiet contemplative Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day will find us on the road around noontime going across town to my niece's home for an early afternoon dinner. We'll leave mom there, and then Hubby and I will go straight to the airport!

I am so looking forward to our annual trip to Anguilla this year. To see the beach where we will be, click on "Beaches", and if you want to see the villa, click on "Accommodations". For the last three years, I've worried and fretted about my hubby's health - but it looks like this is the year we will enjoy it together! They have the most spectacular fire works on New Year's Eve, along with fantastic fresh fish for any and all meals you want it. We've been staying in the same villa for the last 20 years, so this is a celebration in itself!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Official Weigh In

I can't say that I look less like Mrs. Jack Spratt, but I can say that I did lose three pounds! And that's even with going to Las Vegas and having that 8 course, French wine pairings dinner with foie gras (and yummy French bread)!

I went to the club this morning (early, early, early!) and after a little warmup, my wonderful trainer, Sarah, stretched me out, and the showed me some more machines. Yesterday's machines were for my arms; today's machines were for my legs. Yesterday, I had my time mixed up, so I actually got to work out a full hour before I worked with Sarah on my arms. It's tough for this old, fat lady, but I AM doing it!

I also signed up for 31 more training sessions with Sarah, which should take me just about through to the 22 weeks projected for my initial weight loss goals. Because of the holidays, my trip to the Caribbean and hers to Colorado, I won't see her again until the first week of January. Then she's getting married Jan 14, and I'll be on my own until the end of the month. I am hoping to see at least a size come off between now and then.

Monday, December 19, 2005


So here is how the baby quilt is coming out. Each of the sashings has a wide piece of pink rick-rack basted to it. This is still being worked on....don't worry if there are some places that seem to be missing sashing or rick-rack.

I took everyone's advice, and decided to let it all hang out. Now, if any of you are trying to decide if you want to do this to a baby quilt, it's just fine, BUT remember that my sashings are 6.5" long. And with all those blocks, it took a total of FIFTEEN yards of rick-rack! Gosh! What would I do without my JoAnn's 50% off coupons? LOL

Now, I am going to pack it away until next year. I MUST get the binding on my mother's quilt before Christmas, and this baby quilt wouldn't leave me alone. After the binding, I think I should probably fold down my machine, and get the last decorative quilt up in the sewing room. This is the room where we will be celebrating Christmas with my family on Saturday, so it needs to be a little more tidy, I think!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Home from Vegas!

We are home from a marvelous getaway trip to Las Vegas. We saw The Blue Man group for the umpteenth time, and also Ka, Cirque du Soleil's new show (or new to us anyway). Our dinner was at Le Cirque, a French style restaurant, and we had the 8 course dinner with wine tasting. That sort of blew my diet out of the water, but well worth it! I did leave SOME food on my plate for each course!

This picture was taken at dinner, and it's too bad you can't see the dancing water out the window behind us. I have another picture of us that shows it, but I didn't like the way I looked!!!

Now we are home, and I have to get cracking on the binding on my mother's quilt for Christmas. That's the last of it, I think. It's been snowing while we've been gone, and the house is just tooooo cold!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

25th Wedding Anniversary at the Bellagio

We are off tomorrow morning to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary at the Bellagio in Las Vegas! After the last couple of years that we've had, I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to see this special day, but here it is!

We'll be staying at the Bellagio with a special dinner Wednesday night, Ka (Cirque du Soleil) performance on Thursday, and The Blue Man group on Friday. I'm looking forward to some really quiet talks and fun time with dear hubby. His platinum and gold diamond wedding band was actually ready when promised, along with the engraving. I also have the special fortune cookie with a special fortune inside (25 years ago I followed my heart, and it found yours. Love always)

We return late Sunday night, so tonight will be my last entry until at least then!


Monday, December 12, 2005

Tea for Three?

I thought I would share the stitching on these unique tea towels that I found at a quilt shop in Audubon, Iowa last summer. And yes, Tonya, the flowers Are rick-rack! Such a nice little idea, and I think it would be quick to do. But, since I always say *I* could do that, and then never do, I decided to buy the ones that were for sale!

These three towels will be going to my "hausfrau" niece for Christmas, who loves anything needlework!

On the quilting/sewing front, I am making a little progress on the baby quilt with the rick-rack. I've decided to go with my initial instinct (with your permission) to surround each little block with the large rick-rack. Someone asked if this was added or if it was fabric that showed rick-rack. Well, to be exact - it is TWENTY yards of giant pink rick-rack. I was the only person in Jo-Ann's who was not buying fleece! LOL!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Spratt

I've been joking for the last couple of years, that as my dear hubby has lost all his weight (because of serious illnesses), we have become Mr. and Mrs. Jack Spratt. The only real difference is that my hubby must eat about 7000 calories a day just to maintain his 138 pounds! Not fair at all!

I've been getting mentally prepared to do something about all my unhealthy weight, and I just made my move! I am not getting any younger, and now that I am not a caregiver for my hubby or my mom 100% of the time, I must take the opportunity to do something for me.

We don't really watch much TV, but I watched this last season's episodes of the Biggest Loser while I sewed. Talk about inspiration! So I asked for, and received a membership with a personal trainer at our local 24 hour Fitness. I've been twice now, and I'm getting ready to go another 3 times next week before we leave town. I have a special meal plan, customized just for me. I have my personal trainer customizing my workouts and working with me. I've signed up for the aqua classes, three times a week.

I think in about 22 weeks, you will see about 30% less of me!

I know that the holidays are coming up, and that we will be out of town about 3 weeks total between our Anniversary trip to Las Vegas, and then 2 weeks in the Caribbean. But you know what? There's always something special in any given month. I just have to start NOW!!!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

White Winterland - INSIDE!

Yesterday was all about the snow outside, and today is all about the snow inside!

Here is a picture of our snow village. There are stick-on snowflakes on the window behind it that glow in the dark, so it's pretty cool when the lights are off.

This is probably my favorite part of the village. I use mirrors and little glass pebbles and jewels from Michael's to make waterfalls joining one lake to the next. At the fishing village towards the back is a couple sitting on a park bench watching the ducks. Guess who that might be?

This is the left side of the village, where most of the residential houses are, along with the toy shop on top of the hill.

And this is the right side of the village where all the recreational activities occur.

Not all the pieces are the same scale, but I love them all the same. Over the last 10 years in particular, my husband and my grandkids will pick out a piece and present it to me proudly for "next year". I don't think there's much more room for anything....except last night at a neighborhood Christmas dinner, he spotted that *their* snow village had an antique little car in it, so I can imagine there will be one in ours next year too!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Winter wonderland

Snow! Snow! Snow! About 12" of the beautiful sparkley kind fell in the last 24 hours! Of course, it's a mess to clean up and get out of our driveway, since we sit back about 2 acres from the street.

The poor little birds are so cold and hungry. When we were getting ready for the snowfall, the two most important things we forgot to do? Bring the snowblower out of the shed to the front garage, and to get more birdfeed out to the feeders.

It's about 2 degrees Fahrenheit now, with a windchill of -4 degrees. Brrrrrrrr!

So what am I doing? I'm getting our Christmas winter snow village set up! How appropriate!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Gifty Exchange

I promised I would share some of the gifts from my quilting friends, so here they are!

This first one made us laugh, since two of us can vegetable/fruit during the growing season, and the third one does not. So this was her gift to the two of us canners. (She is the non-canner.) They are two canning jars; one is filled with green fat eighths for the green beans, and the second one is filled with red fat eighths for the berries. Cute eh? And such a quick little gift if you need one at the last minute for a quilter, too!

The beautfiul clock is a quilted paper pieced block. The space between the pieced designs ends up being one inch apart, and it makes a perfect time piece. It is heavily machine quilted, and the numbers are "inked" on with a pigma pen using stencils. Doesn't it make you think: "Time to Quilt!"

The same gal who doesn't do any canning, DOES do beautiful wool work, and I've been asking for one of these pincushions for two years now! It is absolutely gorgeous, and delicate and useful, all at the same time. It has found a home on the side table in my hearth room - the colors are the same. I've used a neutral green and a sequoia red in that room, so it's perfect! Now I don't have to worry about leaving pins in the arms of my sofa as I sit and sew at night!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

OK - I was good, and got more done!

Here is my quilt display wall in our hearth room. I change out the quilts here at least by the season, and when we are home, I try to change them out monthly. The top of the Displayaway usually has an appropriate seasonal swag across it, and of course this is the one I like the best!

The quilt that is shown here is my Lucky Christmas Stars. I fussy cut the centers of the stars from some of an old Michael Miller fabric, and then just used scraps from my bin for the star points and sides. I do have to admit that I did buy some of the fabric in Rochester, MN. This quilt was made during my hubby's recovery from his liver transplant in June/July of 2004. I sure got a lot of sewing done while we were there, waiting for his final release to come back home. We had been there since May, and returned home the middle of July. Two of my best friends who also happen to quilt, came there, too, and we had a weekend sew-in just prior to the 4th of July. They made Lucky Stars, too, but each of them had a different theme. We thought the Lucky Stars pattern was very appropriate considering the circumstances!

I showed you two close-ups of the blocks so you can see the Michael Miller fabric, but the first picture of the kids and angels is a bit dark. I also wanted to post a picture of one of the star centers. I ran out of the MM fabric, so I found a FQ in a sale bin that had some Christmas things, and used that in about 5 of the blocks. The background fabric has all sorts of joyful words on it, too. I really like this quilt because the colors aren't what you first think of for Christmas. And it just makes my entire hearth room so happy!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Baby, Oh Baby!

So now the quilt blocks that are on the design wall are calling to me! I'm trying so hard to finish some more Christmas decorating, and they just won't leave me alone! What's with that, anyway?

The top picture is how I think I am going to finish it out. The wide pink rick rack will only go around the outside. It seems to pull the pinks together, but not overwhelm the blocks.

The second one is how I really like it, but about 6 people have seen it now, and just look at me like I'm nuts. Of course, they all know my theory of "more is more and that's good".

So what do you think?

More chicks have hatched!

As you can see, I haven't really been getting much done, other than taking care of all these chickens. And I see by the pictures, that one has escaped. But you know, they all sort of look alike - enough to be cousins, anyway! LOL!

Anyway, I've decorated the top of the Displayaway for my Christmas quilt to be hung as soon as hubby returns from errands. I've vacuumed the floor and picked up most of the doo dads that would entice a one year old who is coming to stay for dinner with his grandparents this evening. I've gotten half of the garland on the staircase, but I can't seem to make myself do anymore right now. So I thought I would gather all my chicks and post them for you to see. And no, I haven't forgotten those of you who want the pattern. I am still working on how to describe one section of the directions, and then it will be off to you1

One of them was given away on Sunday to one of my stitch buddies. It was sitting on top of 300 cut 5" neutral squares for a nickel quilt - and all of this was in a big green bulbous jar that sort of looks like a terrarium from the 60's. The only rule our stitch group has for Christmas exchange is that it must be a container of sorts. In the 10 years that we have been exchanging gifts, there has never been a duplicate! We've received everything from baskets, and boxes, and pitchers, and piggy banks, and wire cages and storage totes on wheels. It's always so much fun to see how creative we can be.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The tree is done!

The tree is done, the presents are wrapped. Well, almost all of them, anyway!

This is a new tree for us. We purchased it 2 years ago after our beautiful 12' (department store) tree got strangled in our basement flood (you don't even want to know) May 2004. I cried and cried over losing it - it was the most gorgeous tree I've ever seen! But now, I realize that it was probably a good thing that the tree is buried in the landfill, and I've moved on to a more manageable one. The old one took us 7-8 days to assemble, along with over 8000 multiple color lights. The new one is pre-lit, white lights, and it's only 11' tall, and much narrower than the old one.

But I do have to share that when we opened the box, and my hubby saw the all white lights, it just about got put away again! He is of the old school idea that all lights for Christmas must be colors. When he saw how quickly the tree went up, he quickly changed his mind, though! However, after assembling it, and arranging the cords just so, we plugged it in, and there were two big bare spots on the tree. After fiddling around with it, I decided to just lay a couple of strands of white lights on the bare spots and call it good.

I've reminisced long enough over the ornaments now, and I am moving on to the hearth room which is all done in snowmen. I usually leave those decorations out until the first of March, so it's not so much to put away. Tomorrow will be the garland on the staircase, and changing the upstairs quilts (both bed and wall) with winter/Christmas styles.

Maybe tomorrow, I'll be able to share my presents from my two best quilting friends. We went to brunch this morning to share our Christmas time, and it was just lovely! Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cubic Ribbons

I made this quilt with a group of gals from another old defunct internet list when we had a midwestern get together at my house. I didn't understand the directions on this quilt; green is not one of my favorite colors to work in; the batting is really terrible for the piece; and it was the first thing I ever machine quilted (poorly).

It looks really great in the picture, and it looks really great from across the room. But I still don't like it. Thus, it sits under my porcelain reindeer display on the dining room table. When the reindeer aren't nesting in it, my cats like it, too.

Everytime I see it, though, I remember how much I learned about the value of color when I made it!

My very best!

These are my two most special ornaments in the whole wide world!

The reindeer has lost his antlers, but it was made for me by my wonderful son in first grade. He is now 34 years old!

The picture is of my daughter when she was about 12 or so, and now she is 35. She made it for us in Girl Scouts, and she hates that I still hang it on the tree. Something about the way her hair looked that day! LOL! Each year, she tries to steal it away, but I always catch her. I would cry if it ever got broken or heaven forbid...stolen!

I've reminisced long enough now, and have to finish up the tree. Pictures of that tomorrow!