Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Since you are probably not going to be driving by our house this Christmas season I want to show you the outside lights we put up each year. This first photo is the large lighted tree shape you see as you approach our farm. Since we live in a fairly flat part of Nebraska you can see the lights from 7-8 miles away. It has become such a tradition to have it up we had people from the area worrying and asking if we were going to put it up this year as John didn't get it done until about a week later than he usually does. The lighted "tree" is actually strings of large lights and a star on the top of the windmill in the yard south of our house. John has continued on the tradition started by his dad many years ago and puts the lights up each Christmas.

John has simplified how he puts them up the last few years to make the task easier and fewer trips climbing up the windmill. He extended the width of the base of the windmill with 2x4 lumber pieces and has wrapped the strings of lights around long ropes then he carries half the strings up to the top and hooks them to the windmill with bungee cords and then climbs back down and hooks them to nails with bungee cords on the lumber at the bottom. This keeps the lights away from the metal windmill supports and makes a wider "tree". With the winds we have here there were always a lot of broken bulbs when they were banged against the legs of the windmill but now if they go out it is because they burned out so that was a good improvement. Most times he can get it all done with three trips up the windmill, one for the star and two for the lights strings.

I took the above photo from the family room window while inside the house and you can't see the star as well as you can when you are driving by on the highway. I put lights and greenery on either side of the sidewalk so those are the lights you see at the bottom of the photo. We have all the lights on timers so they run from dark until about 1 pm then have them turn on again about 5:30 until 8 am so people going to work can enjoy them too.

Last year at the after Christmas sales I purchased a bunch of plastic candy canes with lights inside. They look real pretty all marching down the sidewalk and light the way to our front door. By the way that shine on the sidewalk is ice. Most people come to our back door but I am hoping it will melt before I am forced to try and chop-scoop, what ever to get it off.

As pretty as these candy canes are the wind keeps blowing one or two down occasionally. These two have been laying on the ground for a couple of days. John has been too busy and I just don't want to go out and do it in the cold but need to get them up today again so they will all be looking pretty when our family arrives to celebrate with us. We do have a plan to change how we stand them up next year so hopefully that will solve the problem.

Warm wishes for a safe and happy Christmas where ever you are.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Burrr......It's Cold Out There

I am really getting tired of this cold weather. We have had temps. in the mornings below zero F. and even by afternoon they don't get much above 10 degrees F or so plus the wind has been blowing every day making it feel even colder. I have not had to go out much but I feel bad for John. He has been trying to get fencing up for the cattle plus doing the feeding, etc. so he has to be out a lot. If it would warm up to the 30s it would still be cold but would feel like a heat wave compared to the way it is now.

I opened our front door and took the photo this morning (very quickly I might add as I still was in my PJs.) This is facing east looking at the weaned calves eating at the bunk. Feel sorry for any animals that have to be out in this weather too.

As you can see we have snow covering the ground - not too deep but there is ice on top of the snow. That ice is the problem though. The highway still is about half covered with ice. When driving we keep one tire on the clear pavement so we don't go sliding around.

I really want to sew but don't want to mess up the sewing room this close to Christmas. I know I won't have time to clean it up before our family comes next weekend so just look longingly at my covered sewing machine when I walk by. The sewing room/office used to be my in-laws bedroom when they lived here and it has two doors in it so it is more like a hallway. They didn't want to walk around through the rest of the house to get to their bedroom from the back door - worked for them and it does work great for the sewing room/office for us.

I finished wrapping all our Christmas gifts last night so now all that is left is cleaning the house and making beds. Have the stereo turned up and will be singing while I work. Good thing I have no audience as I really don't have that good a singing voice but it makes the work seem like more fun.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mom and Pop's Aprons

I finished these two aprons for John and I a couple of days ago but couldn't take any photos until I knew John wasn't going to pop into the house and catch me. I still think he doesn't know he is getting a special apron for Christmas like everyone else. It was tricky to sew them too as I had to keep my ear tuned to the back door opening and rush to put them out of sight and pretend to be doing something else when he walked into the sewing room.

I made the frog fabric apron for myself and the UNL Husker one for John. I intend to wrap mine up too - may put a tag on them that they are from Santa. Will act surprised when I open it with everyone else opening theirs.

When the grandsons were here I had on an old apron and wore it to the table one evening. M, who is 3 asked me what I was wearing and told him I wore the apron to help keep my clothes clean when I cooked. He got this sad look on his face and told me he didn't have an apron. Can't wait until he opens his and realizes what it is.

We got ice, rain and snow on Thursday and are still dealing with the ice. Had to make a trip to town yesterday and the highway still only has one track each way that is not ice covered. The sidewalks and garage approach are still covered with ice too so walking can be tricky. Yesterday morning we woke to the sound of wind so besides being cold the wind chill was down really low. It is -3 degrees F here this morning but not as much wind but of course it will still be cold out.

John had to build fence for the cows across the road yesterday and waited until 3:30 pm hoping it would be warmer and less wind then. He was putting in an electric fence so had to push in the small metal posts. Wonder if he had to pound them in with a hammer if the ground was too frozen.

After he gets the posts in he strings out a strong wire that is attached to the posts with an insulator and will have a battery attached to the wire. That is all it takes to keep the cows in - they all respect the electric fence. It gives them a little shock if they touch it so they keep a little distance from the perimeter of the field. Using electric fences around the corn stalk fields is an easy way to clean up any downed corn and makes a cheap way to feed the cows after they come home from the pastures. We move them about every 2 weeks to new fields to keep them well fed. They stay in the stock fields until about 2 weeks before they are to give birth to their new calves in about mid March. At that time they are moved to the lots near the barn and are fed hay and silage (corn that was cut green and packed in a pile where it kind of ferments.) The cows love the taste of silage and it really doesn't smell too bad either.

So much for the "farm report" for today!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another 4 Aprons Finished

I just finished 4 more of the aprons for my family. I haven't had much time to sew for a few days until today so am glad to have these done. I did get fabric for John and even some cute frog fabric for myself I want to finish today yet too. Think I will wrap mine too and put it under the tree.

So far John has not figured out I am making one for him even though every once in a while he comes over to the sewing machine or pressing board and looks at what I am doing. I got University of Nebraska Husker fabric for him but it is a different print than the one I made for our son in law.

The flowered apron is for our daughter S - she loves bright fabrics and gardening, the John Deer Tractor fabric one is for our son in law J, the blue one with the heave equipment on it is for the 3 yr M, and the one with all the sports balls is for the 6 yr old grandson C.

It has been really foggy and misty all day here. So far we don't have any freezing on the roads but that is predicted for tonight.

We sure had a noisy night around here last night. John weaned the calves and they were bawling in the north lot across from our house and the cows were bawling in the south lot all night long. Thank goodness I had ear plugs to help get a little sleep. This morning I noticed tracks across our lawn and we saw that one of the cows was out. She had jumped through the tank and had been wandering all over during the night. My hope is that when it thaws next spring we don't have cow tracks in the lawn! Guess she was determined to find her calf.

Back to sewing....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aprons for Christmas - first 4

Here are the first 4 aprons I have made for gifts for Christmas. These 4 are for our oldest daughter, her husband and our two granddaughters.

Have the fabrics all cut out and hems pressed for the rest but have not had a chance to sit down and stitch them yet.

My husband had a convention in Kearney this last week from Wed - Friday and I did finish the rest of my shopping and purchased the fabric for the rest of my aprons. I spent some time in the motel cutting and pressing them to be ready for the sewing machine.

We picked up our two grandsons, C (6 yr) and M (3 yr) on our way home on Friday and kept them for the weekend. I didn't even want to tempt the 3 yr. old as he loves buttons and switches and if I would have tried to sew I am sure he would have helped me. Just playing and getting meals fixed was enough to keep me pretty busy.

The boys left with their parents Sunday afternoon and about 5 minutes later my husband and I hopped into our car and drove 2 1/2 hr. to see our granddaughters church Christmas program. We had wanted to go but didn't know if we would be able too - all depended on what time S & J came to pick up the boys. Our granddaughters were surprised and pleased to see us and that made our long drive worth it. After eating at the pot luck dinner at the church we headed back home. We both were tired today - partly from the long day yesterday and partly from keeping two active little boys.

I fully intended to start sewing first thing this morning but that just didn't happen. Had to make a trip into town to mail a package and to get a new cell phone. My old phone wouldn't stay charged more than a half an hour if I was talking on it, plus the back kept falling off and the battery would fall out. The new one is similar to my old one so I won't have too big a learning curve with it. Had all my numbers transferred over at the store so won't have to spend hours putting them all in - decided that was a good deal.

This afternoon was no better - had a funeral for a neighbor then this evening is a local cattlemen's dinner and meeting.

It has been so cold here the last two days. Sunday the temperature was 7 degrees F. when we left home and -3 degrees F. when we got back last night. Think it got as low as -6 and below 10 degrees F. today was the high. Yesterday the cold felt much worse with the high winds which thankfully died down before our trip home last night.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Santa Sampler

12" x 15"

My older sister J made this Santa Sampler for me in 1995. She paper pieced the different blocks and machine quilted it. Isn't it cute?

I hang it with a white painted dowel and this year it is grouped on the wall with the pieced tree in the hoop.

I have post dated this entry since we have to be gone again for a few days this week. I sure don't want you to forget me! Actually am typing it Tuesday morning to be exact. If you haven't tried this feature you should if you are going to be gone and want to still keep posting entries to your blog. Just click on Post Options on the bottom left of the box where you type your blog. Change the "Post date and time" to suit you - that's it, so easy to do.

Not sure how much time I will have at the computer when we get home as we will be keeping our two grandsons over the weekend. At six and three they keep me pretty busy.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa Sampler

Debbie Mumm pattern - 25"x 30" Made in 1993.

This Santa Sampler was one of those quick wall hangings made with fusible and very little machine quilting to hold it together. If it were hanging all the time I would have to do more stitching on it but since it hangs on the wall only about a month each year it is OK the way it is.

Are you catching a theme here? I love Santa's! I have Santa tree ornaments, figurines, fabric Santas, etc. Over the years I have collected quite a few and friends and family have given me more and more. Don't know where to put them all. Thank goodness we have a long mantel over the fireplace as that is where the majority of them get displayed.

Almost a week has gone by since I posted. Guess time has a way of doing that when you are busy.

We did get some of our Christmas shopping done last week while we were in Kearney for a convention and plan to finish this week if possible. I had a brilliant idea while shopping last week to make each of my girls/husbands and grand kids an apron for Christmas. I purchased fabric for 5 of the 8 I need to make and got 4 stitched up yesterday.

It has been fun to make the little aprons for the grand kids and to pick out the fabrics to suit everyones likes. So far the fabrics have chickens, horses, butterflies, sports balls, and Nebraska Cornhusker themes on the fabric. Need to find John Deer fabric for one of my son in laws yet, something wild and bright looking for one daughter and something a 3 yr old boy might like yet.

They go together pretty fast as I am making them one layer and turning the edges under like the one I showed before.

The Christmas party we hosted for my club on Sunday night turned out fun. It is always nice to get together with friends. Everyone brought their husbands along so the guys had a chance to visit too.

The best part about having a Christmas party at our house so early in December is that it forces me to get all my decorating done early. We can have more time to see and enjoy the decorations that are only out once a year. If it weren't for the party I would be decorating for several weeks only to have to put them away shortly afterwards.

The worst part about having a party at my house is the cleaning! I spent several days cleaning the house for company last week. My house doesn't look bad but I always feel I have to put extra effort into cleaning and putting the extra clutter away if I know I am having guests and that takes time. Feels nice now that it is all done but it is work and the older I get the longer it takes me.

We got just a few flurries of snow last night but the wind is blowing awfully hard today. Started around midnight and has kept it up. There is a prediction of some snow today but sure hope that the weather man/woman is wrong! I don't like snow with strong winds as we know it makes piles and piles of snow in places we don't want it. It can close roads, drifts into the yard and cow lots. I usually deal with the sidewalks when John is dealing with all the rest of the snow in the driveway and yards so I get more of a physical workout than he does in the tractor. He does get his share of scooping around the other barns and shops though. Thought our long sidewalk was wonderful when we put it in but not so much when I have to scoop the whole thing. Maybe we will be lucky and not get any or much - keep your fingers crossed!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

North Woods Noel

North Woods Noel ................ 11 1/2" x 12"

Here is another of the Santa wall hangings that I hang each December. I purchased this quilt at the 2001 miniature quilt auction our local quilt guild held. It was made by a member of my quilt guild and I was lucky enough to have the highest bid so it came home to live with me.

I love the branch she used as a hanger and so far have not broken any of it off in storage over the years since I purchased it. P.S. fused the design onto the background then did the buttonhole stitch around the different pieces. She does such nice hand quilting and this piece is no exception. Not that many people do hand quilting anymore so it is a treat to have a piece done by hand.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Santa I & Santa II Wallhangings

Santa I............12" x 15"............Santa II
I made these simple wall hangings in 1993. They are both fused onto the background fabric. The red and green one (Santa I) has hand worked buttonhole stitch around the different pieces. The blue (Santa II) is just marked with fake stitches done with a Pigma Pen.

The year I made these I taught a quick mini workshop at our guild on how to use the fusible to do quick quilts. Not everyone at that time was aware of the products to use and how to do it. Was a simple workshop and everyone took home a Santa to work into quilt of some kind. I made several of these and gave all but two away.
The checked border on Santa I is pieced 1/2" squares. I hand quilted this wall hanging. Santa II is machine quilted.

I am still trying to find places to put all my Christmas decorations. I have way too many. Some I have purchased but a lot were gifts or came from my parents or in-laws decorations that were divided up between all the kids.

It is supposed to be up in the 50s today so hope to get the outside lights and decorations up today too. Missed a nice day last week and didn't want to do it in the extreme cold and windy weather we have had since.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Kaleidoscope Christmas

This Christmas quilt was made in 1992 and I use it mostly as a table topper but do have the sleeves attached in case I want to hang it on a wall. I started it in a class taught by Brenda Groelz many years ago at our guild. We were to purchase 7 pillow panels, stacked 6 of the panels then cut them in the kaleidoscope design then sewed the 6 sections that were alike back together. Very similar to the stack and whack patterns of today. The center block is the 7th uncut panel.
Point to point measurement is 36"

The small borders around each block came from the original pillow panel fabric as did the light colored holly outside border. I machine quilted this piece and have used it somewhere in my home at Christmas time since then.

Two friends and I went to a tour of homes yesterday that the my daughter's church sponsored. The tour included only 3 homes, but wow, what homes they were.

One was right along the Platte river with views of the river from several rooms in the house. One house was built near a lake and the other just behind it. All three large homes were decorated for Christmas and were absolutely beautiful. Not one of the homes had a sewing room though. Our opinion was we would have taken over the balcony in the really large home on the river for our sewing studio as it had a nice view of the river and was very light and cheery and we would have found a nice room in each of the other homes for a sewing space too. It is hard to imagine not having a sewing space in your home as it is a necessity for us. They all had the steam rooms, hot tubs, multiple bathrooms and many TVs but no dedicated sewing rooms that we could see anyway - so sad.

We all agreed the homes were lovely but we would have to definitely make some changes if we lived in any of them.

Was a nice afternoon spent with friends topped off with a quick trip to JoAnns and Dairy Queen for a Blizzard for the trip home.



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