Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Preparing for Christmas....Again

Since all of our Christmas celebrations were canceled last weekend because of the monster snow storm we are going to try again. Will see my mother and extended family on New Years day then will have the girls and their families here over the weekend. We will have to wait until after the first of the year for a get together with John's sister and her family.

We are going to do something fun with the gifts for the grandkids this year. I purchased a few small things for the kids and they will have to find things around the house to get a gift. We have made up the questions and the items they will have to look for and will have them work in teams, rotating the kids to be in different teams each time so the 4 yr. old won't be left out.

To find the larger gift we have for them we have written a series of clues to take them all over the house to find their gifts. The hardest part for us was making each clue a rhyme. The clues will take them to all parts of the house, upstairs and down.

Here are a few of my favorites; for the 4 yr. old...We use rugs in the bathrooms to dry our feet, your clue is under one so please be neat. (clue will be under one of the bathroom rugs) For the big brother...Find what Harry Potter is protecting, and you will find the first clue clue you are expecting. (clue is in Harry Potter video case) For one of the girls....For your next clue we have chosen, to hide it where the ice cream is frozen. (clue in one of the freezers) For the older girl...Look at the many beds so small, your clue will be close to one of them near the west wall. (clue will be near one of my doll beds)

When our girls were in grade school we used to do this and they had more fun following the clues to find their gift so we decided to try it with the grandkids. John and I can't wait as I think it will be so much fun for them too.

The only problem I foresee is getting the clues hidden without them seeing. We may have to have them go to one of the bedrooms where we are not hiding clues and sing Jingle Bells to mask the sound of us walking around hiding the clues.

Will let you know how it all turns out. Keep your fingers crossed we don't have any more snow, wind or any nasty weather of any sort.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Third Storm Day

Today was the third day of the Christmas blizzard here. The wind did go down some at times but by this afternoon we had more snow coming down and the wind picked up for a little while. I bundled up and went outside for the first time in 3 days and took some photos after lunch.

This first photo is a view east towards the apple tree showing the large 5 foot drift across the driveway. You can see how the wind blew all the snow off some places and drifted large drifts in other places.

John used the large snow blower on the back of the tractor to break through the drift. He started cleaning snow in the morning but quit when the wind came up and everything started drifting shut again.

North west corner of our house - the drift stayed about 3 feet away from the house but the entire yard west and north of the house was filled with snow. The fir and spruce trees had a drift in front of each of them that were about 5 feet tall and the rest of the yard had at least 2 feet of snow in it. Those small drifts looked like pointed igloos in a row.

OK, here is a view of the monster drift outside my sewing room. The black thing next to the house is the air conditioning unit that is about 3 1/2 feet tall to give you some idea of size.

The monster drift ended a few feet from the garage wall with all kinds of points of snow. My dead flower stalks are still in the flower bed next to the garage but are now flat. I should have had all of my flower beds cleaned up this fall but just didn't get it done.

Braving the cold wind and blowing snow in my face I walked through the drifts to the highway and took the next two photos of the snow in our back yard. It really filled the yard but if you would look across the road and behind the house the fields are pretty bare since they were either soybean fields or wheat fields last summer and there is nothing to catch the snow. The young windbreak trees are now about 7 feet tall and are starting to slow down the wind but it is too bad the snow blew right between them then stopped in our yard.

Now I am south of the house, south of our Quonset. The snow really filled in and drifted here too. That drift on the left is about 8 feet tall.

Our lighted windmill didn't get snow under it but the horse trailer has a large one beside it. The strong winds blew the star a quarter of the way around the windmill then it did something to the lights too as they are not on at all now.

Here is our monster drift I have taken so many photos of - notice the photo I posted yesterday as the plant hanger with the bunnies on top was showing but by this morning they are no where to be seen and have been covered up with an even larger drift.

Looking north from my sewing room window - notice all the smaller (5 feet) drifts by each tree.

This afternoon John used the skid steer loader to try to pile more snow on the piles to get it out of the way. There are drifts in the lot and the calves have one beside the hay trailer. They were standing on the drift and they could reach over and eventually some climbed inside. John did get the snow cleared around the fence so they could not walk over the fence tonight plus got the snow away from the feeder too.

Think the storm is over, I hope, I hope. The weather people say we still could get another inch or two but think the strong winds will be gone for good.

My brother is hoping to get out to see my mother tomorrow as he will have to drive back to Kansas City on Monday to catch his flight on Tuesday. We have had to postpone our celebration with our kids, grandkids, my mother, brothers and sisters, and John's sister and her family - everyone. Basically we are still waiting for Christmas - glad everyone is safe but will be excited to get together and give them all a hug.


Friday, December 25, 2009

The Snow Storm Continues

Well it is Christmas Day 2009 and we have watched the blizzard continue all day. The strong winds blew all night so the drifting in the yard and around the house was building up all night. This afternoon the wind came up even stronger with gusts up to 50 mph and more snow so the visibility was even less. Took this video about noon today before it got quite so bad.

The large drift of snow behind the house near my sewing room had melted and shrunk last week to about 3 feet tall but the last two days it has drifted to taller than it was before. To give you a little perspective the thing sticking up from the middle of the drift is a plant hanger thing that is a little over 6" tall and the drift is at least a foot taller than it is.

John tried to clear some of the driveway out with the tractor and front end loader this morning but gave up as it was drifting shut as fast as he was clearing it. This is the tractor his friend and he went to Hastings to get on Wed. when the roads were so icy. It was up there to be fixed and was done Wed. am so John decided to get it as he knew that would be his only chance with this storm moving in. He is so glad it is home but until the wind stops blowing he really can't do any clearing of the snow.

This is the apple tree across the driveway from the house. This storm has grown in intensity all day and original predictions were for it to be over today but now they say it might be tomorrow when the winds die down. I keep saying all our snow should be blown clear to Oklahoma by now!

This will certainly be a Christmas to remember. We were supposed to be spending the day with my mom, another brother, and another sister today and tomorrow our kids and grandkids were supposed to come for our Christmas together and now it will be held maybe next weekend. You do learn that if you live here in the Central United States, especially if you live in the country, that in the winter you have to be real flexible and things can change quickly at times because of the weather.

Our daughter and her family that live about 40 minutes north of us is spending the night at her in-laws. They drove two large tractors from their house towards the in-laws so they could check on their cows and calves and got one of them stuck in the middle of the road about a half a mile from their destination. They did get it out but had to find another way for the tractor that S was driving as she couldn't get through. She had to find a driveway into a field and go along the edge of the field. She said that she could not see but a foot or two in front of the tractor at that point. It took them over an hour to get from their home to the in-laws and they only live between 3 and 4 miles apart.

My brother is still here and will be for at least most of tomorrow until we are assured that it is safe for him to drive to our mothers. We sat at the table and watched the snow and blowing snow for quite some time today. It was kind of like watching a fire in a fireplace, rather mesmerizing. Thank goodness for a nice warm home, good air tight windows, plenty of food and electricity that so far has stayed on.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and have a wonderful time where ever you are and how ever you celebrate.

Wanted to share what the lights on our windmill look like so shot this video the other night. (Please ignore my goofy sounding voice.) The windmill is about 35" tall to give you an idea of the size. John extends the base of the windmill with boards and attaches the strings of lights to ropes then uses bungee cords to attach them to the top of the windmill and to the nails in the boards at the bottom. The lights really show up a long distance away along the highway. The lights are on a timer switch so they come on at 5 pm until 1 am then come on again at 5 am until 8 am. so a lot of people see them going to and from work. We didn't get the lights up until last Friday and have had people asking if we were going to do it this year and that they missed seeing them.

We are in the midst of a nasty winter storm here this week. One of my brothers flew into Kansas City then drove to our house on Tuesday and intended to drive to central Nebraska on Wed. to see my mother, brother and another sister. Because of all the ice and nasty weather he has stayed here. Today it is blowing snow and there is still patchy ice on the highway. We are lucky to get such a nice visit from him but my Mother is anxious to see him too. Maybe he will drive out to our mom's tomorrow but it all depends on the weather. Think it still may be bad tomorrow too so he may be here another day.

It is a good thing he doesn't have to fly back until Tuesday so will make it out there to see the rest of the family I'm sure. John and I will try to go out Monday to see everyone since tomorrow will be not good with making sure the cattle are ok, etc. Our kids should arrive Sat. night and will stay over through Sunday. Can't wait to see them all.

Sorry I tend to ramble on......Until Later,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Look closely at this photo - see the mistake? I didn't notice the mistake in the weaving until after I posted the photo. It will stay the way it is and I will not fix it but thought it was interesting that I have looked at this many times and didn't see it. The same pattern is made for the other side of the bag and what a coincidence that I photographed this side. Would never have seen it otherwise.

Now look closely at the photo below where the arrow is pointing. See that white bead...there should be a blue bead in that position.

The Herringbone Stitch pattern really shows up on this close up view doesn't it? It is not a hard pattern to stitch but I prefer the Peyote stitch. The thing with this stitch is that the stitches have to be put down in pairs and this pattern has an odd number of beads in it so the outside rows on the sides are not the same. One side has 2 rows of blue beads and the other has 3.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Star and Tulip Amulet Bag

Remember me telling you about the beading class I took in Grand Island this fall? Well, I finally got the Star and Tulip amulet bag finished as of last night. I had the bag part done right after the class but wasn't sure how to attach the neck strap or the fringe until we had our friends day here last Friday.

The class I took was on learning how to do the herringbone stitch while making this bag. It is 2 1/4" wide by 2 1/2" long with 2" fringe.

It will be so much fun to wear - not sure what I have that will look good with it right now. Oooo...maybe that means I need to go shopping for a shirt to go with it!

This beading stuff is really fun but I need to get back to sewing my started quilts (UFOs) one of these days. I have the Scrapaholic quilt needing borders, the Bonnie Hunter mystery to complete, my miniature flower basket quilt needing to have the applique finished then completed. There are a couple of basted quilts in my closet needing to be machine quilted and the miniature flower garden quilt that I have partially hand quilted....probably more projects partially done too but can't think of them right now.

You know maybe it is good to have several projects going at the same time. Don't know about you but I get bored doing the same thing day after day so maybe that is why I jump from project to project. I must remember to finish some of them though!

Here's wishing you well as Christmas draws near. Don't get too frazzled with all the preparations and take time to enjoy your friends and family. Time has a way of slipping by so quickly.


Best Friends

I have the best friends - you all probably do to. My friend Shirley crocheted this wonderful star ornament for me. It is about 5" across and is starched stiff. It is so pretty hanging on my Christmas tree.

Janet was busy and made these cute things for my purse. The one on the top is a tissue holder and the one on the bottom is a little folding money purse or card holder. They will be so much fun to use.

I made each of the three gals (showed Fays beaded spools in an earlier post.) a beaded bead like the twisted one I made my mother but in other colors of beads. I did forget to take photos of them before I gave them away though.

Got my Christmas letter sent to part of our list - the ones I attach it to an email. That is so easy and so fast, besides saving on postage costs. I still have to mail the rest in the next day or two but need to get more printer ink first. I always try to keep printer ink on hand but didn't get it replaced the last time I used what I had in the cupboard. Have never been this late sending my Christmas greetings but guess they will be read no matter when they arrive.

Still have the two pillowcases to make yet for my sister's grandchildren. I got the fabric washed last night so it won't take long once I get it all pressed and cut out.

My brother is coming here tomorrow. He will be flying into Kansas City and then will have a 4 1/2 to 5 hr. drive from the airport to here. He plans to drive to our home town to see our mother and other relatives on Wed. but he may be snowed in here for a day or so though as a snow storm is predicted for Nebraska Tuesday night and Wed. John and I plan to drive out to be with the family on Christmas day so hope for good weather that day too for us and everyone traveling.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beaded Gifts

Yesterday was a most wonderful day. Three of my good friends that I room with each year at QuiltNebraska Convention met here at my house for a day of visiting, having lunch and beading. We try to get together for our birthdays and do something fun. We used to meet and go shopping and have long lunches but anymore we would rather just get together and visit. We met at Janet's store Quilter's Delight in Holdrege for my birthday in September and Fay taught us how to do bead weaving.

Yesterday I invited them all here to celebrate Janet's birthday. We again worked on beading projects and had a great time. I took photos of the beaded gifts that Fay had made. These first three were Christmas gifts to Janet, Shirley and me. The photos don't really do the ornaments justice as they are all beaded around antique wooden spools and so tiny. They are just so cute! The first one is Janet's and has cardinals on it. The second has angels and belongs to Shirley and the one on the far right is the one Fay gave to me and has a frog on it. The backside has bees flying above the water. Like I said before - cute, cute, cute!!!

She also showed us others she had made for other gifts she plans to give. The one on the left is Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and the one on the right is bells.

Left has a snowman and the right one is a Christmas tree.

Here are the last two - another Holy Family and a poinsettia.

Each of the spools has a little charm hanging from the bottom and has a ribbon hanger. Homemade gifts are the very best.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Pillowcases

Spent the day making pillowcases for our 4 grandchildren for Christmas. It was so much fun to choose fabrics for the different children. One little girl likes anything with horses, a preschool boy is in love with the movie Cars, race cars for the little older boy and pink leopard print for the oldest girl.

These pillowcases were really fast and easy to make. I used the method described in the YouTube video posted below. (I hope it gets posted OK as I have not done this before.) Anyway back to the pillowcase instructions - had never thought of putting a pillowcase together this way before. It was quicker than any I have ever done before and the seams are all enclosed so now there will not be any raveling either. Need to get fabric for two more for nieces and nephews and make them yet. I forgot about them when I was getting fabric for my grandkids so will pick up something when I get to Grand Island on Wednesday.

I made pillowcases for the 3 older grandchildren several years ago and they used them all the time. The little one wasn't born when I made them last time so am excited for him to have a pillowcase made especially for him. I am requesting that all the kids bring their own pillows when they come so after they open them they can use them that night....how much fun will that be!

OK - here goes, keep your fingers crossed that the YouTube video will post below.....

Until Later,

Half Square Triangles - Another Method

Warning....lots of photos to illustrate this method for making half square triangles. This is the method Bonnie Hunter describes in step 2 of her Carolina Christmas Mystery.

First step - press 2 1/2" strips of light and dark together. Pressing two fabrics together before cutting or sewing makes them sort of stick together.

Bonnie uses the Easy Angle ruler for the cutting but I am using the Omnigrid ruler below and it is working great. Have to admit I have never used this ruler before - I won a complete set of Omnigrid rulers years ago for a miniature quilt I entered in a magazine contest. Wonderful prize but got rulers I didn't know what to do with so it is nice to learn how to use them.

To use this ruler you first need to square off one end of the fabric strips you pressed together.

First angle cut - do remember I am left handed so you would cut from the other end if you are right handed. Look at the placement of the ruler, the 2" line is along the bottom of the strip and the straight edge is along the cut end. (Am using 2" line as the finished block is to be 2" square)

Cut along the angled edge of the ruler and you get one set of triangles ready to stitch.

Flip the ruler over lining up the 2" line along the upper edge of the strip and cut along the straight edge of the ruler.

Now two triangle units are ready to stitch. Notice one of the tips is missing from the triangles - it is supposed to be this way.

I have found that if I stitch from the point to the other end of the triangle I have better luck. When I stitched some from the opposite direction I had trouble with the seam wanting to get too narrow as the point went under the presser foot and I had to restitch it to get the 1/4" seam.

Press the units flat first to set the seams. I set the seams of anything I sew before opening as it seems to make opening and pressing easier for some reason.

Press the triangle squares open like you do using any other method of making them.

Pressed unit all done.

Clip off the one dog ear to complete the unit.

So far this method has worked very well....will keep plugging along as I don't have time to sit long at a time to sew these days but a little at a time and soon I will have all the units finished.

There is no way I can keep up with the steps for this mystery as they are published but am working at my own speed. So far I am enjoying the process and anxious to see what the quilt will look like when it is done. I will not peek at the finished quilt if I can help it until I am to that point as I know it will be published before I am to that step.

Happy, happy quilting,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Carolina Christmas - Step 1

The strips for step one are cut - 2 1/2" wide of cream and gold. As you can see I have some stitched and an unruly pile waiting to be paired up. See Elaine, it didn't stay clean too long.

Here is an even closer look at the jumbled pile.

I put my rotating mat on the top of my pressing surface so I don't have to bend over to cut. These strip sets had to be cross cut into 2 1/2" slices....192 of them.

Decided I had better sew when I can so I don't get too behind on the steps to this mystery. I am printing off the steps as they come out so I can have it handy to read as I stitch. Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville the creator of the Carolina Christmas mystery has lots of hints in her instructions so don't want to miss out on any of them.

Happy Quilting,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow and Blowing Snow

Nebraska got hit with a snow storm yesterday that will definitely qualify as a blizzard. It snowed all day with some wind but not strong winds until after dark last night when the wind just roared. The snow was drifted in places pretty high and other places were blown free of all snow.

First off I want you to know all of these photos were taken from the comfort of my house so some may have smudges or views through the screens so please take that in consideration when looking at them. It was 0 degrees F. this morning and the wind chill temp. was supposed to be -24 degrees F. and this girl is not crazy enough to go outside just to get photos of the snow in conditions like this. Now at noon the wind has gone down a little but up until now it was still blowing the snow and re-drifting the places that John had cleared with the tractor. The sun is shining so it looks nice even though it is frigid out there.

This first photo shows the front of the garage - notice no snow on part of the parking pad but there is a 3 foot drift right in front of the entire two car garage. John had to open one of the big garage doors and climb over/through the drift to get out as the other two back doors were blocked with large drifts.

This next photo shows our deck - the entire thing is covered with a 3-4 foot drift that will have to be hand shoveled off. Too bad the snow blower can't get up there.

Ok, now for the back (west side) of our house. The pointy drift in front of my sewing room window is really tall and is probably about 7 feet at the tip. It started at the north side of the house, wrapped around the house and continues through my garden and flower bed.

Another photo of the same drift - this time I was standing at the window of my sewing room. That is the 3 foot air conditioning unit on the left side of the photo.

We have an L shaped house with the garage and back hall on the short part of the L so took this photo looking straight north from the north hall door. The drift doesn't look so big from this angle does it?

Looking north west from my sewing room window. The windbreak trees we planted about 5 years ago are starting to catch snow. Will be nice in a few years to have them be taller and more dense to keep more of the snow away from the house.

Ok, now I am looking out my living room towards the south. See how the wind blew the snow off the front sidewalk. Sunday we had snow too and John had used the snow blower so you can tell where it left a ridge. Yesterday there was probably a foot of snow on the sidewalk but during the night it blew it away.

Last photo - this is looking east-south east at the driveway to our yard/farm. There were several small drifts John had to clear out then this big one that was 3-4 feet high. It almost covered the split rail fence around the lawn.

John was out all morning in the tractor clearing snow drifts and taking care of the cattle. Yesterday they were across the road from home in a corn stalk field. (Cattle are fenced in the harvested fields and they clean up the dropped corn. We haul water to them in the various fields and they get moved to a new field every few weeks.)

We had pickups with the flashers on to warn traffic as we moved them across the highway to the lots here yesterday morning as the visibility was low due to the snow falling. John had the tractor and a bale of hay to get them to follow him. Only one car came while the 100 cows and 100 calves ran across. The older cows remember and lead the younger ones and they knew it would be better over here than where they were. Cattle have a tendency to drift with blizzards and once they break out or walk over the fences covered by drifts they can go miles with a storm so we wanted to get them in more secure pens plus John can feed them here and we don't have to haul water as they can drink out of the tank.



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