Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year of the Little Black Dress

I am not that big on New Year's resolutions per say.....but in years past I have been known to start massive stitchery\sewing projects in the week between Christmas and New Year's that I have completed during that coming year.  I need to do that with my Dear Jane Quilt.  I have over half of the top completed.....but there is a lot of work left to do on it.  Since we are coming up on all these 150 anniversary celebrations for the Civil War and the many battles in the coming couple years....I would really like to complete this quilt during these years and be able to commemorate this really dramatic time in American history.  So I am seriously thinking this should be my main project for the year.  But I digress'll hear more about this later I am sure.

A certain sweet Santa's helper left me a small note in my stocking to take a trip to Coldwater Creek. So we traveled to the closest location which is over an hour away....... so don't get there often...this is my go-to store at the moment.  Back to roaming and looking for a pair of black jeans, narrow leg, and most importantly Lycra...... my bestest friend.  The Silver Fox is walking around with me looking for thee pair of black jeans as I stop at various racks.....sidetracked again.   I run across this darling little black dress. 
I touch it.

I pet it.

I swoon.

I didn't try it on, but I wanted to.....I already have a little black dress......did I mention they had it in red too....I love a good red.

I mention to the Silver Fox....I think we should make this the year of the little black dress.  I can't think of the last time we have been somewhere...... where I would wear my little black dress.  So the conversation went something like this...... "we need to change our lives this year, really, so we actually go to places where I could wear my LBD and you (Silver Fox) could be all duded up in your suit."  

He looks very hot in his black suit BTW.....I am pretty sure he nodded back at that is going to be our New Year's Resolution for 2011.  

The Year of the Little Black Dress

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:21

This is one of my cherished Christmas decorations.  My Grandma T. made this for me many years ago.  The shed was made by my dad.  It is a beautiful set, always lighted and located in a place of honor in our home.

Merry Christmas to each one of you who taken time out of your busy lives to read 4 & Fifteen these past 9 months or so.  This has been a new adventure for me and I am still learning about the fascinating world of blogging.  May you find inspiration, encouragement and a spirit of sharing in these postings.  I am especially thankful for those who have taken the time to write to me.  Just know, I ALWAYS reply.  :)  

From our house to yours,
Merry Christmas  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cabin Fever Christmas 2011

I spent a delightful evening with a special group of friends that has become one of my favorite gatherings and I think for all of us during the Christmas season.  Most of us have known each other for 20+ years through quilt classes, stitching guilds & quilting guilds.  Our members have evolved over the years with some leaving and others added, but the majority of us have bonded together through the good, the bad, the beautiful and some very difficult time brings those things into our lives.

 For our Christmas party our hostess makes a wonderful wild rice soup and the rest of us bring either a treat or appetizer.

Back:  Robin, Helene, Anita, Mary, Pat
Middle:  Dee, Karan
Front:  Pam, Sheri
We were missing Tricia, and Chris for the pic.  Tricia came at the beginning, but went to her daughter's Christmas concert and then stopped back later and Chris unfortunately fell and is laid up with a cast....not fun!!!  Know that you were missed.

We used to have Secret Sisters for the whole year and unveil them in December.  But we quit doing that several years ago. And now we just do something fun and little for each other at Christmas.  So I thought you would enjoy seeing the loot I brought home from this evening of fun.  There is a potholder, crocheted dishcloth, tiny clip on flash light, Bunny mac & cheese, hand lotion, decorative jar with candy, M & M's, Rudolph scissors, candy coated popcorn, 2 pairs of holiday socks, snowflake lantern, photo frame ornament, Christmas dish towel, and a giant Christmas pen....that I thought no one should be without...hee hee.

We spent some time remembering all the really beautiful things that we have in our homes that came from the hands of these very creative women.  Each one is an amazing talent and I enjoy the company of everyone of you.
Merry Christmas, Girlfriends!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Books

Can one have too many books?  I think not.....although I am trying to restrain myself as my shelves are bulging.  I have an affinity for Christmas books, old and new.....quilt related books, civil war history, anything Susan Branch, just to name a few.  Susan recently wrote about some of the Christmas books she has collected over the years. 
And I thought what a lovely collection to share this time of year.

What fun to be reading someone else's blog and find you have some of the same things, I noticed right away that Susan also had The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories.  Mine came from my Grandma K.'s bookshelf...she gave it to me years ago.

Here is a collection of old and new titles that have come to live with me....some you might want to try to find for about The Christmas Stove, Lucy's Christmas and Alexander's Christmas  Eve....especially for someone named Lucy or Alex.  :)

Here are some more of the titles for you to peruse....of special note is the one with part of the binding missing.  That is a vintage Hallmark pop-up book of The Night Before Christmas.  We read that to our girls every Christmas Eve before they went to it is well loved and worn.
The Jolly Christmas Postman is a very cute book full of envelopes and letters to tell the story....very fun.

I have a fairly complete collection of Joan Walsh Anglund books.  Her illustrations are just darling and would be a fun collection to look for.  I read this often to my girls when they were small.

Christmas Is Love is another title of Joan Walsh of her small books with a fun photo of my 3 oldest grandchildren back when we only had that has been quite a few years ago.  We took them out that night to look at lights and go see Santa.  It seems a lifetime ago as the oldest in this pic is 15.  :0

Eloise Wilkin is another illustrator who just communicates sweetness.  As this book has been loved on by my girls as well as their own children.  I think I have read this book to all 15 of them.  Miss Kate Anne has pulled this off the shelf every week this month.  This would be another great collection to start for yourself or someone you love.

Under my tree I have it full of vintage toys, books, several nativity sets, Christmas catalogs, games and the like.  Here is a page from a vintage pop up book.

A wooden sleigh full of small vintage Christmas books a midst a few New Year's noise makers and other pieces of eye candy.

Now for a couple of adult selections....this is a collection of short stories from Bess Streeter Aldrich.  She has her roots in Cedar Falls, Iowa and Nebraska, where she wrote many of her works.  Her books are a wonderful slice of a time gone by.

  A Song of Years and A Lantern In Her Hand are my favorite of her books.  They are mainly about her grandparents who settled, lived and are buried in Cedar Falls in the 1800's. You would cherish these books if you enjoy period historical fiction.

And for the quilt lover's and even if you are not, what is not to like about Jennifer Chiaverini and her series based on Elm Creek Quilters.  A delightful set of books revolving around a quilt retreat estate in Pennsylvania and the women that are connected to it, both past and present.  These books are readily available and would be a welcome addition to your own bulging book shelves.  :)

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of my book shelves.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Little Christmas Quilts

Thought you might enjoy seeing a few of my Christmas quilts or the ones that lend themselves to the spirit of Christmas.

The spinning star quilt was a swap with my quilt group......Cabin Fever.  I have been with this group for over 20 years.  To say these women are really good friends is an understatement.  We know each other well.  We each made 12 blocks and then shared them with one another.  Each block is one red star, but when you put the blocks side by side, they make the green stars as a secondary design.....I love these kind of designs they look way more complicated than they are.

I found several small Christmas quilts the other day and decided to swap out my small quilt wall.  Funny thing, the pieces I changed were almost identical in size to swap with.  That would never happen again without  major planning.....I did leave the Bear's Paw at the top, but the rest of them have a Christmas theme or color to them.  A couple were gifts to me and the rest I have done over the years.

This little Santa was done by my friend Betty, who moved to GA over 20 years ago.  I have very fond memories of our families together when our kids were little.  It is a very sweet..... running-stitched primitive Santa. 

This little piece was stitched by my Cabin Fever friend, Pam.....I love these Santa's.....cross stitched and pieced into this little gem with bells on.  :)
A couple more Santa pieces.....the chubby guys are hand appliqued and the other one is a simple block that I have at  times hung with a mini-decorative hanger and tiny clothes pins to display.  Very cute and easy to change out.

This one I hand quilted with metallic thread and wrote out part of the story...... Twas' The Night Before Christmas in the green border.

An early piece of mine done for a quilt challenge probably in the early 1980's.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Cards

The house is pretty much decorated for Christmas.....I am down to the tinkering stage....which pretty much lasts until I pack everything up till next year.  I wanted to share with you some of the things I do with Christmas cards.

As you know I have a hankering for all things vintage and especially paper ephemera.....not so snobby that I exclude modern reproductions.....a lot of bang for you $$ in my book.  In past years I have used the bathroom mirror as my canvas and using plasti-tak......put up my very favorite vintage looking cards and postcards around the outside edge of the mirror in a collage style as a frame.  But since I have a framed mirror in the remodeled bath....that won't work.  So decided to use my collection of flower frogs to display some of them on my window sills.  Let me just say, if you have wide window sills....I am jealous.  Isn't that silly, but I like making little display vignettes, but my "little, teeny, weeny window sills limit that.  Bummer.

The Silver Fox and I have exchanged the most beautiful Christmas cards almost every year and I have saved everyone of those.  So I have a huge stack of them and I enjoy having some of them displayed each year.  The side board in the the dining room with a piece of plate glass cut to fit the top is the perfect spot to show off some  special paper or textile items.  So here you can see some of my favorite cards that we have given and received. Of special note at the bottom of the photo is a horse drawn carriage....a beautiful laser cut look at the other end of the side board.....there is the same card....mirror image.  That year we bought the same card for one another, isn't that a hoot!!!

This is the Longaberger tray that I pretty much keep on my kitchen table year round and again it has a clear protector in it lends itself to more display space and tucked underneath are several more cards from one of us.

Then I have a special affinity for shaped is a sweet little coffee pot from one of my quilt friends that I have in a flower frog and looks like it belongs to Susan Branch.....isn't her artwork, but pretty much looks like her with a tiny little painted birdhouse with a real shingle on the roof....also made by a very talented quilt friend, as a party favor.  Don't you want to be included in that party, where the hostess has gifts for all her guests?  :)

The rest of the Christmas cards go into my gift wrapping basket to be cut up at some point into gift tags for another year.  I used to use decorative scissors to cut out various shapes including some of the sentiments and titles if there was enough white space on them to use as a tag.  But since getting a die cutting machine, they look pretty professional using the many dies to cut various shapes.....very fun and simple to do.

You might want to make up a little gift wrapping basket to keep your supplies in during the month of December, so you aren't wasting time assembling/putting away each time you wrap.  Don't you like my Christmas gift wrap scissors.  A very fun little gift from one of my quilty friends.  Then my fav tape holder for wrapping, which you wear across the back of your hand and it pulls out just the right strip of tape.  I've been known to pick up lots of refills for this puppy during the after Christmas sales.....just a thought.  :)  You can't see it, but there is a ribbon cutter tool in there and then my "bag-o-tags."

Here are the remainder of our cards to each other.

I love this little container made from Christmas cards.  I don't know if this was made by my Grandma K. or her mother.  I am thinking Grandma K., as it was at their house for as long as I can remember.  It is a nice little container with a flip type lid all crocheted together with pearl cotton.  The cards are layered with some clear plastic, which is probably the only reason it has survived.

Just in case you just don't have any vintage looking is a cute Santa to start a collection with or to add to what you already have.  Would be very cute printed out on card stock or a heavy presentation paper and cut out around the shape to display in a flower frog on your window sill.....enjoy!!

Send me a picture.....I like mail.  :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Quiet Thanksgiving.....Not So Much

I know over the last several days I have enjoyed several blogs celebrating their families thanksgiving festivities.  I notice that the guest list usually is pretty much adult heavy with maybe a few children.  I have scrapbook pages showing those Thanksgivings too....they contain naps, crafting and ornament making, football, get the picture.  I am here to share a more realistic Thanksgiving where the children out number the adults in energy, number and bodily functions....yes, you read that right .....I will get to that shortly.

Before we get to the heart of this narrative, I will start by showing our idyllic table, full of pumpkins, pilgrims, vintage wax figures, turkeys and candles.  BTW I have recently been marking our glasses using a rubber band and some kind of label or name tag under it.  I was finding that I didn't want to use my nice glasses any more because we had no good way of keeping track of the glasses over the course of a day.  So I resorted to the solo cups and a sharpie, which we still use on informal occasions.  But this way I can use some of my crystal glassware.  Another thing....these glasses are lead crystal.  You are suppose to wash them by hand, so guess what,  I never used them.  One day I pulled them down off the top shelf, they were dusty and I threw them in the dish washer....Oh My Gosh....they got clean....looked fine...I have been using them for every day ever since.  If they die in the dish washer, they die.

But I digress again.  Because we were short one family and three kids.  I set the big table up for the adults and the smaller table off the kitchen worked for the kids.  Lately we have been feeding the kids first because there are so many of them and then they go off and play while the adult can SIT and eat.  At least that is the plan....

So picture this we had just sat down to eat, I am not sure the "Silver Fox" had taken a bite of food yet, when some how we were made aware of a "problem" in the bathroom.  One of the 6 year-olds had plugged the new "unplugable throne."  And had tried to "fix" no avail.  Let's just say if we had not pulled the carpet this summer when we re-did the would have come up Thanksgiving afternoon 2011.  So at one point the "Silver Fox" is baling and my son-in-law looks like he is going to puke....finally.... thankfully they got it going again and cleaned up. Then we all could resume our festivities.  But honestly you can't make this stuff up......welcome to the wild and wacky world of our lives and family holidays.  I know this will be one story to remember as we look back......and laugh.  Not the perfect holiday, whatever that is, but it is ours.  :)
Playing the game of Life......

The hidden picture books are always a favorite.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

The "fam" will be coming this way on Thanksgiving Day....there will be 23 of us.  So the baking has begun around here.  I have been making batches of rolls every day for the last several days ......they are all wrapped up and in the freezer.  The recipe comes from the "checkered cookbook" pet name for the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.  I would be the 3rd generation to use this book and recipe.  The house smelled so yummy I could have scarfed down a pan of these by myself..... really....   :)  The basic sweet roll dough....which I let the bread machine mix for me.  BTW, my bread making results dramatically improved when I started using a bread machine to mix up the dough....would highly recommend adding that small appliance to any kitchen.  Mine is VERY old and I am expecting it to die any time during an inopportune cooking moment.  

On the Quilt History List that I have belonged to for years, they were discussing turkey quilts recently and if any one had any or had seen any.  I don't think there are too many vintage quilts out there with a turkey on them.....don't think I have ever seen one.  This one is not vintage....I made it several years ago as a model for a quilt shop where I worked at the time.  And really do not remember who the designer of the pattern was.  A fun fall piece with a good message for us all to remember.  I did just google turkey quilt images and a bunch of quilt blocks were displayed.  My favorite was not a pieced block, but an embroidered one....very fun....check it out.

Here is a wonderful piece of clip art to share with you.  Just a reminder to those that might not know, just right click on it and you should get an option to be able to save it to your computer for your personal use.
This would make a very cute place card at your Thanksgiving table.  I would suggest writing your guest's name with a gold metallic paint pen below the verse.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Little Quilts

I am not sure where this week  went, I started this posting earlier in the week and then promptly didn't get back to it until now.  I finished a couple small pieces last week and wanted to share them with you all.
The first piece is a small Halloween piece, that is totally out of leftovers from another quilt.  Right before Halloween while looking for something else, I opened up a small drawer and wha-la, there they were.  
A very simple layout and I quilted it diagonally with a purple sliver thread.  I would have liked to add more sliver to it, but had trouble with breakage going through the seams, even with all the tricks I know with stitching with that kind of thread.

These half square triangles came from cutting off the excess triangles when you add a smaller square to a larger square and stitch from corner to corner as shown.  Then you trim away on the dashed line and press the triangle away from the square.  Probably my fav method to add triangles to a square.  The only problem with this method end up with all of these triangles....if they are very small they go in the pet bedding bag to be recycled there.  But if they are bigger than that I have a hard time tossing them.  :0
Here is the latest challenge quilt on the small quilt list by Kathleen Tracy.  I must say it didn't look like much until I added the borders.

Challenge #13 Four Patch
I added a tiny flange border border first, then I drug out some "old" (probably the '80's) border prints and added those with mitered corners.  I did quilt it by machine using the quilting stitch across the diagonal, making a nice secondary design, before adding the red binding, which really adds the 3rd border.  Very sweet!