Friday, December 28, 2012

End of the Road

I'm not even sure what to say except WOW, we did it! It's been quite the learning experience in more than just FMQ. I definitely learned I'm not good with deadlines... or feathers :)

I almost walked away from the final challenge, but pulled it together and did a bonus to have the full twelve. I found it wasn't about winning a prize, it was about making a commitment to myself and finishing it. 
Some of them are horrid and some of them I'm proud of, but I learned something from every one of them and made some friends along the way, it's been a good journey. 

Of course I can't thank SewCalGal enough for this, she gave up a huge piece of her time to put this all together, she's a very special person and deserves a standing ovation if she could only see us all.

Thanks to all of the people who took the time to write and video the challenges, again special people who stepped up to help us all.

I'm a little sad and a little glad, but mostly proud,

FMQ Challenge Bonus

I have to admit that when I saw the final challenge posted at SewCalGal's for the Free-Motion Quilting Challenge the feathers sent me running all the way back to the August bonus challenge
If you read my "A Christmas Tale" you know that December is a crazy month for me and truthfully feathers and I haven't become friends yet. 

The August bonus was one I wanted to do, it's by Susan Brubaker Knapp and she talks about finding patterns and designs in the environment around us. I like that idea a lot. 

I used this photo
and here's my finish
I'm pretty happy with the results and now I'm seeing designs in everything :)
Thanks so much to Susan for opening my eyes and of course thanks to SewCalGal for all she does for us.
Later gators,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Christmas Tale

The Christmas Party over at SewCalGal's is in full swing, you all are invited, so I hope you'll stop in grab a cup of egg nog or hot cocoa, read some Christmas stories, traditions and meet the other guests.

So many of my Christmas memories are all wrapped up in this man.

I'd like you to meet Ray Albury, known to many of the people here as Santa Ray. Years before I met him, Ray heard of a family who were having a hard year, so he bought gifts for the children, some food and a Christmas tree and secretly delivered all of his goodies. The following year there were 8 families and of course it grew each year. Ray reached out to the community for help and "Ray's Kids" was born. 

I met him when I was looking for something to teach my daughter about volunteering. We went with a small group and wrapped presents, my daughter's love of volunteering started and I met the man who truly changed my Christmas's forever. 

We became such close friends and I became his "head elf" a title he bestowed on me with a lot of laughter. By Christmas Eve exhaustion was a way of life for me and then here come the elves, literally with bells on, they'd be over the top happy and singing, yes singing, it was no secret that the elves made me crazy and I was cranky.

Santa Ray and the elves would leave to deliver the presents and I would go to an annual party, phone in hand, ready to dash off for whatever Christmas emergency happened, there were lots.

My favorite memories:
The children

The parents

Not elves :)

The year Ray was in the hospital and we started off the season from his hospital bed, the nurses would sneak us out to the roof so we could use our cell phones.

The wheelchair races in the hospital that same year, we brought a lot of joy and laughter to the hospital that year.

The story Ray told people about me being his long lost daughter (which would horrify my mother). He did that so the nurses could tell me his progress which they couldn't do if I wasn't family. The Albury's are one of the founding families here in the Keys and lots of people still think I'm an illegitimate Albury.

The Christmas after Hurricane Andrew when we helped almost 400 children, yes we are impressive.

The community wrapping parties which often were full of people we had helped, doing what they could to help others.  

The Christmas (Ray's last) when we talked a man into playing Santa, he had an abusive childhood and hated Christmas, after meeting all the children and families he cried and thanked us, WE GAVE HIM CHRISTMAS.

The year Senator Graham spent his last work day delivering gifts with us, he was amazing, it wasn't about him it was about the families, no media was allowed, to protect the privacy of the families. 

My family has had Christmas trees without decorations or just lights some years. One Christmas Eve, I came running in to change clothes and found the whole house decorated including the tree. I sat on the floor and cried.

My first Christmas without Ray, I could talk to about 3 families before I had to sit and cry, calm down and call more, the stories were so sad, people were so proud and all they would ask for was shoes. Shoes made me cry.

The laughter

The tears

Still not elves :)

One more little story, we visited every family before they were on our list (greed happens). One house the children were home alone with a teenage sibling and the parents arrived drunk while we were leaving. I said to Ray "well we're not going to help them" and he said "don't you think those children have a bad enough life without us turning our backs on them?"  Of course they made the list.
Christmas isn't about presents, but for the children it is, they don't understand about the economy or unemployment. Santa is magic and Christmas to me is about keeping the magic alive for the children. 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Party! Party! Party!

We all know that SewCalGal throws the best parties and on Sunday she's throwing a big one. There's an actual party in San Diego if you're in the area (I won't be) and there's a linky party on her blog.
All you need to do is write a blog post with a Christmas theme and link up on Sunday Dec. 9. What Christmas projects are you working on?, do you have favorite family traditions?, do you have a favorite memory of a past holiday?, decorating your house? let's see it. Anything goes that is Holiday related. 

This party is being thrown for a really good cause, one that's very close to SewCalGal's heart and really should be for all of us. Operation Homefront (OH) provides financial aid and other services to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. If you go to their web page you'll read stories that will break your heart but give you hope. I'm not going to talk about what these men and women have given to this country, we all know.

So, how about in the spirit of the season, we all do something good and have a little fun. There are lots of door prizes and a raffle. One little dollar gets you a ticket, 10 dollars gets you a golden ticket (shiny) and the money goes to OH. Even if you can't donate, please join in and spread the word. You can read all about it here and here.

Later gators,

Friday, November 30, 2012

Help! Questions for a New Adventure

If you read my blog, chances are you know these two and how much I adore them.

That's Brady Bug and Maya Grace better known here as the Terrible Twins, my two rescues.
Yesterday I received an email from a rescue group on the mainland asking me if I was interested in being a vendor at a craft show they are holding. Down here I donate quilts for auction and bake dog biscuits  but I've never been a vendor. 

But, how could I say no? Look at those faces wondering if I'll help others like them for the holidays.

So in my usual seat of my pants style I said of course I'll be there. Here's the problems, I have no idea what I'm doing, I'll take some baby quilts and wall hangings, stockings with machine embroidery on them and candles. I make candles for gifts so that's easy and I can have the embroidery machine running while I do other things. 

They supply a 60" round table so how do I do displays? I will have walls behind me (corner) so I can hang the quilts, but on what?
What do I need to take that I will never think of? I know to take change, do I need bags and where would I get them? 

Oh, did I mention that it's a week from tomorrow? LOL. I need your knowledge and advice. Even if you've never done this, what do you think I'll need, any ideas are appreciated. 

I probably should be looking for help saying No, but my heart led the way on this one and really it's an adventure, it's on the mainland so if I fall on my face, who cares? I'll probably meet some amazing, crazy people just like me. 

Look how happy it made Maya.

If you'd like to know Maya and Brady's stories it's here:

Later gators,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Motion Quilting Challenge November

November's Free Motion Challenge at SewCalGal's is by Sarah Vedeler, yeah, don't you love her style and the quilts she designs?
Her choice of free motion is one of my favorite "go to" designs, spirals, I really like the motion they give a quilt especially pinwheels.

That said, this month's challenge should have been a piece of cake, or pie this time of year, but nooo, I've never done them in a row like that, it was difficult and I think I concentrated too much on trying to make them perfect.

I wanted to do a pretty design that I've seen other people doing, it would draw your eye away from the imperfections :), but my machine is giving me fits, lots of tension problems. In about a week his chariot (van) will appear in the driveway and whisk him away for a week in the spa, let's hope he comes back less grumpy, I've been whispering to him about all of the new machines coming out and how good I've been this year, I think it's making him more ornery, he takes after me. 

Later gators,

Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas Quilt Show 2012

It's that wonderful time of year for the Christmas Quilt Show. This year it's being hosted by Michele at Quilting Tutorials

I call this Sunset Frolic and it's inspired by a pieced quilt I saw in a magazine years ago when I first started thinking about quilting. 

As a child I always thought the North Pole had to be the best place on earth, I mean come on, flying reindeer, singing elves making toys, Santa, who has to be the best boss ever, so here's my idea of what sunset at the North Pole looks like.

After piecing the batiks for the sky, I appliqued the reindeer and trees, then made the lace snowflakes to add a little dimension.

I free motion quilted more snowflakes scattered all over

The reindeer have scarves added (it's cold up there) and each scarf has a different pattern sewn on to it.

Santa's sleigh is parked to the side ready to be loaded on the big night.

This quilt was a lot of fun to make and decorate, I got to be creative with my free motion quilting and now I have one more wall hanging for Christmas decorating. 

Thanks so much to Michele for hosting this awesome show. You can link up until Nov. 30th. and jump over anytime to see lots of beauty and inspiration, grab a cup of hot cocoa before you go and you have a great way to unwind this time of year.

Later gators,

Monday, November 12, 2012

35 Years! How Did That Happen?

He kept asking,
I kept saying no.
Then one night he asked again and I said "yes, if we all wear hats",
there was wine involved.

Everyone expected a barefoot beach wedding, we got married in a church for our parents and we all wore hats.
The pictures have turned sepia without Photoshopping.

I love my little brother's face in this picture, his rebel sister does good.

10 years later here's my favorite picture of the two of us, because it's our first picture of the three of us :)

35 years with my best friend, my love, my partner. Ups and downs we held hands through it all. 
I love you David.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Check This Out

The FMQ Challenge at SewCalGal's for September left me fascinated with stencils, so I took advantage of the sale she offered and ordered a bunch and made a Carpenter's Star quilt just for them. 

I used two different stencils on the open white blocks.

I used half of the larger stencil for the triangle edges.

I just drew the corners, copying the larger stencil since it wouldn't fit no matter how I turned it, it's not as uniform as the stencil, but I'm happy with it. I darkened this picture so it was easier to see, of course I noticed the dog hair after taking the picture. The terrible twins are always involved in picture taking.

For the colored parts of the stars I just used a free motion leaves and vines all over pattern. I've seen beautiful feathers in those places but I wouldn't let myself by a feather stencil since I am going to conquer them in free motion. 

I'm amazingly proud of how this turned out, even though a little voice in my head says I cheated, but those voices also want me to eat cookies, so I ignore them :).

Later gators,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Foto Finish Birds

Todays optional theme for Foto Finish at Cat Patches is birds. The hard part for me is picking just one, there are so many beautys out there. This is from one of our annual visits to the zoo.

Gorgeous right? I especially like the one white feather peeking out like his underwear is showing. 

Now fly on over to Cat Patches, look at the beautiful pictures and join in, it's always fun.

Later gators,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New FO for October

Usually when the New FO party at Cat Patches rolls around I get to feel like an overachiever, I have finished quilts to show. Not this month. 
First I made this

After last months FMQ Challenge I became fascinated with stencils so I made this to quilt with stencils, unfortunately it took almost a month for them to arrive, so just a quilt top to show.

Then I needed to make a baby quilt, but when putting the blocks together I didn't like the intensity of the colors for a baby, so it morphed into a twin quilt, which I am seriously procrastinating quilting. 

Then I made the baby quilted I needed with the same fabric, I seemed to have an obsession with this fabric.

Nothing got quilted this month and now I have the hated pile of UFO's. 

I made a ton of Christmas stockings, I like to put candy or small gifts in them. Some will be filled with homemade dog biscuits for the terrible twin's friends. 

I did spend a lot of time on the phone with family and friends in the northeast. David and I both have family who live about 60 miles inland from Atlantic City. All are safe and accounted for, but it's not fun being on the other side watching all of that unfold and yes Mom I know how it feels now. 

Why not hop on over to Cat Patches and check out the other FO's and think about joining in, remember it's all about starting something, you don't have to ever finish it :)

Later gators,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Free Motion Quilting Challenge for Oct.

This months Free-Motion Quilting Challenge over at SewCalGal's is with Teri Lucas, this was a fun if slightly intimidating month. I did mine on cotton, silk sounds beautiful for this but if I had silk I'd be wearing it. Starting out with our names then decorating the entire block around it sounded like fun. 

I love the shell shapes, so fun and even the first attempt looked "not bad". As usual I tried to copy the beautiful example Teri gave us, I need to let myself process all of this, then I can play more and make it my own. I've found that I do that with every month's example, then slowly I see it showing up in my quilting. I did change my thread colors, but they weren't dramatic enough to really show up. 

It did make me wish I had a more exotic and longer name like Carressa or Celestine and I did call my mother to complain, she said to blame my father (Dan) and he wouldn't come to the phone. 
C'est la vie

Later gators,
Dana Carressa Celestine

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side

It's time again for one of the best quilt shows ever, so much inspiration and so many beautiful quilts. A huge "thank you" goes out to Amy for all of her hard work putting this together.

It's always difficult to pick a quilt for this show, but thinking about the story behind a quilt helped me pick this one. 

When I first started on this journey I saw a quilt made of triangles, I had no idea what I was doing and certainly didn't know anything about HST's. 

I cut hundreds of tiny triangles and attempted to sew them together, they were about 1 inch finished size, frustrating and they looked really bad. But, thank goodness for the blogging world, I found a tutorial on HST's and was amazed how easy they are.

After making the requisite pinwheel, this quilt was born. I was and am so proud of it, I loved the dimension and the colors that came from just grabbing scraps, this was my first scrappy quilt too. 

This was one of the first quilts to make me feel like a "real" quilter and it felt pretty good.

Measurements: 36.5" X 36.5"
Quilted By: Me
Best Category: Scrap Quilt, Wall Hanging

Thanks for coming by, I know you have hundreds of other quilts to see, and so do I. 

Later gators,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Foto Finish Orange

The optional theme for Foto Finish at Cat Patches today is Orange. 

This beauty was sitting in a little beam of sunlight which lit the picture perfectly. Really lucky shot.

We're off to the mainland today to have a little fun, David's birthday is coming, so this is short and sweet.

Now fly on over to Cat Patches to see the other orange pictures.

Later gators,

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Block Done

To keep myself honest with these dog blocks, I promised myself I would post about them, if you don't see one for a while I expect someone to speak up. 

Here's the finished block

I think it's cute and I did learn a lot already, once I got past my fears, it's not so hard. Did you know that invisible thread really is invisible? especially when you're hand sewing with it? That's out, I'm getting a bunch of thread to match, I figured out what I'm going to ignore in the directions :), I wish I had used two browns for the big dog so his head wouldn't get lost in his body and I need to find a better paint for the eyes. When I ironed the block the white mostly came off (this is a before ironing picture). Any suggestions would be appreciated. And if you have ideas for quilting when I'm done, I'd love to hear them, please. 

I'm way behind in reading blogs and at this point I'm just cruising through and waiting for a picture to grab my attention (yes, I am very much: ohhhh shiny). This morning I read Barbara's stash report which I personally love. The numbers seem so big to me and I can't even imagine keeping those kind of records. I have a huge stash, (don't ask, I won't tell) and I've been pretty much trying to work it down. Last time I was at Joann's talking to a woman in line at the cutting table, I said I was working off of my stash and she said, nose very much in the air "working from stash makes everything look the same". Uh-oh. So I shopped on line.

There's one more big one coming. In my defense I don't want everything looking the same like the lady b*t*h said.  And if I was doing a stash report I wouldn't have to report these because they're just tiny little fat quarters, right? 

Later gators,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Foto Finish - Leaves

The optional theme for Foto Finish at Cat Patches is Leaves. While I expect to see some beautiful pictures of leaves changing with the season, we don't have any of that here.  But before you feel too sorry for me, it's 77 degrees the sun is shining and it's breezy. Just beautiful even without changing leaves. So here's mine

That's a rubber tree in my backyard, yes they do grow in other places than a Doctor's office. I just love the variegated leaves which start out in that pink shade and turn to a beautiful creme. 

I hope you'll leave here (sorry I couldn't resist) and head on over to Cat Patches to enjoy the pictures and maybe even join in. 

Later gators,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

100 Quilts for Kids

Swim, Bike, Quilt

Last year 100 Quilts for Kids encouraged us to find a local charity to donate our quilts to, someone mentioned a Women's Shelter and I had my charity. The response I received from them was so awesome they will always be my charity of choice for children's quilts. 

I washed and packed up 10 quilts and delivered them yesterday.

The link closes on Oct. 15, so there is a little time if you want to join and donate a quilt. It feels good and makes everyone happy. Funny thing, I wanted to finish just one more quilt and could have sworn I had a dozen to take. This morning I found the other two waiting for me to take pictures of them, so there will be another delivery soon. :)

Later gators,