Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!!

Today, my buddy and I are celebrating our 49th anniversary....only one to go until the big 50!!!  We are planning to go out to dinner and take in a movie.  That is a big treat for us because we really don't go out very often....a choice we both make...we like to stay home!!  So going out on our anniversary makes it a more special event...and is somewhat traditional!

December 29, 1963
We were married in Illinois at my little Catholic Church.  We had selected this date so my buddy could be home for Christmas as he was in the Air Force...that way his leave was two-fold.  For our honeymoon, we went to St. Louis, Missouri for a couple of nights.  And the hilight of entertainment was a nice dinner and a movie...we saw "The Cardinal"...a big production back then!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Almost a New Year

Almost a new year....and I am ready to say "goodbye" to 2012!!  Really looking forward to a new start!  A new year is always such a terrific opportunity to open up a new chapter; to refresh all those ideas/projects that didn't get done and to create a new slate of things to accomplish!

One of my fellow art quilters Linda Moran..from the blog "Art Quilts from Around the World" starting a "plan" for organizing and planning to help really "get things done"! So I have decided to attempt to follow her plan through the foreseeable future.  I can always use a helping hand on organization!

She first recommends the following steps:

1. Reflect on what I have finished throughout the past year and reflect positively on here goes!

  • Nine 12" blocks for my Creative Crones' Challenges (well, made all but not all completely finished)
  • Art quilt with beading...done and entered in Guild Show...won 2nd place
  • Guild Challenge for show.."100 Years of Girls Scouting"...won top prize.
  • Miniature log cabin for show...won 3rd place.
  • Finished thread painting of tree...entered in prize.
  • Finished "An Unusual 4-Patch"...entered in prize.
  • Made a journal with felting on cover for the Felt For Peace project and mailed it off to my person in Greece.
  • Participated in the 2012 Cotton Robin Challenge...loved it!
  • Made Potato Baking Sacks for gifts.
  • Participated in The Diva's weekly Zentangle challenge every week.
  • Participated in the Bright Owl's Zendala weekly challenge.
  • Survived some pretty heavy medical concerns with my buddy!
  • Read too many books to list.
  • Traveled to Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas (twice).
2. Identify what I did not get finished!
  • Started my "Unusual Lone Star" quilt for our bed.
  • Have five of my Crone challenges to finish.
  • Started to participate in a Color Challenge only half done.
  • Started to participate in the Scrap Quilt Block Challenge...dropped out after three months.
3. Start a list for the new year:
  • Do bi-monthly challenges with Art Quilters Around the World.
  • Do monthly challenges with Beading Journal Blog.
  • Participate in Cotton Robin-2013
  • Finish the 12" block for Crones
  • Finish the quilt for our bed.
  • Make a quilt for the guest room bed.
  • Keep a journal for the year/ do more mixed media experiments.
  • Finish the Color Challenge of the month blocks and make something with them.
  • Continue with the Crones' Challenges for the new year.
4. And lastly, share my accomplishments with others.
  • Am working on my first Art Quilters' challenge-self portrait.  Follow our blog.
  • Have started preparing for my journal writing using my new book "365 Days..."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

One last memory for this year...again, my mom...In her wonderous decorating, she had cut out letters in gold of the words from a song..."Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!"  Each year she would place the words on the brick wall above their fireplace.  It was then and still is a beautiful sentiment!

In 1979, my mom and dad rented a four-plex in Kissemee, Florida at Christmas with the invitation, that if we could all get there, they wanted to treat the whole family to a Florida holiday!  Well, we all made it sister and her family, my cousins, my brother, and even my 83 year old grandma!  We had a wonderful time...each going their own way sometimes, and doing things together other times.

But it WAS Christmas, so as well as having a tree, decorated, in their apt., and enough food to feed the whole city (and my mom was a wonderful cook!), Mom had brought with her from Illinois her cut out wordings; had attached them to the wall in the hall for all of us to see when we first walked in!

My daughters, a niece and a nephew under Mom's sign!

And I found this You Tube connection to share with all of you!! Enjoy and have a wonderful Holiday Season!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Zentangle #100!!!

This week the the Diva posted her one hundredth challenge!!!  ONE HUNDRED...that is a bunch!!  To celebrate this auspicious occasion, Rick and Maria, the original Zentangle teachers, were the designers of the designated zentangle to be used.  They created a new one...."Diva Dance"...... to commemorate the challenge. Please go to the Diva's blog to see the really interesting information about her getting started in the Challenges...and the instructions on the new tangles.

Challenge # 100
As the Diva says....she is taking a little vacation from the Challenges...until after the Holidays.  I, too, am taking  break...I am not going to be following the challenges for awhile.  Although I have loved doing the zentangle challenges, I have taken on a couple other challenges for  2013 so I'll see how my time goes before committing to the Zentangles. I will follow with great interest the Diva's blog to see all the fantastic art created by other followers!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Not the End!

Mayan Calendar

I love it when society gets all excited about rumors such as Y2K (remember the end of the 1900's/beginning of  2000"s) and end of the world predictions!!  It is all so entertaining!! As you all are has been predicted that today the world will end.  There has been so much discussion on the Internet and tv that I felt obligated to add my two cents!

One fact that has come out of some of the chatter is, although the Mayan Culture is no longer a strong civilization, Mayans do still exist...just as many North American Indian tribes still exist.  So some of the remarks have been rather thoughtless about their no longer existing.  The explanation I like about the whole "end of the world" thing is that it is not the END of anything...but the BEGINNING!!  That according to the calendar, which I happen to think is a beautiful work of art, tomorrow is the start of a whole new era! And I love I am ready for a whole new beginning...May everyone enjoy and take advantage of a new period of time!!!  And may it be a happier, healthier time for all!!

One last item....I love this cartoon someone had posted on Facebook....
Maybe this is really the explanation!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dare # 35

Last week, the Bright Owl gave us a challenge of drawing our own Zendala by starting with a paper snowflake for the outlining design.  She even gave instructions on how to cut out a snowflake to is my snowflake, followed by my zendala design.

Paper snowflake for Zendala Dare #35

Dare #35

This is really a week late, but because I worked on it pretty hard, I decided to go ahead and get it posted on her site!  The challenge for this week is already posted so I am really late!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Buche de Noel

When Andrea was in high school, she took French three or four years.  Her teacher really liked to cook...and to enjoy the fruits of her labors!  One assignment the kids had to do was to create a French menu/meal.  And for extra credit, the students could actually make the meal...and moms would sign a statement verify said meal.  One recipe that Andrea did and turned out to be favorite of my husband's, is Buche de Noel!  Or Yule Log.  We don't make it every year, but our Poker Pals met at our house this month so I made one to share with them.  It is one of those elegant looking recipes that is really easy to make!
Buche de Noel

Here is the recipe if anyone wants it:

Chocolate Log

1 6-oz pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour

Combine chocolate chips and water in top of double boiler. Place over hot water until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda.  Combine eggs, vanilla and salt; beat until very light. Gradually add sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored.  Add melted chocolate and fold in gently. Fold in flour.

Turn into a greased and waxed paper-lined 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" pan (jelly roll pan). Spread out evenly.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Loosen around the edges and turn out immediately on a dish towel dusted with powdered sugar.  Remove the waxed paper. Roll cake immediately in towel starting with the long edge.  Cool thoroughly.

While cake is baking, make the filling and frosting;
  • 1 6 oz pkg. (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 3oz pkg. cream cheese-room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • dash salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Melt semisweet chocolate chips in top of double boiler over hot (not boiling) water.  Combine brown sugar, cream cheese, vanilla and salt; beat until creamy.  Beat in egg yolk, blend in melted chocolate; fold in whipped cream.  Cover and chill until thick enough to spread.

(I do all the above one day, and construct the cake the following day.)

Take cake roll and gently unroll from the towel. (It is best to complete it on the tray you plan to serve it on. As my tray is not long enough, I cut off part to create the branch log)
Spread the filling in the tightest part of the roll first then gradually fill all the interior, roll back up, place seam side down and cover the rest of the cake with filling/frosting.  I will cut the smaller log at an angle before frosting the exterior and place it next to the larger log.  Chill for several hours or freeze.  Then wrap and store in the freezer if not to be eaten in the next couple of days.  If frozen, allow dessert to stand approximately 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.  I "garnish" mine with plastic greenery and berries....not edible!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Christmas Memory

Yesterday, as we took our daily walk around the neighborhood, I noticed all the mistletoe up in the trees.  Now that the leaves are almost all off for the winter, it is much more obvious.  Seeing all of it took me back  a few years to right after we moved to Texas and I was made aware that mistletoe grew wild.
Mistletoe Growing Wild in Texas

Growing up in Illinois where mistletoe does not grow...cannot survive the winter was a plant we used for decorative purposes at Christmas.  If we couldn't find it "live", sold in flower shops, we would use plastic "look-a-likes" to decorate.  Little did we know that it was a tree-killing parasite!!!
Decorative Mistletoe

 My mom, again in her decorating frenzy, would always have mistletoe hung somewhere in the house!  And, of course, as we grew up, we learned the tradition of a kiss under the mistletoe!  Much giggling would take place in adolescent years as adults would partake in the activity!!

I found the following information about the tradition:

Why do we get kissed if we stand under the mistletoe?

Since ancient times, the mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious and sacred plants of European folklore.
The ancient Druids considered the mistletoe to be a sacred plant and believed it had miraculous powers which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against the ill effects of witchcraft. It was also believed that the mistletoe was an aphrodisiac or a sexual symbol.

From these strange beliefs has come the modern-day custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.

The tradition of smooching under the mistletoe descends from the customs of several different cultures. For instance, exchanging kisses under the mistletoe was a tradition of Greek festivals and marital ceremonies. If a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life.

The Anglo-Saxons associated the powers of the mistletoe to the legend of Freya, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. According to the legend, a man had to kiss any young girl who, without realizing it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Guys would pluck a berry when they smooched the girls and when the last berry was gone, there would be no more kissing!

In France, the custom linked to the mistletoe was reserved for New Year's Day: "Au gui l'An neuf"--Mistletoe for the New Year.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy in Connecticut

Is the world just going crazy?  Are we doomed to keep repeating these tragedies?  Is the Age of Innocence never to be again for our children?  Must we live in continuous shadows of terror?  We don't need to fear outside terrors....we are doing a pretty good job of creating fear within our own borders!

I am such a firm believer in gun father was a hunter...he enjoyed the male camaraderie; the thrill of the hunt; the bird dogs we had through the years were family pets as well.   I know there are those who think any animal kill is inhumane, but I cannot fault this desire to hunt as I have seen it up close to be a sport that CAN be enjoyed and yet be respectful and compassionate of the life of the animal.

But this crazy notion to think that EVERYONE has a right to have and carry a gun...concealed just insane.  I found this poster on FB...look closely at the small print and please act!!

If you cannot read the small print, it is an address and phone number to the Handgun Control, Inc. office.  I have added the link to the website of the Brady Center for Gun Control for more information.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The First, Last and Only.....and Zentangle #99

Okay..this is 12-12-12...and I am blogging for that one and only reason....almost!  I want to have a blog with this date on it!  I have recently had a yen to do some journaling...have even made a new journal..painted pages, stitched, ready to go....but for some reason, I have to start new things of this nature on "special" dates..first of the month...first of the year...etc.  So this was to be my journal for the new year, 1213. Then when I was sharing this peculiarity with my Creative Crones, Beth who is the star "journalist" in our midst, reminded me of  this magical date!!!  Therefore, this journal will be dedicated to DATES!  Starting with today!

My daughter got me a copy of "Journal Fodder: 365 Days of Journaling" by Eric Scott and David Modler...and this one MUST begin on January 1!!  So I will just have to get myself another journal going!!!  The book is month by month, so I think I will make 12 small journals..then put them altogether at the year's end.

And this week the Diva gave us the challenge of doing a Loop Border on the tile.  Go to her website to see what that is all about.  Here is my tile:

Zentangle #99
Next week will be the Diva's 100th challenge...she has promised something special!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Creative Crones of studioQ-December Meeting

Today, my studioQ art group met....we usually meet on the last Monday of the month, but since the last Monday of November was the Monday after Thanksgiving and the last Monday of December is New Year's Eve, we decided to combine the two months into one

My Challenge Block - "Wish Upon a Star"
Our challenge for this month 12 X 12  was "Wish Upon a Star".  I chose to use a paper pieced pattern for my challenge.  And somewhere years ago, I had started to collect Star patterned this was a perfect opportunity to use of some of it...and I probably have enough left to make a couple dozen quilts!!!!  I need to quilt and embellish the block to finish it.

Beth's Challenge "......Star"
Kay's Challenge "...Star"..the top-wool applique; bottom- done with her handdyes from our last meeting
Rhonda's very abstract  ".....Star"
Lynn did a journal page for her "....Star" challenge
Three or four years ago, one of our members had started a "Block of the Month".  She got the center finished then decided she didn't want to finish the we all took a block, were going to get it finished, sell it and use the money to go to lunch!!!  It took all this time to get the blocks completed...I have had it for several months to put together, then pass on to another crone who does embroidery, and then our long arm quilter will do the quilting...someone will add the binding and off we got to "market"!!

Here it is on my design wall!

A Team Effort!!1

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Open House for the Holidays/Dare #34

     Tomorrow we are hosting the neighborhood Open House..for many years, we or someone of the neighbors have opened our door to our neighbors.  We are in a community of about 14 homes...all ages; on 2 to 4 acres of land each.  And, even though we do not see each other very often socially,  there is not one neighbor I would not hesitate to call on if in need!  Not only is it a beautiful neighborhood is beautiful in spirit!!

Each year, my husband makes his now famous chili!  This year he made two batches as he found a new recipe to a little milder (my choice) than the hotter (his choice)! And each year, the neighbors bring a snack to share and a sweet treat to "exchange" with the recipe.  We usually have sugar cookies for the kids to decorate and all sorts of beverages provided by the hosts.

My memory of such parties from when my mom and dad would throw them is a bit different.  In the '40s and 50's when they would have a party, they would all dress up...cocktail dresses, suits and ties, etc. (we are more the jeans and Christmas t-shirt crowd).   And again, my mom....hostess with the mostest...would elaborately decorate the house...all her own work or directions to my dad.  She would come up with the most interesting hors d'oeuvre...and this was a hard working/ hard drinking group of people!! Adult parties only!!!  We would be ushered off to bed, but usually peeking out the door to see all the elegant trappings the women would wear....until we got caught!!

There was this one friend of theirs who had my sister and me terrified!  She had a real gravelly voice...and loud!  A large woman with a very commanding appearance...she was a cheek pincher, too...all affectionately...but still when Frances spoke...we listened!!  As I grew into adulthood, I realized she was much more bark than bite!!

And I finally finished the Dare Challenge for this week from the Bright Owl.....

Dare # 34

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas way!!

I spent a couple of hours doing my Christmas Shopping today.  I have most of it finished...just a few items to pick up for the stockings and a couple of surprises for the grands.   Back to Christmas memories...I already made mention of my mom and her crazy Christmas Eve shopping...I have been almost as guilty as to waiting until the last minute.  But with the coming of the Internet, all I need to do is to make sure I get my orders in so that I can get everything mailed to me in time!

My whole family is really into the idea of wish lists...everyone will list much more than they are going to get...leaving a little element of surprise...sign on, make choices...then just click-click and it is done!!  Now to those who love shopping....the search for the perfect gift...the triumph of matching the gift to the person receiving...will not understand my absolute love of this method of shopping!!  The gifting, although fun, is not the greatest part of Christmas....the family, games, laughter, food, friendship, etc. mean  more to me.

I always thought my mom would love the Internet...she had such a curiosity of life and would love to be able to Google information...but I don't think she would like Internet shopping.  The search and discovery; the finding the "just right" gift was what she enjoyed most.  And then the wrapping!!!  I'll save that for another post!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Wreaths

Cellophane Christmas Wreath-circa 1940-50
When I was a kid, my mom was a decorating genius!!!  She LOVED Christmas and all the traditions and glitter that went with it.  She had a wreath like the one above in every room in the house.  How we kept from being electrocuted,  I will never know as she had extension cords all over the place...and she kept the wreathes lit all night long from the first Sunday of Advent until after Christmas! These cords would not have been the heavy duty type with great safety outlets like we have today! And no such thing as smoke alarms!!

I didn't know how dangerous this could be...I just knew I loved going to sleep in the warm glow of a red bulb.  It cast such a dreamy quality all over the room..and they would be hung behind paper window shades at night...another fire hazard!!  But we all survived...and the wreathes are a memory I will cherish, but not try to replicate!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

More Memories-Christmas Stockings

A Needlepoint Stocking
When I was a kid, Christmas stockings were a big deal!  I think my mom would add things to her stash all year 'round to surprise us with at Christmas.  Our stockings would be almost the high light of the morning...full of really neat stuff!  My sister and I kept up this tradition with our kids....we never lived in the same town with our families but we would get together at our mom and dad's.  I would always have my kids' stockings at our house, but then they would get another one at "Grandma's" with their cousins.

My sister, being older, was to become a Grandmother before me..when her first grandson was born, she decided to make him a needlepoint stocking.  But before she could finish it, she became ill and was unable to do any kind of needle I volunteered to finish it for her.  It came out so cute, I decided that I would make one for her second grandson....then the third...then a couple of granddaughters...eight in all!  By then I was a Grandmother so I wanted to make one for my first...then my second!  As time went on, I felt I should make the stockings for my husband's side of the family as our nieces and nephews were beginning to have children!!

All in all, between both sides of our families, I have made seventeen needle point stockings...the oldest sister' now 29 and the youngest and most recent is now two!!!  Some of the older grands are now having their own children, but I decided that generation would just have to get their stockings from somewhere else!!!!

Another little item I want to share is that I have joined another blog group...It is "Bead Journal Project". (Notice the new logo on my sidebar/left. ) I love beading...and this looks like a perfect opportunity to stretch my wings in that direction.  I have really enjoyed doing the zentangle challenges and am going to finish out the year with the Diva's, but, although I will continue following them and occasionally doing the challenges, I am ready to move on with other challenges.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Memories and Zentangle #98

The First Sunday of Advent

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent..we are new members of the Unitarian/Universalist Church...and are throroughly enjoying the experience.  Both of us have gotten somewhat fed up with "organized religion" and have been looking for something a bit different, which we have found with UU.  We love the complete acceptance of all beliefs, races, political thinking, tolerance of all...creed, color, or sexual orientation!  

And this is our first experience with Christmas in a non-denominational setting.  Although the "birth of Christ"is not the main focus....the waiting for something and being open to change seemed to me to be the point of the Reflections (not sermons, just personal thoughts given).

I come from a Catholic upbringing and I do have some great memories of growing up in that church even though I have become somewhat disenchanted as an adult.   As a kid myself, Advent in the home wasn't that big of a deal...just on Sunday at church.  I loved the readings we would hear; and the idea of "preparation"   I did really like the idea and tried to set up the symbolic Advent Wreath with my kids...when I would remember!

So for the rest of this month, or until Christmas, I am going to focus on what is happening in the present and give my own "Reflections" about memories I have of times past!  As well as my usual postings of Zentangle challenges!! And other stuff!!

This week's zentangle challenge from the Diva comes from another designer Donna Hornsby with her tangle "Keenees". To see how to draw this tangle, go to her link.  And look how early I am!!!  This challenge just came out today!!

Here is my Challenge for the Week:

Challenge #98-Keenees

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Zentangle Challenge #97

Happy First Day of December to everyone!!!  That means only 24 days until Christmas!! Wow!  Where has this year gone???  I guess I better get busy on my Christmas shopping!  I am not one of those persons who has all their shopping and wrapping done by Thanksgiving...more like a "finished on Christmas Eve".  I have become an internet shopper though...Bless!!!!

I remember my mom shopping last minute...she never wanted to disappoint any of us so if we should happen to mention something we REALLY wanted a day or two before Christmas, she would try her best to either make it or buy it!  I grew up in a very small rural town in Illinois....everyone knew everyone...and many a Christmas Eve she would be tromping through the snow around the square, getting last minute gifts. She was even known to call a merchant at home to ask him/her to open up a shop for a late purchase! And because she was well known and well loved, they would accommodate her!  Can you see that happening today????

But my real reason for this post is to enter my Zentangle Challenge #97.  This week the Diva challenged us to create a tile without using a "string".  A string is a freely drawn line on the tile to create sections to help define areas to design.  I like doing without a string once in awhile....more freedom to create.

Zentangle #97