Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Belated Merry Christmas to You!

A hilariously well aimed fall!
What are the odds?
Oh how I hope you all have had a very merry Christmas! Michele and I had a wonderful time together and with wonderful friends! We started the holiday week putting up our tree - a little later than usual, but time has been getting away from us lately! We went through about 4 CDs of Christmas music getting the lights on the tree. We wanted to finally get all the lights blinking - we usually has only one string of blinking lights around the middle of the tree with all the other lights steady as an oak tree! We couldn't get them all blinking so we went blink-free. Our special ornament this year is actually two: I found initial ornaments at Michael's and got an M and a W made out of little bells. Michele was thrilled and so am I!

We spent Christmas Eve at church as always. It's my very favorite service of the year. Half in candlelight, which is just so charming. Plus, I get to sing my favorite carol: O Holy Night. Michele shot a video of it which I'll post one of these days if I can figure out how!
Merry Christmas from us!

Another Christmas Eve tradition is to have anyone who will come over for snacks after service. We had four lovely friends nosh on tapenade, cheeses, roasted tomato slices, homemade pickles, apple and pear slices, and mini muffins. I'd made the muffins from a recipe that came into my head a few mornings before: a regular banana bread recipe (actually this recipe was my favorite recipe which is vegan and was given to me by our beloved friends Cindy and Jeremiah) to which I added two handfuls each of chocolate chips, dried blueberries, craisins, and diced dried apricots. Boy were these yummy! Our friends and we just sat around eating and chatting until nearly midnight - a wonderful night before Christmas treat!

So delicious!
Christmas morning means homemade donuts and phone calls with family in the Wescott house. Oh, what lovely treats! The donuts were especially good this year, though combining donut making and phone calling meant that I forgot to let the donuts rise the first time - went directly from kneading to donut forming and rising instead of kneading, rising, punching down, donut making, and second rising. Next year I'll get them right! Regardless, they were WONDERFUL!!

I need to do a special post about the extra special gift Michele made for me and the special one I made for her, so I'll save any discussion of gifts. After chatting with all our loved ones, we spent most of the day eating donuts, drinking soynog, watching Roseanne (we're working through the series from beginning to end as it was both of our favorites when we were younger (I'm totally neglecting Star Trek, but that's OK.)), and eating more donuts. We rounded out the day with a dinner party with more wonderful friends - which was a good thing because we'd eaten nothing but donuts all day! Our holiday was full of blessings of wonderful friendship and love and I hope yours was as well!
Our special MW ornaments for 2010. They jingle so sweetly!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And Winter Begins

I had fun with pockets and
playing around
with fabrics for a guy!
I hope this the beginning of winter finds you all well (weather issues aside!). The end of fall and beginning of winter heading into the holidays has found me pleasantly swamped with work - both my day job and my quilting shop! It's been great fun at both jobs!

I've been doing alot of new things and creating lots of new patterns for things. It's been so fun! Probably the coolest thing so far was a very custom iPod Touch pouch for my friend, John. I love all the little pockets!

These dog collars kinda
make me want to get a
dog! But not quite!

I also had a ball making quilted dog collars - never thought I'd find myself making dog collars, but they are really very fun to make and look so cool when they're done!

Little squares ready and waiting to become star sashing!

I think my favorite thing over the past few weeks is the baby quilt I'm making for a friend of a friend. I don't make many baby quilts - in fact this is only my third - so it's a special treat. This baby's colors are lavendar and sage, but I went a little more intense with a brighter purple and green. I just had to once I found the adorable monkey fabric! It called to me and begged to be used for this quilt. I'm almost done and will share the finished product as soon as I am! I hope you've all had as much fun getting ready for the holidays!
Four patch squares ready to be added to the quilt!

A pile of monkeys! Giggling and having fun! Who could resist?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gallery Opening Debrief

The display in the studio - this was the
view when you first walk in.
The showroom space - This is where
the exhibit will be til the 19th
Oh boy, was this weekend an amazing time! The opening went great - we had hoards of people on Friday night and a nice flow of serious buyers on Saturday. I loved the crowds on Friday, but really enjoyed having the time and space to talk to people on Saturday. My step mom, Gloria, came to see the show and we put her to work helping Michele keep the food restocked - boy did the Friday visiters EAT! On Saturday, Michele had to work, but since most folks were more interested in shopping than eating, there wasn't much food restocking. Spending time with Jennifer and Sabra from Crocus Clay was such a treat - I really loved getting to know them better. After the show on Saturday, we set up the "exhibit" that will be up in the showroom until the 19th and off we went to dinner and a show to reward ourselves for our hard work. And work hard we certainly did! It was so worth it, though! What an amazing time!
The overflow shelf - pleasantly
decreased by the
end of the weekend!

A bowl of overflow ornaments - very popular
and very gone by the end of the show!

End of day one getting on the freight
elevator - Gloria's first time and it made
us all feel VERY urban!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Nice, wet, flaky, white stuff. A delight at 4 am!
Since Michele has been home, I have been crazily busy with the shop and she has been wonderfully supportive and helpful (she's even been put to work in the studio!). My beautiful wonderful friend, Karen (of Duncan Creative - just THE most wonderful place for hats and other crocheted items!) gifted me a Groupon for afternoon tea at La-Tea-Da Tea Salon, so I took the opportunity to treat Michele to an afternoon of undivided attention. To get that afternoon, I trucked myself off to work before the crack of dawn and found this lovely surprise on my car!

After stuffing eight hours of work in before Noon, I picked Michele up and we headed off to tea delight! It was really wonderful! It's such an eclectic place, just a feast for the eyes! And afternoon tea was amazingly DELICIOUS!! We drank way too much tea, of course, and ate way too many delicious nibblies, including their signature scones with Devonshire creme and jam! Oh wow! It was a really great afternoon and it was really great to take a break and spend some time talking about everything except work!

The have hoards of hats to wear to make you feel elegant
or just downright silly. These fit both categories.

One lump or two? It's fun to have the opportunity to say that.
Pretty little teapot table decor! Our actual tea was served in a
good sturdy workhorse of a teapot complete with cozy. I really
need to make myself some cozies for my workhorses at home!

Can you imagine how delicious? Look up the definition of
YUM in the dictionary and this picture will be right beside it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menorah, Thanksgiving, and Insanity

I'm finally taking some much-needed time out to 1. show you the completed Menorah quilt, 2. tell you about my fabulous Thanksgiving, and 3. explain about the insanely awesome happening that has been keeping me so very busy.

1. I've kept you waiting far too long to see the completed Menorah quilt! It took a bit longer than I'd planned, but that was all my fault. I decided to make the Menorah two layers and it took quite a while to cut each piece . . . twice!
Layer 1

And then layer two

Plus the candles and flames. The menorah, candles, and flames
are made by layering a top fabric, batting, and backing and then
satin stitching the edges before stitching the to pieced quilt top.
So, technically, each piece of the menorah, candles, and flames are quilts!

Finished! Hanging in my hallway for picture taking before
packing and sending to its new home!

Close-up #1

Close-up #2
 I truly loved making this special gift and hope the recipients love it as well!

2. Thanksgiving was a delight - I hope yours was as well. Michele decided that she wanted to make dinner to give me a little extra time to prepare for #3 below. I tried to insist on helping, but she would have none of it! It was just the two of us for the first time in a long time, so that was a nice treat - and it made it so that we could have whatever we want (when we have company we try to introduce folks to a traditional Thanksgiving meal, vegetarian-style). This year we had vegetarian meatloaf topped with barbecue sauce we made and canned over the summer, whipped potatoes, corn, cider glazed carrots, dinner rolls from Michele's grandmother's recipe, and pumpkin pie with real freshly whipped cream. I cannot tell you how delicious it was! WOW! Michele will be cooking a lot more often - this is a skill that she has been hiding under a bushel for the 13 years we've been together!
Dinner was SO yummy! And I enjoyed the leftover "meat"loaf
on dinner rolls for the rest of the week - little meatloaf sliders! YUM!

Pumpkin is Michele's favorite pie, but I am not usually a fan.
Boy howdy, I really loved it this year! I'm now a fan!
3. The insanity that has been keeping me so busy is that I have what Michele is calling my "one woman show" coming up on Friday! I was chosen as the featured artist at a local gallery for First Friday festivities! First Friday here in Rochester is when all the participating galleries open late and have wine and nibbles while folks browse all the gorgeous treasures. My show is called Quilted, Quaint, and Quirky: Stocking Stuffers and Fashionable Finishing Touches. I am over-the-moon excited! It's really an amazing accomplishment and I keep pinching myself that it is actually happening! You can check out my and many other artists' shows here. I'm at the Crocus Clay Works, which is the seventh gallery on the list on the left of that website. So, needless to say, I have been working like crazy to be ready for what I am referring to this amazing opportunity!
This is the bookmark that I made and handed out at the MayDay Underground show.
I think it's adorable!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stained Glass

I love how this background turned out and
would like to make another, but some of
the squares are so tiny (1x1.5) and the
"leading" is so thin (.25") that it takes
a LONG time to piece! The effect is worth
it though, don't you think?
I've been overwhelmingly busy getting ready for the biggest show of my career so far: a solo gallery exhibit and sale! I'm very excited and will tell you more about it in the next few weeks. Suffice it to say that all my energy and concentration has been directed towards that event, but I took a break this week to work on a very special commission from a lovely family who wished to bless their neighbors with a special Hanukkah gift: a quilted menorah. I designed a quilt that I hope my client and the recipients love. I haven't been doing a lot of intricate piecing lately, so working on the background of the quilt over the last two evenings has been really fun and challenging. I felt like I cut pieces for days last night and sewed and sewed and pieced and pieced tonight. I was getting really tired by the time I was cutting the pieces for the last two rows, but surprised myself by only making two cutting mistakes - and both pieces were cut too large, which is easily fixable! I wanted the background to look like a stained glass window. I used batik for the "panes." I love how you can get many different colors and shades out of a single piece of batik - I thought that would add to the stained glass effect. The "leading" is done in a solid bluish grey. I really love the way it turned out - so much so that I plan to use this pattern to make another wall hanging using a brighter, jewel-toned batik, and maybe black "leading." Tomorrow, I start work on the elaborate menorah applique I designed. I'll use that dimensional applique technique I used on the shoe and dolphin quilts over the summer. I'll give you another sneak peek tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Priorities, Vacation, and Juggling

Hello! I just had a big show this past weekend and preparations for it made me neglect telling you about days seven and eight of our vacation. Day seven was particularly important because Michele interviewed for a local job and GOT IT!! We had a dual celebration of Michele's success and Mum's birthday at our favorite place: Red Robin! Fun was had by all!

Day eight was Mum's actual birthday, but it was also Mum's last day with us, so we made her a special breakfast: homemade shortbread with warm peaches, peach syrup, and whipped cream - we used peaches I'd canned over the summer and it was divine!

Michele's now been home for a week and a half and started her new job on Monday and this wonderful event has presented me with the following lovely challenges:
  1. Since the "cat" is no longer away, what do I do about my blog title? Change it? Leave it as it is as a reminder?
  2. I started my business to keep me occupied for the long weeks Michele was on the road and now it's really taking off. I've never been good at prioritizing and finding balance, but I really need to do both to keep it all together.
  3. Michele HATES Star Trek, but the only time I have to sit and watch TV is time that I could be sitting and watching TV with her. How will I ever get through TOS by sneaking episodes here and there when she's out of the house?
OK, so maybe challenge number two is the only REAL challenge I need to deal with, but one and three are pretty fun to contemplate! It will also be fun to see what kind of trouble I get into right under Michele's nose now that she's home and will likely say things like "Don't rip up that floor, hon!" and "Michelle, I don't think you need to take the oven door apart in order to tighten the handle!"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vacation: Day Six: the Scenic Route

I would like to say that on the sixth day of our vacation we rested from the hard work of apple picking and apple making, but we didn't. We got up early and made fried apples and biscuits, on which we ate apple butter. Actually, Michele sliced the apples and Mum fried them and Mum made the biscuits - I just took pictures and tasted as necessary.

Slicing apples for frying
After breakfast - which was YUMMY!!! - we decided to go to an outlet mall in Buffalo to do some shopping. My bright idea was that we take the scenic route to Buffalo and take a look at the lovely fall colors on the way. About halfway there Mum and I became like 3-year-olds with our whiny "are we there yet?" It seemed to take forever to get there! My two lovely travelling companions only reminded me ten or fifteen times that it was all my idea that we take the scenic route! It was a fun trip, regardless. And made even more fun by the 100 truffles we bought at the Lindt store in the outlet mall - heck, that alone made the "scenic" route worth it!
Are we there yet???
While at the mall, we entertained ourselves by convincing Michele to try on bright yellow high-heeled patent leather boots. Her face says it all.

The boots are cute. The jeans and flannel are cute.
The boots, jeans, and flannel are not - the face makes that completely clear.
On the way home, I entertained myself and my companions by taking pictures in the dark. I think this one was our favorite.
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vacation: Day Five: Apples: Sauce, Butter, and Rings

That's right, you guessed it, this day of "vacation" was all about making stuff with all those apples we picked! It was not a very restful day - in fact we worked from dawn til beyond dusk - but it was great fun!

Stirring, stirring, stirring  . . . and smiling!
We made and canned smooth and chunky applesauce, apple butter (yum!!), and dried apple rings. Oh, my, I don't believe I've even tasted applesauce before in my life that was as good as the sauce Mum, Michele, and I made!

I seem to always can on sunny days because I always get to take a
gorgeous picture of something freshly canned glowing in the sunshine!
And the apple rings are like heaven! Now, I was a little skeptical about the apple butter - I've never liked it - but I really felt like we should make some. Total convert! I LOVE APPLE BUTTER - at least this apple butter! It's so amazing! We were exhausted after canning all day, so we ordered a pizza and each spread apple butter on the crust - that's how good it is!
The "fruit" of our labor!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vacation: Day Four: The Gift of Song

Mum and me about to leave for service. Isn't she PRETTY!!??
On this fourth day of vacation, a Sunday, Mum and I gave a special gift to the pastor of Michele's and my church. It was his birthday and Mum and I sang a song together for him after his sermon. We've sung together once before - well technically many times before since we sung in the church choir together when I was a kid, but this was only the second time in my grown-up years. Our pastor and every church member who has met Mum adore her and get so excited when they know she's coming into town, so there was a lot of anticipation for our song - Rev. Jim had requested a song and announced that we'd be singing one the week before! We concluded the song, Swing Down Chariot, to rousing applause - our church is SO loving - and then spent the rest of the day being lazy: napping, reading, and drinking tea! We'd earned a rest after the previous day's appling!

Short Addendum to Vacation Day Three: Rhode Island

As I mentioned yesterday, we were pretty obsessed with finding the Rhode Island Greenings during our apple picking venture. Well, since my dad's side of the family is from Rhode Island, I feel a particular connection to that apple - though last weekend was the first time I'd ever heard of it. Though we didn't find the apple, I did find out some interesting bits about it and about RI in general:

    The oh so sought after RI Greening 
  • The Rhode Island Greening was the first named apple in America and is the official state fruit of Rhode Island.
  • Greenings are the perfect apple to make apple slumps with - I have no idea what an apple slump is, but if we'd found some Greenings, I certainly would have made a slump or two.
  • Rhode Island's official state name is The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which is the longest official name of any US State - which is very funny because Rhode Island is the smallest state!
  • Rhode Island was the first of the 13 colonies to declare independence from Britian and the last to ratify the US constitution.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vacation: Day Three: Brunching and Appling

Our vacation was so fun and so full that I didn't take the time I planned to blog about it. Now that it is over, I'm dedicating some time to share it with you.

So, day three: oh what a fun day this was. We had sweet Deb over for a birthday brunch - Deb's birthday was the week before and Mum's would be the week after. Michele and I made the blueberry stuffed french toast recipe I'd made for my birthday brunch, but this time we used apple and golden raisin bread and plums instead of blueberries for a taste of fall - oh how wonderful it was!

Wonderful women enjoying a wonderful brunch - who could ask for more?
We then went appling - I think I made up that word! - or apple picking - at the prettiest orchard I've ever seen!

We couldn't have asked for a lovelier day or a lovelier orchard!
Doesn't Michele look great amongst those pumpkins!
We started the day with an applesauce tasting to see which apples we'd be sure to pick since we planned on making applesauce. All four of us fell in love with the Rhode Island Greenings, so we drove out to that orchard and started looking for them . . .and looking . . .and looking! We couldn't find them anywhere, so we decided to head farther into the orchard - driving as they'd directed us to do - and I got the car stuck in the mud! A crazy mess indeed!

Millions of apples on hundreds of trees and of course
the shortest of us wants the highest apple!
Well and truly stuck! We tried adding items from the car to provide traction:
paper, Wegman's bags, plywood, Deb even volunteered her coat - all with no success!
A lovely tractor driver pulled the car out of the orchard - and informed us that they'd been out of RI Greenings for quite some time! - and we went on our way to fill our baskets with other apples. We got massive amounts of apples and wore ourselves out on this lovely day! It was just a perfect day - getting stuck in the mud not withstanding!
Hey, is this what they mean by a "tractor-pull"??
After all the stuck-in-the-mud drama, we were tired, but we
still had a ball picking beautiful - and yummy - apples!
These three ladies were great sports - though they all became backseat drivers
everytime I came within feet of anything that even vaguely resembled mud!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vacation: Day Two: Shopping

Today we did nothing more strenuous than shopping for a lovely outfit for my mom to wear Stepping Out with her brother when she returns to Boston. We actually began the day with doctor's appointments, one each for Michele and I, and then dallied over breakfast. Mum and I then hung out in the craftroom while Michele napped. THEN we went shopping. It was a fun and laid back day and allowed us lots of rest in preparation for apple picking tomorrow. What fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vacation: Day One: Introductions

The first day of my vacation wasn't exactly relaxing. I did sleep in, though I shouldn't have because I still needed to clean the house. Earlier in the week I cleaned the bedroom and the workout room - which doubles as a guest room - and of course the new bathroom is spotless - every speck of dust or dirt gets cleaned up the second I see it! So the upstairs hall, stairs, and the entire downstairs desperately needed to be cleaned - and I of course decided to leave it until today. So I worked really hard and got the house looking its best before Michele got home - she hasn't been home in nearly a month so I wanted it to look especially nice. So, I spent the morning cleaning and then Michele arrived at the truck stop and we had lunch. It was nice to spend a few hours with just her before Mum arrived. I introduced Michele to the new bathroom - she's seen it in stages and I sent pictures after Lisa finished her final tasks, but she hadn't seen it all put together with the tiling and finishing touches. Then Mum arrived and we introduced her to the bathroom - we sat in there for about half an hour chatting. It's just that kind of room. So, day one was half work and half relax and wholly wonderful because I got to be with two of the most wonderful women I know. And below is one of them using the bathroom for the first time - she wouldn't let me take a picture of her trying out the toilet, I'm not sure why. :-)

It's such a lovely space that even washing your hands is a dream!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Exciting Week

This is indeed a very exciting week for me. My mom will be here on Thursday for her annual October birthday visit - her birthday, not mine. She also comes in May for her annual May/June birthday visit - Michele and my birthdays, not her own. So I have been aggressively cleaning the house in preparation for this wonderful visit. It's amazing how dirty EVERY room is not matter how far they are from the room where the construction happened. It's also amazing how much paint I accidently tracked throughout the house. I even got paint on the kitchen wall - the kitchen is through the upstairs hall down a flight of stairs, across a small landing, down another flight of stairs, across another landing, down a few more stairs, through a foyer, and across the side entry way - in other words, it's a LOOONG way from the new bathroom!

My other excitement is that Michele is coming home on Wednesday or Thursday for her very first vacation since starting her trucking career. Oh, so thrilling! I'm off for a week and a half starting Thursday to enjoy my time with these two wonderful ladies! We are going to have SO much fun! When Mum visits we spend copious amounts of time hanging out on the sun porch drinking tea and reading, talking, and napping. We rarely make plans, but this time we have plans for a Saturday morning birthday breakfast to celebrate Mum's and Deb's (my lovely friend Deb) October birthdays and then we're going apple picking. I'd like to then make some apple sauce and apple butter and do some canning. All summer, with the exception of the first batch of barbecue sauce, I've been canning solo, so it will be so much fun to have some canning company!

Well, so far, I only have the upstairs bathroom, workout room, and bedroom clean, so I'd better get busy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Accidental Hiatus, Final Five

21 - 24. FINSHED THE BATHROOM!! I know, I know, but it's really worth four! I LOVE this bathroom and I love that it is finished! I've REALLY missed taking a bath! Sundays just aren't Sundays without a bath.

The final reveal!

Finished and accessorized

I tiled that mirror all by myself! Isn't that soap dispenser divine!

Sometimes I just stand in the doorway and gaze upon the pretty space!
25. And the most exciting thing I did over the past five weeks - oh the most thrilling - was take a bath in the very gorgeous, freshly finished bathroom. I swear I felt like I was in a luxury spa! I made a pot of my favorite tea - strawberry rooibos cream - and a bowl of chocolate peanut butter ice cream - Haagen Dazs not Wescott - and dark chocolate dipped cheese cake bites. It was a special occasion - the completion of the massive project - so the cheese cake bites were my extra special treat. I also bought a new, very good book to read - I won't tell you what book since I'm a secret romance novel addict (oops, I wasn't supposed to say that!). I got new bubble bath and body butter, too, to tip the event over into true bliss. Oh what a wonderful Sunday afternoon!
Running my first bath! Oh how excited I was!
Thanks for bearing with me while I recounted what I did in the five weeks I was away! It was great fun, let me tell you! I learned so much from Lisa and really ended up with the bathroom of my dreams! Michele hasn't seen the finished product except in pictures, but she'll be home on Wednesday and I can't wait to show her!


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