Thursday, December 31, 2009

… it was a very good year . . .

I know that so many are making lists of things that they want to accomplish or to do differently in 2010 . . . & to be honest - I've been making a mental list too. . . 

Then - the other day - I heard our weatherman say that we would be having a 'blue moon' to bring us into the new year. (For those of you who never could figure out what that meant - a blue moon is when there is a second full moon within one month. It's rare. . .) My Mom used to use the phrase, "one in a blue moon" when referring to something that doesn't happen often, but she would also use it when something was quite special & we needed to pay attention.

I've been thinking about that. . .

. . . especially when you consider that a whole decade has 'whooshed' by since the turn of the century. . . Remember the hub-bub over the millinium celebration. . . the fears of things going wonky. . . stocking up on water. . . just in case? Nothing really happened. . . then. Little did we know how all our lives would change in a bit over a year and a half later. . .

We really can't plan too much for what's to come. . . we can just do our best & try to reach & to live our dreams. . . the moment we quit doing that. . . those dreams & our goals fade all too quickly.

We need to be sure to pay attention. I can't but help but to think that this 'blue moon' that is ushering us into this new year might just be a reminder. . .

. . . so I'm going to start by also remembering the lessons & gifts I've been given this past year. . . (of which my little buddy in the top photo is always a part!) That's one great thing about blogging. . . it's great to look back at some of what has filled our lives. I saw on a couple of blogs this morning - that they were looking back & doing a year in review. I loved looking back with them & it had me looking back over my posts. . . (& remembering somethings I had forgotten. . . already!)

So here's my look back. . . my little year in review. Want to come along?

January …  I was asked by Meg Hawkey (Crabapple Hill Studio) to be a part of a wonderful quilt that was made to raise funds on behalf of the Susan G. Koman Foundation. I was honored & had so much fun creating my block.

February …  I blogged about my trip out to the hometown of my youth - San Diego, California. Dad & I had a wonderful morning walking around Balboa Park.

March …  I (finally) finished &  released 'Benji's Pockets' the follow-up to my Betsy's Closet pattern (& to try to  give the little guys of this world equal time!)

. . . & then I got started working with the lovely 'Aviary' fabric from Moda. . .  to what ended up being my 'Apple Blossoms' quilt design.

April … We celebrated Bailey's birthday (#3!)

. . . & I also celebrated the fact that by April - we already have our summer weather starting in full swing!

May … I moved my blog from my iWeb blog to blogspot. (. . . a good move in the end!)

. . . & I went to Spring Market in Pittsburgh. . . where - because I didn't do a booth - I got to walk around & enjoy a bit of the show!

June … I could hardly wait to start using my Rouenneries fabric from Moda & French General. . .

. . . & the new Cosmo 2 strand floss-on-a-spool from Lecien. . . (coming soon to the website!)

July …  I celebrated the arrival of my first  pieces of my first fabric line - 'Celebration'!

. . . & I waxed on about about a local shop 'Frost' &  my new found low fat, low cal treat - gelato. . . 

August … As the rest of  the 'Celebration' fabrics arrived -  I got busy in the studio with my new fabrics. . . 

. . .   & Dad & went up to Phoenix & saw Michael W. Smith in concert. (. . .great memories.)

September …  was a busy month - getting things ready for Fall Quilt Market. . . & Bailey was there as assistant. . . always  affectionately & enthusiastically greeting Nubin, my quilter - whenever she came to pick-up or drop-off quilts!

October …  was a busy month! . . . starting with a trip to Houston where I had a booth at Fall Quilt Market.

November …  I took a little time to do some projects for 'me' . . . first, some stitchery - this one by Kathy Schmitz. . .

. . . & then I started my 'tidying-up' the studio project (still on-going) & I made a curtain cover for my cutting table. . .

December …  Bailey, Dad & I celebrated a wonderful, quiet Christmas. . . (& we made a bunch of travel plans for the new year!)

My wish for you is that your memories from this past year fill you with joy & wisdom, & as you dream & set goals for this upcoming year - that you are filled with hope & love!
Thank you so much for spending some of your moments of this past year with me here. . . I love that you come by & visit. . .!!

. . .  & here's to those wonderful, fleeting, but memorable. . . blue moons!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

… some little announcements. . .

. . . public service announcements - if you will. . . (actually I was just having a hard time coming up with a title for this post - as it's kinda random. . .!)

First - a reminder. . .

These are the last few days of our year end sale at the website. All patterns & books are 25% off - through December 31! I'll be making some updates & changes to the website over the month of January also. . . so that will be "fun" (she said crossing her fingers - hoping & wishing) !!!

. . . & speaking of change. . . the blog may look a little wonky for the next few days. . .  as I'm trying to install a 3-column template. . . (again. . . crossing my fingers & hoping & wishing!) It involves making changes to the html (which I know enough of to know that I don't want to know a lot. . .) & I tried it once with another template (it failed) - but hopefully - as this one comes with step by step directions. . . (God bless folks who do that!) - there is still hope that this one will work.

So. . . if things look a little "off" or some things are missing. . .  hopefully it will be temporary.
(Anyone who wants to cross their fingers & hope & wish with me are more than welcome to join in!)

Hope you are enjoying theses last days of 2009!

xo, Bren

Thursday, December 24, 2009

… Christmas wishes

Wishing you a season of wonder and thankfulness during this season when the greatest gift of love was given. 

I also want to thank you so very much for your visits to my little blog & for your sweet comments. . . they mean so much! You make this little blogging adventure so much fun!

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas & my best wishes & prayers for you as we enter this new year & new decade. . . (already?!? whew!. . . or as one of my former students would say, "shwoosh"!) 

Here's to all the precious memories & blessings of this year. . . & to the upcoming ones in the new year!

xo, Bren

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

… little Christmas touches. . .

Just a few more photos of the bit of Christmas decorations around the house. . . We are having a bit of a blustery day (snow forecasted for the mountains!) . . . so it seems like my wish for cool weather for Christmas is coming true!.

No tree this year (I'm aiming for getting at least one little one up next year) . . . so the decorations are mostly gracing some of the flat surfaces around the center of the house.  I pulled a variety of glass & ceramic bowls & dishes out of the curio for these cream, soft green, pink, & mercury glass ornaments. They are on a side table that borders my studio (between the studio & kitchen) - so they are passed several times daily.

They make me smile. I love their softness. They help make everything feel a bit more cozy.

My Christmas will be small, quiet celebration. . . with Bailey & Dad. But I actually quite like that fact. Don't get me wrong - I love big family gatherings & I have had some great times this past year getting together with my family (weddings!) &  with many of my cousins. . . but for me. . . I really do like my Christmas to be smaller & not frenzied. It seems to go along with how my life is these days. As I've been working in the studio the past few days - I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music (I love having Christmas tunes on all day long!) &  I've also searched for good movies on the television . . . (sometimes hard to find!) But yesterday I watched (re-watched really) the movie. 'You've Got Mail'. I have to admit - I really love that movie for some reason . . . but yesterday, there was a section that really hit home for me. Funny. Maybe it's the end of the year & I'm more reflective these days. . . & maybe it's the smaller Christmas celebration that I so treasure these days. I've heard these lines time & time again, but this time I really related. It's the lead female character, Kathleen Kelly, writing to an email-pal. . .

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."

I wish for you a wonderful, magical, warm  & blessed Christmastime.

xo, Bren

Friday, December 18, 2009

… 'trimming' the kitchen

I think that my favorite place to decorate is the kitchen. . . after all - it is the place where most of the preparation happens for the holidays.  One of my favorite (& easy!) ways to decorate is to use pine boughs. I think they give a lot of  decorative & festive bang for  your buck. I use the artificial kind of boughs. . . 

but I have one problem. . . 

. . . I find each year that my Dad has tossed the ones from the year before! Even last year - he had tossed the five (yes 5!) boughs that I used all throughout the house & when I. . . well. . . kind of threw a hissy-fit. . . he went a got three brand new ones. I thought that was nice. . .  (& needed - 'cause I had nothing to decorate with!). But then, this year when I went up to the attic to get down the boughs & decorations. . . there was just one bough! He had tossed two of the three (brand new) boughs. . .

. . . sigh.

I really tried to not have a hissy-fit this time.  . . (& he really felt bad) . . . but I told him NOT to go & buy new ones. (I think that maybe in the back of my head, I didn't want to have the money wasted - as there is a really good chance that they won't still be around next year!) So this year we have just one bough. . . strategically placed on the kitchen counter - where it is seen through out the day & evening from most all parts of the house.

A simple poinsettia & a red & white quilt help to finish the look.

And then there's the little 'candy shop' that has been a part of our Christmas tradition for years. It now holds what I like to call the "Grandpa candy". . . the 'Werther's Originals' that my Dad carries (& hands out) wherever he goes. (We always have bags of it on hand. . .) Even with just Dad & I here - it will still need to get filled up a couple of times this season!)

But really - the cutest things in this 'Christmas' kitchen are these guys . . .

I mean. . . really . .  how could I ever top these two!  By the way - this is what my Dad wore when he went around to all the neighbors - to deliver all the loaves of pumpkin bread he (& Bailey!) baked.  They look like a couple of Christmas elves don't they?   (. . . except for when Bailey looks a little nervous being held . . . I think he might have thought he was going to get a bath!)

I hope that you are having a great Christmas season. . . It's hard to believe that it's only a week away! 

xo, Bren

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

… a bit of Christmas cheer

After a week of spending most of my time in bed. . . 
& then feeling a little better last Saturday. . . 
. . . for a few hours. . . at least . . . 
. . . there hasn't been a lot of decorating completed around here. (Add to that fact - that Dad tossed two of the three brand new boughs that were purchased last Christmas. . . after he had tossed all of the boughs from the previous year!. . . Hmmm - maybe I'd better check to be sure he doesn't dislike them! lol!) But - I did get a couple of decorations down from the attic &  when you add quilts with those little touches . . . it is beginning to look a bit more festive around here.

My quilt 'Bittersweet' (from my Comfort & Joy book) has it's own special place on the dining room table. I love this quilt. It's made with various fabrics from several of the 'Mrs. March' & 'Quilter's Basic' lines by Lecien that I love to collect. It's been washed a few times so that it has that wonderful vintage-y quilty look that I love so much.

And - since we haven't put up a tree for the past couple of years. . . (I've decorated with boughs instead. . .) - I have had fun finding ways to use the vintage (& vintage reproduction) mercury glass ornaments that I love. For this setting, I placed them - along with a wonderful snowflake & some pine cones that are covered in cut glass glitter - that is aging beautifully. . . (!) - in a crystal bowl - so that we can see as much of them as possible.

Now that I'm feeling a bit better . . . (& am really tired of working from my bed!) . . . Hopefully in the next few days - I can take you a few other places around the house & share a little more holiday cheer (meaning. . . I can get them finished!) 
Until then. . . Hope you staying warm  & cozy!

xo, Bren

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

… a bit more baking

Yesterday there was more baking. None by me. . . still nursing a cold . . . but these guys made is smell wonderful all over again. . .

(I actually took these photos of Dad & Bailey) on the first day of baking. . . but didn't get them download before my last post.)

Bailey is certainly a wonderful assistant. . . for whomever is working in the kitchen. He is perfecting when to back out of the way. . . & then definitely - when he can - to move in for a sniff or two!

. . . & of course - whenever there were pumpkin bread crumbs. . . he was very available to assist!

This afternoon - they plan to do it one more time. . . & I must admit - I'm looking forward to the smells. . . (as well as listening in to the conversations that Dad has with Bailey while they're in the kitchen. Serious cuteness.)

One of the things that I realized a few days ago - when I was working with Dad on the market list for the pumpkin bread ingredients - was that my Mom's recipe cards are fading a bit. You can see on our pumpkin bread recipe card (above) - that my Dad has written over some of the numbers & letters as they were really disappearing. (Also, if you click on it. . . it will should enlarge & you've got a great recipe for pumpkin bread!)

I have always loved my Mom's handwriting - since I was little - & now, anything that has her handwriting on it is even more precious to me. So when I saw the recipe card & got out some of the others - & they were also beginning to age & fade - I decided that I couldn't bear for these to be lost to time - so I gathered several of them & scanned them into my computer. 

My thought was not only to save the recipes (I could have typed them out) but to save the image of my Mom's touch. . . her handwriting. . . the dishes that she made for us. . . the memories that those dishes evoke. . . & even the kitchen stains that several of the cards bear. . . 

I also want to make a little book  - using the scanned recipe cards & also photos of Mom & our family growing up - for each my brother & sister & their kids (the grandkids) - so they can also have the recipes & remember too. There are many online places that you can create your own books. I have made a few using my iPhoto on my Mac & they have a links directly to make calendars, cards, & books. . .( so if you have a Mac & iPhoto I highly recommend it!)  but I also know of several other places like 'Blurb' , Heritage Makers, & Lulu where you create your own book.

So . . . now I have a new project. . . 

. . . but what a great one!

xo, Bren

Monday, December 7, 2009

… a bit of Christmas baking

. . . not by me though. 

Dad has taken over the kitchen & I'm staying out - as I have a great big cold - complete with sniffling & sneezing. . . all the things you don't want in the kitchen. So I took the photos & got myself out of the way.

I'm really tickled that Dad is 'picking up the baton' - so to speak - as baking breads were the thing that Mom would do every Christmas-time. . .  & it is a great way for Dad to keep busy during the holidays.

Although Mom would bake pumpkin bread & cranberry bread. . . Dad had chosen to make the Pumpkin bread. I remember helping Mom by sorting through bags & bags of cranberries & grating orange rind & nutmeg for the cranberry bread loaves. . . but I'm thinking that Dad doesn't want to go through all the extra steps. . . (& secretly - although he liked them both -  I think he always favored the pumpkin bread!) So the other day - we went through all the ingredients & he went to the market for his supplies. When he came home. . . & was unloading the car - I realized that he was planning to make a lot of bread!. . .

So far. . . he's made eight loaves. . . with eight more to be made!

They will  go to all of the neighbors & then also there will be one for each of the guys in my Dad's prayer group. (My Dad meets once a week with a small group of men & they visit & share prayer requests & then the spend the rest of the time praying for these requests, & for our country - it's leaders, & for the world. . . . One of the things I love about my Dad. . .!) Then a few of the loaves will go into the freezer - so he can slice some - toast it & enjoy it with his coffee.. . . (as well as some pretty sweet memories too.)

As for now. . . I wish you could smell how good it smells here. . .  (Thank you Lord, that even with my cold - I can smell the wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen!). . . 

. . . & Dad is already busy working on the second batch. . .

. . .oh. . . & of course with the "assistance" of you-know-who!

I may not be able to help out in the kitchen this time. . . but at least I am getting to capture some wonderful warm memories.

. . . & for that I am so very thankful.

xo, Bren

Friday, December 4, 2009

… a sweet little thing

Many of you may have already seen this  - but I just had to share  this sweet little thing. . . (even Bailey thinks so!)

Hope you have a great weekend. . . full of wonderful 'surprises'!

xo, Bren

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

… business in the studio

After a few days of feeling like I was spinning my wheels. . . things are now humming along in the studio.

Actually, I have been quite busy - it was just doing those kind of tasks where I couldn't really feel any progress. . . even though it was happening. (It's at times like these past few days - that it's a bit scary to be running your own business.)  But after spending the last two days working in Photoshop. . .(working on details, details!) -  today I get to start stitching the designs I've been working on. I'm so excited about this new design too. . . so you know there will be peeks coming soon!

The one thing that I have decided. . .  (or really  - have finally hit the 'reality' wall!) - its that I am going to "make" myself spend at least one hour - every day - in the office. It's December. . . (when did that happen? . . . & how did it happen so fast. . . ?) . . . & I have to admit that there are a few piles in my office that are begging to be filed in the drawer - or in the 'big circle file' (read: trash). . . they just need me to sit down & weed through them. Sigh. I really don't enjoy doing this part - (ergo  - why I have said piles). One of the piles that really need attention is my receipt basket - I haven't updated my QuickBooks with my purchases for a few months!. . .  (Yikes!)  I'm updating to the 2010 version of QuickBooks for January - so I must get everything up to date! Also. . . it will be such a nice way to start the new year - with my office all neat. . . all my files tidy. . . & all the desk surfaces clean & 'pile free'! (sigh, . . . I feel better even thinking about it!)

So - to do a bit of 'blog cleaning' . . . I wanted to update a couple of things. . . first is the fact that I've not yet made the announcement that Lecien has my new free pattern available! It's called 'A New Day' (see it above), &  I put the link up on the right column & it will link you to the pdf that you can save to your computer. We made it with my 'Celebration' line - & it is wonderfully simple to make. (Also - you can play around with the setting of the blocks t0 make  different looking quilts each time!)

Also. . . after I got 'cleaned-out' of my 'Celebration' bundles last month (when I first made them available) - I buckled down & made some more. . .  You can find them here. . .  & I also want to remind you that Shabby Fabrics & Fat Quarter Shop - are two of the online shops that I know have it currently available (& yardage too!) Also - please don't hesitate to ask your local quilt shop if they are going to be carrying it. I'm hearing stories all the time of how shops are ordering the fabrics because they are getting calls for it! (. . . & thank you to those of you who are asking!)

Lastly - if you are a shop that is carrying (or will be ) my 'Celebration' fabrics - please email me & let me know. I am getting a lot of emails from customers asking where they can find it - & I am hoping to compile a listing so that I can help as much as I can. Also - please email me &  let me know if you are a web-shop or a brick & mortar shop & all of your contact info. I am also collecting the names of shops that are carrying the Cosmo flosses - & will be posting that info later this month. . . So, if you are - or will be - carrying Cosmo flosses or threads - let me know!

Okay. . . I think that concludes today's business. . .!  :o)

. . . now I have some new stitchery designs calling my name!

xo, Bren

 ✼ ✼ OH! I almost forgot! In the spirit of the season of giving. . . we are continuing our sale on the website through the end of the year. . . ! So you can save 25%! off all patterns & books!