So much so that I am actually posting a new entry in less than a week!!!

I managed to get a treeful of birdie ornaments done in time to give to the ladies at our last patchwork group before the Christmas break. I like the way they turned out and kept a few for my own tree.
A Flock of Birdie Ornaments

I also had a knitathon last night, got on a roll till 2am finishing up bath scrubbies as teacher gifts… Tried to go all Martha Stewart on the presentation… I liked em! I gave the teachers some soap I got in Oregon this summer as well…hope they like them!
My fancy packaging for teacher gifts
Aisling's main teacher gift Knitted Scrubbies for teachers

I also finished 3 little elves I got as a kit when I visited Sweden 2 years ago. It is nice to clear out some of my boxes and get the few kits I have had for a while made and being used!! I think they are cute, might keep them and the soft trees out after Christmas, lol!!

Big excitement for me this week was receiving my angel from Kris in the Netherlands. Barbara hosted an angel doll swap and look what landed on my doorstep: this gorgeous angel with its windmill trim and wooden shoes. Not only that she spoiled me with chocolate, tea, some yummy fabrics , and a nice needle case with quilting needles.
Amazing Angel Swap goodies

And before I go….don’t tell Cathi, but here is what “Dave” got her at the local lady who sells fabric (it is a pretty decent quilt shop for running out of her garage, despite crazy prices!!) How amazing he picked out just exactly the right poison green and cheddar orange civil war repros for her and all the little goodies she wanted to try that could fit in a stocking!! He also got her a new filofax there, she is forever trying to get herself organized!
Shhhhh! My stocking stuffers "Dave" got me!


Starting to bind the Dear Jane
…to finish this Dear Jane by the end of May!! I don’t want to be stressing out about finishing it in June, as it will be a busy month getting ready for our trip, celebrating birthdays, weddings, and first communions, not to mention Aine’s ballet recital… I really hope I can just focus on it now and in May and get it done. I am back stitching the binding onto the quilt for extra strength, so it is very slow going. The inside corners are not perfect, but they aren’t horrible so I will continue. Any tips for getting them nice and smooth? I am doing something that Katy suggested: putting the binding on the quilt and sewing it down around the back as I go along, so that I don’t have to go all the way around the quilt twice, lol, can get it totally done a little piece at a time.

 Gorgeous Bag from Marian
I got my gorgeous bag from Barbara‘s bag swap! Marian was worried about the bag as it took a few weeks to arrive from Holland, but it made it here. It was filled with a pattern, some chocolate and some Holland Drops licorice, most of which has disappeared already!

My socks are coming along well, on the second one, nearly down to heel flap. Any knitters reading this: which way do you prefer doing your socks? I would like to try some other ways of doing them, and have heard of socks on 2 circular needles, or one long one (magic loop), or doing two at the same time. What are your favorite ways, and any good links to the instructions (though I plan on Googling before my next pair of socks…)

A big THANK YOU  to so many of you that have sent or are sending mom a card! When I was in Bend I helped her start a blog for her journey to keep friends and family updated. If you are interested in checking in with her or saying hello, you can find her blog Cancer Warrior here. You have all been a wonderful support to me, for that I am very grateful.

Thank You Cards and Banana Breads for the Mommas
Last weekend I did a marathon baking session and gave out some thank you cards and banana bread to the moms that helped me out, 11 of them in total. I used my new Xyron machine to make recycled card graphics into new cards, and to make thank you stickers…what a cool toy for crafters!

It was a busy week with the kids, so I haven’t done as much as I wanted to but made progress on socks and binding and that is pretty cool. Here is a gratuitous photo of the girls, cuddled up under the Dear Jane quilt after I had marked the scallops and cut it out. Aren’t they cuties?
Girls Hanging out Under the Newly Marked Scalloped Dear Jane

Thank you everyone who has checked in on me after my blog break was heading for the two week mark. I am doing okay… a bit emotional about being 6000 miles away from my parents during a hard time (dad has since all this started had kidney stones and other issues that need to be checked into himself this week, when it rains it pours). I have not been doing well with eating (food is always my crutch under stress), but have thrown myself into swimming, and activities for the girls and kept busy.

I can’t really concentrate on a lot of crafting stuff right now, but have been obsessed with my DJ quilting which I can do without thinking, just sitting down and stitching away, so I have done that often…late at night or early in the morning, in between crazy hectic days! Here is a photo of a kite and a few triangles quilted in one of the borders.
Kite and Triangle DJ Quilting

I also have been the lucky recipient of a few packages! I did a trade with Jennifer at Moving Hands, I sent a bunch of civil war repro scraps for her Dear Jane blocks and she sent back all these lovely Quiltgate Japanese taupe fabrics, and some other lovely repros for my collection! I love all those muted colors on the taupe fabrics. Thank you so much!
Lovely Swap package from Jennifer

A lady in my Wednesday morning quilting group was clearing out her 1980/90s knitting stash last week and I scored some real Irish pure wool (called bainin…think it still has lanolin in it for Aran waterproof knitting) and some lovely linen cotton yarn. It is a real shame that Irish yarn makers don’t seem to make pure wool yarns anymore…I only see acrylic out there with maybe a bit of wool in it…
Some Vintage Irish Wool I Scored!!

Yesterday I got a very special package from my dear friend Barbara. We chat often on messenger and skype since meeting in blogland nearly 2 years ago and have visited each other, I can truly say she is a very close friend of mine in real life now. She knew how helpless I was feeling so far away from my family at this time and look what she sent to me. A gorgeously packaged quilt kit using her signature shabby chic floral fabrics. I was crying like a baby in the middle of our village after opening the package. Quilters are such generous people. Thank you so much Barbara from the bottom of my heart. I am glad to call you my friend.
Aine and Barbara's Gorgeous Present Box
Yummy Fabrics

Aine and Aisling went to Aine’s school disco last night! Here are a few photos of Aine and her friends partying down (okay all the did was hold hands and walk in circles around the dance floor…they didn’t want to dance!). It has been a while since I wrote how to pronounce their Irish names, they don’t sound like they are written! Aine is “on-ya” and Aisling is “ash-ling”, just in case you were curious!!
Aine and Sophie Aine and Aibheann
Aine the VampireReady for the Disco

It was a dance complete with a DJ and a bar for the parents, beer at a kid’s disco…well when in Rome Ireland… It was really crowded and crazy but the kids had a great time seeing their friends late at night (well…7-9pm late…)! Very cute!!

Aside from Halloween happening, I’ve been doing a bit more little projects here and there. I finished the next set of swap blocks for my Dear Jane swap with Katy.
DJ Swap 2

 And here is the status of my Ocean Waves quilt on my design wall: I’ve got 49 of 80 done…getting there slowly, oh so slowly!!  But I love using all the little scraps from the DJ and my repro box!!
Ocean Waves blocks update

My friend Jane and I have decided to try to meet here at my house on a Wednesday night for a mini sewing bee. She is a fellow quilter, very artistic and always inspirational. She brought over this African quilt for her future nephew whose daddy is Zimbabwean. I’m not sure, but Ruth, I think she got her inspiration from a similar book that you did…those paw prints reminded me of your quilt! She used all kinds of sizes of scraps and it really reminded me of a Gwen Marston type free form quilt construction… I love it, despite being mainly a fan of antique looking quilts!!
Jane's African Quilt
Oh yeah, and she has succumbed to “Jane’s Addiction” fitting, considering her name, lol!!
Jane's First Jane Project
She did this wallhanging for her sister but she is talking about doing the whole quilt for herself now!! Mwa ha ha!!!

Another long day here in our little town. Daddy left for a golf weekend with his buddies and wanted to walk Aine to school. My girls are a bit of mommy’s girls and she was refusing to let her daddy walk her to school. Makes me feel loved, but I hate that poor daddy feels slightly put out!! In the end she went happily skipping off to school with her daddy so all was well!

Aisling was invited over to her little friend Sophie’s house (I suppose I should call her her big friend Sophie, as she will always be called “Big Sophie” by Aisling, despite the fact that another girl she calls “Little Sophie” is a year older than Big Sophie and is one of Aine’s good buddies… I remember listening to an argument one day in the car over which Sophie was which… life is never dull). Anyway… Sophie’s mom very kindly gave us a ton of great clothes and toys for the kids. Aine is in the photo here putting together their new alphabet foam mat…she loves it!
Aine installing her new Alphabet Mat

It kind of got me to thinking about the many ways people these days are so much better about recycling and doing other thing more environmentally conscious. Don’t get me wrong, we all have a long way to go, but there is definite improvement over the last few decades!

I love getting hand me downs from friends, clothes and toys get a new lease of life, and it lets us spend what money we have saved more frugally.  I never understand people who buy their children only new clothes of the best labels, they get dirty and stained from the normal life of kids the minute they put them on! That is not to say that I don’t love and appreciate these gorgeous trendy clothes, lol, I just love to get them in charity shops instead of new! When the kids outgrow clothes, toys and even furniture (just gave friend Kathleen our changing table now that Aisling is potty trained!) it gives me a greater sense of satisfaction to pass these on to friends or charitable organizations than to add to landfills…

Aine’s school is doing a great job with the kids teaching them to recycle. Aine was “on jobs” this week, she got to lead the class and got to bring the bread crusts out to the birds during lunch, the other girl on jobs with her did the compost with their apple cores and orange peels… It is great that they are learning so early! Both my girls help recycle at home, and help me take peelings out to our own compost bins.

All our lovely swaps we do through our internet and blogging connections help us all to reduce or recycle too! Our giveaways help us reduce, lol. (Thanks everyone for taking everything off my hands, all the patterns and magazines are gone now!) Swapping might not help us reduce, but it gives us variety without having to buy more stuff in and that has got to be good right? Look at this gorgeous fabric Karol Ann sent. I swapped her some rose fabrics for these gorgeous African ones!
Karol Ann's African Fabrics

As a scrap quilter, I find it hard to thrown anything but the smallest bits away…and come to think of it, I bet those cotton scraps would do fine on the compost heap instead of the bin! I even keep small pieces of batting, figuring I’ll use them for either rag quilts, or other small projects eventually, or maybe even as pillow stuffing… I’m slowly trying to reduce my stash as well, and have very little yardage, mainly scraps for my projects… I love it!!  I also love that we crafters and quilters can take scraps of things and turn them into useful beautiful objects, repurposing old dresses, shirts…

Just a bunch of random thoughts I had this weekend, but somehow they all link together… It has been a long weekend alone with the girls, and not much quilting was done till today when daddy came back from his golfing weekend. I made a blitz to finish a whole row this week, and am now up to 116 blocks on the Dear Jane!! I only have 4 rows of squares left, then the quilt must come off the frame to quilt the triangles…should get to start on the triangles before Christmas at this rate! When I started my Dear Jane, I didn’t have any reproduction fabrics, but through meeting wonderful people on the Dear Jane mailing list and online, I have been able to trade for most of the fabrics I used in the quilt…trading a few scraps I was generously given at the start of my journey and amassing a larger collection as I went along, I called her my Frugal Jane! I remember trading Irish thimbles and ornaments…trading siggies and scraps… Why buy more when you can share and trade? And I’ve continued to share what I’ve been given, passing scraps on to fellow and future Dear Jane quilters! Reducing and recycling some more…
Dear Jane Row (really column 1) quilted

I’m off to work on dad’s Bend mountain quilt upstairs…if the kids ever quiet down and go off to sleep!!