Monday, December 31, 2012

Thank you...

Thank Yous usually come at the end of blog posts, but I'd thought I'd break precedence and start off by expressing my gratitude to you, the loyal readers of Laurel's Quill.  In the three years since I started this blog, I've only accumulated 64 official followers, but the rest of you who tune in every now and again are among my most treasured and loyal "following".  In the three years since January, 2010, Laurel's Quill has had almost 9,500 page views, which means somebody must be interested. Though you may not be "official", I appreciate you and every person who visits or claims "I love your blog" or tells me "I love reading about the stuff you do".  Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

If I don't fall off the fiscal cliff, I plan to write, photograph and otherwise continue to document the "Stuff I do" in 2013. The project list is long this year and includes some "finishing stuff I do" and some "starting new stuff".  I hope you tune in, and leave me a comment or pumps my ever needy ego...LOL!!!

Wait for it..................

More of this... sewing for Dress a Girl Around the World...why not join me at a sew fest??

I want to continue to challenge myself with more of this....

My furniture is pushing it's limit after 18 years, so why not do a little reupholster this chair...just not sure what color or pattern, but I'm pretty sure it's NOT going to be that hideous Emerald Green that is supposed to be the NEW color for 2013.

I WILL finish this art quilt, I promise....I actually tried it out in the family's going to be a great addition to the Southwest thing we have going on in there.

I hope to take some stuffing out of Colette this year...maybe the Paleo diet?

Let's pay off some of these in case the drop off the cliff is higher than we can all imagine...

And I think I will create the second volume of Laurel's Quill in hardback at the end of 2013. I used My Publisher to make a coffee table book of my favorite blog posts since the beginning of my blog.  It is important to preserve some of my writings, so I'm thinking I'll create a new volume every year...

My hubby is an avid reader of Laurel's Quill, so I thought about adding pictures of things that I'm putting on HIS HONEY-DO list for the weather stripping on the front door, the window...never mind.  I better stick with my own list. 


Happy New Year, and may all your dreams come true!

Laurel.  It's going to be a great year!
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Grandpa's Cookie Day

The hubby has a sweet tooth.  He is the only person I know who gets up in the morning and eats a cookie, cuts a slice of that nasty fruitcake he likes, or whatever else SWEET might be laying around. So it should be no surprise that he invented his own little "holiday event" for the grandchildren: Grandpa's Cookie Day.

Now, we're not talking about the typical confections that one could bake at Christmas - you know the ones I'm talking about - fudge, bourbon balls, thumbprints, lace, etc.  There's only one kind of cookie that is on the agenda for this day - SUGAR COOKIES...with lots of soft gooey icing and sprinkles!

The fun starts the night before...somebody has to make all that dough!  The two oldest grandchildren (19 and 17 years) come over and start the baking in the evening. Grandpa and Kyle are a team, and Kellie and I team up. We make 4 batches of dough, as there are 9 grandchildren who love sugar cookies too! Did I mention that Kellie and I make prettier cookies and...we are faster too?? Duh!

We use a tried and true sugar cookie recipe that Dave got from my nephew's wife Roberta:

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
6 cups flour

We chill the dough for about 30 minutes before rolling it out to 1/4 inch thick and cutting the shapes.
We bake for 9 minutes in a 375 degree oven. They look rather pasty, but they make a nice soft cookie.

Over the years I have collected a lot cookie cutters - tin, copper, plastic...all shapes and sizes.  I even found some alphabet shapes, so that each grandchild can have there own initial in cookie dough!

I think the pool table in our family room gets more use as a buffet table, a place to fold the laundry, a nice big surface to cut out a dress pattern, rather than a game of 9-Ball.  On Cookie Day, it gets covered with brown paper.  I mark off a square for each child and as they make their little creations, they put them in their own designated square.

I also cover the kitchen table with a plastic table cloth for the decorating.  I used to think that the older the kids got, the neater they would be.  Not the end of the day, the kitchen is a disaster...there are sprinkles everywhere and frosting in places I wouldn't expect, etc.

The morning of Cookie Day, I make the icing. I use a recipe that I have always used to frost cakes (even my wedding cakes back in the day!) as nobody seems to like that hard crusty frosting typical of store bought sugar cookies.

2 boxes XXX sugar
2 cubes butter
2 tsps vanilla
1/2 cup milk
pinch salt, if the butter is unsalted
Beat the crap out of it!  I also add a touch of corn syrup to thin as necessary.

I make 4 batches for all those cookies, as I hate to run out...and because much of the icing ends up sticking to fingers, smeared on the chairs and down in the tummies. I use Wilton's cake colors of red and green, along with some white, pink, blue and "brown". The icing goes in bowls with little appetizer knives for the little hands.  I also fill some plastic cake decorating cones with icing for "squeezing" on added color (be sure to close them at the ends with rubber bands, otherwise the frosting is all over the place). I also collect sprinkles of all kinds, but this year I decided to use what I already had on hand.

As the kids have gotten older, the intensity has gone up a notch or two.  They work very hard on creating unique designs and colorful combinations.  That is, until they start getting bored with it all. Parents often jump in to help.

After several hours the pool table is covered with sweet confections...colorful and imaginative cookies that they get to take home!!  Of course, the price of admission to Grandpa's Cookie Day is that Grandpa gets a square on the table too, and every child must "donate" one of their creations.

After all, tomorrow morning is Christmas Eve, and the sugar high will have worn off, and Grandpa will need a fix!!!

 Laurel. Leaving the mess for Grandpa:)
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Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012, 7:41a.m. PST...Just in Case

Now what time is the world suppose to end today???
It sure doesn't look like any time soon...

Just in case it does, I love you all!!
Laurel.  Still here. (Duh...)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Two More Shopping Days 'til Doomsday...

You gotta love the Internet...I get some of my best belly laughs and worst frustrations reading some of the nonsense in the social media. Despite the hoopla surrounding the Winter Solstice and the impending end of the world, my more rational and spiritual sides say I'm still going to be around for 2013.

I'm not much of a resolution kind of girl, but in light of the fact that the Mayan Calender WILL just keep plugging along, I asked the hubby what he wanted to do in 2013.  I always ask these kinds of deep questions when he's trapped in the car, driving somewhere, as every woman knows that's when you get your best responses. Despite their pretense of concentrating on the jerk who just cut them off, they ARE thinking about what you said and trying to figure out a way to answer without getting in a full scale assault. This time, my question was rather banal, so for him, it was easy: 'build the outdoor cabinet around my Green Egg". He didn't say 'golf more' or fish more', as that is a given.

"What about you?", he asks. Yeah Baby, that's what I'm talking about. We all know that we women ask those kinds of questions because what we really want is to answer our own questions. But even as I asked him, I wasn't really sure if I knew what I wanted to do in 2013.  After a mile or two down the street, I said 'I guess I want more of the same.'  Yeah, more of the same, but more of it. And maybe more "better" too...

* More good times with friends. I love my little social groups - the knitting ladies, the book club ladies, the foodie ladies, the sewing ladies. I love my Monday Night Friends, my spiritual rocks.

* More knitting. They say there's a hobby for every person depending on your personality type...over thinkers, like me should knit. It must be true, I read it on the Internet.  Seriously, it must be true, as it's pretty hard to worry about your IRA account when you're counting YOs, K1 P2s. More lace!

* Cheaper (and better) wine. Just knowing that I found a good cab in Costco for $8.99 brings a smile to my face. Who doesn't like the BevMo $.05 cent sale?

* More short day trips. Exploring our region is always pretty in Central California with lots of little towns left unvisited, country roads to be discovered, small shops to find.

* More lunches out. Eating good food is an important facet of my retirement life. Dave collects write-ups in the paper about restaurants and cuisines and saves them in a folder.  When we are looking for something to do, we go to the folder and pick a place to try.

* More (and better?) serving. I LOVE my sewing ministry for Dress a Girl Around the world, so more of that! Perhaps finding another way to serve in my community...

* More of the same things that made me smile in 2012. Sitting by the fire, watching good television programming (could we get some of that, please?), sewing a nice outfit for Colette, finishing a sweater, cooking a great meal, loving my grandchildren and enjoying our family traditions.

Yep, just more of the same in 2013. Okay, maybe I could lose some weight...and get more excerise...maybe we could re-do the hallway floor...what about new carpet? Finish the Art Quilt?? A trip to Europe?? Cruise????

If by chance the psychos are right about December 21st, my shopping IS done.

What are you doing in 2013???

Laurel. I'm still here.  You?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Inside Out...

You're making your way through a rack of clothes and you come upon a jacket labeled "Reversible".  Even though it's semi-ugly, the word triggers an automatic response - you can't resist taking it off the rack just to check out the inside. More than likely, if it's tacky on the outside, it's a given that the inside won't be much prettier. Perhaps it's the thriftiness in me, or the creativeness, I'm not sure, but I will always look at the inside, even though I have no intention of buying it. To me, "Reversible" usually means "bulky", "unattractive", or "I would NOT wear THAT on the outside!"

Some things are okay with their insides showing.  I spotted a knitted cowl in a yarn shop that I thought was kind of cute.

"It's reversible", the sales person said, like that fact alone was going to make me want to make it. I took a peak at the inside, and sure enough, the inside actually looked the same as the outside. Bonus! So I immediately purchased a nice soft turquoise wool and sure enough, it's going to be lovely...and reversible!

Some things are meant to be a quilt.  When experts judge a quilt, they look at the back of it, just to see and judge the quality of the stitches. When you make a quilt for a bed, the back needs to be just as pretty as the front. I've only made one real bed quilt. I loved designing and sewing the quilt top, but hand quilting turned out to be not so much fun.  My Mom finished it for me. 

The back of an art quilt, on the other hand, doesn't usually show. It just hangs on the wall.  However, the art quilt aficionados will ALWAYS try to lift the quilt to see the back.  The intricacies of the quilted stitches and thread painting are what make art quilts "works of art".  I'm presently working on my second art quilt, inspired by the colors of New Mexico. I am using a multi colored thread in the bobbin, so the back of the quilt is quite interesting on it's own.  I have a long way to go!

Some things are not meant to show their drawers.

Certain things are sometimes prettier on the people.  Unfortunately - or maybe not - we often hide our "inside" self to the world, only trotting it out for special people. We are basically vulnerable people, exposing our underbelly to those whom we trust, those whom we love.  We live on the outside, editing our words and curbing our actions to fit in, to be liked, to be okay.

Often, who we are "on the inside" has far more value than we ourselves believe.  In truth, we are complex and messy creatures...a wonderful mish-mash of beauty and ugliness, intelligence and stupidity, grace and clumsiness, generosity and selfishness, creativity and indifference, calm and angst, confidence and insecurity. Inside and out, we are "fearfully and wonderfully made".

Praise the Lord...we are reversible!

Laurel.  Inside Out.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blogging Award...

It's so nice to know that people notice and like your blog!!!


Laurel's Quill has been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by Ana at The Lost Apron. The Liebster Blog Award is an award you receive and an award that you give to bloggers with less than 200 followers. It was created to promote appreciation and recognition among the blog world.   Liebster translates to "dearest" (or favorite/best) in German. It is also known as the Love Blog Award.

Yay...I am loved...and isn't that WHY we blog????

The Rules for the Liebster Award:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
5. No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

So here goes....first I must post

11 Random Things about Laurel...

1.) I operate out of both sides of my brain: artistic and analytical - while I am creating, I over think everything.
2.) I am a reformed slob who is obsessed with having everything pretty around me.
3.) I have a BA in Economics, which is of no earthy use whatsoever...unless of course you want to understand the supply curve of your favorite fragrance at Bath and Body and why it's been discontinued.
4.) I am fun.
5.) I have a heart for single Mother's (I was one), for women who are hurting (I used to be one), and for women who lost children (I did).
6.) I play the (at) piano. I'm not very good, but my Kawai ebony grand is stunning!!  LOL! 
7.) I took ballet lessons when I was in my early 20's. HUH???
8.) I have bad knees...DUH!
9.) My favorite thing to do is wander around in a cute little town with cute little shops. Or go to the wine country. Or travel to Europe.
10.) I am a middle child and all that it entails.
11.) I am beloved by God. (And that's probably the most important thing about me)


Questions that I have to answer, set by Ana, my nominator:
1.)  What is your favorite holiday tradition that your family does? I  invented my own holiday, Fall Family Dinner, as it is difficult to get everyone together on the traditional holidays.

2. What is your favorite type of exercise? Walking. But I'm not very diligent.

3. Where are you longing to travel to? The list is long, but probably Italy (again).  I'd love to cruise, but Dave isn't keen on that again.

4. What is your pet peeve? Whiners.

5. Why did you decide to blog? I love to write, and I do a lot of creative I wanted to have an outlet to combine my loves.

6. What is a special skill that you have? I can make a gorgeous wedding cake, sew a wedding gown, and tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue:)

7. What is your favorite pastime? maybe sewing tomorrow.

8. What is the one thing you do differently than your mom? I don't like gardening. She's 87 and still "farms" her city lot.

9. What is one of your time wasters? Picking up my iPhone, and all that it entails.

10. What was your favorite comment on your blog about? Hard to pick one.  I can say that I get the most comments on posts when I link up to Magpie Tales.

11. What have you made (created) that you are most proud of? My first Art Quilt.

And There Ya have it!!!! More information than you probably ever wanted!  Now it's my turn to do the asking. I am passing along the Liebster Award to some of my favorite blogs! Don't forget to visit their blogs!

Just My Thoughts
Always Smiling
Samantha Anderson Photography
As if By Magic
Beauty in the Ordinary
Bethany Marie
Texas Supernatural Tales for Youngins
Lazy Cowgirl
My Life as a Broken Umbrella
And My life Goes on

And FINALLY.... Here's my questions for all the great bloggers above:

1.) What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?
2.) What makes your blog unique?
3.) What are you reading right now?
4.) Name your favorite all time job and why?
5.) What is your favorite childhood memory?
6.) If you had a top 10 list of anything, what would be Number 1 on it?
7.) Drive or Fly? And where to?
8.) If you won the lottery, what would you buy first?
9.) When you're feeling down, what is your "pick me up"?
10.) Which of your blog posts got you the most page views?
11.) What would your best friend say is your most endearing quality?

Note to nominees: Please leave me a comment with your post so I can read up on you. Also link back to this post on your blog. (Please do not be offended if you have way more than 200 followers.)

Laurel. Thanks Ana.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rainy days are good for....making dresses!

The West Coast has been battered with rain for the last week.  Of course we haven't suffered nearly the same ravages of Mother Nature that Sandy brought to the East Coast, nevertheless, even I am a little sick of the rain and wind. When it pours non-stop for a week, I tend to hunker down and a work on UFP's (unfinished projects) from my knitting and sewing piles.

Saturday was a Dress a Girl Around the World sew fest, and despite the pouring rain, I wasn't going to miss it.  Thankfully, I wasn't the only gal who packed up her sewing machine and drove in the rain just to gather, chat and create dresses for the little girls in far away countries. We had quite a crowd of enthusiastic volunteers.

I'm starting a pictorial record of the dresses that I make.  For one, when I create a design, I like to imagine a little girl squealing with delight "I want that one!". For me it's important to create something that one of my granddaughters would love, not just whip together "something to wear". Secondly, I pray about the little girl who will eventually get to wear it - prayers for safety, for good health, for self-confidence, for education opportunity. So the photo album will serve to keep them in my thoughts.

I made three dresses yesterday and I returned several that I had made during the month of November. I had taken several "kits" home last month. And you know me - I have to put my creative stamp on everything- so I trotted of to Hancock's and purchased additional bias tape, fat quarters for pockets, ribbons and trims.


The original Dress a Girl dresses are made from pillow cases, but you can make them out of any washable fabric. I think I had these striped sheets back in the 70's, only in kelly green, so it was a challenge to make this pillowcase cute!

I also found this yellow pillowcase that had a pretty wide hem at the bottom that added too much bulk.  Solution? Cut it off and make it shorter, add some cute trim and a pocket.  I love yellow and blue together.

The possibilities are endless...some many little girls, so many dresses to make.  Yesterday one of the ladies brought in some pictures from her missionary friend in Uganda.  The little girls were wearing some of the dresses that our group had sewn.  Now that's what I'm talking about - doing something for those less fortunate and actually witnessing the results!

Another one of those pillowcases that reminded me of years gone by...but it made a cute dress by just adding some bright pink pockets and buttons!
My fabric stash comes in quite handy for this project.

Every dress must have a pocket.  Yesterday, one of the ladies sized all the finished dresses and slipped a pair of panties in the pocket before packaging them for shipment.  I think the pockets are our best opportunity to add personality to each dress.  I use a blanket stitch to add an applique...

Who doesn't love hearts???

From my heart to yours, sweet child...

Laurel. Loving this...

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