Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Birthday Celebration

 I have to admit that Halloween has never been the best choice for a birthday.

When I was a kid, we could never sit through a whole meal without jumping up to answer the doorbell many times over.

It also meant all kinds of nicknames like Witchy, Batty, and Bones.

In Tokyo we used to live in a small community with about 30 houses built for foreigners and the neighborhood kids came trick-or-treating and often were joined by Japanese kids who knew about the possibilities of getting candy ... but basically that custom is not well known and Halloween is a time for dressing up in costumes and walking in parades.

I think many stores take advantage of the holiday. Sales people could be found in costume ... even in the fabric store where they had Halloween fabrics and items for sale. Flower shops ... grocery stores with American style pumpkins (Japanese ones are not for carving but sweet to eat and the color is a dark green) There are gourds like mini-pumpkins, toys and costumes and of course sweets.

Norie, Hiro, and Leia came for dinner and to spend the night. Leia and I had a cookie date for Saturday all set up.

I had seen one of Leia's school projects where she had arranged color tiles in an interesting pattern, so I pulled out my cut fabric tins ... the 2x2, 4x4, and 1x2 and 1x4. I thought Leia might enjoy arranging them in patches of 4 two inch and 1 4 inch blocks. Oh, nothing that simple ... this was a great math problem and after it was all laid out, she began to sew the pieces together.

You would never to know to look at the finished piece that it was done by a seven-year-old, The stitches were straight along the marked lines, about six or seven to the inch, and the corners met with precision.
I helped her join the rows together and she decided on a white cotton backing. She did not want the back turned to make a binding so we sewed the piece along the border and then turned it right-side-out.

Her plan is to use it for a luncheon mat and it needs to be thin enough to fold up in her lunch bag so no batting or quilting was needed.

While she was putting the finishing touches on the cookies, I hand stitched around the edge just inside of the border.

Here she is with the finished product.
I would like to be a mouse in the corner when she shows up at school with that.

And here is the cookie master with one tray left to decorate.

Lots of pumpkins, cats, witches, ghosts, owls, and moons.
Some of those cookie cutters I made from tuna cans back when her mother was into cookie decorating.

Now all is packed up and ready to take for sharing.

What a nice way to spend a birthday.... and as you may notice, I have learned a trick to get to my pictures. It is still not as convenient as my old laptop but I am happy ...

and even happier because my Daughter and family brought me a CD player that I can plug into my laptop and use to read my mother's diary which my brother had scanned and sent to me over a year ago.

Nothing like a distraction or two to set my quilting on hold....

I hope your Halloween is just as much fun.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Jumping through hoops

Or maybe the title should be ... finding the hoops to jump through.

Well, I finally got a picture to post, though I have not yet figured out how to edit or crop it.

While I have been without anything other than my mobile phone, I have had more time to work on this project.

This banner may be more of a compromise  than other years. Last year I almost quit because I did not want to waste my time adding more words, knowing they would have to be too small and not likely to even be read by people passing through the church foyer.

As it turned out, the pastor asked me to finish it as planned and give it to him. It has been hanging in view now for a year and many people liked it the best of all I have made.

However, this year's theme is the Shinkan-sen or bullet train. Since I was not overly enthralled about the image of jumping on the bullet train ... even if it might be heading for heaven ... I was removed from the committee.

A few weeks ago I was asked by the pastor if I was making a banner for this year. I told him I had been removed from the committee and had not been asked. Then a week or so after that, the committee head came to me and asked if I would make a banner. I told her I didn't want to make a bullet train and she could probably go to JR and get a poster of the Shinkan-sen that she could use.
There is some artist who is making projections that show the train tracks running off the top that have been shown during the service.

She has a fine connection with JR and her voice is one of the first things you hear when the English announcements begin as the train starts to pull out of the station. However, buying an expensive ticket and being then entitled to a comfortable seat, eating or napping or enjoying the scenery, is not an image that speaks to me ... and my train is usually the cheapie one where I stand and just try to keep my body above my feet while lurching from station to station.

Still, she wanted a banner and asked if I would agree to a bible verse ... to which I replied I'd give it a look and decide. Well, this is what she sent me. "Prepare the way". And this is what I could come up with from my stash. I had good advice on the quilting design from my husband and the choir members at the retreat. It was finished Saturday evening during our party and I picked up bias tape on my way home Sunday. My husband bought two dowels for hanging while I was at school yesterday. Tonight I will pass it to the church office.

At the choir retreat, one 14 year old son of two members came along and was kind to give me some time to show me where to find things on my new laptop. It is the same he uses for school but other than e-mail, the applications he uses are not the same as I use.

I wish I had taken my notebook along and written things down. He was quite fast to try things when what he could see didn't work. It did make me a bit braver to try without giving up. Even so, getting this one picture into a place where I could post it took enough effort and I still don't know how I did it.

Now I am back to the Christmas tree skirt. My daughter sent me an envelope with two paper snowflakes to use as patterns. I traced the first one and while I was appliqueing the first one on to the skirt, Nikko took the envelope out of my file box and chewed it up, leaving only a tiny scrap of the second design.

I am also waiting for a few more from Jon's family. I can't complain because he was so quick to come up with this new laptop and whisk it into the post ... all set up and ready to use.

Then .... there is the Christmas hanging for Marie's door .... No more excuses, I have to get out my sketch book and get going.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's been a while.....

At the end of September, I posted a picture of a baby quilt I was working on for one of the teachers at school.
That Friday, I went to school for half a day and when I left home, the quilt was lying on the sofa where I usually sit to work on it. My laptop was sitting beside it on the buckle box that holds my solid fabrics.
As I left, I said to my husband, "Please don't sit on the quilt. It has pins in it".  " Oh no, says he, I never sit on the sofa". Well, I know that is not exactly correct because that very morning I saw food crumbs and his coffee cup sitting on the table in front, next to my sewing box. Just in case, I put a box and a wastepaper can on the sofa to keep Nikko from climbing up and possibly eating my notebook, and went off to school.
When I returned and sat down to work on the quilt, I found it piled up on the back of the sofa and draped over the buckle box. No laptop in sight.
Well, the reason it was not in sight is that it had been shoved down inside the sofa, in the space between the back and seat.... and it was very hot. In fact it was a good thing it had not started a fire. Sadly, that was the end of my laptop.

The other day I got a phone call from one of my friends who must be watching my blog activity, wondering if I was OK.

Frustrated ... but OK. My cell phone could connect to my e-mail ... not open attachments or pictures, but I wasn't completely cut off. I don't know how those thousands of young people walk and ride the train and stand around texting because that is not my idea of fun!

I took the opportunity of extra computer-free time to finish up the quilt and took it to school on Monday, October 4th. I left it in the office with a sign-pen and a request for signatures and messages on the hands from the rest of the staff.

The following Monday I thought I would bring it home and take a picture of the finished quilt and the signed back, but when I stopped off at the office to get the address of the teacher, the secretary told me they had something to send also and would include the quilt.
I should have taken it to a sunny room and taken a photo but I didn't think of it until after I was on my way home.

This week I got a letter from the teacher saying she was so touched by the quilt and cried while reading the messages. I am so happy that she liked it.

Yesterday I had a wonderful package come through the door ... a new laptop sent from my Son in Colorado ... a MacBook Air ... and all set up with most of the things I use from day to day.
It will take a bit of getting used to but Jon called me today and talked me through some of the hoops.
Tomorrow I will figure out how to add some pictures and maybe sort them so I can locate them when I want them and put them on a post.

I was a bit surprised how much I got done on the Christmas tree skirt and another project while I had no distractions on the computer. Still .... I don't think THAT is the way to get extra time.

Thank you darling Jon!