More company!

Kevin’s family left, and then our good friends (who are moving to CA and needed a place to stay for a few days) came the next morning. Their baby and “our” puppy required 2-adult supervision. Neither was innocent: William kept knocking her over and getting way too excited, and just when we were about to side with the baby, she’d throw tupperware or toys at his head. I think they both genuinely liked each other, they just couldn’t figure out how to interact. Easiest when separated but still able to see each other!

William left today, which makes everything much, much easier.

Now we’re down to one cute little creature underfoot. Luckily, she’s mostly kept her distance from the fishtank and the tree, and is good about listening when it comes to staying out of cupboards full of glass jars or cleaning supplies. The pasta, can, and tupperware cabinets were deemed good play areas, though, and she’s been quite methodical about emptying them and handing off the contents to whoever else is nearby. Lots of “can you bring the bulger to Kevin?” or “ooh, a bag clip!”

Very cute and so fun to have them here.

Our puppy for a week

Our friends Shawn and Sanna (the ones who helped us move all of our furniture) were headed back to the east coast for Christmas, and so we got to puppy-sit their six month old cockapoo, William Wallace. He was surprisingly little work (especially while Kevin’s parents and sister were here to play with him, bring him outside, wipe off his feet, give him treats, etc…!), and though we had to remove the tinsel from the bottom branches of the tree, and listen to him cry when we wouldn’t let him help with the tree work, he’s been a great visitor.

He’s been very vigilant about chasing the wildlife outside. We have lots of flocks of tiny little birds (chickadees? Sparrows? I just got a bird book, so hopefully I’ll have a better report soon.), plus some enormous, fat squirrels. He didn’t bark, but you’d see him pointing at the door when he wanted to go out and run. Usually, whatever it was would scatter, and then he’d be stuck milling about, waiting for the next interesting creature.

He was all thwarted by the squirrels and their fence- and tree-climbing.

I don’t know which breed this comes from, but he’s an amazing jumper and pouncer. Any time we threw a toy for him, he’d conclude his run with an adorable, funny pounce. And we kept looking out into the back yard to see him running crazy puppy circles in which he’d clear the japanese maple (about a yard high and a yard and a half wide), or launch himself off of the top of the rockwork. Funny little dog!

(And since everyone has asked, we’re not getting a dog. We’re both dog people, but even when we were on vacation he was a bit much for the two of us. Adorable and wonderful to have sleeping on our feet, but early-rising, mud-footed, and frquently eating inappropriate things. I can’t imagine adding our work schedules to that as well… Better for a different stage of life than the current one.)

A white Christmas

Against all odds, it snowed on Christmas Day!! I couldn’t believe it when the rain kept getting more full-bodied and white. Such a pretty, cozy, unexpected treat. I didn’t manage to take any photos during the daylight, but here’s the snow lit by the tree in our backyard that Kristina decorated. We may have to leave these lights up year-round. 🙂

(Though we won’t keep that enormous pile of brush.)

Finally in the spirit

Despite our intentions of having a tree set up and ready to decorate when Kevin’s family arrived, we spent those last few days madly drywalling, and then the last 24 hours madly cleaning up a month’s worth of construction tools, dust and debris. In the end, it wasn’t until they arrived that we piled in the car to go find one. It turned out to be a great group activity. We headed over to our old neighbourhood, and though the lot that I bought from last year had already been taken down, we spotted another tree lot behind one of the drive-up espresso huts. We all seemed to love the same tree, but the price was atrocious, and so reluctantly we left. The lot guy followed us back to the car and offered a $20 discount, which made it merely expensive, and so we took it.

It’s definitely the prettiest of the Boston and Seattle trees I’ve had over the last five years. Lots of strong branches, and it’s full while still having plenty of holes for ornaments to hang in. The needles have a pretty blue tint to them. And it smells wonderful.

After bringing it home and chopping off the base, Kevin and his dad got it in the stand:

We listened to the Josh Groban Christmas cd that Kevin’s mom gifted us with, I put up the lights, we all did ornaments, and then Kevin and Kristina finished up the tinsel. So pretty.

We also did several spots with spare pine branches, pine cones and candles. On the family room windows:

(and a dramatic zoom-in)

… the living room,

… and the kitchen.

The fish room fireplace got a wreath. (We’ve actually had it since the beginning of December, during one of the Home Depot runs. It’s a little squashy by this point, since it keeps launching itself off of the wall and onto the floor.)

To get in the spirit, we had strawberry-basil martinis – more of a summer-by-the-grill drink, but the colors are seasonally appropriate at least, and it’s been the house drink of 2007 so we felt obligated to serve it to our company. 🙂

As everyone finished up the tree, I finally wove my advent wreath. (Here, concentrating and intent.)

Instead of four weeks of advent, it only got four days. But it was bright and new (instead of dry and crispy) for the visit, and it meant that we could actually leave the candles burning for all of dinner each night, which was pretty.

Two and a half years later

The quilt is finally sewed onto its backing, and I’ve sewed my sheets together to make the comforter cover! Here it is, finished and on the bed!

Once all of the piecing was finished, I added a border, and then sewed that onto a dark blue queen size sheet. Then, I cut and pressed more of the border fabric to make an edging for the sheet, and cut a second sheet for the back to make overlapping pocket to slide the comforter into. Kevin’s family arrived when I was halfway through sewing the front and back sheets and the border strip together. I finally finished the next morning while everyone was showering.

Here’s the view from the door. Like our new bed? A wedding present from Kevin’s parents – so pretty. And the side tables are such a step up from our old $15 dorm room Target cube “furniture”. 🙂 Yay!

I also love the back, since I’m pleased with the overlapping slip that I made for inserting the comforter into my cover.

In my opinion, a pretty use of existing sheet seams. 🙂

Several people have pointed out that this isn’t really a quilt, since quilting is actually the process of sewing a front face to a back face, through batting. Technically, what I’ve done is only piecing, even if it was complex. That’s true, but it’s close enough for me that I’ll continue to think of it as my first quilt.

For the full blog history, check out the early quilt and quilt categories of posts. It’s fun to see how well it all came together.

Now I’m having a bit of project letdown – after all, this has been two and a half years in the making and I’m finding that I miss having it as an option to work on. Luckily, there’s a very easy solution. I think that the daybed in my room needs something to cover it. 🙂

I’m thinking of browns and pinks, to make the contrast between the bed frame and the rest of the room a little bit less severe. No landscapes this time – just straight squares of some sort. The easy default is another log cabin (though I think I’d use wider strips for this one), but I’m browsing around on the web and completely open to suggestions. Any ideas?


Tonight was the most complicated portion of the sewing: binding the mountains to the sky with a differentiator strip of blue between.

The mountains and the sky are 45 degrees off of each others’ axis, so it took a little bit of effort to make everything look the way it seemed that it should. I pinned the sky on top of the mountains, and then sewed left to right, adding the blue strips along the way. This picture should give you a good sense of the scale of the project (look at the needle).

Once that was done, I sewed the hills (and attached lakes and trees) on over the mountain base.


Meanwhile, Kevin’s been drywalling like a madman, and has made it through the third coat of joint compound. It looks amazing.

It’s been becoming increasingly clear that we won’t make it through priming, let along painting, before his family arrives tomorrow but the room is at least cleared out of all construction scraps and relatively clean. (Some awesome guy saw our Craigslist ad and bought (aka carted away) the leftover pieces and paid us $25. We were pretty psyched. And, all of the tools in the foreground have been moved to shelves in the garage – a pretty major improvement.)

Too close for comfort

I am so, so close on the quilt, but this last part looks to be the most difficult. The white snow caps of the mountains don’t contrast well against the yellow horizon of the sky, so I’m inserting a small dark blue band between them. I’ve taken a bunch of inch wide strips and ironed a seam into them so that the new strips can just appear between the white and yellow. I pinned them together (and repinned, and repinned – it’s hard to get the 45 degrees off grids to match up correctly). Here’s the preliminary view.

Next, I have to insert these ½ inch wide little stubs for contrast, while sewing the two big parts together. Very fidgety, and not a little intimidating.

Peer Pressure

I’ve been really impressed with our neighbours so far. They seem to religiously clean the storm drains, brought some really cute kids around trick-or-treating, and are pretty industrious with the yardwork on the weekends. We came home a few days ago to a package on the front porch – someone started a holiday gift-giving chain letter. You discover a package of candy on your doorstep, with a sign that says “Ho Ho” and instructions to make two new signs, bake or amass treats, and put them on the doorstep of someone else on the block in the interest of “cheer and goodwill”. Once you’ve participated, you put the HoHo sign on your door so that people don’t regift you. Well, one day became two and Kevin and I became more and more stressed. (Usually, the words “chain letter” have no power over me. Apparently this whole “neighbourhood” concept is a brand new beast.) Our package had a slew of chocolates meant to be melted in coffee, plus a mini-stash of Halloween candy (a foil-covered chocolate eyeball, a butterfinger, some smarties…). Our kind of people, but still.

So, Kevin went to the drugstore to buy chocolate in pretty boxes, and I hauled the old calendars out of their niche in the closet, and made these.

Chainletters or whatever, I think they’re all sorts of pretty. The calendar was a collection of paintings by Alfredo Arreguin. The pictures I chopped for the yellow page were a jungle scene, so there are plenty of monkeys, toucans, and leopards. The violet page has salmon leaping through lots of spray.

And, I finished the squares! Here’s a way-too-blue photo of the new triangles after I cut them.

I decided that I needed one more purple square, plus more yellow (luckily I have the old yellow castaways) before I’m done with what I need for the sky-mountain join.