Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hike at South Valley Park

You GOTTA love Colorado weather! Compared to what we are used to, the weather here is a dream. Yes, it is unpredictable, yes the temperature can vary even 40F in one day, which necessitates wearing and changing layers often in one day.

But it is never humid and never damp cold like Ontario, and that is great. Rich and I went hiking the other day and for most of the hike Rich was in a t-shirt. I wore a sweatshirt and my huge camera bag and was very comfortable.

This park we went hiking in is so cool. The rocks and trails are red- Colorado means "colour red" (though they spell it color! lol) and it was called that because of the red rocks.

I have taken photos going by this place before, on one of my trips here, but this was the first time I got to walk around. There were many hikers out enjoying the lovely weather and the beautiful scenery.

I am going to load the whole album of photos from that day into my Webshots (link on the right side of this page) if you are interested.

In the meantime, here are a few shots to give you an idea of the splendor of the day.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Another Christmas has come and gone. Though I will admit to being a little nervous about how it would all go- blending the families and all that you know... it went well and we all had a good day.

We played board games over the days the kids were home and went bowling. We watched movies and ate too much chocolate. We took drives around the neighborhood to see the lights and decorations. When the noise level got too high or the energy level was more than we could handle, Rich and I removed ourselves to the quiet sitting room and cozied up on the couch to read.

And it isn't over yet! Holly and Ben arrive on Wednesday for the second week of the holidays and I am sure it will be plenty rambunctious then too... last time we weren't even in the car for half an hour on the way home from the airport and the four were already bickering... lol

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our Feathered Friends

We always feed the birds, and over the warmer months, we keep the feeders close to the patio so we can watch while we sit outside.

For the winter, we moved the feeder to where we can see it from the kitchen window and back door. I am thrilled with the variety of birds we have visiting us!

We have the hummingbirds in the warm months of course, and they are fascinating to watch. We also saw some gold finches and house finches, which have a pretty orangish colour on the front of the males. I have seen a cardinal as well.

Constants at our feeders are the finches and there are a few varieties. Sometimes my now-bare plum tree is chock full of the little chatterers!

We also have red-shafted woodpeckers, both male and female (as you can see in the photos- the male is the one with the red spots on his cheeks), gray jays, magpies (they are HUGE!), chickadees, and just the other day, feeding on a small bird and not at the feeder was a type of hawk which I think may have been a sharp-shinned hawk, but I haven't been able to positively identify it in our book yet. That is the one it most closely resembles.

There are still great flocks of Canada geese around here; the girls and I saw an astonishing number of them while we were driving the other day.

It really is something to watch and now that I have such a nice camera, I am starting to capture some of the action!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From garden to sitting room

We always put up the tree around my birthday, so this weekend was it. We had this tree out back in a raised bed garden (NOT a great idea) and we were told it needed to come out. So we decided to leave it till now and use it as our Christmas tree!

Rich helped the girls cut it down (we will dig out the stump in the spring), and he and I brought it into the house. It's a lovely blue spruce. Lovely in looks, but SOOOO prickly! Next year we will have to pick a softer needle...

So we got it in, got it set up, got the lights on, and the girls started decorating- and the tree came DOWN!!! Rich and I were downstairs sorting through some decorations- we ran upstairs and rescued the girls- then I put a sturdy cup hook into the bookcase behind the tree while Rich held on, and we secured the tree so (hopefully) it won't fall again. Though Molly (the cat) seems to think it the tree was put up for her personal playing pleasure- so maybe it can't be secure enough... lol

Here is how the tree looked outside, untrimmed. And here it is, all decorated, ready for Christmas. Oh, and here is our Art tree- a ficus I somehow killed soon after I brought it home from the store. I have seen similar things sold as art and so we decided it can stay...

Week of Music

Well, Chloe had her band concert and Heidi was in the Denver Parade of Lights; it was a busy week of music! Gotta love the holidays!

The marching bands were judged on music, lighting (yep, lighting!), and overall performance, and Columbine won first place in lighting and came in third in overall. Way to go, Columbine! You ROCK!

I have some video clips of Chloe but as it always takes some time to upload them, I will do that later. Chloe performed in the Intermediate Band (6th grade) and the Jazz Band, as well as a part of a quartet. There were five or six elementary schools combined for this concert and the bands were HUGE. The Jazz Band is optional, once a week at the middle school and there are only about 15 kids I guess. They played "Wipeout" and it was GREAT! lol

For now, here are some photos of the girls! The photo of Chloe wearing the Fedora is the Jazz Band and the Santa hat is the grade sixes.

Heidi is in the last photo, and she is second from the right, holding her flute.

Next week is the Monster Band concert at the high school- more than 80 kids in one band... next semester, Heidi will play in the Wind Symphony- a band she had to audition for and she practiced day and night! The band is mostly seniors and she was pretty excited to make it!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Block of the Month with Nellie

It is a snowy day here in Littleton, Colorado. It is so pretty!

Well, I have four blocks nearly completed- just one is in need of the binding sewn in the back. I have chosen to do a series of wall hangings rather than a quilt for a couple of reasons. One, I need to work on my machine quilting and the small blocks allow me a lot more freedom and ease in that, and two, I have SO MANY free walls to fill around our new home!

The first two are done in my favourite Kansas Trouble-type colours. For the next two, I went outside of my usual, as you can see. I also tried to experiment with the quilting more, trying different things that I have seen Nellie do, and using some of Christine's ideas from her class (that she generously posted on her blog.)

You can click on any of these photos to see it larger- the quilting and embellishments show up better!

I miss being able to do this with the class, but I loved the photos from last month and am having fun participating from here.

Have a great day everyone- I miss you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The other video!

Playing a song called "America" which we Canadians could recognize as "God Save the Queen". I looked it up and the British used this as their national anthem long before the Americans put the words to their version. So there. lol


trying to get this video to work on here!


Chloe is second from the left in blonde pigtails- the music stand is so tall, it pretty nearly covers all of her! lol

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Last weekend, Heidi went to UNC with a bunch of her bandmates to participate in their attempt to make the Guinness Book of World records for the most people doing the Michael Jackson "Thriller" dance at one time.

Heidi said they had an awesome time, and just this morning, Rich sent me a photo of it that he and Heidi found online- so I wanted to post it here!

There is a group shot, a smaller group shot where you can see Heidi on the far left side, just up from the bottom a bit- there are two guys in marching band uniforms right in the corner, then go up a bit- Heidi is the first full person you see on the left, with dark pants, and a closer up shot of Heidi.

There were more than 600 high school students and the performance needs to be judged to see if they pass or not...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Let it Snow- for real!

We woke up this morning to a gentle snowfall; there was just barely enough snow to see between the blades of grass. Our first snow!

It is now a couple of hours later and the snowflakes are a little bigger and there is definitely enough to cover things now! It won't last though, they are calling for much warmer days next week. But it is pretty while it lasts.

And is it a coincidence that the day after I hang up my "Let it Snow" wall hanging- it does???? I think not.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let it Snow!

I finally finished that wall hanging that I took the class for a couple of weeks ago. Not that I don't have scads of other unfinished projects... but I wanted to hang this over the fireplace.

I used wool and this heavy thread called Renaissance for the applique. I embellished the middle section with white jewels in lieu of snowflake buttons which I just couldn't find anywhere. 

I took some tips from Christine Baker- she has kindly put her machine quilting tips on her blog- and tried to be a bit creative when quilting this. I tried to make the middle section look like blowing snow, on the corners I "wrote" other things we can do when it snows (besides building a snowman like the fabric border says!lol), and on the borders, I outlined the snowbanks and did stars and loops above the snowmen. I still have a long way to go before I am a good machine quilter, but I am having so much fun getting there!

I have really started to get things on the wall this week and I love the way it looks. Empty walls mean echoes. Full walls means it is ours, it means we are staying, it means HOME.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We went to Chloe's Handbell Choir performance at the elementary school last night and we were SO impressed! They sound so pretty and considering the bells are new- so NO ONE has played them before- the fact that they played actual songs was amazing. I don't have a video camera, but my new camera does allow me to do video for short clips and so I "filmed" two of the songs.

One sounds like "God Save the Queen" though it is called "America". The other song was The Great Gate of Kiev. I haven't added video clips on here before, but I am going to try.*

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos. Chloe is on the far left in the closeup photo, and second from the left in the group photo. I didn't have my big lens- the gym is pretty small (especially considering there are more than 750 kids at the school!), so I thought the small lens would be good enough. It wasn't. We had to sit at the back and I really wasn't able to get a good photo of Chloe. Thank goodness for photo-editing software!

*after waiting more than an hour, I have decided NOT to keep waiting for this video to upload. I have both songs uploaded already onto my facebook, if you would like to hear.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Weekend in Grand Junction

We just spent the weekend with Becca in Grand Junction and it was great. Becca showed us around her campus and around town, as well as giving us a cool tour of the Colorado National Monument just outside of town. Her campus is small but pretty and seems very welcoming. We had a nice dinner out together and breakfast too, before we headed back home.

It is a four hour drive from here, but what a drive! I will be putting a huge photo album up on Webshots today if you would like to see it- the terrain changes so much, it is incredible.

As you can see in my title photo at the top of this page, the west coast of Colorado has mesas, not mountains.  A mesa is an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are steep cliffs. They are really amazing.

The photos you see here show the Monument- that little rock right in the middle of the first photo is the same one that Rich is perched on in the second photo!!! AAAAHHHH!!!! My heart was in my throat the whole time as Rich and Becca climbed around on those rocks as nimbly as mountain goats!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween all! We didn't have many Trick-or-Treaters, just 15 (not counting Heidi and Chloe! lol)

Chloe had made plans to go out with friends on her own, but they fell through and so Heidi took her out. The neighborhood was very quiet, but we met a few more neighbors and saw little Izze from across the street, who was dressed up as a ballet cheerleader. lol

Chloe carved pumpkins with her friends yesterday and she did a fantastic job as you can see here. The girls decorated the front of the house with Steve (the big dummy) and Tim (the little one).

Chloe is dressed as an exclamation point- it was Holly's idea.

Tomorrow is November... yikes! Rich and I are heading to Grand Junction to see Becca and I have heard the west of Colorado is simply lovely- I will be armed with my camera for sure!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works in progress...

Yesterday I finally went to a quilt class here in town. The store is called Fabric Expressions and has a lot of really nice people there. I have been there a few times- they don't have a huge selection of notions, but their fabric selection is great and so is their book selection. Plus they are friendly and helpful, so I like it. It isn't Taylor's- but it is the closest I can get here.

The class I took was a wall hanging called "Let it Snow" from the Whimsicals book, Cabin Fever. I learned how to use/cut border fabric and I got the top put together in class. When I got home, I did the applique and embellishing- mine is a little different from the book. Now all I have to do is quilt it and get the binding on. And I have the perfect place to hang this one- over the fireplace! We haven't been able to decide what to hang there yet, and I thought yesterday that a pocket rod would do just fine- then I can change the quilts according to the season- or my whim! lol

I also have two blocks almost done for Nellie's BOM, Be Attitudes by Nancy Halvorsen. I am doing the BOM along with my friends in Brockville! I just have to do the embellishing today and quilt them. I will be making these as a series of wall hangings instead of a quilt.

We are driving to Grand Junction this weekend and so I am hoping to have the binding ready on all three projects so that I can do the hand work in the car. 

Here are the tops so far, I will post photos when I have them finished.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Quilt studio

Since the kids have been back in school, I have been trying madly to get things organized so that I could work on setting up my quilt studio, and I have finally done it. These three photos show the room from enough angles that you can see how I did it. I love it! It has a lot of stuff in it, but there is still plenty of space to move around and I can do all of the steps that quilt-making requires in its proper space.

I really had to do some planning when it came to buying a sewing table- with limited space to work with, it needed to be small but effective. I debated about buying a sewing machine table and cutting table combination, but not only are they really expensive, but their size means you have limited options when it comes to arranging the room.

I settled on a small table where my machine could sit recessed, and a cutting table that is 36" x 60" when folded out to it's full size, and a mere 36" x 16" or so when the sides are folded down. It is also on wheels which is great when I am pinning, and the wheels lock when I don't want it to move. Rich had a number of cupboards that I could put to use to store fabrics, quilt books and patterns, and my scrapbooking stuff, as there is no closet in the room- just a door to the hallway and a door to the main floor bathroom.

Besides the two doors, the room also has two windows, an east facing and a north facing one. This means I get the lovely morning sun. It also means that three walls are virtually useless as far as a design wall is concerned. 

When we first put things in there, everything fit, but it was congested and confining to be in there. So I got a book out of the library on how to set up a quilt studio and read it.  As suggested, I cut out all of my furniture to scale from paper and drew the room measurements on graph paper.  

The book suggested having your sewing machine, your cutting table, and your ironing board in a triangle so that was my first challenge. My second challenge was finding a way to fit all of the furniture around that triangle. The third challenge was to see if I could free up some of the only solid wall in the room for a design wall.

So I kept moving things around on the paper and I figured out a way to meet all three challenges! YAY!! I have a small light on my sewing table and another small lamp that shines down on my cutting table when I need it, and there is a light on the ceiling- no matter the time of day, I can see what I am doing.

The end result is a happy quilter and a happy room to quilt in!

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