Monday, December 30, 2013

Design Wall Monday

Lets get right to it. I've been busy sewing!

My bear paw blocks went together so quickly since my half-square triangles were trimmed to the perfect size using the bloc-loc ruler. I didn't have to do my usual basting at the points because everything matched perfectly. I had to correct a few with the seam ripper but not many.

I finished a little cross stitch ornament of a nutcracker Santa.

Back to stitching...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Must-Have Ruler

I got sew much accomplished yesterday but last night I got very little sleep...wrecks all my plans when that happens! I am almost through with this day so I guess I'm doing an okay job of just pressing through it. Being tired like this always reminds me of when I had a new baby to take care of all night...some memories never fade!

I want to share my favorite new quilting tool. It is a bloc-loc ruler for trimming half-square-triangles. A quilting friend from the Breakfast Club in Anchorage recommended I get one this summer. (Thank you Megan!) I am very glad that I did. I absolutely love this ruler and as I recall the normal retail price was a little steep but I got it on sale!

I used a method for making 8 HSTs at a time that I learned from Carrie Nelson's book, "Another Bite of Schnibbles." I took a 6 1/2" square of the two fabrics I'm using. Drew two diagonal lines from corner to corner and stitched a scant 1/4" seam in each side of the line.

Cut like so...

Press open the eight units and  trim with the Bloc-loc ruler. There is a recessed channel on the underside of the ruler where the seam allowance nests against the diagonal center line.

Flip it and trim to the final size.

No more try to hold a ruler in place while it wobbles over the seamline when trimming. It made a huge difference to work with this ruler rather than a standard one.

I made 192 HSTs. The camera flash on the acrylic is making it difficult to get a good photo of the full ruler. 

I forgot to show you the gift I got from my niece...she got the ideas from reading my blog.

I got a little cross stitch project, felt balls...I've been planning to make a fancy felt ball pin cushion for months...and DMC floss...the most popular 36 colors. I know I will use those.
Love my wonderful presents and my niece who was so thoughtful!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day After

I got to spend a lot of time with my husband the past few days so I didn't get around to blogging. 

We spent Christmas in Paris while our two sons spent it in Alaska. We did offer to fly them to Paris for the holiday but both had work commitments and would prefer to visit in the spring. Hubby and I decided to start a new Christmas tradition...begin the day with French champagne mimosas. I tried my first chocolate croissant...fabulous!

Around noon I coerced my husband into taking a walk with me. A couple of blocks from our apartment we walked by a bakery with a line outside the door. We were shocked to find all three of the bakeries within two blocks of our apartment open on Christmas morning.

The folks in line had a nice view of the Eiffel Tower.

Fresh-baked goods are taken seriously in France!

We spent the day watching "Hell on Wheels," the first season. My husband got is as Christmas present and of course we hadn't ever seen the series. He really enjoyed it right away...his first comment was, "'s violent." I thought that was funny! One of his all-time favorite mini-series is, "Lonesome Dove," and he put it in that category so I guess we'd better get the second season DVDs.

I made a tiny rack of lamb for dinner. I bought my ingredients from, "Picard," a French chain-store that sells only frozen foods. I will be doing an extensive blog on this store soon...lots to share about it! I got the recipe from their French of course. I must have translated it fairly accurately because it was incredibly good. We licked our plates clean! That recipe is going in the family-keeper file. The lamb is encrusted with a mixture of mint, thyme, garlic, sliced almonds and a mustard vinaigrette.

A couple of days before Christmas I went for a walk up to the Seine and thought I'd try and show the horrible traffic in Paris the week before Christmas.

This is a beautiful bridge that crosses the Seine about mid-point of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. On the right side of the photo is an intersection where cars look like they are pointing in every direction...gridlock! I think it is crazy driving in Paris every day but the last couple of weeks were exceptionally bad. When we came back from London we took a cab from the North train station to our apartment. It took twice as long as the ride would normally take. Our cab driver told us all the extra traffic was from all the non-Parisians coming into the city to shop. He didn't speak any English but my husband's French is getting pretty good and I understood most of the conversation too! 

The weather was horrible on Christmas eve...very windy and rainy...I didn't leave the apartment at all but I did start a new quilt project...bear paw blocks for a bear-themed quilt.

This is a pattern I came up with on EQ7 this summer. Hopefully I brought everything I need with me to make it. So far I'm loving it. Yes...of course it is all in batiks. I can't ever get a decent photo of the fabric colors. I really miss my well-lit studio in Alaska!

I also finished the top of the Cupcake Angel stocking. This was a very fun one to work on.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I might have to buy a Lego set to open next year...I really miss putting together those sets with the boys on Christmas morning!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Always Christmas

I had to start another Christmas is a nonstop process for me.

This is a cupcake angel stocking kit. Lots of little parts to work on...very fun and relatively quick. I'm at least two-thirds of the way through it...already thinking about what I will start next.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Looking Like Christmas

Wow...Christmas is only a little over a week away! I really just don't have a concept of time when we are in Paris. Somehow I managed to get some decorations up today...after all...I do have several stockings that only get a short time in the limelight.

We have four very distinctly different fireplaces in our old-style Parisian apartment. I only have two mantels decorated..which means I have room for more stockings next Christmas.

I am on the fence about getting a Christmas tree but I think we will get one...maybe tomorrow. I am very spoiled having a husband with a Fed Ex shipping account...I definitely get my presents shipped at the last minute.

I really must get organized...HA! Isn't that how one always feels at Christmas? We did offer to bring both our sons to Paris to spend Christmas with us but they decided to wait for nicer weather and come this spring. I do miss having Christmas in is always so pretty with the snow and all the holiday lights.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Last Day in London

Based on a recommendation in Rick Steves' travel book for London, we picked a walking tour between London Bridge and the Millennium Bridge. Our first stop on the walk was the Borough Market.

Lovely produce. 

Packed tight with people wanting to sample food. Paella samples...yummy!

Hubby got some raw oysters.

We split a bratwurst with extra mustard...more yum.

On with the walk. Right next door was Southwark Church...this place is dates back to 1207. Shakespeare's brother prayed here...there is a special colored window with scenes from Shakespearean plays and a monument to Shakespeare beneath it.

Then a glimpse of a wall from Winchester Palace erected in the 12th century.

By the way...this is what London Bridge looks like today...modern and functional.

We found out "busking," is basically street performing.

The blue skies disappeared and our nice little outing ended at the Millennium Bridge. This bridge was in one of the Harry Potter movies with death eaters flying around it and ultimately destroying it. It is a suspension bridge for pedestrians only and crosses the Thames right at St. Paul's Cathedral. 

We did pick up a few souvenirs. An olive tree cutting board and more Starbucks coffee mugs.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Way out

It was to be expected...the rain showed up in London...though just a little now and then. 

I insisted on at least one cultural adventure today so we hit the National Portrait Gallery.  Portraits of famous British subjects are on display from the Tudor period to present day. British royalty, politicians, artists and pop culture personalities. We didn't know the majority of the portrait subjects but enjoyed the museum.  I did recognize the names of members of the Tudor courts since I have read several historical fiction books set in that time period. 

There was Anne Boleyn. She certainly had a great effect on the course of western history...

as did her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I.

Princess Diana. I remember the controversy of this sitting...Diana was wearing pants...not a a dress!

All that portrait viewing makes a person thirsty. There is always a pub conveniently located.

While there are many Starbucks in London we found a new favorite place to grab quick food and coffee,  Pret a Manger or translated from French...Ready to Eat. Lots of these to be found in London. In the morning we would get a yogurt with fruit and granola to go...much better than the food at Starbucks. They had wonderful looking sandwiches, soups and salads. 


We finished our day with another show, "Jersey Boys," the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It was a quick-paced musical.

Some differences between the US and the UK.

In London, pedestrian crossings that tell you to look left...and look right. I think I was always looking the wrong way.

And don't look for the "Exit" sign but rather the "Way out" sign.

And when you are riding the underground you have to use your ticket to get in and get out! This is really a pain when your "day pass" on the underground decides not to work halfway through the day.  The underground was very busy almost all the times we road it...even at 10:30 p.m. We would avoid riding the metro in Paris at that time of day but there are a lot more people in in numbers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Big Ben

Where in the world is Debbie? 

London! So far two days of great weather. Bit wet today. 

It may seem a bit obvious, but it is very nice to speak the local language! The first day in town I was on my own as hubby was in a conference all day. We started out staying at a hotel at Heathrow airport. So I had to learn how to make my way into London from there...very easy when you speak the local language. In Paris the subway is the London, the underground. (I feel like I'm looking for an after-hours club when I ask where to find the underground.)

My schedule was overly ambitious the first day. I had planned to visit an art museum, Courtauld Gallery, and Westminster Abby. The art museum was empty so I spent more time than anticipated there and just enjoyed! (There will be other trips to London so no frantic rush on this visit.) Like Paris...the "tourist" attractions are centrally located and easily walked.

The Courtauld Gallery has a wonderful collection that spans the Middle Ages to the 20th Century...a small number of paintings but fabulous representations of some of the biggies. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Manet, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and Picasso. 

Yesterday we made out way to a London hotel my husband had seen highlighted on business channels, ACE Hotel. Designed with the young business traveler in mind. This is exactly what our room looks like.

It's very comfortable and high speed internet. That is rare! We love it...I definitely feel on the older end of this crowd.

We did a lot of walking since it was another sunny day. (Hubby was catching up from being in the conference.) Got my all-important souvenir, a London-themed Swatch.

We finished the day with a show I have been wanting to see for 10 years...

Wickedly Good!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Shopping

I had a great day yesterday! Christelle came into Paris and we took in a little Christmas shopping. We went to a large, upscale mall, Galleries Lafayette. Inside was a four-story Christmas tree.

I have to go back another day...earlier in the morning and get some photos of the exterior windows. They had robotic cute! It wasn't horribly crowded but enough that it was not great for picture taking.

Christelle asked if I was looking for anything in particular. I do have a collection of glass ornaments I am always looking to add too. We  found a wonderful ornament shop and I came home with a new acquisition.

German crafted by Inge-Glass, which started out as a cottage industry all the way back to 1596. (I think they have this technique perfected) Each ornament was individually mouth blown and hand painted. They came in a very sturdy wooden box with extra padding for when these treasures make the journey to Alaska

We took a long walk and of course different topics came up...I have some new ideas for blogging posts. Chocolate...McDonalds in France vs US...French frozen-food dinners...important stuff! But I only have a few more days to get my quilt squares off the dining room floor...hubby returns Monday morning and the dining room table is his home office. All that point-matching takes time!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Calm Seas

I am so impressed using the templates from Marti Michell on my storm-at-sea pattern. I've got a corner together...look how great the points match! I am a happy camper. There's a heck of a lot of point-matching in this pattern. I'm taking it in little bits everyday.

I always baste where points meet before I commit to a final seam.

My new French friend, Christelle, has shared a website that allows me to watch US television shows. The one show I was watching this season before coming to Paris was The Voice...finally got to see the final 10 and final 8 shows. Last night's episode isn't available yet. I love how positive the show is and very entertaining. With some TV to watch at night I have cranked through some embroidery on stockings. I got the top done on "Jungle Bells."

The most fun stage for me on these stockings is starting a new one! I decided to do a "girlie" design...I don't do those often enough. This one looks like it will go quickly. Lots of simple embroidery stitches.

My husband is back in Alaska...getting to see the new furniture for the first time that came in the day before I left for Paris. It really is a treat to have new furniture when the house has been mostly empty the past year. (I miss my house!) Yesterday it was -21 (that's Fahrenheit) along Eagle River. Today it is supposed to be about 10...much better. There is about a foot of snow on the ground. (I have learned it is an American obsession to discuss the weather all the time...or maybe it's because I live in a family of pilots.)

I've given hubby a list of DMC embroidery floss to pick up before he leaves Alaska. I feel terrible making him go into a JoAnns or Micheals at Christmas time but he was happy to do it when I told him how much more expensive it would be for me to buy it in Paris. (Christelle and I spent time talking about the horrible prices in France for fabric and DMC just isn't right that it is cheaper...even with international order from the states. It makes it impossible to support local unfortunate cycle of events. It must be taxes that drive the prices so high.)

Back to  my obsession with weather. Sometimes I feel like Eeyore...I've got a little black cloud that follows me. It was sunny yesterday morning...not a cloud in sight. I hurried to get outside and take in a walk along the Seine. Less than half way through my walk I realized it wasn't sunny anymore. A huge wall of grey clouds came from nowhere! At least there wasn't any rain but is sure made the rest of my walk less cheerful. I was is need of recharging my vitamin D reserves.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Best Black Friday

I had a great day yesterday...I met one of my French blog readers, Christelle. She has lived in the US and speaks wonderful English. My head is reeling with all that we talked about and I need to make of list of all the things I want to ask her because we definitely have to get together again.

We met for coffee at the Louvre Starbucks...I know...that sounds like a funny combination...American coffee joint at a world-famous museum. At least there isn't a McDonald's there. But there are some great shops underneath the Louvre, to include an Apple Store and Swatch shop, so I got my first Christmas present purchase out of the way. No huge shopping crowds on Nov. 29th in Paris...what a relief! We then made a trek to a Bernina shop so I could find out about getting a European power cord for my machine. I had been putting off that chore because I had no idea how to communicate all that on my French! My Alaska Bernina techie is insistent that I get this cord instead of just relying on the after-market power adapter. But after taking a picture of the cord at the Paris store and looking again at my machine I can see it's not going to work anyway. I will save myself a big chunk of change as the power cord is pricey...more money for fabric.

I'll share more about my visit with Christelle in the coming days. I want to share quilting news. I've been busy...not eating Thanksgiving leftovers (darn...I miss those!) or shopping...but sewing. One of my goals this year is to make quilts that I have designed instead of working on the designs of others. My husband is back in Alaska for a few days so I can devote a lot of hours to quilting.

Somewhere along the least two years ago...I was inspired by some batik fabric with humpback whales to tackle a Storm at Sea quilt. I'm using templates from Marti Michell. They are so tedious to use when cutting everything out but they sure sew up nicely. All my units look so perfect.

I have been keeping company with a couple of great audible books...I should share some of those too..but I'm going to get back to sewing.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Flimsy Finish

What a sweet little top! It will now go in the pile to drag back to Alaska and quilt next summer. It's going to be a difficult one to quilt with all the applique to outline...might be cursing myself...but I have had this Nancy Halvorsen project in my stash for soooo many years!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Market Day

There is a trucker's strike today...which means at some point...probably during rush hour...trucks will block all lanes of traffic on the highways around Paris for a little while. So my husband is working from our apartment today and not driving into work. Fun for me. I had someone to shop with at the Thursday market. Only thought to get a photo at our last stop, the Rotisserie booth.

Potatoes line the bottom shelf of the rotisserie oven where all the meat juices drip on them as they cook. On the table you can see the containers of roasted potatoes with all the meats ready to go! We bought one small roasted chicken (to the left of the potatoes) for 12 Euros...equivalent to $16 US. I'd much rather have a roasted chicken from Costco for $5 but it beats cooking. We also picked up two roasted sausages which I plan to use in black bean soup with my stash of Rotel tomatoes. It would have been much  cheaper to buy a chicken leg and thigh for only $1.60 Euro but I'm a white-meat lover so we have to pay the big bucks.

Got a little work done on a stocking. Hubby was working late so I watched a few episodes of "Game of Thrones," season I. I have only managed to see a few of the the season III episodes on my flights between Paris and Anchorage. I was so frustrated to start reading those books and then find out the author still has two more to write. I hate being left dangling for years!

I officially finished two stockings...I'll have some Christmas decorations for the Paris apartment. Almost time to start putting those up!

I love the chair Santa is sleeping in...and of course the quilt on his lap!

My husband and I always loved the Wizard of Oz this day we sing along when the movie is on television...that must be why our kids hate that movie!