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Alex Anderson Hopscotch Pattern: 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

My mouth is watering from all the delicious goodies ya’ll shared with us in your comments.  Beef Wellington, creamed onions, cornbread dressing, sands cookies, peanut brittle, raisin scones, homemade chocolate pudding, Brazilian Rabanada, and gingerbread people!  My goodness we are gourmet cooks, and I know I enjoy eating every bite my friends and family lovingly prepare at the holidays.

Today’s giveaway is Alex Anderson’s Hopscotch in Neutrals pattern.  Alex does a lovely job in coordinating a variety of neutral fabrics in this pattern, but don’t limit yourself to that.  You could use any color family here:  if your favorite color is blue, this would be gorgeous in all blues.

And the winner of the Signature threads?  DARIJAVAN come on down.  The random number generator selected your lucky comment!  Send me your email address at maria [at]colormastery.com and the threads will be on Santa’s sleigh and under your tree!

Today, let’s share our favorite Christmas memories.  Mine?  I love the memory of huge family Christmas gatherings when I was very young.  We lived in the same town as both my mother’s and father’s families, and we would all travel to each other’s homes on Christmas eve celebrating and sharing gifts of love and food, of course.  As a child, what I remember most was the largeness of it all:  the huge number of people, lavish decorations, and lots of cousins.

Welcome to the World Baby Lauren, Love Aunt Maria

A new life entered our world yesterday at 8:54 a.m.  Lauren Hoath, my brother Michael’s and wife Rachel’s little baby girl, was born in Atlanta.  We are thrilled that their son Aiden has a wonderful new baby sister, and my boys have another girl cousin!  On my husband’s side of the family, out of 10 cousins, there is only one girl!!

Here’s proud papa Michael getting his first kiss from Lauren.  Babies are such a wonderful way to start out life, don’t you think?

Lauren, we’ll be seeing you, brother, Mom and Dad soon.  Can’t wait to meet you in person!

Some Good Financial News

As I climbed onto the elliptical machine this morning, my neighbor Sue was on the adjacent machine watching a financial news network.  I couldn’t help but quip, “So what’s the good financial news?”  We both had a good laugh, which is about all you can do when all you hear around you is “meltdown.”

I actually do have some good financial news to share with you.  My hope is that it will make a difference in your life as it has in mine and my family’s.  My husband is a builder, and right now he’s one of a shrinking minority in the Atlanta area:  last year there were 2400, now there are 1200.  Yikes.  What made the difference?  We follow a different financial philosophy than most families, businesses, and Americans.  We took a financial management course years ago at our church, using the Crown Financial Ministries curriculum.  It made a difference.  We changed how we thought about money, how we prioritized, and how we taught our children about money.

Check out their site.  It has some great tools, a radio show, and is chock full of articles to help during these rocky times.  Crown helped us.  If you’re looking for sound financial advice at a time when wisdom seems in short supply, try Crown.  They have my highest recommendation.

Quilt for Baby

No, not my baby.  My friend Lynne’s baby who is arriving in America soon, and the shower is tomorrow.  So I’ve been busy designing, cutting, auditioning, piecing, and quilting.  It feels so good to be piecing again.  I haven’t done any since I finished all the quilts for Color Mastery.  I’ve been doing just a little bit each day, as I’m also preparing for fall Quilt Market in Houston.  I’ll show the quilt after the shower – I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise, now would I?

Women, Appearance, & My Mom

Welcome to the new me . . . or the new hairstyle.  I had put off getting my hair cut over the summer, making the excuse I was too busy, couldn’t get to it, I’ll just let it grow long, blah, blah, blah.  I actually had an appointment and missed it in the whirwind of getting back from a summer vacation.

This is me about a week ago.  Why didn’t anyone tell me I was so overdue?  Four inches off and a lot more free time.  I feel so much better.

Lana over at NorthWest Salon does my hair, and a great job of it when I actually go in and let her perform her magic.  It took me a loooooong time to find someone locally who could cut my thick, coarse, hair, and Lana is a dream.

My older son took both of these photos, and like most women, I don’t enjoy having photographs taken of myself.  But I wish I had more photographs of my own mother now that she’s gone, so I get over my preoccupation with my own appearance and remember that this is history:  these are the photos my sons will be looking at and remembering me by.  It’s been four years today that my mom passed, and I miss our conversations.  My mother was quite independent and opinionated, and we had lots of lively debates.  Miss you mom.

Olympics in China: That’s Not All!

Can anybody read Chinese?

Can anybody read Chinese?

The Olympics aren’t the only exciting thing occurring in China. This package arrived on my doorstep from Hong Kong: the bluelines for Color Mastery. I sure wish I knew what this said. I’m sure it’s something quite boring, like “folio 1 of 7,” but the writing looks so elegant.

Color Mastery color proofs

Color Mastery color proofs

I’ve been poring over (thanks Marla!) these proofs to make sure the colors are dead-on accurate. I drove Gregory Case, my photographer, crazy with my questions and his constant assurances that, yes, the colors would be accurate even though they didn’t look that way on my monitor. Gregory was a therapist before being a photographer, and he told me I needed to take the leap and experience the result, even if I made a mistake. Wow, therapy and photography all from one guy!

I took these proofs with me everywhere this week: home, carpooling, even pee-wee football practice. Quite the contrary to Alicia’s experience when she and her husband Andy secluded themselves in a quiet diner to look over hers for her book. I remember those days, bc (before children).

My pee-wee football player

My pee-wee football player

Here’s son #2 in his pads and uniform, ready to hit somebody! This is a new experience for me, and not an easy one. Watching my son get knocked to the ground repeatedly during practice is tough. And for 7-year-olds, there’s no such thing as a clean hit: they grab onto anything they can to bring you down: shirt, mask, hit from the back. My husband tells me the goal for son #2 is to get through practice without quitting or crying. He will, but I might not.

Olympic Quilts

1996 Olympic Quilt with pins from Atlanta games

1996 Olympic Quilt with pins from Atlanta games

We’re Olympics junkies here. We’re glued to Olympic coverage and letting the boys stay up late to watch even though school has started. I love everything about the Olympics: the collective enthusiasm of the world watching a single event all at once and cheering on the athletes, the spectacle of the ceremonies, the stories of persistence and courage. I’m a sucker for all of it.

When the Olympics were in Atlanta, quilters from Georgia en masse turned out and made quilts in droves, and each country received two quilts: one went to the flagbearer, the other to the head Olympic official for that country. I worked on two quilts, one going to El Salvador and the other to Belarus. They are documented in this book: The Olympic Games Quilts: America’s Welcome to the World (Olympic Games Quilt).

A group photo of all the quiltmakers is on the back of the book, taken in the rotunda of the Georgia capitol building in Atlanta. It was so hot that day some of the older ladies were passing out, and I was five months pregnant with my first child.

My guild at the time, East Cobb Quilt Guild, had a meeting where we all made an Olympic wall hanging with one star for each of the Olympic rings. I attached all the pins to the quilt and it’s hanging in my powder room, along with lots of other Americana-themed decorating. One pin is special, and wasn’t available to the general public:

Pin given to quilters who made quilts for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games

Pin given to quilters who made quilts for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games

This pin you couldn’t buy and it was special to me for being a part of the games. I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, but in my own small way I was a part of the games in Atlanta.

It has on it the quilt of leaves that became the symbol for the 1996 Atlanta games, saving us from that horrible initial mascot, Whatizzit.