Friday, December 31, 2010

End of the year

December 31st. Tetsu has the day off and he is busy writing New Year's cards. They were supposed to be sent by December 25th if we wanted them to get to their respective addresses by January 1st (all New Year's cards all over Japan get delivered by January 1st! Think of what the postal workers are going through right now!!!) Our cards are always traditionally late. Better late than never! I spent one day last week at Mister Donuts addressing cards myself. And at least got most of my overseas cards sent. I consider these traditionally late Christmas cards and when I take them to the post office I always ask that the foreign addressed ones don't get held back. They are late enough as it is!

And another job I gave myself was to figure out how many quilts I got made in 2010 and make a collage. I'm not sure if this was a fruitful year or not. I didn't include flimsies (I figure it will give me incentive to finish those for NEXT YEAR'S collage) nor blocks (except for my completed applique blocks). Actually, with all the games I was playing with my quilt friends there were quite a lot of blocks that got done, but are not mine... I did include the wall hanging that my friends made for ME and also this year's bazaar quilt which I obviously didn't make myself.

And in the evening I finished a Hawaiian quilt block for one of my friends. I even cut out fabric for making more Alabama Beauty blocks during the New Year's holidays. Thinking ahead there Tanya with a lot of TV time in the next three days!


Many of you saw this picture last year on my blog. Another composite card but all of us are there, including Mi who joined our family a year ago in September. Hmm. Four of the cats could still sit together. That is Mi up at the top whom we were still trying to keep separated from the rest (no longer) and Vel chooses to be a solitary cat.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Word Play Quilts from Tonya Ricucci

It is not often that Toi gets caught in a embarrassing situation. He is the grand bully in our house and he gets his way when he wants it. Yesterday I came home from a walk with Choco and found a very quiet, apologetic Toi sitting on the sofa.

"Excuse me... I seem to have a problem and need some help."

Toi had tried to shoot through the handles of a paper bag and they had gotten caught around his "waist". So there was Toi wearing a backpack of sorts. The other cats found this very curious.

"Excuse me Toi... I think you need to lose some weight!"


Let me tell you... Blessings never cease around here! The postman handed me a box that held a book I'd ordered from Amazon. Tonya Ricucci's WORD PLAY QUILTS was my Christmas present to myself. I have been so looking forward to this book! Of course in my sewing room I have reams of printouts from Tonya's Wonky letters tutorials and many more copies of her quilts for inspiration. But all in one book?!!! Yeah! And Tonya had asked if a quilt I'd made for Leiya could be photoed possibly for her book. Of course, of course!!!

Oh my! My quilt is on the back cover of Tonya's book! I don't know how that happened! It's pretty but it's not Tonya's and it has Japanese on it (which looks like squiggles). But I am SO happy. La~la~la~♪♪♪~~

Definitely go check out the book. Making a wonky word quilt with Tonya's technique really MAKES the quilt your very own!!! There will be none exactly like it in the whole wide world! Sew a message to future generations in fabric and wonkiness!!!


2009's New year picture was taken again in California at a softball field. Tetsu and I had gone to Ohio for Leiya's high school graduation. The three of us had flown to California to visit my mother and Tetsu was only staying one day longer. Takumi was due to stop in that night after work to give Tetsu a high five. We were spending the afternoon at my niece's softball practice when Takumi drove in early. Another "quick, quick, take our picture" photo but we all look happy!

Our animal population changed during 2008. Lemi passed on of old age in February. Chip showed up in our back yard in August and Toi pranced into our house in October. So in clockwise order starting from the bottom, there is Cleo, Patora, Velvet, Toi, Chip and Choco.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Birthday and a completed quilt

Today is my mother's birthday. Happy 89th birthday Mom! I had a chance to talk with her briefly on Christmas day and she seemed happy to have most of her family and friends surrounding her. Leiya made a surprise visit to California so Grandma got to have all four grandchildren for Christmas dinner.

On this side of the world I have finally birthed the Feathered Star quilt!!!!

This quilt is so old that its conception isn't even recorded on this blog. My first post about it was in November 2006 (I started blogging at the end of Oct. 2006) and even then I'd begun drawing lines on fabric for doing the hand piecing. Mrs. Furui and Mrs. Harada were going to make similar quilts and Mrs. Harada did get a wall hanging made with one Feathered Star block. Mrs. Furui has 5 of her 6 blocks made and her quilt is still on hold.

In August of 2007 I FINISHED hand piecing all the 12 star blocks. Whew!

In April of 2008 I had made sashing for the blocks and suddenly decided I DIDN'T LIKE the sashing and took it all apart again!

In March of 2009 I finally had a flimsy! And two months later I was drawing quilting motifs on the quilt for hand quilting. Talk about sabotaging plans for a finished quilt.

In August of 2009 I had to wash the half quilted quilt because Velvet had peed on it! Since then it has been off and on quilting...

And yesterday I put the binding on and have declared this a finished quilt!!!!! I really wanted to get this finished in 2010. I mean come on... Four years is long enough. I really need to start something else.


I think I was getting better at putting together a new year card. Of course we had less animals back in 2008. All I can say about me is that the picture of Tetsu and me was taken immediately after a 10 hour flight and three hour bus ride from California to our town. Falling asleep on my feet! Hmm. I just noticed that Tetsu is wearing the same t-shirt as the last year...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Yesterday I made binding. Now what do you think I'm finishing? It's about time!!! I will put the binding on today and and maybe even wash it since it is so filthy. Wait, maybe take a picture before washing and then after too. I'm always afraid that in the first wash a quilt will come undone or some suspect fabrics will bleed (though I've prewashed). I don't know what would be worse... A dirty quilt to show or one that has dye stains.

The other day I had my camera along when I went to the vegetable store. All the racks of drying persimmons seemed very Japanese to me. And anybody want a salted drying salmon? I'm afraid I wouldn't know what to do with one of these huge things if you gave it to me.


2007 New Year's picture. Wow, Tetsu gets to the States more than I thought. Takumi was living on his own (in Hollywood! I don't know how we survived that!) and Leiya flew in to California from Ohio. Takumi still had blond hair (but he's smiling!). Leiya had more pierces in her ears. I really felt like my kids were no longer Japanese. Choco was barking up a storm and causing problems for the neighbors... The cats could live peacefully with each other. (Nowadays Patora will no longer let Cleo and Velvet in the same room with her!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas dinner

My plea for contact with my children came through yesterday and I got to talk to both of them. They were visiting Grandma at my brother's house and a party was in progress when I called. Takumi and Bianca (his girlfriend) and Leiya and her Ohio friend, Marcy's brother, a family of friends, and of course Grandma and my brother's family were just getting ready to eat a big Christmas dinner when I called.

"Pray! You're just in time to pray for us before dinner. You're on speaker phone! Say grace for us!"

So I did. Wow, we surrounded the Pacific in prayers by long distance telephone! Prayers of gratitude for family, for health, for technology. Prayers for peace and joy in the New Year. I am thankful that my kids are together and with their American family. I'm thankful that Marcy and Keion are generous to feed so many extra mouths at their table. I'm thankful too that the sadness of losing Marcy's mother this summer didn't seem to shadow the fun of being together. Too bad I didn't get any of the turkey and roast beef etc.!

On this side of the world Tetsu modeled the vest I made him. Ooh. Doesn't he look good! (I'm prejudiced.)

And I spent a somewhat guilt free day just sewing in my warm living room. Under the wire with this last A Tisket A Tasket block but it is the LAST block! Yeah! I love doing BOMs when the end result is a stack of blocks that look like they've magically appeared but I do grumble about my set deadlines as each end of the month approaches.

The Tisket A Tasket blocks are done and now they will sit until I figure out an arrangement to put them together in. I won't think about that until later (Scarlett O'hara).


Okay, we enter a new phase of New Year's cards. By the time the 2006 Near Year's cards went out, Leiya had graduated from jr. high and gone to Ohio to start high school and live with the Dennis family whom we had met in Japan. Takumi was still living with my brother's family and he was trying different hair colors and styles. Can you find him with the blond hair? Tetsu and I had picked up a dog whom we named Choco. The four cats Lemi, Velvet, Cleo and Patora were learning to cope with the hyper dog.

And I needed to figure out how make our New Year's card! Mrs. Ochiai gave me some copy-resize-paste lessons on a photo application and this was my feeble attempt at getting three families in three different parts of the world onto one small post card. I think I made two cards, one in Japanese and one in English but seem to have only saved the Japanese one.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Family picture

Merry Christmas (again!) to everyone on the other side of the world!) Tetsu is back at work today...And after church I'm going to get some sewing done. Right now I'm wondering where my kids are... The last I heard, Leiya and a friend were flying to California to stay with Takumi over the winter break. But neither child has let us know if those plans jelled or not. Yoo-hoo! Would any child belonging to Tanya and Tetsu let us know you are safe!


2005 New Year's Card. Changes in the year before... Our old dog, Shoko passed on leaving a big hole in our hearts. Takumi graduated from high school and went to California to start college. In the fall Tetsu and I picked up three kittens on our morning walk and we became a cat family. One kitten found a home and the other two were named Cleo and Patora. Zorro, who loved Shoko and Takumi never took well to the new kittens and lived up to his name by jumping from rooftop to car top to trees and disappearing into the forest.

Our picture that year was taken by a professional photographer in California and we took advantage of the chance to have our whole family photographed at the same time. We chose a park across the street from my brother's place and coordinated ourselves in white shirts and jeans. Pictures of Grandma and the grand kids, pictures of my brother's family, of our family, of my brother and my mother and me. While waiting for different poses the kids and my brother wrestled on the grass, getting grass stains on their white shirts and Takumi effectively breaking my brother's finger in the rough housing. Great memories and my brother still has the crooked finger to show for it!

Though our 2005 New Year's card picture hangs in our hallway, the whole family picture is a large one that has a place of honor in our living room.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! It is December 25th on my side of the world. The day is cold and bright, no snow yet. The house is filled with good smells thanks to my baking marathon yesterday. I made a couple hundred cookies for the Christmas Eve service. I did NOT make this Christmas cake, but it was delicious! Coffee flavored frosting!

I also finished Tetsu's vest, and it FITS! (sometimes it doesn't) It doesn't look like it gave me all the problems it gave me. I will see if I can get Tetsu to model it later this week.

And yesterday a package arrived from Sina with some BEAUTIFUL batik fabric and a ruler to make Fat Cats! One of my first presents to myself is going to be time to do some sewing and use her beautiful gift. Thank you Sina!

Crosswalk duty and English is finished for the year. Next projects are to send out cards and clean the house. I will NOT be getting to those today. I'm RELAXING!


Back in the yard for this 2004 New Year's picture. Since we live next to a forest a common job is sweeping up leaves during the fall so I guess that is when we took this picture. Lemi, Zorro and Vel on the piano. Shoko on her favorite sofa. Wow, I think Takumi was 18 and Leiya 14 that year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Recycle shops

I have always liked recycle shops, both in Japan and America. Things are cheaper, sometimes you can find a treasure in the racks, no clerk hovers by making suggestions so you don't feel duty bound to buy.

Japan's recycle shop history is still pretty short. 10~15 years ago I don't think there WERE any recycle or thrift shops. I know my Japanese friends would be surprised when I'd come back from the States with something and I'd say that I bought it at the recycle shop. But nowadays there are quite a few just in the next city over the most popular chain being called "Hard Off" and "Book Off".

The difference between "Hard Off" (which sells appliances, dishes, bedding, furniture and clothing) is that everything is in excellent shape as compared to some of the thrift shops in the States that seem like a glorified junk yard. Bedding and towels etc. are only sold in their original boxes which means someone received the box of towels as a gift and didn't want it so they sold it to "Hard Off".

Yes, sold. In the States, my sister-in-law drops off stuff she doesn't need at the local Goodwill. I suppose they go through it and decide what can still be used and what can be tossed. In Japan, the recycle shops looks over what you bring in, offers you a price and asks you to take home anything that they don't think they can sell. Well... maybe that's sensible but on the other hand that means LOTS of stuff ends up in the garbage when someone might want an out of fashion shirt or something to cut up for patchwork etc. (I cannot buy Bonnie Hunter's Scraps and Shirtails book. No recylable shirts to buy for pennies in Japan!)

When I go the Japanese recycle shop I have to set my mind to "this is a discount shop, not a recycle shop." For example. Yesterday Tetsu took me to the department store so he could buy me a handbag for Christmas (that I don't really need, but he needs to buy me something, right?). Sorry! Looking at the prices, there were no bags less than $150! Oh come on, this is not I Magnim. (Maybe it is.) Japanese department stores are WAAAAYYYYYY too expensive for me to buy ANYTHING! So we went to a recycle shop. A nice "Hard Off" shop.

Yes, there were some nice handbags. But please! This is a recycle shop and you are trying to sell me a nice bag for $120!? I suppose, if I really wanted a bag that cost $180 in the department store, then $120 in the recycle shop is cheap but have you ever heard of such a thing at Goodwill or the Salvation Army's thrift shop?! We left without buying a handbag... Did find a heater for $30! And it works!

Basically I like visiting Japan's recycle shops.


Yes, we are all smiling in this picture. It was the year 2003 and the reason we were smiling is because for this picture not only Shoko was anti-camera, all three cats were too! They kept jumping out of laps and arms and hiding under the sofa and it got to be a fun fiasco! Do you notice that Shoko is wearing diapers? She lived on our sofa and "leaked" so in her old age we kept her in diapers rather than send her out into the yard to live... The things we do for our animals!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas preparations

Christmas programs are winding down.

In my English classes we are making decorations, in the kindergarten and pre-school there are plays and songs.

At church I got to lead last Sunday's worship service. That is a mis-cast part if anything! I do not read Japanese well and stumble along like a child with a primer...

Today and tomorrow I'm knitting (got to the collar last night!) and making cookies for the Christmas Eve service. Non-Christians in Japan are sending out New Year's cards (mine are made, just not addressed) and doing major house cleaning. Maybe I'll skip house cleaning this year

For our 2002 New Year's card I didn't have too much hope for our family picture. No one was cooperating with the idea of posing (make that Takumi...) and it seemed like we were destined for just animal pictures. Poor Shoko got the job of being festive (that dog NEVER looked festive. She always looked like Eeyore) and the cats got their picture taken while they plotted against birds on the other side of the window.

BUT a friend took this one and only picture of us in the yard one evening and it was either this picture or none. Look at the scull and crossbones on Takumi's chest! How Christmasy is that?!!!

"Tetsu, we CAN'T use this picture for our New Year's card!"

"This is what our family is like this year so no sense being embarrassed about it."

I compromised by using a smaller version of the picture and leaving lots of writing space below.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First aid knitting

Yesterday I got some first aid for Tetsu's vest. Mrs. Ide came over and helped me block it again and showed me how to make the most of the measurements. This is turning out smaller than I expected. Who knows it might become a new vest for me. (That happens a lot. Then I always wish I had been making a red vest for Tetsu instead of the inevitable grey or blue...) Will this get done before Christmas? Not with all I have to do today!

2001 New Year's card and I don't know how we got Tetsu back to America in just two years. Maybe that was the year that my mother ended up in the hospital for quite a while and Tetsu convinced his office that he NEEDED to go because it might be the last time to see her. In Japan you need to have a reason to take time off from work. You can see that we weren't just standing by Mother's bedside though (she bounced back quickly). This has always been our least favorite picture... the teen years were wearing on me and Takumi refused to take off the dumb sunglasses if he had to pose at all. Even the animals didn't look happy about posing that year.

"Yeah, yeah. Let us get warm first."

They were all crowded around the heater that year. Shoko is decidedly trying to ignore the camera.

At least Leiya looked cheerful.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas decorations

The other day I visited my favorite bread shop and found some workers making Christmas decorations. I frequent this shop a lot and they are used to me asking if I can take pictures of their bread but this was the first time I was so bold as to ask if I could step into their kitchen!

"Come on in!"

and a friend and I went into the warm, great smelling kitchen to take a couple of pictures. A few other ladies in the shop noticed our disappearance into the kitchen and trailed in after us. I don't know if the bakers wanted 5 coat clad ladies oohing and aahing over the baking process but we all took pictures!

One young man was making bread shoes (I think these are really salt flour but I'm not sure about that) and another girl was making wreaths.

The kindergarten was decorated for the Christmas program on Saturday and I was drawn to the beautiful Christmas tree on the wall. Have you ever made star pot-holders? I went through a phase early in my patchwork years when I made quite a few of these but never this many at one time!

Someone at the church had given the kindergarten principal a box of these "pot-holders" to sell at the church bazaar but the principal cleverly purchased all the stars herself and arranged them as a starry Christmas tree! Made me want to make a couple of these stars again... Not this year Tanya!


Let's see... What year are we on here? 2000? This colorful picture was taken in my brother's California front yard on his kiddie play equipment. You can see that Tetsu got to America about once every 4 or 5 years. Take a good look at Takumi because this is the last you'll see him smiling for two years. Heading into the teenage years with him at age 14 and Leiya at 10. The animals were featured that year as a sticker again. Shoko on her favorite chair and Lemi, Zorro and Vel up on top.