Thursday, August 23, 2012

Good Time to Change Habits

Connor will be starting 1st grade in a few days.  In the chaos, I managed to get his hair cut by someone other than his 2 year old sister.  I was able to pick up all of his school supplies in one fell swoop.  I bought 4 new shirts for him (all on clearance!).  We even managed to get new shoes for him.  Anything that you can purchase while shopping with small children deserves a huge amount of recognition.  One of these days, at a guild show and tell, I am going to stand up and say "I refused to buy candy for the kids in the checkout line at the grocery store this week.'' instead of showing a quilt...I bet I get a standing ovation.

I remember thinking when he finished school this last spring, that I would be able to get some things done now that I don't have to get up early to get him off to school. HILARIOUS!  Now I am thinking that it would be nice to get some stuff done now that I will be getting up early to get him off to school. My brain fell out when I was a small child, you know, the part of the brain that controls reason.  So now I have to get by with what I have left up there. 

I am going to go take a shower. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fabric Hibernation

Well, I have really had a 'come to Jesus' meeting with myself in the past few weeks.  I spent crazy amounts of money on fabric.  Fabric that, in all fairness, I have been waiting on for arrival.  They all came out at the same time and dented the hell out of the (our) pocketbook.  I actually am quite ashamed of it, and glad that I am; otherwise, I would turn into someone I really hope to never meet.  So, I will be paying very close attention to what I am spending my money on in the next few months, so that I (we) can catch back up again.  I am not saying that I won't be cuddling any new fabrics, because I did pre-order some things that will start showing up soon....but I really need to start cuddling finished blocks, or a quilted 'something or other'.

The remainder of July, and all of August will be spent in non-shopping mode.  I will be getting a spectacular amount of things done in the sewing room (like cleaning it), sewing projects that I would like to get the hell out of there (for a change), really making an attempt at tutorials...(I would do fancy video ones someday if anyone out there has some tips for me; but for now, pictures will do the trick), I have designed some patterns, tested them, and completed all text directions, but I need to figure out how to build the cute little diagrams that the professionals use.  I have been putting that off because...I have been too busy melting the credit card.  I have some patterns that I still need to test and maybe submit to a few periodicals.  I might even have time to feed and bathe my children...or do laundry.  But not both.

Living 'skinny', I thought that I might have to put the family on a ramen dinner diet for a while, but that would not be fair to them.  What I did do, is attack the recipe card box that mom gave to me years ago.  We grew up very simply and ate very well.  I remember this recipe being a very healthy, very inexpensive one, and surprisingly delicious:

Lentil Casserole

1 cup lentils (remove stones if needed)
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheese in casserole dish.  Cover and cook at 300 degrees for an hour.  Sprinkle cheese on top, return to oven without cover and cook for 20 more minutes.

the great thing about this recipe is that all of your protein and carbs are right there, so all you have to do is add a side salad, green vegetable, and/or dinner roll.  Do any of you have low-cost recipes to share?  Because there is this Chicopee line that I have been eying.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Big 10 Inch Rules

The rules:
This swap is for 10 inch square charms of fabric in masculine prints.  Each sign-up person will cut 32 squares out of 2.333 yards (or 2.5 if you like to occasionally crooked cut).  You should be able to get 4 squares from each width of fabric.  

The fabrics that we are looking for can be geometric, large or small prints, tone on tones, or medium to dark in color.   They are muddy, earth tone-type fabrics.  They can have minimal amounts of white or cream on them as long as the fabric mostly reads a medium to dark, muddy color.  Please do not use prints that are light, or have a light background.  Email me if you have any questions on this.  No florals. No feminine prints.  No theme fabrics (such as fishing, hunting, hobbys, sports, etc).  No solids.  No bright colors. (no bright reds, bright blues, bright yellows, or bright oranges) These colors are fine as long as they are a subdued earth-tone version. No batiks.

Here are some examples of lines that have great prints, but please don’t limit yourself to these.  I just wanted to provide an idea:  -Hope Valley (the greens and grays), Painters Canvas, Gatsby, Modern Meadow (think Timber colors), Woodgrains by Joel Dewberry, Curious Nature by David Butler, Michael millers zen garden (blenders), Arnolds Attic, Neutral Territory (the non florals),….

*Yes! Medium to Dark earth-tone prints, such as slate, gray, brown, brick, ocre, terra cotta, dark mustard, denim, smoke blue, get the idea

Fabrics should be 100% cotton. Use quilt store quality fabric (no JoAnn’s or Walmart fabrics)  I say this, but I think that the DS Quilts line at JoAnn is fine, unless anyone raises a stink about it.  Please let me know if this would bother you to receive. Do not prewash, but ironing is okay; in fact, please iron if wrinkles are present.  When cutting 10 inch squares, please do not include selvages.

You will need to have a flickr account to join so that you can post pictures of your fabric choice(s).  This is done to avoid duplicate fabrics.

I will post a sign up discussion page, and a mailing instructions page in the flickr group.

Mail date is June 15th.  

Please pass this information on to anyone who you may think would want to join!

Here is the Flickr group page:

Feel free to join for this and future 10 inch swaps. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Well, I am hosting my first charm swap.  I think that the only thing hard about this for me will be learning how to make a button, linking a html code to the button, and (this part is the hardest) making sure that the link actually works.  So, if things look a little shaky the first day or two, please, either be extremely patient with me as I am self taught, or kindly tell me what the hell it is I am doing wrong :).  The easy part is laying down the rules and guidelines, and being in charge of receiving the fabrics, sorting, then mailing them back out again.  I say this is easy, because I am an optimist.  I am pretty sure that life has given me much larger hurdles than this silly little swap can send my way.  So I am ready, and willing, to take those bulls horns and give 'em a shake.

Info on the actual swap will come soon on the next post.  Here is a teaser:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Planning, Working, Coughing, etc.

I missed a few things on my list of stuff to do. Buy cough medicine, Kleenex, body ache relief, and 2 pet squirrels for the kids, to keep them busy. I am not fully sick yet. My chest hurts from the fluid that is coating my lungs, and my throat feels raw, so I know that I am in store for one hellova sick session. The last time that I felt like this, I ended up with walking pneumonia and a finger shake from my doctor. Some times I throw caution to the wind as far as my health goes...and sometimes I wake up thinking I have every form of sickness and disease know to woman. So I am all over the place on this concern level of health. Maybe if I just ignore it, it will go away. :)

I am going to get this list done if it kills me, and it just might, you never know. I finished the flying geese border on the challenge quilt, but I still need to plan the next border around the geese. Here is how that one is looking so far:
I don't remember if I explained this one yet or not, but this is the short story. It is a challenge quilt (one that I already missed the due date on) where each person picked out an orphan block from an unknown project, yours or elsewhere. You then have to come up with a design using that block to make a small quilt. This is the block that I got, before I started the project:
It is an antique block from somewhere in France. I decided to use my turn-of-the-century fabrics to do this little quilt project. So far, I have yet to use any reproductions, but I may have to, so that I can finish the project. I am thinking of doing an applique border next, so maybe a shirting background.

as far as the other projects on my list, flowers are being appliqued, and I have been working on the needle case (pictures to come on these) and maybe tonight I can work on the borders on Simply Charmed. That is the plan. The plan does involve codeine cough syrup. The borders will look straight tonight, if not tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Simply Charmed

I took a few days 'away' (just down the hall and at 2am-ish) and threw together a quilt top sans borders. The Simply Charmed pattern shown above was an excellent one to use on a layer cake that I had of Moda's Perennials by Kansas Troubles. I had purchased the Layer Cake to make a sample for the quilt shop and was not in love with the fabrics, although by no means ugly. The sample never materialized (ha, ha...materialized) so naturally, I had to come up with a use for it. I found a bunch of yardage in my stash of a maroon on white print that I had purchased from JoAnn Stores years ago, and had no plan for it. This means that I was able to make a stash quilt!

I buy patterns, and sometimes I wonder why. I have to affirm that it is to give the pattern maker financial credit for the design. I almost never follow the directions given, whether I use a different technique, or change size of quilt, or even quilt blocks, I am always changing them up. Have I ever followed a pattern exactly? I would have to think on that. This one was a perfect example of me not following directions. (This can, of course, get you in loads of trouble every now and then, but when you screw things up as often as I do, it is much easier to take in stride.) In the instructions, you take your charm piece, then add your sashing and cornerstone piece to make each individual block. Well, this is what I did....

I started by making an uneven nine-patch putting one charm in each corner, sashing fabric in the 'north, south, east, west' areas, and finally the cornerstone fabric in the center. None of my fabrics were directional other than the sashing, so it was easy. If you had directional charms, you would just have to pay attention when placing those before sewing.

Then I just cut the piece down the exact middle both ways and ended up with four blocks done at once. This made the quilt top go together super fast. I still have not put the borders on, but that is one of my things to cross off the old list for the month. I have been able to plug along on projects at a slow, but regular pace. I think it is near time to step up the game a little and show that darn machine how its done! Here is a little sample of how the quilt top will look, better pictures to come:

Talk to y'all later! Gotta change a diaper...again.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Here's Proof

Well, for the past few months now, I have gotten in the habit of taking pictures of things that I have been working on, whether it has been simply a finished block, or binding, or auditioning fabric for a project. I take a picture. If I don't, I don't really FEEL like I am accomplishing anything. Looking back at all of the pictures makes me realize how much I really do get done. Seeing them again on my computer (Thank you, Flickr; you are awesome!) helps me to stay motivated on the project. I do end up deleting some pictures as I go just out of pure guilt. My kids are going to wonder if I love them or not when they are older and find out that the only pictures I have of them are including a quilt. (Here is a picture of Connor, but you can only see his legs and fingers because he is holding a quilt for me...I think he is 5 here judging by those shoes.) I will really need to step up the game on taking pictures of the kids....right after I finish these flying geese.

The picture that I posted today is a block that I made for B and B quilts in Buda, TX. It is a challenge block for the Bluebonnet Shop Hop in this area. The blocks will be donated to a family advocacy group, an organization that provides counseling to children in military families. If you want to participate, it is only 2 dollars and you can get the information at this participating quilt shop, called Honey Bee:

The block took awhile for me to do, mostly because I had to collect just the right scraps from my scrap bin (took forever) and because it was so difficult for me to purposely make the squares not square. The challenge fabric is the dark brown one that I used as sashing strips...and boy, does that sashing eat up yardage. I didn't need to use any more than what I was provided to make that block, but boy, did I come to within a hair's breadth of the end of that fabric.

If any one is interested in making this block, or a whole quilt like this, I got the tutorial here:

If you have not ever been to, you haven't been on the Internet! :)

Anyway, gotta go change a diaper. good times.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Old Way of Thinking

Talking with a fairly new quilter the other day, I had mentioned that I have a stash of fabric. But before I go into this story, let me first tell you that my stash is by no means 'out of control', in fact, it is much smaller of a stash than many of my friends have (jealous of those lucky shits). I didn't even elude to her that I had an overabundance of fabric. What I said was that I have to really focus on getting projects done, and done fast. Upon hearing that I had (at least) 25-30 UFO's to get done, not counting fabric that I bought for projects not started yet, or kits for that matter, she immediately began to help me with her advice that I should not start a new project until my current one is done. She also kindly mentioned that I could donate my fabric to church groups and maybe even post my fabric on Craig's list for people to come pick up. I about injured myself laughing. I know that I probably offended her, but I couldn't hold it in. lol.

Now, before you think of me as an un-sharing hoarder, let me tell you that I certainly do give A LOT of fabric away, especially if it was given to me by someone who wanted me to find a good home for it. I even buy fabric for people as I am shopping, knowing that they were looking for it, or would simply like it. I am always trading fabric and mailing fabric via Flickr...worse, I am always prowling the Internet for fabric that friends are looking for. The bad part about that is you keep coming across more fabric that you now want (hence another UFO created).

Going back to our new quilter, I remember a time (many, many years ago) thinking that you must do one project at a time; and that you must only buy fabric for that project. It is kind of a cute theory. It would certainly require a hell of a lot of control. But let me be the first to tell you that most quilters are not happy or creative confined to a limited perimeter. Too much structure and you end up with ''boring''. I have become enlightened as a quilter over the years to this new way of thinking that you don't worry too much about all of these unfinished objects, and that it is OK to collect new fabrics that make you happy. It is the journey that we love. Besides, all of my fabric can go to the ladies at church when I die. Hopefully they will love Amy Butler and Heather Bailey as much as I do.