Friday, February 26, 2010

Alive and kicking!

I'm still here, life has just gotten in the way of quilting and blogging. I am buried in work

and I'm cheering on my husband's basketball team, which is playing in the conference tournament tonight in a rematch of last year's championship game.

Hopefully, I'll be watching basketball all weekend as they win tonight, then tomorrow night, and finally the championship game on Sunday. But I sure do miss my quilting time...

Sew a little extra for me, will ya?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Life is getting back to normal

First of all, there is SUN! The kids are out playing on the swings - there's nothing better than looking out your window and seeing your kids outside having fun!

Jason and I spent some time earlier this week making valentines for his class (I know we were late, but they didn't have school for two and a half weeks because of snow!). He didn't want to make cards, so we made 1" square valentine cubes out of construction paper and tape, each with a Hershey's kiss inside. That was fun, and a geometry lesson to boot.

Today, I finally got some patches sewn onto Jason's and my karate uniforms. As much as I like to sew quilts, I abhor sewing on patches. Wouldn't you know that our two main activities, karate and cub scouts, have tons of patches!

And while I've made some progress on my Strips and Scrap-plique quilt, I'm not ready for photos. I'm trying a new technique that will require laundering before I know if it works or not. Hopefully it will, and I can take a photo later this weekend.

I did find the time to make a House Block for Bumble Beans's project. It took me forever because I am lousy at following directions and spent quite a bit of time unsewing. I finally tweaked the pattern a bit - I hope you don't mind, V.

And look, I put myself in the block!

Now I'm off to visit an old quilting friend who moved away and then to watch my hunband's team kick some Eastern Mennonite University butt! Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sewing to unwind

Last night, I disappeared into my sewing studio to create. I was wound up from a fantastic, yet frustrating, basketball game, and just needed to unwind. I have plenty of ongoing projects to work on, but there was black thread in the machine and I was in the mood to do something new and unstructured, so i just started sewing strips together and cutting out freehand flowers and leaves.

Here's the quilt I had in mind as inspiration:
I don't know whose quilt this is - I must have seen it online somewhere and saved it for inspiration. If it is yours, please let me know, so I can give credit where credit is due. If it is yours and you want me to remove it from my blog, please let me know and I will gladly. I think it is wonderful, though, don't you?

Anyway, this picture is saved on my laptop, which I had left at work, so I didn't have the photo to use as a guide last night, just my faulty memory. Here's what I came up with: (note that nothing is sewn together besides the strips; everything is just laid on top of a folded piece of fabric on the floor)

I finally left it there last night and went to bed to read for a while. Today, of course, I am exhausted from only getting 5 hours of sleep, but I'm curious to see how I feel about it when I get home tonight. What do you think - is it worth pursuing? I think I like the three columns of strips like the inspiration quilt, how about you? What about the flowers - I couldn't remember how the original was made, which is why I made them the way I did, but then I was at a loss as to how to place the leaves. Also, I was thinking that the applique and the scrappy columns would not go from end to end, but they do in the inspiration quilt. Which do you prefer?

If I follow through and make this into a quilt, I'm thinking of calling it "Stripes and Scrap-plique".

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Adventures in shopping

Even though it was Saturday, I woke up at 5:45 AM and couldn't go back to sleep. So I hopped out of bed and paid bills for the month. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I had paid my credit card bill twice last month, so there was a credit! I can't have that now, can I? They aren't about to send me a refund. So, on my way to the airport to meet students that I was flying in from all over the country to visit the University where I work, I made a slight detour to visit a quilt shop. My QUICK QUARTER tool had broken last week, and I needed a replacement. (Do you use one of those to make half-square triangle blocks? I love it, and have used it regularly since the day I bought my first one 6 or 7 years ago.)

Anyway, I walked in the store, and the notions were right there, front and center. I found what I needed within 20 seconds of entering the store, which is both good, and not so good. I didn't want to turn around and leave with my purchase without actually getting to browse! So, I started my first pass around the store, admiring fabrics, but being oh-so-good about not buying anything. Until I hit the sale rack. A bright paisley nearly jumped off the rack and into my arms. But it was on sale, and I had a credit on my card, so two yards of bright paisley packed its bags to come live with me.

However, that fabric peeked outside and saw the snow and the brisk winter wind and pleaded with me to pick up another fabric for it to huddle together with on the journey back to my house. I am a sucker for a pleading paisley, but I am trying to be fiscally responsible, so I asked myself, "What do I really need?" (I'm using the term "need" loosely.) And it hit me, I've been wanting to make a quilt with a black background, so I headed over to the black section. Of course, none of that was on sale, but I did find a mottled black that I liked, so three yards of that wrapped itself around the paisley to keep it safe and warm. On my last pass through the store (you don't just look at everything once, do you?), another sale print sidled up to me suggestively, and I carried it to the cutting table, but I had an attack of conscience while waiting my turn for cutting, so I took it back. I could hearing it crying dejectedly all the way through cutting and check out and out the door.

At the end of the day, though, I am happy to report that my purchases didn't even half the credit on my card - I am the picture of restraint! And here is a picture of my purchases:

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I have to work, but I am determined to do it with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step, because I have a whole family of valentines waiting for me at home at the end of the day. May your days be as blessed as mine!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't you love the fair?

I enter a quilt in the County Fair every year, not with any illusions of winning anything, (although I did get Honorable Mention one year with this mini quilt that is now hanging in my office on a WalMart necklace)

but to get feedback from someone other than my friends, who are wonderfully supportive and probably wouldn't be as frank about the things I need to work on as they could be. I also love going to quilt shows with lots of quilts, and I can't really expect others to put their quilts in if I'm not brave enough to put mine in. Anyway, Ithink I know which quilt I'll be entering in the County Fair this year:

I just love it! I finished putting on the binding last night. I used to hate binding, but I think that was before I realized that I could sew binding and watch movies at the same time. It took four episodes of "Rosemary & Thyme", but it wasn't nearly the onerous activity I always assume it will be.

And speaking of fairs, I learned yesterday that Earlene Fowler has a new Benni Harper book due out in May, State Fair.

You can bet I'll be buying it - I have the rest of the series. I've been waiting very patiently, I think. It is too bad that it takes her a year to write these books, because it only takes me a day or two to read them!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In need of color!

I'm trying to not let all this snow get me down. I'm trying to not envy my children who are relaxing at home while I am (supposedly) toiling away at work. All this white is starting to depress me - I need some color! Although Donald and I did marvel at these cute little frozen trees by the creek yesterday - "Look Mom! The trees are sparkly!"

I've been keeping my Bright Ideas Quilt close at hand. I "finished" quilting it this weekend, and I'm now sewing down this yellow binding that I pulled from my stash and which seemed perfect to accent both the back and the front.
I say "finished" because I'm pretty sure I'm going to add more quilting. It is hard for me to set something aside and finally say it is done.

Jason and I are on a 5-day "diet" to earn our SELF-DISCIPLINE patches in karate. Our version of the diet is "only fruit for breakfast" and "at least 8 glasses of water a day". Fruit salad is colorful, right? So that's what I made the kids for breakfast this morning, in colorful bowls to boot.

That cheered me for a few moments.

But now I'm at work, my fruit is long gone, I'm sick of drinking water, and here's the kicker - I added the challenge for me to not drink coffee or tea (except herbal) or hot chocolate for those 5 days. Someone just brewed a fresh pot of coffee, and the aroma is wafting up the stairs to taunt me.
Please, I implore you, leave a comment sending warm, colorful love my way!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowbound, yet again

What do you do when you are snowbound for three days?

Watch movies - I watched a Tyler Perry movie I've never seen, plus two more Rosemary & Thyme episodes. I'd never heard of Rosemary & Thyme until two weeks ago, but now I am hooked. They are two middle-aged women with a gardening business in the UK who also find themselves solving crimes wherever they go. I love the dynamics of their relationship, their dry humor, their vulnerabilities. And a must for me is color, and there is lots of vivid color in these shows. Which makes me wonder...I thought it rains all the time in the UK. It certainly did when I spent a few months there back in '96. Yet, I've only ever seen in rain once in about 5 episodes. But that is besides the point - I love this show.

Quilt - I wanted to get my Bright Ideas Quilt completely quilted this weekend, but I'm not convinced it is going to happen. I've certainly made quite a bit of progress, though. I also spent a few minutes in the quilting studio last night, sewing together one row of my ribbon quilt and cutting a few of the extra pieces I'll need to put an additional row all the way around.

Clean - I abhor cleaning, but I just couldn't take the bathrooms anymore. There are 4 of them - ugh! When will my boys master their aim?

Cook - I LOVE to eat. Cooking is another matter altogether. Thank goodness for my slow cooker. On Friday, I made a big, delicious pot of 15-bean soup with smoked sausage. I don't make it very often; so infrequently, in fact, that I forget how potent 15 beans can be. I'm so glad my husband has a sense of humor. I just wish he had eaten some, too, so I wouldn't have been the only one embarrassing herself. :)

Play - The kids have gone outside for some snow adventures every day, and I have satisfied myself with watching through the window. However, I have been a princess and a bad guy (not at the same time) during some raucous indoor games. I was also featured in two masterpiece paintings. In the first, Jason painted me in my quilt studio:

(Do you see all the colors on my chair? He painted my newly covered chair. My sewing machine is white, but he painted it red here, so it would show up. And behind it, one of my quilt frames, conspicuously empty. I want to put a quilt in there to work on, but I'm afraid I'll get distracted from my Bright Ideas quilt, so I am waiting until that quilt is done before I load up the frame. And no, I don't have a chandelier in my quilt studio. I think that is what they call "artistic license.")

Donald painted a picture of the family outside by the tree with the swing. I'm the yellow one.

Oh, and I did lots and lots of work. One of these days, I want to have a job that does not infringe upon weekends, evenings, snow days or any other family time, a job that stays neatly within the confines of my work space and waits patiently for me until I return to the office. Do those types of jobs exist?

Anyway, I have one last day at home. I'm going to try to knock out some more work while the kids are still slumbering, and then make the most of these last few hours. Tomorrow is the beginning of another 12-day straight work stint. Ugh, ugh, ugh!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Just a quick note

Life and work have been super busy, so I don't have time to linger, but I just wanted to share my joy...

1) Hubby's team won again last night. Next up, they play the #1 Division 3 team in the country tomorrow night. Here's hoping they keep their heads and beat them - what an accomplishment that would be!

2) My new Bonnie Hunter book, Adventures with Leaders and Enders, arrived yesterday. I stayed up late last night reading (or at least looking at) every single page. Love it, love it, love it! If any of you have it, I see a "Mad City Mama" variation in my future!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Attitude adjustment

I've been moaning and groaning about this awful winter weather long enough. So, instead of hustling the kids off to bed last night and sitting down with some quilting, I bundled up them up for some nighttime fun in the snow - after all, there is no school today (AGAIN!!) so no need to go to bed on time. We sledded, we built a snowman, we had a major snowball fight. We were out there until nearly 10 PM. And you know what? It was FUN! All I needed was an attitude adjustment. Hopefully, that attitude adjustment will last at least another week, because we are supposed to get a whopper of a snowstorm this weekend.

While shoveling before work this morning, I decided to snap some photos. After all, I've lived here 7 years, and this is the first time we've had any snow to speak of.

The view down the hill from my driveway

My road - great for a scenic walk any time of year.

One of my two favorite trees on our property - this one is beautiful in any season, and I can see it from my bedroom window first thing when I open my eyes in the morning.

Home! I usually don't look back on my way to work in the morning, because I am always so tempted to turn right back around and stay there!

The creek is no longer raging, but I'm sure it will be again once all this winter's snows melt.

So, no more complaining about the weather. Bring it on!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Jason is despondent. School was closed yesterday because the roads out here in the county are still covered with snow. He's starting to think that the school week is only 4 days long because the bad weather we have had nearly every weekend has affected school nearly every Monday.

Donald was despondent. The thought of going to Pre-School while his brother was at home doing whatever he wanted made those big green eyes turn to liquid. Along with his eyes, my resolve, so he stayed home, too.

I was despondent. Things were finally a bit quieter at work, so I took Monday morning off - a little "me" time. Unfortunately, my kids don't understand the concept of "pretend Mommy is not here", so that didn't quite work out as planned. I eventually rode in to work with Adam so I could hang out with the Monday morning quilting group at the library where I got a tiny bit of hand quilting done, not nearly the progress I was hoping to get done yesterday during my time off.

And when I got home from work, the kids were ready to do something other than dress up and play superheros or watch TV (I'm pretty sure that is all they do when I am not here). So once dinner was in the oven, I took them downstairs to let Jason work on his flannel rag quilt. His quilt got kicked off the design wall when I started working on my Nickelmania quilt. (I think this is the pattern I'm going to go with, although I believe I'll put one more row around each side so that the white outline is complete)

We had quite a time trying to remember how it went back together until I remembered that we took a photo of it - thank goodness for digital cameras! He sewed until all of the pieces were at least sewn to one other piece, and then we called it quits - I could smell the lasagna and garlic bread in the oven and could no longer focus. Before putting it away, however, he made row labels so it wouldn't take us so long to lay it out next time.

In addition to restless children, there was a package waiting for me at home. I thought it would be my new Bonnie Hunter book, but instead, it was more flannel from Cheryl - thanks, Cheryl! My flannel buzzsaw quilt will get completed after all!

So, all was well in the Hutchinson household until I got the call this morning - school is closed again...