Friday, October 28, 2011

The EASIEST thing I have ever made!

Not too much sewing going on. I think all the travel and karate build up and painting my basement burned me out, and all I've felt like doing lately is curling up with a book. My regular readers know that cozy mysteries are my books of choice. I finished the second Leann Sweeney, Cats in Trouble book, The Cat, The Professor and The Poison. Enjoyed it!

I have another Arlene Sachitano to read, but they really aren't my favorite, even with quilts involved, so I'm sitting on that one for a while. Instead, I picked up Farm Fresh Murder by Paige Shelton, the first of the Farmer's Market Mysteries. Enjoyed it!

Now I'm reading one of Maggie Sefton's Knitting Mysteries, Dyer Consequences. There's a certain formula that works for me:

  • female protagonist

  • making it on her own with a home business or crafting business

  • character development! I don't just want to know what they do, I want to know why and how they feel about it and what scares them and what their sense of humor is like! (I think that's why I don't like Arlene Sachitano's books - there isn't much character development)
Anyway, I forced myself down into my sewing room and started working on some Christmas presents. One is for my sister who periodically reads this, so I can't share a photo, but I also worked on some stocking stuffers. I was thinking of making snap shut change purses, and I probably still will, but I also found a tutorial for a travel tissue case. I started with one for myself, since I hate when the plastic wrap crinkles up in my purse and then the tissues appear dirty.

Oh my goodness! If this wasn't THE EASIEST THING I have EVER made! Even with the boxed corners, which, I think, makes it look much more finished (and cute!). It took so little time that I made two more while timing myself. 18 minutes from start to finish to make a pair! No way!

So I made 5 more - IN 35 MINUTES!!!

Folks, if you are looking for a quick stocking stuffer that uses up scraps and takes practically no time to make, look no further! I followed the tutorial found here. Tonight, I'm going to change my thread and make some light colored ones (I had black thread in the machine, so these were all with dark fabrics). I'm addicted! I'm almost hoping people get the sniffles so I can offer them some tissues!

Are you dressing up for Halloween? I'm going to be a nun. Not sure I can pull that off, because I sure as heck am not a saint, but I'm gonna try! And I need to hang up Jason's Halloween Quilt. Remember this, his first quilt from two years ago?

I added it to the Quilting Gallery Weekly Theme Quilt Contest. Take a peek, and if you vote for him and he wins, I promise that HE will get the fabric winnings! He is already letting me know that he needs to build his stash! Love it!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I did it!

I cried when Master Clements tied the belt around my waist. I think one of the best feelings in the world is when you surprise yourself with your own tenacity, when you do something that you never really thought you could do. Thank you all for supporting me on my Black Belt journey.

And my UKE was wearing his double pot holder from the time he opened it until the time I left the gym. I think he liked his gift.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I robbed a squirrel!

OK, so not really. But I did make "acorns" this morning to put in my kids' lunchboxes as a treat and to bring in to the office. Yummy! I got the idea from an email from the Cotton Patch Quilt Shop yesterday - did anyone else see that? I had to run out after work and get the necessary supplies because I couldn't get them off my mind!

That sugar has kept me going today because I stayed up late finishing my gift for my UKE, a reversible apron to go with the double potholder I made for him over the weekend. I'm going to add 3 cookbooks that I don't use and call it good. Here's one side:

And some detailing of the other side, which exactly the same except the fabric placement is reversed:

And here's one of my good sport co-workers modeling it for me since I wasn't sure how it would fit a 6 foot tall man (being a 5 foot tall woman myself). He is holding my "oh so hot!" candy dish. :)

I hope he likes it. But even more, I hope I do OK on this test tomorrow. Please send "kick butt!" thoughts my way tomorrow at 10 AM EST. Hopefully my next post will start,

"Hi, I'm Erin - I'm a black belt in karate - Hutchinson."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pictures, video links, and the future Miss America!!!

The only sewing I did yesterday was sewing the binding on a hot pad that I may or may not include with my UKE gift on Saturday - it doesn't look as good as I had hoped. Other than that, it was a 13 hour day away from the house - a full day at work, arranging to have my furnace and fireplace serviced, a visit to the library, flu shots for the kids, two karate classes, a quick drive thru at KFC for dinner, and then a Board Meeting. Ugh! Can you say "exhausted"?

So no pretty quilting photos, but I realized that I haven't yet shared photos from my trip to Latin America. There aren't many because I didn't take a camera, just my phone, and the memory got used up pretty quickly.

First stop, Mexico City. While walking down a street, I came across these wings - I was wondering where I had left these!

I visited El Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Castle). It was hard to get a photo of the outside of the castle because it was up on a hill and surrounded by foliage. But inside, wow! There were several carriages: (reminds me of Cinderella)

Beautiful artwork - and I'm not just talking about the painting - that frame is wood inlaid with miniature pieces of artwork!

Lots of stained glass, including an entire hall - this is one of about 8 or 10 scenes down that hallway.

The view from the castle over the city - Mexico City never ceases to amaze me - it is SO BIG!!!

Another day I went to El Centro Historico to pick up some trinkets for the kids and some co-workers from the street vendors. There were several street performances going on.

Next stop, Costa Rica! Here's the view from the balcony of my hotel room, looking out over a putting green with the city San Jose in the distance.

It is a great hotel - the Costa Rica Marriott San Jose, and I highly recommend it for anyone stopping in San Jose. If you care to view it, here is a link to a little video of the hotel that I took for the kids on the iPad so they could visualize where I was. Video of My Favorite Hotel

But the hotel wasn't the highlight of the visit to Costa Rica - the zip lines were! On the way to the cloud forest, we stopped at a roadside bodega to get water and use the facilities. Look what was growing right outside the rest rooms - COFFEE!!

The red bean is the ripe one, and if you squeeze it, out pop two little white coffee beans surrounded by what I can only describe as vernix. Ick! I prefer my coffee beans dry and brown, already roasted.

Anyway, I bought a whole CD of photos and videos from our ziplining adventure. A highlight for me (besides NOT DYING!) was the Tarzan Swing high out over a river.
Video of Erin on Tarzan Swing

After about 8 zip lines, I was feeling cocky and even let go for a split second. While going BACKWARDS, no less!
Video of Erin doing backwards zipline

Our 12th zipline was the longest, 550 meters face down over a river - that one ride lasted well over a minute. Here I am coming in for a landing, and grinning like a fool!
Video of Erin doing Superman zipline

Next stop, Guayaquil, Ecuador. I was only there for 14 hours, including getting a night's sleep and giving hour-long presentation at 3 schools, but during my free hour before my next flight, my driver took me to El Parque de las Iguanas - yup, you guessed what that is! Freaky! There were hundreds of them just hanging out and eating lettuce out of people's hands! (NOT my hands!)

Then we went to El Barrio Las Penas, the oldest part of town displaying coastal colonial architechture built onto the side of Santa Ana hill. It has recently been rehabilitated, and it is very cool that each renovated, brightly painted building has a photo of what it looked like before mounted on a plaque on an outside wall! Here I am at the bottom on the only street in the barrio, which is lined with art galleries. (Ignore my cheezy, squinty grin)

And here I am about halfway up - I couldn't go all the way because I didn't want to miss my flight!

In Quito, I didn't do anything very touristy besides visit a museum in the historic center of town and ride the trole (best ride I've ever gotten for 25 cents!). However, I did take a photo of this, Albert Einstein rendered in chocolate - a gift from the Colegio Einstein school, one of the many schools I visited. I ate about half of him, from the feet up, before I started to feel like I was OD'ing on chocolate.

I hope you enjoyed my travelogue! And now, for something TOTALLY random...

one of my favorite students, a top scholarship winner here at W&L and one of the sweetest, most helpful people you could ever hope to meet, is competing in the Miss America pageant. Part of the competition is raising money for The Children's Miracle Network. If even just 25% of my followers donate $5, she'll exceed her fundraising goal. Wanna help me help this phenomenal young woman acheive her dreams while helping enrich the lives of sick and injured children? The link to her personal page is

I promise you, this impressive young woman is the POLAR OPPOSITE of this poor girl:
(wrong of me to pick on this girl, I know, and I'm probably going straight to hell, but I couldn't resist!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Winner, a Bobcat and a Chef!

First of all, congratulations to Angel, commenter #4, whose number was chosen by the Random Number Generator! Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway! I love seeing who is reading my blog, and there is nothing like a giveaway to make people bite the bullet and comment, instead of just lurking silently. (which, by the way, is not meant to be a derisive comment - I am guilty of silently lurking myself!)

Second of all, I am finished traveling for the year - YAY!!! As much as I love to travel, I love being home more. This weekend was a typical one:

- Donald earned his Bobcat Badge at the Cub Scout Pack Meeting on Saturday (a distinction for which you get your face painted - anyone have any spare teeth they can donate to the Hutchinson household? Or better yet, I'll rent my children out to you as Jack-O-Lanterns at a really reasonable rate!)

-He made Rice Krispy treats to bring to the meeting. See his apron? I won that in a blogging giveaway last year from Rebecca at Our Busy Little Bunch. She makes the coolest stuff and is constantly having giveaways - check her out. And see the dogs circling about waiting to scarf up anything he drops? Boy, do they know my son well! (Are dogs allowed to eat marshmallows?)

-The Black Belt Test for Karate is Saturday, October 22. I spent 5 hours at the dojo this weekend in preparation. I'm so nervous, I'm nauseous. And thrilled to pieces that by this time next week, I can say, "I am a Black Belt in karate!" I might just introduce myself that way for a while, "Hi, I'm Erin "I'm a Black Belt in karate" Hutchinson. Nice to meet you!" What do you think, too much?

Anyway, during the test, we get to demonstrate our moves on an UKE, a generous soul who sacrifices his/her body to us for the day, prepared to be thrown about just to make us look good. My UKE is a 6 ft, 20 year old Black Belt, who also fancies himself a chef, a true Renaissance Man. We are supposed to present our UKE with a gift at the conclusion of the test. I am making him some kitchen stuff - an apron, a hot pad and a double potholder. I bought what I hope he will consider "manly" fabrics while I was in WV, and started on the gift this weekend. The double potholder is done, and while not perfect, I really like how it turned out. It is nice and roomy, plenty big enough for his manly hands. I will probably make one for myself. And perhaps for some family members who like to cook.

Now to finish up with the hot pad and the apron. I also hope to make something for Jason to give his UKE, a drawstring backpack made from one of the t-shirts from the dojo. Gotta get cracking - only 5 more days...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bright sunshine-y day!

I had a bright sunshine-y day DESPITE the rain that poured down in West Virginia today. First of all, West Virginia is so beautiful that even the rain can't spoil the awe I feel when driving around the state. Secondly, I was quite popular at all of my school visits today; I hate going to a school and having no one to talk to, but that hasn't been an issue anywhere this year (knock on wood). And thirdly, and most importantly, this was the day that I finally got to meet a 4-year blogging buddy in person!!!

After my last school visit, I drove over to Clarksburg, WV to meet Becky at Classic Quilt Shop. I've gotta explore new quilt shops whenever possible when traveling. This cute little shop was bright and tidy and the owner was a sweetheart; I encourage you to visit if you are ever driving down 79 in West Virginia. I did my small part to help the economy and keep this LQS open - I picked up a few more goodies to add to my Embroidery Floss giveaway (on my last post if you missed it and would like to enter): some embroidery needles, some DMC floss holders (which I've never even heard of before, but I hate it when my floss gets tangled!!!), and 2 fat eighths of black and white butterfly fabrics - I bought fat quarters because I wanted some for myself, but I'm willing to share!

When we were done there, we headed over to Panera Bread to eat and get to know each other. It turns out, she's just as cool as I thought she would be, and hilarious to boot! We had some good laughs, talked about some books we've both read, travel, politics, family, etc. The time flew - I wish I had more time to get to know her!

And being quilters, OF COURSE we each had a little something for the other one. I gave her that snap shut coin purse I made earlier this week (I didn't mention on the blog that it was for her, just in case she read my blog before I saw her!) and the Independence Table Runner that I finished this year. It was originally made for her for PayItForward on Facebook, but I never got around to sending it to her. This meeting was perfect so I could give it to her.

Look what she gave me! She made this wonderful winter wallhanging, so I can FINALLY do some seasonal decorating - and it is embroidered (embroidery is definitely on my brain these days!). She did a beautiful job hand quilting it, and even added sparkley beads. I can't wait to hang it up!

Plus she gave me a bag of scraps (otherwise known as TREASURE in my sewing room). Look at all those Black and Whites for me to add to my Red/White/Black quilt! I'm tempted to rush home now and start sewing, never mind the day of school visits I have planned for tomorrow!

Thanks, Becky! I look forward to meeting you again, and let's not wait 4 years next time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All caught up! (and giveaway)

The last time I wrote, it was Wednesday and I was in Ecuador, longing to be home. Well, I made it home Saturday afternoon, and spent an exhausting yet exhilarating 3 days there doing a cub scout campout and hosting 12 high school seniors from around the country. Now it is Wednesday again, and I'm writing from another hotel in West Virginia. At least this is a short trip - I'll be home Friday night and then I'll be done traveling for a while.

Travel season is a great time for me to work on embroidery. I am all caught up with my Birdie Stitches BOM - here are the last 3 blocks that I completed, all during travel season.

I'm so glad I discovered embroidery. I don't do anything fancy, but I'm becoming more adept and faster, and I enjoy doing it. I'm thinking of sketching out my own designs for a couple projects.

Do you embroider? If not, would you like some embroidery floss to give it a try? Or if so, can I interest you in some more floss to add to your stash? Our local hobby shop is going out of business, much to the dismay of my boys. The good news is that everything is 50% off, so when I was there with the boys this weekend, I picked up 15 flosses, 3 shades of 5 colors. It's not much, but I offer it to you, my readers. I already have more embroidery floss than I know what to do with, but I couldn't resist buying more, especially at such a great price! I'll see what else I can throw in to sweeten the pot.

Leave a comment by my bedtime on Sunday, October 16 and I'll pick a recipient of the floss on Monday.

***EDITED 10/13/11 to say that I picked up these goodies to add to the giveaway - some embroidery needles, some DMC floss holders, and 2 fat eighths of black and white butterfly fabrics that I picked up at a quilt shop in WV today.***

Since I'm caught up on those blocks, and since this was a driving trip, I brought my Pick and Choose quilt to work on (hand quilting). I hope I make some headway, but honestly, all I want to do is catch up on my sleep! I am so exhausted! But not too exhausted yesterday to sew a bit - I made another snap shut change purse with the metal tape measure I bought for that purpose. I love these cute little things. (tutorial by Wilma can be found here)

I use the one I made before to hold my cash, coins, ID and credit cards. When I pulled it out at work the other day, there were some requests to make more, so I am happily obliging! These will be my stocking stuffers this year as well. What are you making to give away at the holidays this year, anything quick and easy (that I might want to make as well)?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Enough already!

OK, guys, the fun is over, I am ready to go home. I am ready to trade these luxury hotels for my untidy home. I am ready to trade these solicitous waitpeople for my challenging children. I am ready to drive myself to work instead of having a chauffeur. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I miss my family, my house, my life.

I also miss sewing. I haven't done much sewing on this trip. The times when I could sit still and sew are in the airport, but after last year's highway (airport) robbery where TSA took all my needles and pins, I have put my sewing into my checked baggage. Oh well.

I have been able to read, though. I read "The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse" by Leann Sweeney. I'd never heard of it before last week, but I enjoyed it. It is the first of the Cats In Trouble series. The protagonist is a quilter and cat-lover, and solves her first mystery. A classic cozy. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered the second book, "The Cat, The Professor and The Poison."

Then, I read Threading The Needle by Marie Bostwick. I'm in love with her town and her characters and the lives that they create for themselves. I have, and have enjoyed, all 4 of the Cobbled Court Quilts series.

Now I am starting Arlene Sachitano's Quilter's Knot. I've already read the first and the third in the series, and now I've added the second and the fourth to my collection. Honestly, they aren't my favorites because I don't feel all that connected to the characters, perhaps I need more character development, but I can't resist quilt fiction of any kind.

Anyway, some highlights from my trip so far (again, no photos because I have no way to transfer them on here yet):
In Mexico City - visiting El Castillo de Chapultepec (an honest to goodness castle!)
In Costa Rica - conquering my fear of heights and doing a zip line tour of the San Luis Canopy
In Guayaquil (Ecuador) - visiting El Parque de los Iguanas (no joke guys, a park with iguanas walking around everywhere freely amongst people - you could even PET them - I didn't)

Now I'm in Quito. There will be some shopping in my future for trinkets for my family and co-workers, but other than that and giving my spiel over and over and over (and over) at schools for the next two days, I think I will stay close to the hotel and just relax. I am exhausted! Please sew a few extra seams for me!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Surrounded by celebrities!

The good news - I got my iPad working again. The bad news - all the data and apps I had stored on there are gone. Oh well. At least I can blog, right?

I worked a bit on my September Birdie Stitches BOM last night while watching a Hugh Grant movie in spanish. I'm sure I missed a bit of the dialogue, but with no subtitles, it was easy to stitch and listen. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera and my phone doesn't work here, so I can't upload photos. Posts with no photos - how boring, right?

How's this for interesting - I seem to keep staying in hotels near celebrities. In Mexico City, I was staying at the JW Marriott. Right next door is the W (strange name for a hotel, I know. Seems a bit pretentious). Guess who was staying at the W, messing up traffic for all unsuspecting visitors around him. Justin Bieber. Barricades all outside with screaming girls AND WOMEN! Hilarious, except when I was trying to get a taxi and they weren't allowed through the barricades to get me and my luggage.

Here in Costa Rica, I just returned to the hotel from a day of school visits to find a horde of boys in soccer jerseys at the gate and very strict security to enter the property. Of course they let me through since I am staying here, and I arrived at the door which was surrounded by men with cameras - papparazzi, I presume. My taxi driver was having a fit of excitement - from what I understand, the Brazilian soccer team is staying here and there's a chap on the team named Ronald Hino who is apparently some big shot in the world of soccer. I know nothing, but again, I seem to be in the presence of greatness. I just pretended that the papparazzi were there for me, and exited the taxi as gracefully as possible. :)

Anyway, another day of visits here in Costa Rica, and then I am off to Ecuador. Hasta luego!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Technology woes!

I have so much to share from my travels so far, but when I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica last night, I discovered that neither my iPad nor my Blackberry was functioning. WAH! I have photos from Chapultepec Castle that I visited, photos from the Historic Center of Mexico City/Zocalo where I visited vendors for trinkets marvelled at the old buildings. I was there when they ceremonially lowered the (ENORMOUS) Mexican flag in the center plaza. Everyone stopped walking and gathered around. Cars that were driving by stopped where they were in the streets and everyone got out and stood watching. Maybe it is a daily thing, but it was a moving experience.

Now, I am at a hotel that I've never stayed at in San Jose and let me tell you, it is NICE! My room has a small balcony that looks out over a golf course with the city and mountains in the distance. Last night it was magical, so I slept with my sliding glass doors open (I'm on the 4th floor, no worries, no one will walk in on me). Today, I am supposed to do a zip line canopy tour of a cloud forest if only they can find my reservation. I hope so - I took a late flight last night just so I could be here today to do this!

Anyway, unless I can get my iPad back up and running, you probably won't hear from me much until I get to Ecuador later in the week. I know there are internet cafes near my hotel in Quito where I can get cheap internet. Here in the hotel business center, I am paying $10/hour, so I can't linger. Have a great week, all!