Monday, November 28, 2011

Quickie Post

I think I promised to post photos of my completed November Birdie BOM next time I posted. Oops! While I did work on it a bit this weekend, I also finished a book, watched lots of movies, slept, read files (for work), went to two basketball games, swam laps in the hotel pool (twice), and took my kids to the Virginia Living Museum. Oh well. My son's basketball season has started so I will have plenty of time to stitch on the bleachers.

My reason for posting is that I had MAIL when I got home last night. Above All Fabric is going out of business, so I bought up some of her lovelies. First, some solids,

and then some lovely prints,

all at least 1 yard cuts and all for less than $4/yard. No purpose in mind, just building stash.

I'm looking forward to getting home and firing up the sewing machine this afternoon. It has been entirely too long since I've sewn anything of substance!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A themed Thanksgiving

My son got off the school bus on Tuesday bubbling over with excitement about his plans to have a "First Thanksgiving" themed Thanksgiving.

"We can make Pilgrim hats for half the boys and loincloths for the other half, and bonnets for the girls. Can we go to the fabric store right now? We need felt and leather and cotton prints, and..."

(WE!?! You know what that means, right?)

"Um, no, kiddo, I have to COOK! And clean toilets! And make Daddy's office and my sewing room into guest rooms for our overnight visitors! And COOK! I can't also make costumes for 12 people in 24 hours!?!"

So he went to his room, got on his computer, and printed out instructions for making bonnets out of construction paper, which we already have at home. He came down to get his instructions off the printer and went off in search of instructions for the loincloths and Pilgrim Hats. (sigh) How could I not cave in to his persistence and enthusiasm? Really, if my guests are in costume, perhaps they will be too distracted looking at each other to notice how dirty my house is. So I compromised - Pilgrim Hats made out of felt for everyone, and he and his brother had to help.

On Wednesday, we headed out, first to see the Muppets (priorities!!!) and then to WalMart to get felt. Thank goodness I was riding the feel-good high from the Muppets or WalMart on the day before Thanksgiving would have completely undone me! What a zoo!

Using a hat that he already had from Colonial Days at school as a guide, we used an assembly line to crank out 11 more hats - I cut and sewed, and the boys operated the glue gun.

When they went to bed, I started cooking and cleaning. Usually, my mom and younger sister are around to make the pies, but since they are in New Hampshire now, I rolled up my sleeves and gave it a whirl. Only to find out that my oven, which the appliance guy fixed on Tuesday afternoon, wasn't actually fixed. It heated up all the way to 250 degrees before it started cooling off again. Uh oh...

Do you know how long it takes to bake two pies and an apple crisp in the toaster oven? Three hours!!! I didn't get to bed until 2 AM on Wednesday night! But, during that baking time, I was able to make homemade Cranberry Sauce (first time - yummy! And I don't even usually LIKE cranberry sauce!), Broccoli Raisin salad (again, first time, but they serve it a lot down here in Virginia, and I've developed quite a taste for it), bread (in the bread machine), Candied Yams (boiled and peeled and layered with the good stuff, ready to be baked the next day), and prepped all the veggies to be sauteed and added to my stuffing.

Stuffing for the turkey. Fo which I did not have an oven to bake it. Hmmm...

On Thursday, woke up early and started on everything else. First, the turkey. I have a gas grill, and while shooting a prayer up to heaven to let this work, that's how I cooked it. I couldn't believe the compliments I got on the turkey! It didn't look so good - it was much darker on the outside than I usually make it, and the wing and leg tips were flat out burnt - but it was GOOD! My guests were surprised to learn that I had grilled it on a gas grill.

And collard greens, per my husband's request. I've never made those before either, but they turned out great! I'm so glad there were some left over! I finished the stuffing and heated it in the broiler on low - I think I actually like it better outside the bird than inside it! Who knew? The candied yams got finished off in the toaster over, and the squash and mashed potatoes were made on the stovetop. I can't believe I made a whole Thanksgiving feast on my own - I usually have siblings and a mom around to spread the work around. But, as I told my husband, it is the one time a year when I actually don't mind cooking.

And my guests were such good sports about the hats! We wore them while eating, while playing football,

while playing air hockey, while playing cards.

And everyone got to take one home as a souvenir of Thanksgiving 2011 at the Hutchinson household.

(Um, yeah, I'm on my hands and knees. You see, I wanted everyone in the photos so I set the timer on the camera and rushed back to get into position. It just wasn't supposed to be this position...)

Right now, I'm in Newport News, Virginia. The boys and I hopped the bus with the basketball team this afternoon to watch them play in the tournament at Christopher Newport University this weekend. I think we set a new record - we checked into the hotel at 10:09 PM, and by 10:15 PM, the boys were in the pool. Ha! But it wore them out, so when the security guard kicked us out at 11 PM, they went straight to sleep. Which is what I should be doing, too. And this weekend, while cheering the basketball team and supervising twice daily trips to the pool, I vow to finish my November Birdie Stitches BOM. Next time I post, there will be a photo, I promise!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My family ROCKS!!!

On Thursday, the boys and I boarded the bus along with my husband's basketball team to travel to Massachusetts and cheer them on at their tournament while spending time with my family. Adam and the team stayed at a hotel, but the boys and I stayed with my twin sister and her family. My brother and his family also drove up and stayed with us (got there an hour before me), and on Saturday, my mom, my younger sister and her baby drove down from New Hampshire. All the siblings and my mom haven't been together like that since my sister got married last fall, so this was great fun! And look, the bookstore at Washington and Lee gave me a discount so I was able to get 20 matching t-shirts at a great price so we could really represent at the game!

We won the first game on Friday, but lost on Saturday. Then it was back on the bus for the 10 hour drive home. We got home at 4:30 AM on Sunday. (UGH!) I'm just glad I didn't have to do the driving. If you recall, I was planning to read, stitch, watch movies and sleep on the bus. I gotta say, I did WAY MORE sleeping than I thought I would. I brought 4 books and didn't even finish the first one yet! I brought my November Birdie BOM and never even took it out to work on it! I did spend several hours hand quilting a couple more blocks on the Pick and Choose quilt. That was pretty handy, because when I got tired, I just secured the needle and cuddled up under it. I'm really growing attached to that quilt, and if the woman who commissioned me to finish it for her still wants it when it is done, I'm going to be more than a little bit sad! And while snuggling down, I caught a couple of movies. I'm still shaking my head at the choices of the team - I was the only female on a bus with 26 people on it, and they watched BRIDESMAIDS! There was a scene in there, though, that had me laughing so hard that I was crying! (the bridal shop after lunch at the Brazilian place, for any of you who have seen it - hilarious!!!)

I paid my neighbor to dog sit while we were gone and Rosabelle ran away. That dog is so much trouble! It is a good thing she is such a sweetheart, or I'd be tempted to give her back to the animal shelter! But someone found her right away and called our vet (the number is on her rabies tag) so she spent two nights there until we got back. I learned my lesson, though, and already made reservations for both dogs to board there this weekend when we head to Newport News, VA with the basketball team again for their next tournament.

In the meantime, I am frantically trying to fix my oven before Thursday, as there will be eleven disappointed people in my house if we don't have turkey and pie for dinner that day. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Little Things

Last week was BRUTAL! It was super busy at work and I was cramming to make a signature quilt in just 5 days. It all got done, but all I felt like doing this weekend was little things. Luckily, I had two Bee blocks to complete, so I started with those. They were both made with fabric that is very different from what I have in my stash, so that was fun.

We also had a Tiger Scout Den meeting on Sunday afternoon for which I had to prepare. We are going Christmas caroling at a nursing home in early December, before our next Den meeting, so we made Christmas postcards to distribute to residents while we are there (I know, I know, it is early to be thinking Christmas when we haven't even eaten turkey yet, but we wouldn't have had any other time to do it.) On Saturday, I spent several blissful hours cutting letters and green triangles out of old quilting magazines while oogling the quilts. I also cut out some postcard sized rectangles from old cereal boxes, and covered each with a snowy background cut from some Christmas wrapping paper. Here's my sample card:

The ornaments on the tree were made with a 3-hole punch - easy peasy!

Here are the Tigers and their parents working on their cards:

And here is the final result of our efforts:

(Looks like that second tree in the third row is getting chopped down, doesn't it?) I love them! All the boys signed all the backs of the cards.

We also packed 4 boxes of goodies for Operation Christmas Child to send abroad. Can you tell we talked about part of the Law of the Pack, "The Cub Scout gives goodwill"? We defined goodwill as kindness, and these boxes and postcards are physical manifestations of our goodwill towards others this season.

I also spent some time straightening up my sewing room yesterday. I still have a long way to go to make it presentable, but it is better. Part of making it better was cutting up some of my flannels so that they fit back into my flannel bin. I'm hoping to whip up a rag quilt that I can work on snipping later this week on the team bus when the boys and I and ride with my husband's basketball team up to Amherst, Massachusetts where they will play in a tournament. My sister lives within walking distance of the College, so we get to visit family and support the team all at once. Bonus! I will also be working on my November Birdie BOM on that trip. It is nice to have travel projects!

Know what else is nice? Winning giveaways! I won TWO yesterday - 5 fat quarters from Annie at Annie's Ruby Slipperz and a pattern and Charm Pack at House of Wilson. There are more giveaways coming from both of them - I encourage you to pop on over for a peek!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Who needs sleep?

Not me! Donald's joy at seeing his completed signature quilt, ready to be delivered to his departing student teacher today at her going away party, cleared the cobwebs from my head that lingered after getting less than 4 hours of sleep.

I just hope I don't nod off in the middle of something important...ZZZZZzzzzzzz.....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Signed...and partially sealed

Donald collected all the signatures at school on Monday, and I spent Monday evening rearranging and putting the top together. Here's what I finally came up with: (and yes, I said "I"; Donald deserted me to watch TV, the little stinker!)

Then on Tuesday, I sandwiched it and started quilting it with straight lines outlining the diagonal blocks using my walking foot. I am almost done quilting, but not quite because I had to go back to work to speak on a panel on College Access for Underserved Populations last night, and then had to read applications until 11 PM. Ugh! Busy season at work, yet again!!!

I had to come back to work again tonight, and I will be taking files home to read again, but I am determined to finish quilting and attached the binding tonight, because this baby has to be delivered on Friday - the student teacher's last day. Wish me luck (and copious amounts of caffeine!).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Scrap attack!

Have you noticed I haven't done much quilting lately? Reading, yes. Sewing up little gifts and whatnot, yes. But quilting, no. I couldn't take it anymore! I had to get up to my elbows in scraps and work on a quilt (or two, or three).

I started by helping Donald work on a quilt. His student teacher is leaving at the end of the week, and he wanted to make a quilt for her, so I helped him sew up blocks for a signature quilt using some pre-cut 5.5" squares that I inherited from someone somewhere down the line. He picked out the fabrics to use (from a stack of coordinating sqaures), he used the presser foot while I steering the fabric under the needle, he cut the chain pieced segments apart, and he pressed them open on the ironing board. He got a bit tired of it all, and started lamenting the fact that there were 23 kids in his class.

"I should have done this last year in kindergarten when there were only 11 of us," he sighed.

I sent the blocks in with him this morning for the teacher to have all the kids sign one, and then we'll hopefully put it together tonight with the upper and lower borders that you can see in the photo above that I made to make it more square. It is only about 30" square, and I plan to machine quilt with some straight stitches. I've even already made the binding!

I also made a couple more of my leader and ender blocks using 1.5" squares (these blocks finish 6.5" square, and the whole purpose is to use up that black floral - I had a bunch of pre-cut 4.5" squares of it that I wanted OUT of my scraps tin).

I also worked on whittling down my stash of strings because they no longer fit in my strings tin. I whipped up a couple more Virginia Bound blocks (an adaptation of a Bonnie Hunter quilt in her Scraps and Shirttails book). I love these blocks, and can't wait until I have enough to sew them together and have a quilt already! (only 37 more blocks to go...ugh! when I put it that way, it seems like it will NEVER happen!)

I've also had time this past week to work on hand quilting my Pick and Choose quilt.

No new photos, but slowly, slowly, it is coming along. Dare I say that I hope to have it done before Christmas? Did I just jinx myself?

I also want to share with everyone the bag that I received from Janet. I won a giveaway on her blog, and she made me this bag. I love it!

She made the handles in a very clever way so you can use them either long or short - genius! And check out her free motion quilting - I am in awe and so envious of her ability!

She included a beautiful fabric postcard that she made, but I forgot to take a photo of it. Thanks so much, Janet!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thank goodness, it's November!

I swear, our lives have been consumed by Halloween in the Hutchinson household! First, all the angst about what to be. Then the angst about whether or not the costume parts that we ordered online would arrive on time. Then Friday night, we went to a costume party at the karate dojo. Saturday, after I worked all morning, I hosted a Halloween party for 11 scouts and siblings at my house, followed by a 5 kid sleepover for a Halloween Movie Marathon (kid Halloween movies, not THE Halloween movies). The extra kids were gone by noon on Sunday, and no one will be surprised that I spent the rest of the day laying about in bed with occasional trips to the kitchen for sustenance. I'm proud to say that I also managed to sweep floors, wash dishes and do two loads of laundry - but besides that, I was a complete slug!

Then, of course, came actual Halloween! We trick-or-treated til we couldn't trick-or-treat anymore! (Do you like my homemade rosary? The cross is cut from a cereal box and covered with red fabric. The beads are actually a red fish necklace that my son brought home from fish release day at school when they released the trout babies that they were raising in a tank at school.)

We will have candy until my children have children! The kids are thrilled, but all I can think about is my non-existent willpower. (sigh) Pass me another Snickers, will you?

Today, I am happy to put the costumes away, and head home after school/work to SEW! I already warned the kids that I wasn't leaving the house this afternoon or evening. Today is for me! I wonder what I will sew today...

And thank you to everyone who voted for Jason's Halloween quilt this weekend. He didn't win, but he was so tickled to see that he got votes and came in 5th!