Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ahoy mateys, there's a giveaway!

I had a couple of goals for yesterday - to finish another green pillowcase shopping bag, to put borders on my Birdie Stitches BOM quilt and to finish the book I was reading.  The shopping bag got done...

but the quilt borders didn't because a demanding little pirate shanghaied me and pressed me into service to make a Jolly Roger for his pirate ship.

I also finished reading my book.  I read Riel Nason's debut novel, The Town That Drowned
Some of you probably know her from her blog, The Q and the U, and all of her wonderful selvege creations.  She's made more Halloween quilts than anyone I've ever heard of!  So, from her blog, I knew she was clever and creative and talented, but reading her book has really solidified my awe of her.  It was AMAZING!

The setting was described in a way that I could visualize where everything took place.  The characters were believeable, complex and human and diverse.  The plot built up to a climax that had me forgetting to breathe and then sobbing out loud.  My nose ran for a full hour after finishing the book.  And while the book wasn't about quilts, they were weaved in here and there, fun details to remind me that quilting is her favorite hobby.  I highly recommend the book to anyone looking for something to read.  And to start things of, I am giving away my (once read, but otherwise new) copy of the book.  (because I'm going to buy 3 more copies for myself and family members and try to get them signed!)

Since I missed the gift exchange with my guild, I'm adding my gift to this giveaway - a bundle of Laurie Wisbrun's Urban Circus scraps, a winter travel sized tissue holder, and some Ghiradelli chocolates. 

To enter to win, simply leave a comment.  Be sure I have a way to get in touch with you.  I'll leave this open until the end of my first day back at work (Tuesday, January 3rd).  I'll need something to look forward to at the end of what is sure to be a LOOOONNNNGGGGG day! 

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I knew it had been a while since my last post, but 17 days!?!  Wow!  I feel like I should have a lot to show for 17 days absence.  The pressure is on!

I made 3 shopping bags from pillowcases that I got from Goodwill.  I am anti-plastic bags, and avoid them as much as possible.  However, my stash of "green" shopping bags has been dwindling due to unforeseen calamities (the exploding groceries left in the car for 4 days, a carsick dog, etc.).  It was either buy some more shopping bags or make some.  What is the point of knowing how to sew if you can't make your own stuff?  I used the tutorial found here - very easy, quick, and I love that now all my shopping bags are unique!  Some great features of this pattern are that the bags are fully lined, machine washable, with boxed corners and a reinforced bottom.

I finished the Christmas quilt top.  I think the pattern is called Flurry, but the quilt in the pattern is so much prettier than this one, I don't think I can call it that.  Gonna need a new name.  Honestly, I think my version is hideous, but it used up some of my Christmas fabrics, and that makes me happy.  Sometimes quilts start to grow on me after I begin quilting them.  I am hoping this is the case for this one. 

I finished my Birdie Stitches BOM flimsy.  Well, kinda.  I finished the blocks and the alternate blocks and I sewed them all together.  However, I want it to be bigger, so I'll be making some borders, at least for the top and bottom.  I love all the color!

And on a whim, I also made a circle zippered earbud pouch. It was my first zipper, and was super easy. What is all the zipper phobia about?

I have 4 more days of freedom before it is back to work and karate and basketball and cub scouts and exhaustion. I'm sleeping in, eating lots, exercising, playing with the kids, reading, watching McLeod's Daughters, and getting quite a bit of hand quilting done. I don't want this vacation to end!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Dreams

Do you ever have a string of failures so long that you think you should be banished from the sewing room forever?  That was me this weekend.  And it's my own fault.  This Saturday was our guild Christmas party, and I wasn't prepared with my gift to swap.  It was supposed to be small, something valued at $10 or less.  On Friday night, I wrapped 4 Urban Circus scraps (each less than a fat quarter but more than a fat eighth) together with a ribbon to start things off, but I wanted to add more to my gift.  I should make something, right?  I trotted down to the sewing room with my iPad and all the inspiration that can be found on the World Wide Web.

First, I tried some fabric origami to make an ornament - FAIL!
photo from

Then I tried to make a hexagon needle holder - FAIL!
(photo from

OK, how about my (new) old standby, travel tissue cover - FAIL!
(How did I fail with this when I've already made so many and they are SO EASY, you ask?  I got carried away boxing the corners and made them into tall, narrow fabric containers.  They are still cute, but there is no way tissues will fit in there!)

I'm getting frustrated now - how about one of those cute little fabric tote bags that I made a couple Valentine's Days ago?
Where did I find that tutorial online? - - - fast forward a couple of HOURS, and I STILL couldn't find the tutorial.  Then, in a belated stroke of sanity, I remembered that they were called "baskets" not "totes" and I found the tutorial first try!  By now, however, it is so late that I can't see straight and would not be safe with sharp instruments.  Off to bed and I'll try again in the morning.

Saturday morning rolls around and I head down to whip up one of those little baskets.  An hour should be enough time, right?  Well, it SHOULD have been, but it turns out that 1) I am not looking at the same tutorial as before - this basket is different and bigger, but OK, I'll go with it, but then 2) I sewed the darned thing inside out and had to haul out the seam ripper for a workout.  By this time, the meeting is starting without me, so I gave up.  :(

On Sunday, thinking that maybe I've got the gremlins out of my system, I ventured down to the sewing room again.  I fixed the basket.  OK, this is good.  I made two travel tissue covers.  All right, maybe my sewing mojo is back.  But did I contine to ease my way into things?  Heck no!  I chose CURVES!!!

Truth is, it worked out.  While waiting for our take-out pizza to be ready, the kids and I wandered around Goodwill, where I found a twin flat sheet the color of an Orange Creamsicle that I was inexplicably drawn to.  What on earth could I make with that?  But somehow, it landed in my basket, along with a king sized flowered pillowcase.

A few hours later, after the pizza was gone and the kids were happily ensconced with a Christmas movie they've never seen before, I started sewing some Drunkard's Path blocks, no pin style.  And they worked!  Check out what I have so far:
(OK, the colors are off because it was midnight, but you get the idea)
I have no idea what I will do with it, or who would want an upcycled creamsicle-colored quilt, but the sense of accomplishment I got from sewing something without mistakes and for a whopping total of $2.50 for the materials, it was definitely worth making.  I stopped when I realized that I should have added the alternating strip of 2" squares to the other two sides before adding the outer border - I'll figure that out tonight.  But I tell you, last night I dreamed of Orange Creamsicles, which I haven't even seen since I was a kid. 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are you joining the party?

The 2nd Annual Neighborhood Party over at Beth's LoveLaughQuilt blog, that is. There is still time to join!

I had a ball creating my block to send.  Nearly all the fabrics in my block have special meaning:
  • Snake fabric - I live on Rattler Road.  There is a reason why my road is called Rattler Road, and it involves creatures with no legs.  Ugh!  But the view makes their presence worth it!
  • Teacup fabric - I love, love, love drinking tea and coffee, hot when it is cold outside and iced when it is warm.  Yum!
  • Basketball kids - Not only am I married to a basketball coach, but my boys both play basketball, not just in a league in the winter, but at camps during the summer.  Needless to say, I am the proud owner of a cushy stadium seat, and I get lots of hand sewing done in the stands.
  • Bug fabric - I guess bugs are part and parcel of living in the country but, UGH!  I can't stand them, but they are everywhere.  In particular, we have lots of ladybugs (and to think I used to think they were CUTE!  Until they invaded my house by the thousands a couple years ago) and shield/stink bugs.  The stink bugs are now reigning supreme, as they apparently compete for resources with the ladybugs.  I'm not sure which I prefer...
  • Tree from made fabric - I live in the country, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with 7 acres and deeded access to the George Washington National Forest.  Trees dominant my views, and I love them.
Besides the creepy crawly things, I LOVE where I live, I love my house, I love my life.  Won't you join in the Neighborhood party and share with us a bit about where YOU live?  Although, truth be told, I'm hoping to be one of the winners of a neighborhood of house blocks this year...

Monday, December 5, 2011

The most wonderful time of year?

While I am definitely getting into the holiday spirit, December STINKS in the world of college admissions. I am taking files home every night to read, answering 3,167 emails daily from panicked kids who want to know if their second teacher recommendation arrived by the scholarship deadline, and talking to countless parents on the phone to calm their fears about the affordability of college. I love my job, but December is like receiving a mega-dose of work; too much of anything is not a good thing! Especially since my "other life" (wife, mother, quilter) hasn't slowed down at all either.

So while this should be the season of sitting under a quilt, watching Christmas movies while sewing on the binding, very little sewing is actually getting done at my house. I did finally finish the November Birdie Stitches BOM on December 1, but I haven't had time to add the border yet.

I also whipped up this quickie table topper for my dining room table to put my centerpiece candles on. (Thanks for the tutorial, Beth!) The fabrics are the same that I used in my tree skirt last year (my tree stands in my dining room windows). I am still sewing the binding on this, but hopefully I can have it on my table by tomorrow night.

Other than that, no sewing, but I did receive my winnings from the giveaway I won on the House of Wilson. In addition to the Charm Pack, I got these two neutrals and her TV Squares pattern. I think I want to make her pattern with some different fabrics. Anyone have a favorite (free, online) Charm Pack pattern I could make with this City Weekend Charm Pack?

Going out in the mail today will be my package for Leona's holiday fabric swap. I hope that my partner likes these Fat Eighths from my stash. I also made her one of the postcards I made with the cub scouts, and threw in a tissue cover that could be seasonal, but not necessarily. I'll be picking up some chocolate from the chocolatier in town, The Cocoa Mill, to round out the package.

So, since I am not sewing, what have I been doing, you ask? In addition to going to work every day, and maintaining our household...

Monday - take a karate class, read a stack of files at home
Tuesday - Jason's basketball practice, read a stack of files at home
Wednesday - teach karate class, then Adam's basketball game
Thursday - Jason's basketball practice, make cars for parade and cookies for Wounded Warrior Project, read a stack of files at home
Friday - make rice krispy treats for Wounded Warrior project, arrange and march in town Christmas parade with the Cub Scouts
Saturday - Jason's basketball game, go in to work for a few hours, Adam's basketball game, dinner with my brother and his family, get lost on way home from basketball game, read a stack of files at home
Sunday - help kids clean their rooms, visit radio station with cub scouts, go Christmas caroling with cub scouts, read a stack of files at home

Where's the down time in there? Do you see any??? Actually, last night I thawed the Turkey Pot Pie filling that I made the day after Thanksgiving, popped it into some pie crusts, and baked that for dinner, using the spare moments from making something that I had made ahead to sit and watch Akeelah and the Bee with my boys. Jason was in the school spelling bee earlier this week, so I ordered this from Netflix and it was nice to sit in the theater with some popcorn and my two little buddies and just chill for a couple of hours.

But back to yesterday afternoon, when we went Christmas caroling...

We first went to a nursing home in town, sang our whole repertoire of songs, and then caroled down the street, knocking on any door with cars in the drive, on our way to another nursing home about a third of a mile away. What absolute FUN!!! Why don't people go Christmas caroling anymore? People were so delighted, asked to take our photograph, clapped their hands, called to others in the house to come see. It was such a treat! Are you looking for something different to do this holiday season? I encourage you to go caroling!