Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

I hope everyone is enjoying their three-day weekend! Remember to take a moment to take a veteran this week. I have really enjoyed watching the History Channel show the WWII movies in HD, even though I thought I wouldn't. Put my quilt in my lap, and just watched the service. Then it struck me how appropriate it was that I am working on my patriotic 4th of July quilt. I hope to have it finished for the Fourth.

But, playing around on my favorite quilting forum, I found a page of quilting jokes and funny videos. I definitely recommend checking it out, especially the fisherman video...I don't know when was the last time I laughed that hard (maybe years ago when America's Funniest Home Videos first starting airing?) And I found one quote that seems to sum up the point of this and many other blogs I have read recently:

Rules for Quilting
1. Always buy fabric, no matter how much you already have.
2. Sew all day and all night, absolutely no cooking allowed
3. Use lots of spit for tiny droplets of blood, this always makes the quilt more personal.
4. Always start a new quilt before the last one is finished, this requires you to go back to step #1.

Now, for those who do not quilt, apparently the only substance known to completely dissolve your own blood is your spit! So for those of us with permanently pricked fingers dripping blood all over quilts, SPIT! Okay, not really, but you can lick your un-pricked fingers to wipe away the drips, and it will disappear better than anything else. Interesting fun fact to carry with you for the rest of your life!

Oh, and for me, the cooking does get done, it's usually the clean-up that gets ignored, until suddenly the laundry pile comes to life in the night to smother us!

So, whether you are grilling, chilling, or sadly have to work like me and the dh, Enjoy your holiday, and work on some UFOs!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Exciting News!

Last week, one of my best friends told me that she is expecting! Yay! They have been trying for a long time, so this is truly exciting news. The best part is, I had just last month found a quilt pattern to use to make her a baby quilt whenever I got the word. So now, I just have to restrain myself until July when she finds out pink or blue! Okay, green or pink. She's definitely more a green than a blue.

She went to the store this weekend, and the excited grandma-to-be got a few things to start the loot off right, so I even have basic colors and ideas to grow off of. She fell in love with the monkeys that are out this year. And we all know that monkey fabric is adorable and easily found right now. So, today, I just spent the last hour playing around searching my favorite blogs and their favorite blogs for ideas on other gifts to stuff a bag with. Unfortunately, now I have a list of things to make, and I can't even get started until July!!! ArgH!!!! I mean, there's a few things I could make very gender-neutral, but most of them need to be specific to ruffles or camo Vans (shoe) checks in black and white. She would KILL me for camo. In any colors or patterns.

What are some great ideas for baby gifts you have seen that you would have loved to have recieved, or think you would like, or things you would give to expectant moms.... I need ideas!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feelie Box

After a wonderful hubby-free weekend, I feel like I have accomplished something! I made a list Friday evening before the boys left. Fifteen tasks and crafts I have been needing to work on. By bedtime last night, I had completed all but 4! Due to a strong sense of duty to the house, however, I did not get to work on many craft projects. I DID clean the house, and finish unpacking and organize the craft room to my particulars. Pictures to come later. Now, I can work on crafts and ideas in peace. My surroundings are calm and inspiring. I love it!

I was able to make a feelie box for Tigger to play with. Supplies needed:
--an empty Kleenex box (preferably the small square size)
--fabric scraps (the more textured the better)
--hot glue gun and glue sticks

Open the box along one of the sides. I just popped open the glued seams. Measure and make a template for the inside of the sides of the box. Use the template to cut your fabric squares.

The square for the bottom of the box will probably need to be cut smaller in length. I found it was easier to start with the side directly across from the open side of my box. Of course, I feel that way because I would rather get the hardest part out of the way first. Now, take a lesson from me, because it had been so long since I used hot glue, I forgot how quickly it cools and dries. With my first fabric scrap, I applied the glue to the entire square before trying to get it to adhere to the box. Abysmal failure. As I'm sure those if you who are very familiar with hot glue know what happened next. Bumpy lines of glue added to the texture of my square, just before it let go of the box, and fell out. Silently taunting me.

At which point I remembered to glue slowly. So I began again, starting with the corner of each square, applying the corner to the box, and moving forward, inches at a time. Now, while this sounds tedious, remember I suggested using the small kleenex box. This is why. The larger your box, the larger your pieces of fabric, therefore the longer it will take you to apply the hot glue.

Once all four of the complete sides have been glued, what remains is the side you opened the box with. Using the same slow-going technique, begin gluing your fabric to one flap, making sure it is facing the correct way to fold into the box. When it comes time to glue the other half of the fabric, apply the glue to the far edge of the material, stick your hand in the dispenser opening and press the second flap down onto the material, which you have supported from underneath.

From here, it's simple to complete. Glue the remaining two flaps down as they originally came up from the box. You can leave the box decorated as a kleenex box, or cover the box with colored contact paper. I made sure to reinforce the seams of the box because Tigger is a curious child who tries to stick his fingers into any opening and pull. So, I try to discourage the destruction of a project I have made.
The good news? I took the box to work today, put it on the floor, and he immediately went for it. And stuck his whole hand in the opening as designed. Then rewarded me with the most beautiful smile as he felt what was inside. I turned the box around on his hand, and let him feel each texture. We talked about the smooth, silky, rough, bumpy textures in the box. And then he dropped the box and crawled away, content for the moment and having discovered a "new" toy on the other side of the room he hasn't seen since Friday! Later, I saw him playing with the box by himself, hands inside.....corner of box in his mouth. Oh, well. Such is the play of infants!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Craft Kits?!?!!!

As of 3 hours ago, the boys are gone, and I have the house to myself. Well, I also have the dog. I made a long list of things I hoped to accomplish this weekend, wrote them on the chalkboard, and have so far crossed three off! I'm so proud of me! So now, as I wait for the lotion to soak into my hands after washing them, again, I have a rant.

I went into my local "super" retailer today, looking for more denim thread to complete the braided rug. This is the same retailer that has recently been known nationwide for eliminating it's fabric selection, stating that they would replace it with pre-coordinated and cut selections. I have now seen these selections, and I must say, I am not impressed. In fact, I'm annoyed.

If anyone thought the fabric you could purchase there was poor quality before they eliminated the bolts, DON'T feel this fabric. It's so rough. I don't know what I could possibly use it in, that I wouldn't worry about the material falling apart in the wash the first time. The coordination is okay, if I chose those fabrics, I might put them together that way....eventually. But that's assuming I would select those patterns or colors. This is exactly what I worried about when I heard their plans for the fabric department. Who is choosing these prints and matching them? Who decides which print goes for which project? And why is the material such poor quality?

Yes, I said projects. Not only have they chosen prints and matched them without your input, they have created kits for sewing. You can choose a pattern for a scrub top or bottom, an apron, pajama pants, or little girls summery tops. But heaven help you if the fabric with the pattern isn't what you would like. The kits only come in so many color selctions per pattern, and what you see is what you get. No swapping.

They do continue to offer a selection of fabric cakes and fat quarters and fat quarter bundles, but my issue with those is, who said I would like those material together. I've always felt that way, though. For the most part, I steer away from the bundles personally, because I hate getting fabrics or papers (scrapbooking) that I won't ever use.

Anyway, my point is this: how many people do you know who consider themselves prolific crafters that frequently use "kits"? You see the kits at any craft store these days. Scrapbook kits that come with the album, the paper, the stickers, some die cuts and other embellishments, and even a "sample" page, so that you don't even have to think about what you're doing. Now these sewing kits, material, pattern and vomit all rolled into one. (Sorry, I know that may be a bit harsh, but its my soap box!) The last time I bought a kit to do crafts with, I was under the age of 16.

Keep in mind, I am not putting cross-stitch kits in this category. When you choose a pattern for cs out of a book, it tells you what thread colors to use. That is never up for debate. Cross-stitch patterns are simply about repeating what someone else has already created, exactly the same way. So when you buy the kit, it comes with everything you need to re-create it exactly.

In my never-to-be-humble opinion, as one of my favorite radio hosts says, craft kits are for children. They are for young people who still don't know what they like and don't like about crafts, and shouldn't be spending bou-kous of $$$ investing in a project they may end up hating. But by the time you grow up and learn what your actual interests are, you as the consumer should be allowed to pick and choose the finer details. Color, pattern, project, layout and coordination, embellishments. Those are all personal, and I've never asked people to buy me craft supplies for Christmas or birthdays. My tastes are not your tastes, and that's okay! What crafter A likes, crafter B may completely hate, but it's those differences that keep the world turning (or gravity, if you believe in such things, lol:P )

So "Super" Retailer: Bring back the individual selections! I am not one of the masses! I have my own opinions! And btw, I'm willing to pay a bit more to get better quality, too! Bring back the quality in your products, as well.

I now yield the soap box to someone else. Thank you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Under Construction

Please bear with me over the next few days as I fiddle with my layout. I am trying to add a column, then return to a similiar style, so things may look odd as I play. Hopefully, by the weekend, I should have everything straightened out!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Today, I apologize for not posting anything of great import. I have been debating about showing and describing my progress on the braided jean rug, or on the quilt, or on any one of the many projects in the works, but...

I plan on writing the rug into a tutorial, so it needs it's own post entirely to itself. The quilt, well, there's not much more I can say about it right now, but ow! Still building the callous, and some of it broke off today, so tonight's quilting is really going to hurt again. I'm working a bit at a time on the chalkboard, it's looking great, but I'm still fermenting ideas, and need time to think. And with all these projects going at once, I haven't even stepped into the craft room to begin playing with it's organization.

But DH and friends are going to a bachelor party out of state this weekend, so the only thing I plan on doing this weekend is "me stuff." Maybe by tomorrow or Friday I will have the rug complete, and can write up the tutorial.

Oh! And by the end of the weekend, I may have been able to fiddle with my page design, adding another column so I can have more detailed lists and links. Wish me luck on that!

Now, off to watch a scary movie and quilt before going to bed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

'Tude and Tigger

I've mentioned before that I take care of a 10 month old daily, and one or two days a week, I also get a three-year old and his 10 month old brother. 'Tude is the 3 year old (guess why!) and Tigger is my every-day, bouncy baby. For security reasons, I will withhold their actual names.

Early last week, while I was working on my quilting design wall (a 6 yard piece of fleece, cut into 2 two-yard pieces, sewn together to create a 110" x 120" neutral colored backing to hold quilt blocks for placement, allowing me to visualize the finished product without Pepe running through the mess), 'Tude's monther sent a text to ask if I could watch him for a few hours while she ran some errands. Of course I could. When she dropped him off, I had the fleece spread out on the floor measuring the grid I'm sewing into it. I started to roll/fold it up, and 'Tude began walking on it. I "suggested" he take his shoes off, and feel it. So we ended up laying on it, stroking the fabric and talking about how it felt.

I can't remember why, but I ended up putting in a cd of classical music for us to dance to. We listened to the music, talked about what it sounded like (bouncy, light, heavy, loud, soft, etc) and what kind of animal might move that way. Then, we pretended to be that animal while the song played. As we danced, 'Tude made the comment "Stay on the dancing blanket!" So, we danced on the "blanket". Now, I need to make a "dancing blanket" for us, since this particular one already has a purpose. (Tigger is the teeny one you see in the background of the pic - he didn't pretend, but while we were being tigers, he was our dinner, and we "gobbled" his neck and belly, to his eternal delight)

'Tude also does not enjoy eating. No, it's not that he won't eat healthy foods, he just won't eat food. Period. His diet consists mainly of liquid nutritional supplements. I have made it my own personal challenge to get him to eat food, healthy or not, but healthy preferably. And since with my b'day money I finally got my food processor, this has become much easier. Last week, I made Sneaky Chef chocalte cupcakes (I called them muffins) with spinach and blueberry puree. Delicious, and he loved them. Today, I made the orange puree and the white puree.

The orange puree is made with carrots and sweet potatoes. You can add this to Grilled Cheese Muffins, canned Spagetti-os, Taco Soup, or added to ketchup or barbeque sauce to make them a bit healthier. Yum. The white puree is peeled zucchini and steamed cauliflower. In the future, I will make white puree when I make green puree (spinach, broccoli, and peas) because I hated throwing out the zucchini peels! The white puree can be added to Complete Corn Muffins, canned Spagetti-os, mashed potatoes, or added to mustard or mayonnaise. Basically, I made full recipes of each, because I'm planning to make foods to get the 3 year old to eat, and add them to my own foods so that DH and I can eat a bit healthier too. Yummy.

Now, before anyone says what I used to think: adding these purees really is worth it. My original opinion when Sneaky Chef came out was that adding a 1/4 cup here or there wasn't going to really give the kids the nutrients they need. But think about this. For children up to the age of 3-5, the serving size of vegetables is 2-3 ounces. A quarter cup = 2 ounces. Most of the recipes call for 3/4 cup. If most of the foods you serve your kids have sneaky ingredients in them, by the end of the day, 3-5 year-olds have eaten their daily requirement of veggies. And they never even knew it! The best part is, the food is really good. So good she even wrote a book for sneaking food into your own "adult" meals. And I have all of her books. Guess what DH and I will be eating for months to come...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Quilter's Callous

So the truth is, when I wrote my post Thursday, I still hadn't basted the quilt together. The plan was to have that completed before going to bed that night, when I would also publish the post saying I had done so. However, Murphy came to town, and it took me all day yesterday to get the quilt basted. I began quilting last night, and only worked for about 30 minutes.

But I had to take my car to the shop this am, and so I also took the quilt. I figured, several hours waiting on my car to be fixed would also give me several hours to quilt. Which was a great idea, if only I had taken into consideration: my Husband. Who went out for a run this morning, and didn't take his key with him! And our door is one of those old fashioned models that requires the key to turn the latch. It can be completely unlocked, but you're not getting in without the key. The car service place was super nice and gave me a ride home so I could let him in. I am almost finished with one block.
Of 54. Plus 4 corners, and a border. I have a long way to go.

As I haven't hand quilted in years (probably 4), I am now rebuilding my callous. I actually sewed my finger to the quilt last night. DH laughed and wondered how in the world that was possible. I then proceded to demonstrate, making very sure to not repeat the actual process. I'm taking a break from the quilting for a few minutes, while I allow my poor finger to recouperate. Poor finger.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fourth of July Quilt

I know I haven't posted lately, but that is due more to the fact that I am still entirely wiped after spending 3 days cleaning out and moving the rest of the junk from the old apartment. And when I say I cleaned, I mean I was down on my knees Cinderella-style scrubbing at carpet stains and removing mildewy grout. I. Am. Tired.

So most of my evenings have consisted of me flopping dramatically onto the couch when I get home, moving only for bathroom breaks and to finally slink off to bead. Thankfully, I have my day job, which includes a sleeping angel for at least 3 hours a day. The work from this week shall give me posts enough to last me several days if I split the stories! Which I will. Therefore, today, I will tell you about the UFO Challenge quilt I am ready to begin hand-quilting as of tonight!

This quilt is pictured and described in my UFO History page. As I pulled it out to begin working with it, I was trying to remember how and when exactly it got started. I was part of a quilting class at my church in Chattanooga, and for Christmas, we had a fat quarter "naughty santa". The fabrics I received were patriotic, and I can't remember how many exactly I got. I think it was 5. That spring, our fearless leader brought in directions for a Yellow Brick Road quilt. Since I already had the 5 patriotic fabrics, I chose the full size option and headed to the LQS for 10 more fat quarters. Now, the time period here I'm still fuzzy on, but it was less than two years after September 11, so patriotic fabrics were all the rage then, and soon, I had enough to work. Blocks made, sewn into strips, three strips sewn together, and I put it away to begin on another project. (see the UFO pattern?)

Fast forward five-plus years later. I have never forgotten about the quilt, knowing I needed a backing fabric whenever I chose to complete it, and always looked at fabrics during the summer. Nothing ever really jumped out at me, plus I never really had the $$ to splurge on it anyway. BTW, I also never really went into a good quilt shop here in town to look for fabrics, so I never had a chance. Once the challenge announced the # for the month was 3, I was estatic. I had so hoped to get to work on that quilt! So off I went to Mammaws Thimble. Massive selection of fabric. Choir of angels sing when you walk in, I swear! One hour and 30 minutes later, I emerge with a border fabric, and a backing fabric. (It took longer than planned, but mostly because the #1 pick for backing DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH material for me!!) Luckily, #2 did, and it is just as good a choice.

What I have always planned for this quilt was to hand-quilt "fireworks" as my design, and so wanted to find a good template and hopefully iridescent thread to use. Ix-nay on both. Never could find a fireworks template. And the lovely woman at the quilt shop suggested that I not use the iridescent thread, as it creates more tension in the stitch, more puckers, and more thread breakage. Thankfully, there are templates for sale online, and I found several that with the right thread, will look like fireworks exploding, anyway. And Mammaws had a beautiful spool of variegated thread in oranges, purples and yellows to complement the quilting templates. See?

And, so, after what must be at least 7 years, the quilt is ready for the hoop!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ready to Begin Again

The move is finally complete, and I have promised myself at least 3 days of crafts only. No unpacking, no cleaning. Especially since packing and cleaning are all I've done for the last three days at the old apartment. Which is clean and empty now. Turned in the keys and everything! Happy Dance!!

The only good thing about the 45 minute drive, each direction, to and from the apartment, is that I had plenty of time to think about the crafts I wanted to work on, how I wanted to do them, and plot out my week. (If you ever find yourself driving down a highway with a car in front of you that is swerving a little occasionally, wave. It's probably me, writing/sketching out my ideas as I drive. I know, slap me on the wrist, I'm a bad driver!) So I have a list for the week!

1. Went to the quilt shop here to get border and backing fabric for my 4th of July quilt. Need to finish sewing the blocks, cut and sew the borders, cut and sew the backing, purchase some batting, get it basted, then begin the quilting!
2. Cut old jeans into 2 inch strips, sew into strips about 4-6 feet long, begin braiding, and make a rug for the laundry room, so that if the clean clothes fall, they don't hit the yucky floor.
3. Make a "feelie box" for the baby to play with (this will be a tutorial, cuz it sounds hard, but should actually be easy)
4. Cut and sew fabric for my design wall. Sew measuring "guide" lines on it, either 6 or 12 inches.
5. Begin organizing the craft room
6. Begin and finish the chalkboard wall.

I think I'm forgetting something. But my brain is fried! If I never move again, it will be too soon! Next time, I'm hiring people to pack me up and move me, I'm not doing it myself again!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


is a wonderful thing. How in the world I lived for three years without internet conncetivity I have no idea! I just spent the last 3 days (4 really) chafing that i couldn't check facebook, ihasahotdog, or any of my blogs. Or update my own blog with info about what I have done. And you would think that I could satisfy myself with working on crafts, but no...I can't live with all these boxes lying around whispering "unpack me...unpack me..." Maybe I should have my head examined to check out the "voices", they may be a bad thing!

The sad thing is, I really haven't been able to work on any projects. Unless you call ordering a new mattress and setting up the guest bed a project. Or rearranging the bedroom layout because my head said the bed was in the wrong place, therefore I was sleeping on the wrong side. I have unpacked so many boxes, and arranged so many cabinets and shelves it's sad to realize I'm less than halfway done. But everything has a place this time around! Those spaces are filling up quickly, but they are looking more and more beautiful by the day. When the boxes are gone, and the vacuum has run through, I will post pics of MY HOUSE!!!!

I did finish the last two coats of paint on the baker's rack (yes, it actually needed 3 coats to cover up all the yucky white), but now I'm not sure if I don't need to seal it so the paint doesn't scratch off over time. Its beautiful. I also go the final coat on the chalkboard wall, and have begun sketching out how I want to decorate it for daily use. On graph paper. I'm hopeless. I have drawn it out on the board in chalk as well, just to get an idea of what it would look like.

In regards to the UFO Challenge I joined last month: 1) I did not complete April's project. But that was because the last two weeks of April were spent frantically throwing things into baoxes before carting them to the new house. That will continue to be a project to work on slowly. 2) The project number for May is...3! Which is awesome, because I was hoping to begin work on the 4th of July quilt! Which I can now! So, I have to sew the rows together to complete the top, choose a border fabric to add, and select a backing fabric. I have 5 blocks left from the pattern to set as corners for the border (maybe make a pillow out of the extra? That will become a new UFO if I choose that project). I spent a few hours online looking at quilting stencils, and ordered a few that could look like fireworks if stitched with a pretty variegated or shimmery thread. So, a trip to the LQS is on the schedule for the weekend. Stay tuned to see the selected fabrics!