Friday, January 27, 2012

Excuses, Excuses!

It's all I have to defend myself today. I have finished about 14 of the burp cloths (only 26 to-go!!), but I subbed Wednesday and yesterday, and will be going in again today. Plus, since the weather in East Tennessee is variable as always (60 one day, 40 the next, swinging back to 55 the following) I am coming down with a sinus infection. For last night, at least, I gave up on the media fast. All I had the energy for was crashing on the couch. Went to bed early as well. Trying to power through this infection with symptom relief only. Prefer not to take drugs unless it affects my asthma. Check back with me tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be better and back to sewing again!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Media Fast

We were challenged in Bible Study on Sunday to "make a change that could change our lives forever." Since I have not been working regularly, I have found the temptation to relax on the couch in front of Netflix hard to pass up. Considering that I am married, I am not allowed cannot keep my sewing machine in the living room in front of said TV, and so most days I get only handwork completed. My challenge to myself is to not watch as much television and to concentrate on completing projects.

Yesterday was awesome! I didn't expect how productive I would become! I washed and folded several loads of laundry, organized the new Snapfish order that arrived in the mail, and I sewed!!  I pieced over 20 burp cloths together...
This is a stack of 45. I have been piecing them for months, but never finished them. That changes this week!

And organized them into the correct stacks with tag blankets and simple blankets according to what color thread I want to accent them with!

I hope tomorrow to be able to show them completed.
Here's to progress!

Friday, January 20, 2012


For the past three days I have been working on the binding on the baby quilts for my cousin (TWINS!!) and yesterday finished them. I have had several ideas running around in my head for other projects to work on and begin, but nothing is really sticking this week. I received word that a close friend had a miscarriage on Wednesday. I had just begun planning the cutest baby blanket for them, and now my creative juices are frozen. Hopefully, she and her husband will heal quickly, and I hope to be crafty this afternoon and evening.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crayon Quilts

About a year ago, I did a "Surprise Swap" with a group from the online quilting board, and received a really neat kit from my partner. I didn't take "in-progress" pics, but it's pretty simple. For this you need:

a large piece of white muslin
any coloring page image of your choice
masking tape
wax paper and iron

Simply tape the coloring page to a hard surface for you to color on, and tape the muslin on top of the coloring page. You should be able to see the coloring page lines through the material. Now, take your crayons to the muslin and have fun coloring it to your hearts content. (The directions I have say to use a high quality muslin and good crayons, Crayola are best).  You will need to press down pretty firmly to color on the fabric, but it's okay because you're going to heat set the crayon when complete. I have the telescoping tower of Crayola crayons, and so I really played with shading and blending to make my image look as close to realistic as it could, but this is your project, so make it look however you want it to!

When you have finished coloring, take your muslin to the ironing board along with the wax paper.  Lay the wax paper on top of your ironing board and the colored image and press with high heat, no steam. Press, do not rub. Lift and press, lift and press, all over your colored image, moving the wax paper as needed to keep the crayon from melting onto your iron. The crayon will melt into the fabric, becoming heat set so that it will not wash out or rub off over time.

Now all that's left is to finish in a quilt. I love my Eeyore, and know that eventually we will be planning a nursery, so I am on the lookout for the Winnie the Pooh large coloring book so I can make 3 more panels: Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet. They will be completed as wall hangings to decorate a nursery.

I find the awesome thing about this project is that it is so personal.  There are literally thousands of coloring designs available through your local superstore and online, and if you are an artistic person, you can draw your own image to color. Plus, everyone has such individual opinions on design and color, 20 people could color this exact image of Eeyore and we would have 20 different Eeyores. 

Have fun creating!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Binding and Finishing

Yesterday's snow day was beautiful but cold. I spent the day inside doing prep work for finishing and working on some UFOs.  I am pulling my crochet yarns out in preparation for making a friend a crocheted baby blanket. I wanted to see what I had, and try to figure out what I could do with them. I made some motifs for a scrap afghan in order to exercise my hand since I haven't crocheted in several years. I also rolled several skeins of yarn into balls for easier storage (and cat toys!)

Have you met the kitten? This fat-rat ball of fluff is Total. She loves eating her cat sister's food, attacking her dog brother's tail and getting in the middle of all of my craft projects.

Today I am going to redeem baby quilts from the quilter. My cousin is having twins in early February, a boy and a girl. Taking advantage of yesterday's cold stay-inside-cold-day, I made the continuous bias binding for both of them. Yes, I went with the cliche, and made a pink and a blue quilt. These beautiful stripes complement the quilt tops perfectly. Pictures of the baby quilts to come after they have been gifted.

(Don't you just love how yummy those stripes are? I love that the bias binding makes barber-poles out of the print!)

Here's to progess!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow and Computers

It is a cold somewhat snowy day in East Tennessee and this is all we have to show for it. About an inch of snow on the ground. Boo. But it is pretty while it lasts.

The biggest concern of my day is my computer. I downloaded the new iTunes update last night and when the computer went to restart, it wouldn't. It ran for a few minutes, and then would turn off without doing anything. Over and over again. When I called the Geek Squad this am, suddenly the computer decided to run a system restore. The threat of time in the repair shop apparently scared it into working! But it has made me realize how desperately we need to get a back-up account. I need to know that if it does this again, I won't lose all my pictures, music, and job application documents. Plus, it's time to renew the anti-virus protection. Guess what I'll be doing this afternoon...Yup. Saving my computer, one file at a time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Nest Effect January Challenge: Creeating Schedules

If you are following along in the hopes of becoming more organized this year, then you are just as much in love with The Nest Effect's January Challenge as I am! I have diligently been charting along with Tiffany as she organizes her new year; have you been doing the same? Yesterday's post was about creating schedules to help run your life more efficiently. I think the most powerful thing (IMHO) she said, though, was that schedules can be guidelines to help, or scaffolds to hang yourself on. Schedules can be flexible, twisting and turning the same way our lives do. As a substitute teacher, I know this quite well. I can have lists of things planned to do for any given day, but once that phone rings to call me in for a teacher, all plans are out the window. And to be quite honest, that puts a kink in my plans. Ok. I'll be even more honest. It derails them.

But if I remember to be flexible with my schedule, I can more easily make adjustments and still accomplish things. So hop on over to her blog and check out the newest printable, a chart to help us create our own schedules. In pencil (at least for me). Flexible schedules that can shift and bend with new events.

On other news, I have printed out and begun using my own organizing charts, and I leave them here so you can see that even if you can't make them as pretty as Tiffany does on The Nest Effect, you can still have functional lists, charts and checklists to help get your life in order!
One chart, two uses. Regular organizing To-Do as well as a Blog topic list. Yes, I marked it in Sharpie rather than  redesign/reprint.

Weekly cleaning. Your basic, mundane cleaning. Clean surfaces in each room, clean microwave in kitchen, take out trash, take trash to curb, clean mirrors, toilet, shower, clean out the car, etc. Tailor this to your own needs.

Monthly and seasonal cleaning checklists. This is for all those things you do on a montly, every-other-month, 2x and 4x a year. Pet meds, vacuum air vents, empty paper shredder (this might be a weekly item for some), flip and rotate mattresses, change air filters and smoke detector batteries, replace baking soda in fridge/freezer. And these are only a few of the things on my checklist.

Heres's to progress!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January Challenge via The Nest Effect

I resolved to become more organized this year and to help with that I am following Tiffany at The Nest Effect in her January Challenge: Assessing & Prioritizing Time. It was embarrassing, to say the least, to see how much time I wasted last week. Granted, school is not in session and therefore I am not getting any sub jobs, but really! There was an awful lot of TV and internet, not to mention the sleeping in.
(Don't look too carefully at the chart!)

But yesterday's post is supposedly the beginning of the answer. It is a printable of how I want to spend my time. I still want to enjoy playing on the internet and watching TV via Netflix, I just need to make sure it stays at the bottom of my priorities list. And exercising myself and the dog is becoming a must. The dog is healthy and in shape (unlike me) but he is bored. He used to go to play camp for dogs when I was working, and he got regular exercise and was wonderfully well behaved. Now that I'm not working, he stays at home with me and has begun chewing on everything in sight again. I've already repaired one set of holes in my duvet cover, and now I have to fix another.  I also want to read more and finish more crafts! (And since finishing the crafts is the point of this blog, it is a high priority.) Number one, of course, is spending  more time with my husband and family.

So while I'm rather embarrassed to have posted the earlier chart, I feel like the sun is beginning to peek through the clouds. There is hope for people like me. Tiffany says to check back on Wednesday for the next installment, so that's where you'll see me!

Here's to progress!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Progress Post

Almost a year ago, my husband's granny went into the hospital for a quadruple by-pass surgery, and I pulled out an old UFO to work on in the waiting room.  I found the best distraction to be my Christmas cross-stitch pattern. When I pulled it out of the bag, it looked like this....
I know the angle is bad on the picture, but I was only a little over a quarter of the way finished with this pattern. In the hospital that day, I worked on the tree beside the house, and slowly made my way to the sky to the left of the completed house. As beautiful as the sky is, all of those half-cross stitches really got to me after a while. And then I moved to the trees. I thought they would be Bob Ross-worthy "happy little trees". He lied.

They were not happy, and neither was I.

Months later, I finished the trees, the house on the right and began working on the lower right quadrant. It was really neat watching everything coming together, seeing the people emerge out of the snowbanks, looking as though they really will finish lacing their ice skates and take off any minute now.

This is the piece as of last night. My original goal for this piece was to have it finished by the end of 2011. Clearly, that did not happen. But I do have less than one-sixth of the pattern to complete.

It's really exciting to see it coming together. At my current pace, I hope to have all the cross stitch completed by the end of the month, with the back-stitch and final details finished by the end of January. And now that DH has begun to cross stitch as well (I KNOW!!) we can each spend the evenings on the couch, enjoying Netflix and working on projects.

Here's to progress!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fingers Crossed

Remember how I said yesterday I was substituting in my local school system so that I was in the system when a job opened up.  Well, a job opened up. I turned in my application, and am now waiting to hear back. I've been working on a sample lesson plan I could take in to an interview. Seven years after graduating, I had completely forgotten all that was involved inwriting lesson plans, not to mention all the new rules relating to lesson basically I'm winging it. It's scary. So sadly, that's what I've been doing this week instead of any crafts. My plan is to be crafty this weekend. Fingers crossed. On both accounts.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

#2 New Year's Resolution

Making sure to blog regularly is only one of my New Year's Resolutions. I have actually made three, and as far as I know, my husband has made two. We completely failing at one each, but doing great at the others. (He is trying to help out with the housework by loading and unloading the dishwasher every day.) I have been blogging (Yay!) and the other one I'm working on is becoming more organized in my mind and my house.

I thought that by not working regularly I would do great at keeping the house clean, the laundry done, and the crafts under control. I quit the nanny job at the end of July in order to  become a substitute for the local school system, getting my foot in the door so that when a teaching position opens up I have a better chance at getting it. So far, the subbing has been going great and I really enjoy it. But not having a regular schedule to keep to has turned me rather lazy. Sleeping in, enjoying our Netflix account, working on crafts occasionally. Cleaning in short, small burst that get thejob done, but don't really take for long. Organization is desperately needed.

Enter Pinterest. I love, love, LOVE Pinterest. Don't you? I have added so many new craft ideas to my list, it's crazy. But one of the best pins I've seen recently was for the Home Management Binder Printables on The Nest Effect. Most of her printables are no longer available for free download, although she sells them in her Etsy store. She is starting a new Organizing/Prioritizing challenge that I am following, and her newly posted items are available for  free. But for the others, they were relatively easy to duplicate in Microsoft Excel (they don't look nearly as cool as hers do, but they will serve the purpose. And that's what matters). I don't believe I will use all of her sections in my own management binder, but that's what is so neat about the binder: it's unique to each "home manager" and her personal needs.

So if organizing is on your list of To-Do's (or if you need ideas on what to put on your To-Do list!) check out Tiffany's prioritizing challenge or her home management binder system. Become a better "home manager" this year!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Completed: Teapot Quilt

A few weeks after I began working on my husband's t-shirt quilt, I finished the hand-quilting on the very first quilt I pieced. Almost 10 years later, the small wall hanging was finally finished. I made my continuous bias binding, sat down in front of Netflix and began sewing. Four hours later, the quilt was finished.

Applique is still not one of my favorite techniques. But I do like this quilt. Looking at this picture, I realize it is not 100% complete. It is lacking 2 things: the hanging sleeve so it can actually hang on the wall, and the 13 buttons I dug out of my mom's sewing box for the knobs on the teapot lids (I didn't want to try to applique the tiny circles for the lids, thought I would make a small substitution.) Dang it! Although it is not Technically complete, I am still marking it as complete. Those two finishing touches will not take long, and now that I see them, I can add them to my weekend to-dos.

One less UFO in my world!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The DH's Christmas Quilt

My husband loves t-shirts. He also hates throwing things away. The end result? Piles of threadbare, hole-y, t-shirts with black armpits. (We also have piles of socks and boxers that fit this description, but that's for another battle, another post!) So two years ago, I began sneaking t-shirts out of the laundry. At first, it was one shirt every month or so, but last February, I amped up the sneaking and soon had a stack of his favorite t-shirts. And I knew just what I was going to do with them!

In July, I began slicing and dicing t-shirts. I also spent hours planning. In August, I began sewing. In September I became good friends with my seam ripper. During the month of October, I took a break. Then in November I panicked! Christmas was right around the corner! I wasn't finished. This realization was followed by a marathon sewing day. Then we were off to a local machine quilter. Have you figured it out yet?

Yup!! A t-shirt quilt was born. In order to get the layout correct, I had to add one of my own t-shirts (the Snoopy/rainbow) and bought one from the local Goodwill to fit the last remaing empty space (the game controller in the lower middle). Aside from that, this is 28 of his favorite t-shirts from his college and high school years. During the whole process, he realized only 3 of them were missing. All other "concerns" about missing t-shirts were smoothly deflected by my DENYING the existence of any missing shirts!

He loves it. It has replaced our tattered couch blanket, and all fuzzies love it. The big cat actually sat in the middle of the quilt the entire 12.5 hours it took me to sew the binding. DH actually had me put it on the bed Christmas evening, and we slept under two blankets that night. I am sitting under it even now. Soon I hope to finish hand-quilting my high school t-shirt quilt and begin planning my college t-shirt quilt. We will have plenty of warm, comforting quilts to remind us of days past, not stacks of t-shirts we can no longer wear cluttering up our closests!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

We all make resolutions, promises to ourselves, each new year. Promises that we will do things differently, in such a way to make ourselves better people. And I know that I have said before that I am going to write here more often. But I'm saying it again. It's not that I am not working on craft projects, quite the contrary. It's more that I get caught up in the day to day activites of life, and frequently "veg" out in front of the TV at the end of the day. It's time to remember that during that quiet time in front of the TV, I can pick up the computer and log a quick post here.

Be aware, I may not always be posting on craft projects. As I look at the title of my blog, I am reminded that it is called "Married with UFOs", and so I may occaisonally post about the married life of this particular "crafter". It's hard to believe this is our 3rd married New Year's celebration, our 5th as a couple. We actually met at a New Year's party, hosted by the friend who would soon be my matron of honor, and who claims credit (or takes responsibility for!) our relationship.

Here's to new years, new resolutions, and married life! Happy New Year!