Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where Does Time Go?

I've had a couple emails from blog friends lately, wondering if I'm okay since it's been awhile since I last posted.  Yes, it certainly has!  And I really don't have much of an excuse--or reason--for not writing other than not having enough time to do everything I want to do and the need to prioritize.

I'm continuing on with the diet and exercise program, and I've been meaning to write to tell you how that's going--maybe I'll do that this week.  Work's been going along nicely . . . or at least as nicely as work CAN, but I'd rather stay home and play of course!   And on the quilting front, as I mentioned to a shop owner recently, I seem to be spending a lot more time BUYING quilting supplies than I'm spending on the actual sewing.  (She was fairly happy to hear that, although I'd sure like to be able to spend more quality time in the Sweat Shop!)

BUT, I have been doing a couple little things, like the two Country Homecoming house blocks for this month . . . although I'm late doing those too.  I told our group that I planned to post yesterday, but once again, time got away from me.  Still, better late than never, right?  And there were a couple other participants who were lagging a bit too, so I'm not alone.

First up are Imelda's houses.  I like the way she switched up the fabrics for the top sections (eves?) on the fronts of the houses.  Cute idea to dress them up a little more!

Next are Sharyn's two houses.  Both are lovely.  Last month her houses looked like Halloween and Christmas; if I had to put a month or season to these, I'd say maybe August for the beachy tans of the first one and July for the reds and blues in the second.

Next are Tina's two houses.  I see a little bit of a similar color theme here between hers and Sheryn's houses, since Tina has the red in the first and the more neutral, beachy colors in the second  Lovely!

And here are mine.  My colors are a little brighter than Sheryn's and Tina's.  For the second house, I originally had lighter colored doors and shutters, but they didn't seem to go well, so I had to replace them.  And I think I might need to add a window box or something to the first house--that one window on the bottom looks a little blank and boring.

Now, let me give you links to two other house-builders, Nancie Anne and Tanya.  Both of them have displayed their houses beautiful on their blogs.  Tanya has also posted some great quilted pouches for Secretaries' Day gifts--love those!  Too bad my boss doesn't sew.  One of Nancie Anne's houses has a nice double window that I might need to copy soon.  AND she's posted a display of the whole neighborhood so far--it's fun to see how we're doing now that we've hit the half-way point in our house construction.

I hope you're all enjoying a happy Easter.  I'll try to get back soon and post again.  Thanks for visiting!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nothing From Scraps . . . Or Anything Else!

It's late Sunday night and I thought I should post SOMETHING so you all know I'm still here.

First, thanks for the well wishes on our upcoming grandparent hood.  I wanted to respond to your comments, but I got hit by a stomach bug Monday night--"hit" is a really good way to describe it, too, because the stomach pains were fearce.  I had to go to work Tuesday to get some things done, but in the afternoon, I came home, and I stayed home on Wednesday as well.  For a few days, I didn't feel like doing anything that I didn't have to do, and getting on the computer was one of those things I just didn't do much.  After that, I felt a lot better, but it seemed like I spent what was left of the work week trying to catch up, at work and at home.  (Poor Hubby came down with the bug a couple days later too.)

It's hard to believe, even for me, but I didn't do one bit of sewing all weekend.  Yikes!  Someone check to see if I have a fever!  Seriously, though, with spring weather arriving in Northern California, I had spring chores to do that kept me out of the Sweat Shop.  Me and all my weedy enemies spent some quality time together out in the yard both Saturday and Sunday.  Then there was the remaining spring/Easter decorating around the house to finish up.  And do you know what probably took the MOST time?  Toward the end of the work week, my friend Missy got me interested in a recipe or two from Cooking Light magazine, and that led to me re-reading a few recent issues from cover to cover, planning out meals for the week ahead, grocery shopping for the things I need, and then doing a whole lot of cooking, trying out some new-to-me things.

Cauliflower soup, for instance--it really doesn't SOUND that good but it was; AND it made good use of a head of cauliflower that had languished in the refrigerator for the last week or so.

Cherry, almond, and ricotta scones for breakfast.  Yum!

Cranberry and pistachio energy bars--cut up, wrapped up, and ready to eat on the days I have CrossFit.

Edamame dip--it's kind of like a pesto with edamame all blended up, and it's great for dipping veggies.

And there were several other things as well, but I don't want to bore you to death.  But for those of you who DID do some scrappy sewing for Scrap Basket Sunday, please link up and show us what you did--because there's certainly a lack of quilt content HERE right now!

I hope I'll get back into the Sweat Shop this week, because I certainly have a LOT of projects that need to be worked on. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How Did This Happen?

For the last little while, it seems I've been working on a TON of different projects but not actually getting any DONE, so there's been nothing of substance to share with you.  Remember when I showed you the shoofly blocks Pat Sloan had on her blog?  I suggested that my scrappy Sunday gals--or anyone else really--might be interested in making some of these from leftovers.  Well, I sort of took my own advice, except I didn't go with the idea of making the blocks from scraps because I had a specific color theme and not enough scraps to carry it out.  So, the one thing I have made that I can show you is a quilt top made from those shoofly blocks; and I DID manage to work with fat quarters that I had in my stash, so it's sort of scrappy.

A friend of mine, who loves black and white, just had a baby girl, so I thought I'd make a quilt for her.  I struggled with adding sashing to this one.  I tried it with one row of blocks, but I ended up not liking the look, so I took it apart again.  Then I thought about a border, but I'm not sure I'd like it any better than I liked the sashing, so I may or may not add one.  At this point, though, the quilt top is 40" square, which is a nice size for a baby quilt, don't you think?  So I'm thinking I might just quilt it and then bind it in a black and white stripe--or a pink and white stripe.  And maybe make it a wide binding as a quilting friend of mine does, which will set it off just fine, I think.

When I made these blocks, I made two of each, so I have a nice little pile of blocks for a second quilt top, but I still need to put that one together.  I'm still thinking about sashing, but I'll do something a little different with the next one.  You never know when you might need a baby quilt, so it's nice to have one made up and in reserve.

Speaking of baby quilts, I have some baby news of my own to share.  The Wild Child is going to have a baby at the beginning of November, and this will be our first grandchild!  As you may imagine, we're all tickled with the news.  The Wild Child just turned 30 in February, and she graduates with a BA degree in May, so the timing is excellent!  We don't know, yet, whether she'll have a boy or a girl, but as I say, it's always nice to have an extra baby quilt in reserve!  I know Soccer Son and His Lovely Wife plan to have children someday too, so the grandma years are approaching!

Now, if I could only concentrate on FINISHING a project or two, I'll have something to share with you, but the Sweat Shop is piled high with projects in various stages of completion.  I've stalled out on quilting the Pie in the Sky quilt, so it's languishing on the quilt rack.  The blocks for the Star Light, Star Bright quilt along are laid out on the Wild Child's bed awaiting sashing, but I can't seem to decide if I like the layout--there's something about the blocks sitting on a flat surface that's keeping me from figuring out if I'm happy with color placement; I need to figure out how I can get them up on a wall where I can see everything better.  You already know I have a pile of shoofly blocks awaiting setting.  And I have several monthly projects that can't be hurried along.  The Bunny Hill quilt Pumpkin Pie--I haven't talked about that for awhile, but I get together with a friend a couple of evenings a month, and that quilt top is slowly being populated by blackbirds, but it's another slow project.  And as if all of that and a few other smaller projects I haven't mentioned aren't enough, yesterday I started a pieced Halloween quilt I blogged about when I went to a quilt show in Manteca at the beginning of March.  Why?  Well, I had all the fabric stacked up and I knew my friend who bought the kit at the same time had finished HER quilt top . . . . yeah, not a real good excuse, but I just couldn't wait and it was a weak moment.  How did this all happen?  I think I'm sadly lacking self control.

So what are you working on?  Are you more focused than I am, or do you have these crazy times with too many projects too?  For those of you who are working on scrappy projects, please link up so we can see what you're doing.

Whatever you're working on, I truly hope you're enjoying it and having fun--even if you have TOO MANY PROJECTS! Quilt on, ladies (and gentlemen)!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quilt Doodles BOM--March Tree Block

On Saturday, I finally made the March block for the Quilt Doodles BOM.  Well, I say I FINALLY made it, but I actually first attempted it last weekend and it came out looking a mess!  The green fabrics I picked for the tree were too close in value to the blue sky, so you could barely differentiate between the two.  Has that ever happened to you?  I find blue and green very difficult to work with for that reason--I think they look too similar to the eye.

So this time I dug through all of my scraps and pulled out some brighter greens that trend toward olive and lime tones and I think it turned out okay.  I like the darker greens better in general, but they just weren't working for this project.

Next month, for April, we'll be making another row--I'm looking forward to seeing what it is.  Here's a reminder of what I've done so far.  February's block was a house (cabin)--

And we started off in January with a row of snowmen.

By the way, I took this month's photo using my brand new camera--with my new USB cord.  And everything seems to work okay!

I apologize for neglecting my Scrap Basket Sunday friends last weekend.  It seemed like there was a lot going on that weekend, including breaking my camera, and I felt off kilter the whole time.  By the time I realized I'd missed Scrap Basket Sunday, it was Monday!  So, here's the sign up for this week--and please feel free to link up for last week too if you posted a scrappy project on your blog back then.

I have not made any headway at all in quilting the Pie in the Sky quilt for the last few weeks, but I hope to get back to it soon. I hope you're doing better than I am!  Happy scrapping!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Experiment

My new camera arrived today, but when I took a couple "test" photos, I found the USB cable I had used for my last two cameras doesn't fit the new one.  So I ordered the correct cable, but in the meantime, I discovered that I could transfer the memory card to my broken camera and download photos that way--until the new cable arrives in a couple days.

The test photos I took were of the blocks I've made for the Star Light, Star Bright quilt along.  The deadline for putting the quilt top together was today, which I didn't make--I still need to add the sashing.  But since I have the photos of the blocks downloaded, I thought I'd show them.

These blocks will be set in a 4 by 4 setting, and there wasn't enough room on the design wall, so the other four blocks are just laying on the quilt rack--

I have an idea to add stars in the sashing also.  I like the way these look so far, but I need to find a place to lay them out and then work on the sashing--and I think I'll need to wait until the weekend to do that.

A couple of you asked about my St. Patrick's day outfit.  Well, originally I wasn't planning to participate, because I didn't want to spend a lot of time on a costume, but I literally woke up Sunday morning thinking about cutting down an old green velvet-y dress I had.  Back about 10 years ago, I loved that dress and wore it all the time, so I'd kept it in my closet long after it served its usefulness.  It was long--around calf/ankle length with long sleeves.  So I made it short sleeved and tunic length, and then I cut it up the center front and added hooks and self-covered buttons to close the bodice part.  I used shamrock fabric to make a long sash to wear at the waist.  I also added ruffled lace to the V-neck of a sleeveless, cream-colored top that I wore underneath the tunic.  Finally, I constructed a hat to wear with the ensemble:

I made the hat from a small plastic cup and a plastic plate; I covered both with shamrock fabric and glued them together, and then I added a few decorative bits.  A length of lace was attached so the hat could be held on my head and the lace tied in a bow under my chin.  Yes, you're right--the hat IS rather small and silly.  To these garments, I added black jean leggings and high black boots.  Hubby thought I needed gold buckles on my boots, but we couldn't figure out how to attach them without damaging the boots, and I figured what I'd already come up with was good enough.  So that was my outfit and everyone seemed amused--all in all, it was a fun day.  And when I went to work out at CrossFit that night?  I did my 1,000 meter warm up on the rowing machine wearing sunglasses and the hat.  Yep, I got some mileage out of that costume!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Country Homecoming, Second Reveal, Part 2

I tracked down my old camera and took photos of my two house blocks for March.  I have to say, though, that the image quality isn't very good.  I have a little red icon on the camera screen that I think isn't a good thing, but I don't recall what it means or how to fix it!  It's a good thing my new camera is supposed to arrive tomorrow!

So here are my Country Homecoming blocks:

They look a bit posh, don't they?  I wouldn't mind living in either one.  But I think any nice neighborhood's CC&Rs probably would prohibit plaid doors, don't you think?

I hope you had a lovely St. Patrick's Day.  We had a contest at work for the best outfits--there were three categories with a prize for each and I won one of them:  a $25 Macy's gift card for most impressive.  Maybe it was the corned beef sliders I passed out first thing in the morning.  I'd like to show you some of the outfits, but unfortunately those photos are also a bit blurry--worse than the house blocks, actually.  Ah, well, it was a fun day anyway!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Uh oh!

After I went to a quilt show on Saturday, I came home and read my horoscope.  It said . . .


Budgetary matters are all-important today -- so look over your spreadsheets. If you don't actually have a budget, now is a great time to get started, thanks to some very practical mental energy.

Oops!  Too late!!!! But maybe all those bags in the trunk of my car were simply a last hurrah before I consider a budget.  Ah, well . . .

Anyway, on Saturday my friend Irene and I went to the quilt show in Yuba City put on by the Valley Quilt Guild.  When we arrived, Irene and I raced straight to the Country Store--I think looking for wonderful bargains on quilty goodies no longer needed/wanted by other quilters is one of the best things about a quilt show.  And this one was no exception--which seriously accounted for nearly half the buys filling my car trunk--and I only spent $24!  I was lucky enough to score some wonderful books, magazines, and patterns, including two early Thimbleberries Limited Edition Cover Story patterns complete with the screen printed center panels.  These and the Thimbleberries Quilt Preserves (quilt kits in a can) are, to me, a little like stumbling across a gold nugget in a running mountain stream, so as you may imagine, I was pretty excited!

And yes, I found a few things from the vendors too.  For instance, Sandy Klop had an entire booth filled with tons of her American Jane books, patterns, and fabric, and I confess my bag was a little bit heavier and my checking account a little bit lighter by the time I left her booth!  I sure would have loved to invest in one of her larger quilt kits, but I don't know when I'd get around to making it, and since the kits were on the pricey side, I continued to put back down each one I picked up, right after I drooled over them just a little a bit.

Speaking of drooling, do you want to see some of the quilts I took photos of?

I'm not usually attracted to Baltimore Album-type quilts despite my love of applique, but this one was really lovely.  Maybe it was the black background that attracted me most.  

And I had to get a photo of this Primitive Gatherings quilt; after all, I, too, have the pattern and I've "collected" the background flannels--one of these days I'll get started on it, but in the meantime, it's great to see one finished.

This embroidered quilt is from a Crabapple Hill pattern called Over the River and Through the Woods.  I wanted to get a photo of this version because I'd never seen it done in blue work before.  Neat idea!

Another Crabapple Hill pattern; this one is Vintage Tin.

The newest Crabapple Hill large-sized pattern is Hook, Line, and Sinker, and we saw it made up in a vendor's booth.  Boy, I'd love to have that one too but I never seem to get around to embroidery, so I resisted.

I love how whimsical these quilts are.  There were several excellent quilts, but my camera started acting up.  At this point it alerted me that the memory card needed to be reinserted--even though it was inserted and nothing had been done that would affect it.

The featured quilter was Diane Leighton, and I think these next quilts were by her.  At this point, my friend and I started to get super hungry for lunch, and my feet were screaming, so I'm afraid the details are a little sketchy in my mind.

Remember the camera problems I mentioned?  Well, right about here, my camera decided to commit suicide.  Just as I was getting ready to take a photo of this quilt--because I love the "color study" aspect of the quilt--my camera jumped out of my hands and landed on its head on the concrete floor.

Yes, I think the partial blurriness was caused by damage to the camera, and the lens will no longer retract.  After my camera killed itself, I didn't have the heart to enjoy the rest of the quilt show, so Irene and I left to go have a delicious lunch at a local Mexican restaurant that was recommended to me last year. All in all, it was a really good show, although I wish I'd gone back after lunch to linger a little longer over some of the quilts.  I'll have to remember to slow down and spend a little more time at the next show.

Over the weekend, I did, indeed, finish my Country Homecoming blocks, but I don't have a camera at the moment, so I'm not ready to share a photo.  Somewhere I have an older camera, and if I can find it, I'll try to take a photo.  Otherwise, it will have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday when my new camera should arrive, courtesy of Amazon Prime.

In the meantime, I wish all of you a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Country Homecoming, the Second Reveal, Part 1

It's time to check in with our Country Homecoming group and see how everyone did with the second month's blocks.  First I'll share with you the photos sent to me by quilters without blogs.

These first two are by Imelda--love them, especially the striped house on the right:

Julie is new to our group.  She's one of my stitchery friends, and she surprised me at our last get together by bringing with her four house blocks and asking if she could join us.  Julie has altered the pattern a little so she could piece in the doors and windows instead of using applique.  Here are her first two blocks:

And the next two blocks:

These are Sheryn's houses:

Sheryn mentioned her houses this month look like Halloween and Christmas, but I don't know if she did that intentionally or if it just turned out that way.  I love her window sills and, in fact, I had to steal the idea from her.

Tina's houses are next--I love her staggered windows--I think there's a stairway from the first floor to the second just on the other side:

And Tina's second house:

Finally, I have Janet's two houses, which are bright and colorful--I love that she's taken this pattern and done it in her own colors.

Now, I'll give you links to a couple of bloggers who are part of our group and have made some lovely houses that are posted on their own blogs.  Nancie Anne should be a real estate developer--don't you agree?  Her houses are lovely!  And Tanya has posted her houses for this month--two more beauties!  If you scroll back to Tanya's February 18th blog post, you can check out her first two house blocks, which weren't quite ready at the first reveal.

And now it's confession time:  Speaking of houses that aren't quite ready . . . well, yes, I'm guilty of being a little slow this month. I had my houses pieced last weekend but I just haven't been able to find enough time to get the doors and windows appliqued on yet.  I thought I might finish one tonight, but it's getting late and it's still not completed, so I'm turning out the lights in the Sweat Shop and heading to bed.  I should be able to get them done this weekend and will post them as "part 2" of the reveal as soon as I do.

Did you know it's National Quilting Day today, on March 15th?  I wish you a day filled with happy quilting moments!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fabric or Design?

A week or so ago, I put up a poll to find out, generally speaking, whether you're more attracted to a quilt because of the fabric or the design.  I have a friend who just about insists on using the "original" fabric when she decides to make a quilt.  That and a local quilt show a couple weeks ago had me pondering the question--fabric or design?
Like many of you who commented, for me, it depends--sometimes one, sometimes the other.  But usually for me, even if I'm attracted to the FABRIC first, I don't worry too much about getting the exact same fabrics--something in similar color tones will usually do the job.  So I thought it was probably the design that pulls me in more than the fabric.
As I said, it was a recent quilt show that started me thinking about the question.  Here's a photo of a quilt my friend and I saw--this is the friend who likes to use all of the same "original" fabrics.  We both loved this quilt and wanted to make it.

Imagine our surprise when we found the quilt we fell in love with really didn't look all that much like the "original"!  And if we'd seen the original first, we probably would have just passed on by.

After the show, I ordered two copies of the pattern for us, and now we're on the hunt for the perfect fabrics.  So far, I've ordered four different background fabrics that I thought MIGHT work, only to decide they aren't quite right.  So the hunt continues and my three-yard lengths of not-quite-right red fabric are cluttering up the Sweat Shop . . . .

In the meantime, here's another quilt that started me thinking about the question of fabric versus design.  THIS quilt design very much relies on the fabric, don't you agree?

I think without the chevron fabric, it wouldn't be nearly as striking.  So now I've been gathering the fabric needed to make this one too.  The pattern is free from Riley Blake Designs.
By the way, the results of the poll?  58 percent of us said the fabric is what initially draws us to a particular quilt.  Personally, had I taken the poll, I think I would have said it's the design, but these two examples make me think it's actually the fabric that grabs me first.  How about you?  Does this make you re-think what draws you to a particular quilt?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Another Little Project . . .

One of my stitchery friends gave us the little kit yesterday, and today I made this 6-1/2" hanging.  It fits nicely in a small frame like the one below, but I'm thinking about using it as a mug mat in the Sweat Shop instead--it definitely belongs in my sewing area in one form or another!  This, by the way, is a Buttermilk Basin pattern from the BOM called Sew Simple.

I also added the hanging sleeve (a piece of pre-made bias tape) to the little hanging I made yesterday--another Buttermilk Basin pattern from a BOM called Live Simply.  (The April pattern for Sew Simple is similar with a chick sitting in a broken egg shell.)

Did you remember to "spring forward" this weekend?  Daylight savings time is here, and while I'd much rather stay up late sewing, I know Monday will arrive an hour earlier, so I'd better call it a day and head toward bed.