I know, I’ve been awful.

Have you ever just hit one of those funks?  I hit one around Christmas and didn’t even bother to open my Christmas cards let alone send any out. It was pretty sad and I needed to find something to focus on so I wasn’t just doing the status quo.  That’s when I made a move to start sewing more regularly.  Then it became all about the UFO challenge.  Now I have almost all my laundry caught up (because when is it ever really caught up?  I mean they just run around making more dirty laundry…) and I can feel more of a balance in myself.  I’m glad to see that there is more sunshine and warmth and I think I really needed that.  I hope that the promise of spring is breathing new life for you as well.

Now, about that UFO challenge I was talking about….I have more show and share!  This month was a little more challenging because I had to go off list for one of my projects.

This is one of my many Block Of The Month projects.  Remember when they were so popular every shop had one?  Or maybe even more than one?  This was based on black and white blocks that came with block border instructions.  (I may have talked about this one before)  The blocks were finished and I had a couple that needed to be fixed.  Then I needed to decide on those block borders.  There were some really good ideas and some that were really detailed.  I thought it might be quicker to go with something simpler. These were done with a partial seam technique which means I could cut all my strips the same size and at the same time. I have found that I really don’t mind partial seams.  Y-seams on the other hand….well, I have not developed a taste for those yet.    Anyway, the blocks are completed and I have to wrap my head around how I want to set them.  I have at least one idea kicking around so we will see if I can get back to these or if I will need to let it gel for a little longer.  I’m sure you have projects like that as well.

This one is another Block Of The Month (I told you I had a lot of those!).  I remember when we started this one that there were some coordinating fabrics and I didn’t like them so I didn’t buy any of them.  Of course, this means that I’m on my own for finding fabric to finish off the quilt and after raiding my stash I think I found the perfect stuff.  Don’t you love those fireworks?  I couldn’t tell you how long ago I found it, so I had to have my husband do some serious math to make sure that what I have will work for what I have in mind.  I will have to be very careful in my cutting, but the numbers indicate that things should work out…but it will be very close.  Oh, and the hubster is a math guy so while quilt geometry is not his favorite thing, he is able to help me with the more difficult math.

Here are all the blocks finally finished.  I had to laugh because after talking with Inez about ideas for setting, she went home and while cleaning in her sewing room discovered that she had done the same BOM only she had purchased the coordinating fabric.  I had to laugh because we have both had these sitting around waiting to be finished for quite some time.

This is the one that threw off my list.  I had this as a completed top (go figure – another BOM) and had tried to give it away at least twice.  As it turns out a teacher’s aide at my son’s school started going through some health stuff and as the school colors are blue and gold I volunteered to donate this top for her.  I had been kicking the idea around trying to figure if I had enough time to see it all the way through but when talking to the teacher, I just opened my mouth and volunteered it.  I knew it was the right thing to do, but I hadn’t made a final decision until we were chatting.  There happens to be a lot of open space on it and so I took it in to the teacher and asked for the children to draw pictures for her on the open yellow spaces.  They had a great time and did a great job and hopefully felt that they were doing something positive for their friend.  Of course that meant that I had to hurry up and quilt/bind it so it could be gifted out.  It has been delivered to her and hopefully it is bringing her comfort and joy.

Lastly, I have yet another BOM.  I use that term loosely with this project but it does fit the definition.  Once a month Northcott fabric company had published a small quilt/block pattern in a Flower of the Month series.  I have (of course) purchased all twelve of them but have completed (fully completed) none of them.  I can’t even remember which year this was, but I want to say 2007.  I have January to the point where it needs to be bound and that’s as far as I have gotten.  This one is April and the kits are cut generously enough that I can get the small quilt and a block out of each one.  At least I can for the two that I have gotten to this point.  Northcott also put out a coordinating panel for their Flower of the Month and I picked that up thinking that I could work something with extra flower fabric from the kits but now I am thinking I could surely do something with the panel and the extra block.  I think that will be a UFO for next year though….

And that was my February.  It was a short month, but I did get quite a few things accomplished.  I’ve managed a couple of things for March, but had to go off list again for a school charity and now have a boring thing to do on one of my oldest UFO’s.  I’m hoping that I can get it completed because I would really like to get this UFO off my list.  I did manage to get two more of those Flower of the Month in there as well.  Now we will see how much more I can get accomplished.

Thanks again Vera!  I really am enjoying getting back in touch with some older projects and moving some of them into my pile of Needs-to-be-Quilted.  I suppose I should be watching for some major sales on batting. I’m even more glad to be out of my funk and getting back to normal things (like writing!).  Here’s to hoping that March is productive in every sense.

Oops….

I really didn’t make it this month. I was kinda close though.  I did get the sashing sewn on to the flowers and all they need is the border.

Here it is without the border.

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Yea!  It’s mostly assembled!

Here is the green I had originally thought I would use for sashing.  I did use it in the corner stones and thought that I would go ahead and use it as the border.

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I know, they aren’t the best pictures, but at least I came close to finishing this UFO.  I’ll bet getting that border on before the week is out and then I can call it complete.  Of course I still need to get my star done and the new one comes out tomorrow.  I hope to get some of that done yet this week as well.  We shall see how it goes.  Plus I need to pick the next UFO to tackle.  If nothing else, I’m not doing too badly at carving out a little sewing time during the week.

With it now being summer break, I was worried about losing all of my sewing time.  So far, that hasn’t been the case.  It seems like I will be able to still make it work.  I won’t bore you with all my details, but I’ve been working on a theme a week for summer break.  This week we are doing a Superhero theme this week.  If you are curious, you can read more about my exploits with the boys here.  Mainly I use the Smallest One’s nap time as a quiet time for the older one to do things like his own craft or reading or playing a video game which still gives me a chance to get a little sewing done.

At least I am hoping that it will continue to do so.  Wish me luck!

As far as the 10K stepping, well, this week was easier than last (yea!) and I was able to make that goal 4 times this week.  I was a little surprised that it wasn’t much harder to reach and seemed a little easier than 8K.  I’m not sure why but I am going with it.  I have instituted a little exercise each day with the boys where I get in at least 20 minutes of walking while they do jumping jacks or running or silly goofy things to get their bodies moving.  It’s working and I’m glad for that.

I have my work cut out for me this month and I’m hoping to really get a good start on it during this week.  It always feels like there is more to do than hours in a day, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s my motivation kicking in….that would be a good thing.

 

 

 

Slipping a little bit.

I’m not sure I’m going to make it this month.  There is still some potential, but I have a feeling that next month I am going to have to make up for this month as well as do what I need to for June.

No excuses.  Just not much time for sewing the last couple of weeks.  That’s okay – sometimes that will happen.  So, I’ll give it a shot tomorrow am and see if I can maybe get those flowers going.  They will be the easiest to complete.  I think it’s a certainty that I won’t get the lovely stained glass star done for the month.  I’ll be okay though.  It won’t take much to get back on track.  After all, this happens sometimes.  We have other things that become priorities.  School ending and potty training seem to be the order of these days.

I did think that I would share one of my favorite tools – Iris Pins.  Well, I shouldn’t say that they are my favorite tool.  I actually hate to pin.  However, if I have to pin (and there have been a few times where I have not been able to avoid it), these are the pins that I prefer to use.

Here is the tin they come in and it’s kinda cool.  You push in the top and it pops loose.  Push it again from the inside of the lid and it will then snap closed over the top of the tin.

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Aside from the packaging being pretty cool (because let’s face it, the cooler the packaging the more likely we are to purchase it), the are very slim pins.  Here you can see them one next to a flower head pin.

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Yes, it’s a little shorter, but you can see how much thinner it is than a standard flower headed pin.  I’ve had these for quite a while and my tin is starting to feel a little lighter which makes me think that I need to pick up some more.  I got mine at my local quilt shop so I may just have to pop in again to see about picking up some more.

Last week was also pretty bad for getting good steps in.  This week has been going much better and I’ve had 3 consecutive days of reaching my 10K goal.  I’m hoping that today will be a 4th one.  One thing I do wish is that I would see some change in the scale, but so far that has been a bit of a disappointment.  Maybe keeping up with this 10K will help give the scale a bit of a jump-start too.  It certainly can’t hurt.

Nailed it!

Yep, I totally nailed it this week.  Okay, mostly nailed it. I just have one teeny thing I need to fix.  Just one.

Oh!  And I have pictures!  Yea for pictures!  First, I did finish my April UFO.  I thought I would be nice and take a picture of it with just the first border.  It’s not really doing anything for me at this point….but wait!

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Now, here it is with the indigo border.  Bam!  Finishes the look and made me fall in love with it all over again.  I’ll have to admit here that I was a little envious of the one that Sandra Dee was starting with her rabbit panel.  Seriously, hers will be absolutely gorgeous.  I can’t wait to show you pictures, but you will have to wait until the next retreat!

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And a couple of close-ups just because, well, more pictures!

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So, whew!  I’ve managed to keep up on this whole UFO thing.  I also got started on the one for this month.  Here is the pattern.  It is from Details By Diane.  She does a lot of stained glass looking quilts but without using bias tape.  If you aren’t familiar with her patterns, you can check her out here.  Anyway, I had started this one a while ago and I wanted to use my Oriental prints.

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Here are the blocks.  Aren’t they cool?  all I have to do now is zig zag around each of them.  Today I was able to get through 2 1/2 of them.  I didn’t have much time today.  I also had to send my husband out for black thread because apparently I didn’t have any, well, he was already out so it was just one more stop for him.  Can you believe that?  A quilter with no black thread!  I had black hand quilting thread and black upholstery thread and I have no idea where that came from.

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Here is one of the blocks in progress.  See?  She makes it really easy, and no mine are not perfect but that’s okay.  It’s an area where I could use a little more practice.

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Once I get through the stitching it’s time for the sashing.  That is a little bit harder of a decision.  I went through my stash to see what I could use without buying anything and I came up with two possibilities.  Inez and my husband voted for the first one.  I have not made up my mind just yet but figured one will be the sashing and the other the cornerstones.  If you would like to cast a vote, please do in the comments!

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Did I not promise lots of pictures?  Don’t worry, I still have a couple more.

I even took a few moments to work on the cat appliqué block.  See?  No more pins.  The head is completely sewn down.  Of course I still need to make a decision on the eyes… that’s okay though…each part gets me a little bit closer to finished.  I still don’t think it needs the tongue. Just an eye and the border.

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Now for the part where there is a teeny problem.  It’s with the paper pieced star block of the month.  Now I know it looks like it’s good, but it doesn’t lay flat.  Like, going to have puckers when it gets quilted doesn’t lay flat.  So, I haven’t added the outside border pieces.  I did take it apart once and when I put it back together it still didn’t lay flat.  At that point I just walked away.  Something is going on with it and I’ve put too much work into this block to try to fudge it later.  I’ll have to go back and do some more work on it, but I think I’ll wait a few more days…or maybe until I finish the May block.  Will see how it goes this week….but I’m betting I won’t touch it…at least not yet.  Maybe next week.

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Yes, my feet are still on fire! I managed another whole week of 7k steps and so this week I’m bumping it up to 8k.  Yahoo!  I figure I’ll be on 8k for a couple of weeks and then I’ll make that jump to 10k which isn’t feeling so elusive anymore.

Now, it’s time to keep moving forward!

 

 

 

My feet are on fire!

Well, of course not literally…but I did manage to make 7k steps every day for the week so I’m feeling pretty good about that.  This week I will shoot for the same goal and maybe next week I can bump it up to 8k.  Baby steps…baby steps.

Which is how my quilting is coming along as well….baby steps.  My indigo is soaked and laundered and needs to be pressed.  Then I have to do math since this print is directional as well.  I did add the first border but I’ll save pictures until the second one is added.  I’ve also made some serious progress on my star block of the month.  The pie pieces are almost assembled and then I can get the block together.  One more good session in my sewing room and I should be able to knock that out and get things prepped for the second border.    It’s taken a while, but at last I have progress for this month and I should be able to get my UFO completed although I most likely will not be able to get much, if any, other sewing projects done. I wonder which UFO I will pull together next?  At this point, even I’m not sure.

At this point I feel as though I should make a confession.  Hello, my name if Opal and I am a quilter that has not been to Paducah for Quilt Week.  Whew, I feel much better now.  I’m sure some of you have been or maybe even go yearly.  I saw that for 2017 they are also having a Fall Quilt Week. Isn’t that exciting?  I hope it goes well so that they offer it again.  Well, really the most exciting part of all this is that the Monkeys are thinking that it is time for us to descend on Paducah!  So, if you have been and/or are regular goers to Quilt Week I would love to hear any tips you may have for when you go!  I definitely would like to visit Hancock’s of Paducah.  <sigh>  I think that will be some happy fabric dreaming for me.

In the meantime, I need to get some of those UFO’s taken care of so I can shop with abandon.  After all, if I can get completely caught up on my UFO’s, well, then I’ll just need to get some more projects, won’t I?  Plus I will have a whole year to save to that makes it budget friendly as well (because I have enough UFO’s to keep me busy so I don’t really need to go shopping, unless I need something for a UFO.).  I’m so excited!

Seriously though, if you have any tips with regards to Paducah please feel free to share them in the comments!

I suppose that is really all that I’ve been working on.  I started an afghan for my husband because I was on a crocheting roll and he had picked out some yarn eons ago and I thought while I was in the mood I should get to work on it.  Now, it feels like I may have a bit of tendonitis in my elbow…at least as best as I can figure without going to the Dr. (don’t yell at me Hazel). So, I’ve been icing it today and will do some real resting of it this week.  I thought it was because of the yoga I was trying.  No, I’m not trying to find excuses. Really.  Part of the yoga DVD I was doing had a bit of floor work including planking and downward dog.  The reason that I started doing yoga (and all this stepping) is so I can lose some weight.  Like say, more than 30 lbs.  I thought that maybe I was straining myself with the floor exercises because of my extra fluff.  So, I stopped.  I do miss it though and was hoping in a week or two with some rest it would be back to normal.  Not so much.

So, I racked my brain a bit and realized that I went through this when Small Blonde was of a certain age and weight….where he still liked to be carried but his weight was making it a bit prohibitive for me to be able to do it well.  Little Red is reaching the same point and I really only have one good arm.  The other one is all scarred up from my trip through a plate-glass window.  The arm is good, but he’s squirmy and then he rubs up against the scar and it just doesn’t feel good.  So, that leaves me one arm to constantly carry, wrestle, and subdue this small human that we call Tiny Grizzly.  In my mind that means it was inevitable that I would have another bout of this when this small boy reached similar weight.  For the record he is 35 lbs and has no regard for his personal safety when the thrashing tantrums take over.  Thankfully he can now climb in and out of his car seat so that makes things a little easier when he is amenable to such things.

At any rate, rather than jumping into going to the Dr.  where I’m sure that I would be prescribed some anti-inflammatory, I thought I would just try some home remedies first (don’t worry Hazel, if it does persist I’ll head to the Dr.  I promise.).

Well, that was certainly a whole lot about me!  I suppose I should close with some quilting!  Here is a long arm quilter that I admire.  You can find her blog here.  Her name is Judi Madsen and even her blog and online store have a great name – Green Fairy Quilts.   Anyway, she has some amazing pictures and I visit her blog when I am in need of inspiration.  Maybe you will find some there, too.  She does some amazing things and I wish I had half of her vision.

As for me, I think I’ll head to Hancock’s of Paducah’s website and do some happy dreaming.

I survived Spring Break!

Seriously, I think parents should be handed a t-shirt with that on it before they leave the hospital.  They should also get one that says, “I survived Summer Vacation”.

Obviously spring break is now over and today is the first day back to school and I am certainly glad to be back to that.  I’m sure it will take the boys a couple of days to get back in the swing of things, but that’s okay.  It’s back to earlier bedtimes and that means Mama gets some quiet time in the evening to recuperate or recharge.  The boys aren’t really that bad, they just feed off of each other and make going anywhere in public virtually impossible.

One of our days off my husband took the day off and we bundled up the boys and headed to a small Amish-influenced small town.  They have a bulk Amish grocery store where I wanted to shop and stock up my spice cabinet and because I also got the bug to make my own spice mixes.  Yep, Pinterest strikes again.  That and we go through taco seasoning like water.  If nothing else I know everyone will always eat tacos with vigor and be happy about it.  So, rather than using up packets of seasoning mix, I thought it might be in our healthier interest to make our own that’s lower in sodium and other stuff put in it to give it a longer shelf life/prevent caking.  I found a few, went with the one that sounded the most interesting and viola!  It doesn’t even have salt in it.  It smells wonderful and I believe that we will be giving it a test this evening. (For the record I also made Italian Seasoning, Fajita, Cajun, Ranch, and season salt).  Why season salt?  Well, the stuff I had gotten (because I mistakenly thought that all season salt was equal) has sugar as the second ingredient on the label.  Not my thing and now I have my own.  Although my dear husband’s comment was that I should cut back on the salt as it’s too salty….hmm.  Dear, it’s called seasoned SALT for a reason.  Use it as a salt not a seasoning mix….

Anyway, we managed to survive the trip through the store (although at one point I was sure we would be asked to leave because of the wailing when someone didn’t want to ride in the cart after not listening for the millionth time) and we headed further in to town so we could stop at the bakery (Yum!) and get some lunch.  We even stopped at a couple of quilt shops.  While fun, this was a little to my detriment because I found some fabric that I liked and then created a whole project around it.  Because as you know I already have enough projects that I haven’t finished….

I did buy fat quarters and a pattern – and I’m not sure why I was drawn to the fabric.  It is by Moda and called Black Tie Affair and was designed by Basic Grey.  You can see it all here.  If you are not familiar with Basic Grey, they do a lot of scrapbooking papers and they use similar designs from their papers for the fabric.  So, I’ll have to put it to the side for now until I get through some more of my UFO’s so I can justify digging in to it.  But for now, well, I will just have to wait.

In the mean time I still have to decide which UFO I am going to finish for this month, but I think I am zeroing in on it.  I have a quilt top finished that needs borders and I purchased the fabric for those borders while I was at retreat.  However, the outside border is an indigo fabric so the shop owner suggested that I soak it to make sure the dye doesn’t run.  However, that should be an easy one to finish.  Plus the next star for the block of the month has come out and I need to make time to work on that.  So far the newest one is my favorite although I can’t wait to see how the rest of them are going to look.  Don’t worry, I’ll share pictures.  For now though, I have the second baby afghan to finish for the shower this weekend.  I suppose I better get back to work.

We made it back!

I didn’t share a lot of build up to retreat this time – I think we have all comfortably settled into a routine and so we don’t necessarily email as much any more.  I know my part of it is that I’m not sitting in front of a computer frequently enough to be able to email like I normally would.  However, I like the idea of us settling in a little more together.

Normally the emails are flying fast and furious as we talk about the projects we are bringing, who is bringing which snacks (we can always count on Sandra Dee for Cheetos although Inez picked them up this time), and most importantly who is bringing which big item so not everyone needs to do so.  By big items I mean iron/ironing board, rulers, cutting mat, and bed risers.  If you have thought that your cutting table is too low, I would highly suggest you pick up a set of bed risers.  They work wonders.  If I am remembering correctly, they may even come in a high and low version.  Don’t quote me on that though.  At any rate, we like to make sure the essentials are covered and we really don’t need 15 irons and ironing boards.

This retreat we had most everyone, although we did miss Hattie (sniff, sniff).  I’m sure she will be ready to join us soon though.  Sometimes life just has a way of throwing us curve balls and we have to stop in the moment and deal with what is coming at us.  No worries though, Hattie is doing just fine!

I (once again) did not get many pictures taken so I will have to backtrack and take some to share what I was able to get accomplished.  Get this, I did finish last month’s UFO AND finished 2 more tops so I think I have March’s UFO taken care of now as well.  Of course if any of the other monkeys out there want to send me pictures to put up with mine, please feel free!

Even though camaraderie was running high, I found that there weren’t that many quips to quote.  (How is that for alliteration with a q!)  We did do some shopping, although not as much as in years past and of course we laughed, but I believe that we all kind of buckled down and got some work done this time.  Sandra Dee and Hazel headed out to a couple of thrift stores.  I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but Sandra Dee is the Goodwill Queen.  She must have a 6th sense for when it comes to finding things at Goodwill.  She always manages to come in with something that we all wish we could have found.  Anyway, the two of them headed off to a couple of stores and we waited to see if there were any treasures to be found (there weren’t this time).  Later we laughed as it seemed that everyone was working on UFO’s.  Part of the laughter was because we are starting to believe that the next generation has a Sandra Dee who will head off to Goodwill and find the remnants of quilts we had started and never finished (and our families didn’t know what to do with).  She will proudly bring them back to her quilting friends and beam with excitement over her new-found treasures exclaiming, “I’m not sure what they were doing here, but I just had to pick it up.  It was only $2.88!”  The rest of her quilting friends will offer to help her figure it out or have ideas on how she can finish with just the pieces she has and so we will have done our part to help encourage the next generation of quilters.  After all, haven’t we all gotten things that way?  A relative of a friend passes who was a crafter and we get that call about supplies needing a new home and we walk away with new-found treasures of our own.  Or Sandra Dee walks into Goodwill and finds partial projects….either way is good.

I will do my best to have some pictures next week.  I wish I had taken pictures this time as everyone was working so hard.  Inez completed a couple of miniature quilts and a quilt for her grandson and quilted a table runner.  Hazel got started on a constellation project, completed 2 baby quilt tops and got a good start on a red and black quilt (and maybe got that top finished, I’m not sure…).  Sandra Dee completed 3 quilt tops and started the blocks for a 4th.  Blanche completed 2 quilt tops (but I think I’m missing something, there may have been a 3rd in there that I’m forgetting about) and started some shirts. Wanda completed 2 tops for sure and Mabel had some paper pieced blocks, quilted 3 small wall hangings and did some binding.  I’m sure there is more that Mabel accomplished as well.  This is why I need to remember to take pictures.

Since Mabel, Wanda, Blanche, and myself have started the amazing paper pieced stained glass stars we all brought them to retreat and had a paper piecing day (or two) where we all got caught up on our blocks.  It was kinda fun for us to work on them all at the same time and see how differently they turned out.  Inez did pick up some fabric for hers while shopping so I anticipate that she’ll be getting started soon and we had 2 others outside of our porch that also brought theirs and so it was fun at show and tell for all of us to stand up with our blocks.

I would like to say that I’m totally relaxed and unpacked and ready for the next retreat, but the truth is I’m tired and my stuff is waiting to be put away.  I am ready for the next retreat though….I mean, how could we not be?

Stay tuned, I’ll be sure to have some pictures of the things I worked on at retreat for next week.  In the mean time, I will be heading off to unpack and perhaps sneak in a nap…..