Bright Alphabet

IMG_2157 _SnapseedMy first completed cross stitch project ever.  I didn’t know how cute cross stitch patterns came until I saw this one in-progress on Instagram.  Such a better use of my hands when hanging out with the family in the living room than candy crush.  And for me so much more enjoyable than EPP.

I know am working on the Pretty Little London pattern from SatsumaStreet.  It will take weeks, but it is highly satisfying.

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2014 – The Good

2014.  Uh, blech.  So many things went more than a bit awry in 2014.  Work was, well, anyway…  My health was…. well…

Let’s focus on the good.  As always, thanks for reading and sharing and caring about me.  This is really a highly-censored personal journal for me, but I love there is a bit of an audience, especially since I abstain from almost all social media.  I love this outlet, I love sharing my projects, and I hope to make the blog fuller and more personal next year.

Here are some of my personal highlights (in no particular order):

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My stepkids.  This year we really got close.  I think this year they finally got me completely.  My SS realized that my smart-ass comments were meant to be funny, not that I am an idiot.  And sometimes he even found them funny.  And my SD started saying she loved me – all the time. W.O.W.  For years, people, including my stepkids, have reassured me that they are in fact “my” kids.  This year it felt like that was true.  In sharp focus I can see what they have gotten (at least in part) from me – including a fierce sense of humor, some kick-ass irreverence, a respect for the absurd, and the importance of looking past the appearance to find substance.  And they totally see the value I bring and they like to be around me.  The kids and my husband are awesome – and now I totally realize that they are more awesome with me.  I guess I will always be a little sad that I never had my “own” kids. But that is almost completely tempered with the sheer awesome heart-pounding joy of being a loved, admired, accepted stepmom.  ‘Cause that shit is hard.  And the kids, my husband and I earned it – through time and patience and acceptance and love and work.  I wouldn’t trade being their stepmom for anything – not even kids of my own.  Not. fucking. anything.  And that makes me a parent and that makes them my kids.

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My marriage.  This year has gotten stronger.  I feel like this year we have crossed a line into something that feels completely like forever family.  The steadiness of my husband’s support and love and encouragement is truly my cornerstone.  I can’t imagine not having that.  From outside our marriage looks “unconventional” – with me being the wage earner and stepkids and all that – but it is completely old skool conventional in that we totally have each others’ backs, he is my best friend, the person I want to see every day for the rest of my life.  Our marriage works.  Gawd, what a magnificent thing.  In an amazing moment a couple weeks ago, my step kids told my husband and I that we “were made for each other”.  It took my breath away.  That they know we will always be there for each other and a team for them is what my parents gave me growing up.  And that I gave the kids that gift – even if in a blended family – was so gratifying.  And now I get to tease my husband that he is so weird that he was made for *me*.  And he teases me right back.  Love that man.

IMG_1663My house. Ok, now this is getting a bit trite.  Kids, husband, home.  As I told my husband the other night when we went out for sushi, I am quite suburbane.  Proving it with this post.  But our home has been a challenge.  Things wearing out, no longer functional and no money to replace them.  This year ushered in new appliances, new downstairs bath with a working subfloor, and lots of little things fixed that have been bugging me.  Our house is not a castle… it is old and quirky (like us), but it is waaaay more livable than it was not too long ago.  One thing I do love about my husband and I is that we can see the joy in the small things.  And all of the little fixes and upgrades in our house this year,along with the general eclectic awesomeness, have brought us lots of joy.

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Quilting.  Now we get to it.  I have never, ever, ever immersed myself in a hobby like I have in quilting this year.  I have been a knitter and a jewelry maker – but they are nothing compared to quilting when it comes to total consumption of one’s soul.  I have spent too much money on fabric, and have too many times lingered at my sewing table when I should have been living my life (or at least showering).  But I do think quilting has saved my sanity this year.  My brain has always been very loud with worry.  I practically invented making a mountain (or mountain range) out of a molehill.  Work, finances, and my health beat a million bass drums of pounding worry into my brain.  Quilting shuts them up.  Amazingly.  I have gotten better and faster.  I have partly slayed the demons of fabric buying and unfinished projects, and what I have left is a passion that brings me so much joy.  This year I finished *60* projects!  That is 5 a month.  Lots of baby quilts for friends and charity, lots of pouches, lots of things for my home.

This upcoming year I am facing a lot of scary things.  The turn of the calendar doesn’t make those things go away.  But the four cornerstones of my kids, my husband, my home, and my quilting give me a strength of sorts.  I am scared, but not beaten.

2014 Quilty Year in Review

Here are some picture collages of quilting projects.  Woot.  Happy New Year!Untitled

This was definitely the year of baby quilts… quilts for charity, quilts for wee minecraft lovers, quilts for puppies.  I love baby quilts, small, manageable, can get an idea out of my head without a giant commitment.  I fell one quilt short of my Project Linus goal – but I am very happy with the 11 quilts that hopefully served some kids and families well.  And I brought some joy to my friends with some pretty sweet quilty baby, toddler, and kid gifts.

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bagsandpouches

The pouches and bags are really where I learned the most this year.  Zippers and paper patterns and boxed corners.  Some pouches were so bad, I pretended they never existed (and aren’t pictured), but by the end of the year I made some stuff I am very proud of.  That 241 tote in the lower right is the crowning glory – finished just a couple days ago.

minis and wall hangings

Oh!  All the wall hangings.  For living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and hall.  Almost all walls in my house have some sort of soft covering.  So there’s that.

quilts

Yes, a quilter who only finished two quilts in a year.  The Feathers Quilt is by far the best thing I have ever made.  It was a lot of work, but totally, totally worth it.  I think I may need to make some more quilts with dark backgrounds based on the success of this quilt.  And then there is my enlarged irish chain quilt.  Well, it’s done.  That can be said for it.

Last year I was so jealous of all the bloggers who had all those awesome end-of year montages.  And now I do!  And I can’t wait to get started on 2015 quilting.  Lots more bigger, time-consuming projects – mostly quilt quilts.  And maybe some baby quilts to sell.  And I probably need to get serious about some scrap busting.  I can’t wait.

A final note on the year.  I included pictures of nearly all of my completed projects here.  But one little guy didn’t get recorded here or anywhere in the blog.  I made a little whale for my niece for her birthday in April.  A true Fail Whale.  And a metaphor for 2014 – time-consuming, wonky, and ridiculously adorable.

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Ta Da Done – 2014 Wrap-Up

There were weeks and weeks and weeks of me posting my to-do list.  So many projects started and in limbo.  But this Fall and Winter I finished up a lot of stuff.  And some of it didn’t get blogged.  As a record of what I have completed, this blog has some stuff missing.

The 5 random completed but not documented projects of 2014…

A little mug rug I made for myself using the mini Rise and Shine pattern, so small, but so much work.

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A pillow case I made my dad for his birthday.  It ended up ok… but this pillow convinced me I really needed to work on mastering my seam allowances – the more pieces I had in a strip, the more it was longer than it should have been.  My seam allowances have gotten better.  As long as I am not working on stuff on the bias or tired.  🙂

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A ton of (six)  hexagon placemats that I really don’t like now.  Hopefully they will speak to me in the spring.  I started this project just as fall began – weird time to work with such springy colors.

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A Christmas table topper I made for some friends for Christmas.  I love how this turned out.  And I love that they loved it.  It is so great to make stuff for wonderful people.

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Two new pillows for my living room.  I think I will always be in a perpetual loop of making new pillows for my living room.  There is a pillow cap at our house, so I will most likely have a growing stack of pillow cases as I replace the ones on the pillows.  These were made using paper piecing patterns from Vintage Quilt Revival.  And lots and lots of linen.

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Trippy, Man!

IMG_2095I am very far behind on posting my finishes.  I guess that means I have been sewing, not blogging.  Which is cool.

I finished this quilt as a living room wall hanging a few weeks ago.  This is from A Quilter’s Mixology – the medallion quilt with a couple more rows and columns.  It was pretty easy, but I am done with curved piecing for a bit.  It definitely has a trippy vibe, which goes with our collection of framed LPs on the perpendicular wall.

I was going to go scrappy, but decided the quilt would have more impact with using fewer fabrics.  Most of the fabrics are larger cuts from my stash, but I did buy some new fabrics for this quilt (the Heather Bailey green, the cotton+steel yellow, the Joel Dewberry light blue).  This quilt did get some black marks in it in the wash.  So maddening. Don’t know where they came from and they don’t come out.  But you can’t really tell unless you really look for them.  So I left it on the wall.  Too much time invested to not hang it.  So there it will hang until I want something else up there.  That is what I love about quilting.

Italian French Chicken

IMG_2115 _SnapseedOK YUM!  DH and I made Chicken Francese – chicken that the Italians make that they credit to the French, basically, I think.

This was so yummy.  The sauce is pretty simple – lemon, white wine, garlic.  It had such an impact though – absolutely wonderful tasting.  I cheated by using chicken thighs instead of chicken breast, so that amped up the flavor a bit too.

I will be doing this one again and again and again.  Paired with a salad and heat-and-eat dinner rolls, so easy and so yummy for a weeknight.  Recipe is Bonne Femme, of course.  My sauce came out darker than it should have because I let some stuff burn at the bottom, but didn’t seem to stop the sauce from being delicious.

And YUM!  And I promise that is the last time I will say yum in this post.

Christmas-y


It is the second Saturday in December, which means that the Christmas season is in full force in my little suburb within a suburb.  Right now there is a constant drone of sirens as Santa rides around in a firetruck and hands out bulging bags of candy to kids.  I love this tradition – so surreal and so blue collar and so kind.  Just like my neighborhood.

IMG_2110It is full-on Christmas season in our house too.  I finished my Tula Pink city {Christmas} sampler.

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I loved loved loved making the blocks.  I indulged and completely skipped the triangles section.  So it was all lovely scraps and right angles.  Fun.

I fell in love with the striped, nestled setting that is featured in one of the sampler quilts in the book.  Ugh.  I like the result, but no fun.  So much strip sewing.  And I am challenged by keeping long cuts accurate.

But I am glad I stuck with it one looooong Saturday afternoon.  The stripes make it – and look at me sewing with solids!

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The quilting is free motion (!) rectangles.  Definitely far from perfect, but when the quilt was washed, the quilting provided a lot of lovely texture.  So much fun to free motion quilt.  I was sad when I was done.  As compared to straight-line quilting when I think I am going to give up the whole hobby if I have to sew one more line.

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The quilt is now ensconsed in our dinning room, the focus for 2-3 more weeks until it has to come down.