It was a good week.

What I loved about this week…

So a lot of good stuff happened this week…

  • A friend at work. I was filling in for a woman on maternity leave for the last 3 months, sitting close to the team she managed and helping them to the best of my ability while she was gone. She came back to work on Monday. It has been tough for her, but I LOVE that she is back. She is funny and smart and kind and it is so great to sit next to her and laugh a bit through my day.

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  • Minis given and received. The Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap ended this week. My partner loved her mini. And my goodness, did I love the one I received. All the way from Wales. It is so full of color and skill. Just amazing. I think it is going to live on my dining room table.

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  • A sailboat and a friend. I had dinner with a friend that I haven’t seen in a while. She is also samrt, funny, and kind – and the type of person that invites opening up and sharing without judging. It was so good to talk to her about what is going on in my world. She is a great listener and was very encouraging. AND I made her this adorable sailboat mini because she loves sailboats. And she loved the mini. She gushed and I was happy. I love making things for people. I have to be careful, totally like crack for me.
  • Oranges. I had a couple of really great oranges this week. I don’t completely understand why January is citrus season, but I am enjoying it. I love oranges, but often the mess is not worth the taste. Not this week. Those oranges were off the hizzle.
  • Turning my frown upside down. Thursday morning I woke up late and miserable. I felt absolutely hideous and tired and hateful. And I still can’t find my favorite shirt. I came downstairs and my husband provided the perfect mix of sympathy and humor and support and I felt better. What a frickin’ gift that is. And this morning I woke up not miserable at all.
  • Thinking about my stepson’s quilt. I currently am in progress of making my stepdaughter a quilt. I have a long way to go, but I have started to think about the quilt I will make my stepson. I think he would love licensed sci-fi stuff – but I am thinking I will avoid that. My stepkids turn 14 in a few weeks, and so these quilts could go to college with them. I want something that will stand that test of time. I think I have landed on making a quilt using the Doe line. It is just absolutely awesome, masculine, quirky patterns in great colors. Now I just need to figure out which pattern.

Slowing Down…

Last year I finished a lot of projects.  This year I am trying to take my time, make things that are done well, even if it takes me a lot of time to finish.  That is a bit antithetical to how I am wired.  I want to get stuff done – written on the list and then quickly checked off.  I cleared off a lot of WIPs last year to help me fight that impulse.  But I have more than one lingering, so the urge still is there – to have a completely clean to do list save one precious project.  *That* is when I will slow down, I promise myself.

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I am making a quilt for my SD.  I designed it with big, easy blocks so that I could highlight some favorite fabrics and get done quickly.  I ended up disliking the quilt and disliking the process.  I redesigned the quilt in my head to make it a lap quilt so it could be done quickly.

Luckily this weekend I rethought that.  I added back a color (lime green) to the design and played with some “alternate gridwork”.  I added some sawtooth stars and there is going to be a strip of sampler blocks.

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I am now very excited about this quilt.  It won’t be done for awhile, but when it is I will absolutely love it.

Wabbit!

A couple weeks ago my mom and I took a quilting class together.  Seems like such a normal sentence.  But for me it was nirvana.  My mom’s work situation has changed a bit so that she and my dad now have weekends free (after 10 years!).  So getting to spend time with someone I love doing something we love was just so sweet.

The class was taught by Shannon Brinkley and was her scrappy bits applique technique.  I made a giant pink rabbit.  Her is Shannon using my beloved machine in class to demonstrate free motion quilting the scrappy bits:

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I used the giant pink rabbit to make a baby quilt for a friend.  I am meh about the quilt.  The rabbit is adorable, but I don’t like the khaki I used behind the rabbit.  I was going for that khaki pants-pastel izod shirt look that was the fashion of the cool kids when I was a kid (but not a cool one).  Preppy, I guess.  But the khaki is too dark and the border is too light.

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This is the back – using up those large cuts rather than buying fabric.

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I really do like this technique, but it is a lot of work and the rabbit itself is very stiff.  Not sure how to make that better.  And I had stress dreams last night about the rabbit popping off because it wasn’t sewn down well enough.  And I was very late to work and I was just trying to get the rabbit sewn down.  And I had to pee.  I always have to pee in my dreams.

For better or worse this little quilt is set free today.  Hope the little girl it is for will like it.  Regardless, I got to spend some time sewing with my mom.  woot.

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish It Friday!

The Seven Chickens!

IMG_1396 _SnapseedI have actually gotten better at cooking over the last 3 months. Truly. Focusing has helped me a lot. I cook almost solely from the Bonne Femme cookbook by Winnie Moranville. I read some great reviews about this book – and the reviews ended up being absolutely right.

My favorite section (like many of the reviewers) is saute-deglaze-serve. It is a pattern for making different meats with yummy sauces. I have been doing mostly chicken, since these are “weeknight” cooking it seems that a “healthier” cut of meat is called for.

Here is my vision. I come home from a hard day at work, open a bottle of wine, and DH and I chat while I pull together a deliciously simple meal – without looking at a cookbook once.

I am far from there. But here is how I have improved:

1. The ingredients I need usually are in stock in the house.
2. I am better at timing.
3. And whisking!
4. I am excited, not overwhelmed, at the thought of putting together a meal.

Now I want to become flawless and memorized – that cooking becomes second nature while I unwind for the day. In that spirit, I am going to focus on cooking seven different meals over and over and over again until they are pretty darn perfect.

I am calling this The Seven Chickens Project. I have found seven chicken recipes from Bonne Femme that I know I like.

Those recipes are Pear Vodka Chicken, Fritalian Chicken, Devil Chicken, Swiss Chard Chicken Salad, Apple Brandy Chicken, Grape Chicken, and Cassolette Chicken.

Those aren’t the names in the cookbook, but that is how I remember them.

On the weekends I will do more “special” cooking – things that take a bit more time – more on those later.

I’ll keep you posted – good or bad!

Abandon!

I just can’t do it. I can’t work on blocks that take several hours each and then are totally the wrong size. Like an inch+ off.  I love the Moda Modern Blocks, but I am not good at making them. And they make me sad. Very sad.  And I am pretty sure my hobby for relaxation should not make me sad.  #lifeguru

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This is the first Moda Modern Block I made.  I love this one.  Had to add the pink border to make the quilt block the right size, and that made it more awesome.  This block is giant, so maybe I can use it as a feature in a big quilt some day.  The rest of the blocks I made suh-uck.

And so I am not going to do them anymore. I am going to stash the pattern and the blocks I have completed and let it go that there is a festering WIP.  I will never get those hours back – and that is ok.  It doesn’t mean I need to sink more hours into something I dislike doing.  #forrealslifeguru

Right now my WIP list is down. Way down. Technically I am at 5 – but that sounds worse than it is.  At the height of my WIP chaos last year I was at something like 14.

Here is my current tally:

  • One is a baby quilt for a gift that I will finish this weekend.
  • One is a true heinous WIP. A quilt I want to have but don’t want to work on featuring parallelograms in Heather Bailey’s Up Parasol line.
  • One is a quilt for my SD that should be easy and fun to finish – except for the basting because it will be so big. I think that is why I delay.
  • One is the Allison Glass (paper pieced) Celestial quilt that my plan all along was to work on when I needed a break from other projects.
  • And the last is that Moda Modern Blocks. But I just officially crossed it off the list. It will be awhile before I get back to it, if ever.

I do want to stay ahead of WIPs this year – my goal is to have no more than 3 projects going at a time. So I will bind the baby quilt and then finish the Heather Bailey quilt top and then reevaluate. WIPs will not own me in 2015. Word.

Wee Needlebook…


I hard-core covet everything that Kristyne at Pretty By Hand makes.  But especially loved this needlebook.  I love the colors, the bits of lace, the bit of ruler.  This needlebook.  For reals so beautiful.

The problem is I couldn’t figure out how to make one.  After a total failure of trying to figure it out myself, I found this tutorial.

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I did a lot of things I really don’t do.  Mixed media.  Handstitching.  Ugh – the handstitching is so bad… but hoping that rusticity adds to it.  The bit of cross-stitch is from an abandoned christmas-colored quilty stitches project.  The red and green swoon block fit in with the rainbow colors.  (For the record, I would choose to cross stitch a swoon block over sew one 1 million out of 1 million times.)

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My needlebook is not as cute, and the colors are not as sweet.  But it makes me so happy.  Love rainbows.  Love all the little bits and bobs.  Finally a needlebook of my very own.

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So many pouches!

20150109_182332282_iOSYes, there are 5 noodlehead open wide pouches in that picture.  And I made 8 total in the last 3 weeks.  Let me explain…

I made a pouch for my MIL last year that had a crossword puzzle pattern on the interior fabric.  She really loved it.  It was a kick to see how much she got a kick out of that fabric.  And I had a lot of various puzzle fabrics in my stash from a whimsical fabric buy.  And so I decided I wanted to make her a set of Noodlehead open wide pouches for Christmas.

I tried to make one of these in February of last year and it was a disaster.  These requiring boxing corners.  I hate boxing corners.  And I am bad at it.  And it required a zipper.  I was bad at zippers at the time.  Having conquered zippers and having an awesome new sewing machine, I thought it would be ok and try these bags again.

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(I only got two rotten pictures of the pouches before I had to wrap them up to take to gift exchange.)

I didn’t have enough fabric for the whole outside of the biggest pouch.  So, well, duh, patchwork, right?

Loved them so much!  Love how they look… love the pattern… love the proces.  EXCEPT for boxing the corners. I remembered from making the Noodlehead poolside tote, that the pattern had little squares cut out of the bottom corners, making the boxed corners in that bag super simple.  So I boxed only one corner per bag, measured how big that square was, and now I can make these pouches by just cutting out the square and then matching up the edges.  SO MUCH EASIER. (for reference large = 2.5″, medium = 2.25″, small = 2″ for a 1/.2 inch seam allowance).

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I loved working in this color scheme, and loved the puzzle fabrics.  And my MIL loved them too.  She does a lot of handwork, so pouches, especially pouches that open wide, are useful.  Although she may have enough now.

After making these, I was hooked.

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Next up was a large wide open pouch for my schnitzel and boo partner featuring Preppy the Whale.  Preppy was fun to put together… and fit the bag width pretty well.  I like this block because it looks like the accuracy of paperpiecing but isn’t paperpieced.  woot. I paired with fabric from the Tula Pink Saltwater line.  I have had this fabric for a while – and this was a good project for it.

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I used this cool blue print from the Joel Dewberry Birch line.  A good blue that lives between baby and aqua.  Matched well.  The pouch has the wee quilt and will get a few more goodies before it is sent away.

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So then I really wanted some pouches for myself.  I have been really good about not buying fabric without a specific use.  Except for I bought some of all of the entire line of Priory Square.  Loved every single print in this line.  Beautiful bright florals and da-bomb low volume.  And that chainlink fence print.  I am bonkers for that fabric.  I have lived in a house with chain link fence for a long time – love this simple fencing made it into such a pretty fabric – so evocative for me.  I used this on the smallest pouch because I knew I would use this pouch the most – it has my sewing machine feet and needles.

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And then the gorgeous low volumes for the interiors…. And I had the perfect matching zippers…. Such an awesome project and they are all mine, mine, mine.  🙂

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So last up… wow, that is a lot of pouches… is my rainbow cross-stitch pouch.  I have been using a wonky three-zipper pouch that was hideous and hard to use for finding skeins of floss.  I was so over that bag.

And I love cross-stitch.  And I love rainbows. So much.  I don’t like working with scraps a whole bunch, but totally worth it for this rainbowy goodness.

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And it is easy to find everything I need.  OPEN WIDE!  I used a precious Jennifer Paganelli print from Joann for the interior.

Okay, really, enough pouches.