Sunday, July 31, 2011

Maintaining sanity

So yeah. All week long I've been frozen up with neck pain, and the only thing that has given me any kind of relief is the relief of distraction. Which is why I've been busily sewing up my doll quilt, extras, pj's for my oldest, and more Summer Sampler blocks. It definitely doesn't help me to chill out, but it takes my mind off the pain. 

My first order of business after the doll quilt and pj's was to fix the two sampler blocks that I didn't like. The Greek cross was bugging me, but I got the brainwave to add colored triangles to the corners and voila! I suddenly like it much better.

Greek Cross Redux

Secondly I put a border around the block that came out 3 inches too small. I made up a semi-fussy border to keep with the theme here, and again, I'm content with the result. 

Up to specs

Yesterday I made the Lucky Pieces block, and today I did the Minnesota block. Which, again, came out too small and needed a border. 

Lucky Pieces

Minnesota Block

This quilt-along has taught me a few things, namely that a) I actually CAN follow a real bonafide quilt pattern, b) quilting solely from your stash can leave you high and dry at some point, and c) I don't really like paper piecing except for pulling the paper off when I'm done. That part is so bizarrely satisfying. Like picking a scab except not as painful or bloody. How'd you like that analogy?

Here are all my blocks so far:

Eight down. Four to go.

I'm looking forward to snuggling up under this one for sure!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

DQS done, plus Geek rules

DQS11 Finished

Finished! The quilting is done, it's bound, label on--check. Now it's time to put together the extras. 

But that will come later. For now, here's some geekery:

Geek Chic--Comm badge needleholder

Star Trek comm badge needle holder. Yeah, you read that right. Think that's nerdy? That's okay.

You see, I walk a fine line between normal, semi-cool person and outright freak, a precarious position that is made easier only by following these cardinal rules of conduct:

1) Know your audience. Don't talk about whether Kirk was better than Picard, or how George Lucas became senile somewhere between the 80's and now, or whether the Wheel of Time really is the new Lord of the Rings, etc., unless you're sure you aren't going to get a blank, fixed-smile stare.

2) Do not attend nerd conventions. Don't even think, for a millisecond, in the darkness and privacy of your own toolshed, about how maybe if you were slightly less cool you might, maybe, kind of enjoy going to a convention.

3) Do not admit to speaking Klingon. Ever.

4) Do not show people the dress you made from Lord of the Rings, lest they think you are into LARPing.

5) Do not get into LARPing.

6) Never, under any circumstances, engage a Hipster in nerd talk. If in doubt about whether they are really a Hipster, read this, or defer to rule #1.

That's it! Consider yourself armed, fellow nerds, with the secret rules of my success. And successful I am. Because the Force is strong with me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Progress report

I feel just about fully recovered from VBS week here, and as a result I've been working on a few things. First of all, a few more blocks for the Summer Sampler Series:

Garden Path block

The Garden Path block.

Arkansas Traveler block

The Arkansas Traveler.

Star block

The Star block. Very creative name I thought. Ha ha.

I've also made a bit of progress quilting my doll quilt for the DQS.

hand quilting progress

Hmmm. Let's see. Zig zags. Bright colors on a neutral background. Colorful hand quilting. Ring any bells? It's so funny because I originally was going to go with some horridly complex and nerve-wracking blocks, but decided that sometimes simple is just as good. And I LOVE the way this is coming out, it's just funny (and totally unintentional) how much it looks like last round's quilt. Although that one was a way bigger pain in the butt as far as piecing went. This one came together like a dream. 

Anyway, I hope this is cool with my partner because two hours of handquilting later has me feeling very invested in this sucker.

Friday, July 22, 2011

playing hooky. robots. hot air balloons.

Today was the last day of VBS, but with my youngest's snotty nose developing into a hoarse croupy cough, and my middlest son complaining of a headache and stomachache, we decided to forgo the final crazy day and stay home instead. My duties as lunchlady were taken over by my kind and brave friend Heather, who no doubt will get all the credit for finally giving the kids something yummy since that's what I had planned for today. Ha. 

Anyway, so I'm washing dishes this morning when over the noise of the water running I hear this strange, drawn-out WHOOOOSH. Then a few seconds later I hear it again. I turn off the sink to hear it better. My son says, "Did you hear that? Whatever it is it's scaring the bunn----AGGHH!!!" And he flies back from the window. I look out and right above our house, like I'm not kidding practically scraping the roof, is a huge hot air balloon! I rushed to get the camera, turned it on, and the dang memory stick was not inside (curse my bad habit of leaving it in the laptop!). So I didn't get a picture of the one that practically landed on us. But a minute or so later a whole flock of them is floating over our neighbors house, and I got a few pics of those.

There's something so surreal and neat about hot air balloons over your house at sunrise.

Later on the boys started regretting missing that last day of VBS, so we decided to try and have some cheap (read: free) crafty fun at home. Of all the ideas I suggested, they got excited about the one I wanted to do, too. Which was building robots out of junk. Here's mine (I'll post theirs later as they are still sticky with spray paint and they haven't finished embellishing yet).

recycled robot

Anyway, hope you're all having a great Friday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Day three of VBS. The halfway point. My friend took my older boys home for the night which gave me a quiet opportunity to finish this bizarre drawing I've been playing with for awhile. I know, it's weird. My husband said, "That's...interesting." My oldest said it was kind of "gross and creepy." My middle son said, "Huh, huh. I like it."

I can't decide if I want it with color or just black and white. Sometimes I add color and end up annoyed I didn't stick with simple. Other times I feel like black and white is so stark and boring. I dunno. Thoughts?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Feelin' good

So as you may recall I mentioned before what a crazy to-do list I've got going on over here. Well as of today I got every last thing for the week checked off. 

#1: Make the last apron. 

A few weeks ago my friend Brooke asked me if I could sew some practical yet pretty aprons for her and two other girls who are opening a little coffee shop in our church. I whipped up the first two lickety-split, but for some reason the last one had me dragging my feet. This week I had to get it done.

#2: Yucky outdoor chores, including (but not limited to) sweeping the pool, building a ramp for my now outdoor bunny hutch, weeding, edging, and putting a border around some of my formerly raised garden beds. 

#3: Start doll quilt. Well shoot, I'm almost done already, which is crazy. Just gotta quilt and bind, and wham! Done!

#4: Work on do.Good Stitches quilt. I am currently having a love/hate relationship with this quilt, and I feel terribly guilty for inflicting such time-consuming blocks on my poor circle. I mean it's great in theory but in practice....gah. I don't even have decent pictures of my triangles to show so I'll just show you Jacey's, which are my favorites:

June: "Comfort" blocks

#5: Buy Thingummy 2.0. Sadly, a hawk smote the original Thingummy, which made me cry, Ilya get a wiggly chin, and Xander say, "Ha ha! We should buy ten more so that hawk will be all like, 'What?! I can't eat that many Thingummies!'" Erm. Yeah. That's my middlest son for you. Bob was despondent without her Thingummy, so we had to get a new one. There was a considerable size difference between the two but my concern was unfounded. Thingummy 2.0 and Bob are like peas and carrots now.

#6: Shop for food for 70+ kids. Ugh. Nuff said. Actually it went well and considering that I'm evil snack lady who makes kids eat real food, it didn't cost that much money. Yay!

#7: Make blocks 2 and 3 for Summer Sampler. I enjoyed these, except for the part where I put the Mosaic block together the wrong way. But then I decided I don't care, it's fine as is.

Greek Cross

Mosaic block

That was it. I mean on top of running a billion errands, having company, making and delivering food to a family with a new baby, and working on a new drawing...

And this was supposed to be my week to relax.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Sampler

So there's this huge quilt along on flickr right now called the Farmer's Wife quilt along. You make 80 billion traditional squares and at the end you have a big quilt with lots of patterns. I am probably the only person not in this quilt along because it hurts my head just thinking about it. But still...I felt left out.

Until I discovered something right up my alley--the Summer Sampler Series quilt along. It's just like Farmer's Wife, only for people with a.d.d. It's only 12 squares! Me likey.

Summer Sampler Series Badge
Today I made block number one, a "Star of Virginia" block. I used Kona solids and Farmdale for the center. 

Star of Virginia

This thing is flippin' huge! A three by four quilt seemed too tiny to have a point (I'm practical after all) so I enlarged the pattern by multiplying all measurements by 0.75. So this block is 22.5" square. I figure at least I'll have a quilt big enough to use now. Plus I kind of like making mondo blocks, especially after doing tiny things like mug rugs and doll quilts. It's a nice break. 

If you felt scared to try the Farmer's Wife quilt along, you should consider joining us for the Summer Sampler one. C'mon. You know you want to.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More pink

Here's what I worked on today for my Doll Quilt Swap partner. In retrospect, I think there should have been more pink. Eh?

Monday, July 11, 2011

the sweetness


This weekend Art pulled a couple of frames from his hives to extract some honey. Step one is to carefully cut the caps off the cells. These are the wax lids the bees put on to keep the honey in. By doing this the bees will be able to reuse this frame without having to start from scratch. 

Off with their caps

Here you can see where he's cut a section from the top.

the sweetness

After he finished that side he left it overnight to drain. This morning I had to decapitate the other side and flip it over. I also squeezed all the honey out of the caps I cut off as well. 


As you might imagine, using gravity to do the work takes FOREVER. So far there's 1.5 cups in the beaker, but there has got to be at least twice that still left in the combs. The impatient part of me wants to just attack it and squeeze it all out. Which is probably why it's a good thing my husband is the beekeeper and not me. 

I have to say, I find it really exciting to be collecting eggs and honey and veggies from my own little homestead. Every time I see an egg in Henrietta's nest it's like a little gift she's left just for me. Every time I eat a sun-warmed tomato from my garden I feel joy bubbling up inside me. Scraping honey out of a honeycomb leaves me with a sense of wonderful rightness.

Even though there are pests and nematodes and chicken poop and stings the fact remains that this is the life I've wanted for ever, and I feel so blessed by God that I am able to live it now. And that's sweeter than 1.5 cups of honey. :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

takin' care of bizness

July blocks

My July to-do list is insane. Stupidly insane. And given that all of next week will be taken up with me playing cafeteria lady for our church's VBS, I've got a lot to get done this coming week. I decided to get a "head start" by whipping up my blocks for this month's do.Good Stitches quilt. Our quilter for the month asked for red, pink, and aqua spiderweb blocks.

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of the way spiderweb quilts look. I know lots of people are into them but, as with dresdens, I'm gonna have to count myself out of that fan club. Sewing these blocks made me realize that I don't like MAKING spiderweb quilts either. (editor's note: I never blame my quilters for picking blocks I don't like. Other people in our circle were ecstatic about these! I'm just saying.) These two blocks took me FOUR HOURS. I'm a fast sewer usually, so for me this was the equivalent of fabric torture. 

I really did like the colors together, though--gave me lots of ideas for future projects. 

Anyway, one thing of a hundred checked off my list. YES!! Ha.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I know I said I wouldn't...

...but since I thought there was no chance of getting in, I signed up for doll quilt swap 11. I know, I know!

But...I got in...and my partner...TOTALLY RULES. I am so excited to make something for her because I know I will be able to have fun, and I know she won't be quiet. Two very important things in my book. 

This round we're not allowed to do any "art quilt" kind of things, so video game stuff is out. Here are my picks for regular old quilty stuff, but shrunk down.

DSQ 11 Inspiration

Now I should probably go get in the mood to sew, eh?

I think I'll go draw instead.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ribbons in her hair

ribbons in her hair

I needed to do some art today. I just did. So here it is.
I know I already posted today but this can count as tomorrows since I'll be soaking up some rain at the beach all day. :)

Clarification, and flounces

Okay, so I guess that last post of mine sounded like I was whining about people not liking my blog. That wasn't my intention!! I think it's great if you like my blog because like I said, there's not much going on here most of the time and I'm not working my tail off to attract readers. Every time I see a new follower I'm like, "Oh wow!" followed by a puzzled, "really?"

I think the point I was trying to make in a somewhat facetious manner is that I did something I would normally NOT do--issuing a sort of sew-along-ish challenge--and got two responses. I thought it was funny. "Hey, let me feature you on my virtually unknown blog! Don't you two feel honored??" 

Anyway, nothing creative to post today. It's been gray and dreary and muggy and summertime seems to drive all creativity from my overheated humidified soul. Really. Then as soon as September hits and the windup of homeschooling/harvest festival/thanksgiving/christmas gets rolling, of course THAT is when I get hit with fifty billion ideas that have to happen right now

It's a cruel irony.

But I have been dying to make some pretty dresses. Soon I'm going to have my friend help me make a custom dressform so I can be less irritated trying to make clothes that fit. I don't even have a long mirror so every time I want to fit something I'm making I have to change into it, go back to my bedroom, and stand on an ottoman to see what it looks like. Aggravating. And dressforms from JoAnn's are just way too much money. While I wait for payday I'm dreaming of flounces:

My Version
This is a dress made by Sweetie Pie Bakery and I looooooveee it. I want to make it. But not strapless. Strapless does not look kindly upon the top-heavy. 

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

For the two people who read this blog

I started this little blog here about four years ago, as a way to separate my family blog from my crafty bits. I mostly intended it to be a way for my friends and family to see what I was up to, especially when we thought we were going to be in Russia for a really long time. Look, here's me in Russia! With a giant snowball!

Ahem. Anyway.

Over the years I've gained a few little followers, which never ceases to surprise me because really, I don't think any of this stuff is all that interesting. I don't do giveaways to boost my numbers. I don't post tutorials or do quilt-alongs or include links to my blog in comments I leave elsewhere. I'm a lame photographer. But it doesn't really bother me because I'm not in this for money, or so I can sleep soundly knowing I have 11 billion followers. I don't even really know why I do it to be perfectly honest.

That being said, I felt kind silly going out on a limb and trying to challenge you few readers to do a tiny project and blog about it. Well, TWO of you did it. Just two. And thus ends my brief experiment in interactive blogging. :)

So here are the little spruce ups posted by Rachel from Stitched in Color, and by Lyndsey from Domestic Light and Magic, posted way late because it was my anniversary and my kid's birthday and, well, I forgot.

rainbow crochet tissue cover

First off Rachel crocheted a tissue cozy to go with her beautiful Bottled Rainbows quilt. I love how fun and crazy this is! I'm still kinda wondering if her husband let her keep it there...

Lyndsey made this cute garland to give her kitchen hutch a wee face lift. I love how summery and happy this is. Also, totally jealous of the gorgeous hutch. Just sayin!

Anyway, there they are. I'm kinda glad they're the only ones because I like them both a lot and this made it way easier to narrow down the choices of who I put on my blog. Ha ha.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meet Thingummy and Bob

Chickens # 2 and 3. Thingummy is a Barred Rocks (left) and Bob is a Black Orphington. You would think they were blood sisters the way they stick together, snuggle, and let out big loud distressed PEEEEEEPs if you dare to separate them. 

Henrietta is going through phases. At first she was like, "Who cares that there are new chicks around. I'm depressed." I had to kick her out of the coop every morning and shut it to keep her from going back in immediately to sulk. Slowly she started acting more normal. Then she noticed the new girls. Once that happened, the game of "how can we avoid this big bossy mean chicken at all costs" began. Now Thingummy and Bob are getting bigger, I keep telling her she'd better watch out. Her little runty bantam chicken butt is going to be in big trouble once these babies are all grown up.

Somehow, though, the presence of these little targets has seemed to light a fire under her butt to be a real chicken again. Last night my husband came to the back door and called me and told me to hold out my hand. After much reassuring that it wasn't anything disgusting, I held out my hand and he put this in it:

 The runt's first runty egg!

It probably sounds so dorky and ridiculous, but I was super excited. I made tons of ciabatta yesterday and used the leftovers for french toast this morning, including her egg in the mix. Sure it was tiny and didn't contribute much, but it's like eating your first homegrown tomato. It's just so dang exciting!

On a completely unrelated note, I had to get a picture of this crazy thing in front of my door. 

Not even a year ago I dug up a tiny baby elephant ear plant from the side of the road and put it by my front porch. I hardly ever enter my house through the front door so I never noticed how insanely big it was getting. I'm 5'6" to give you a good idea of just how crazy this is. It's like something from Alice in Wonderland or Jurassic Park or something. One of the other leaves is actually bigger but that one has a wasp's nest on it so I opted for the "smaller" one. Isn't this crazy?! The whole thing is actually growing taller than the eaves of my roof now.

Anyhoo. Good Saturday. Going on an ice skating date for our anniversary (12 years!!) tonight so I'm pretty stoked about that. Fourth of July/middle son's 6th birthday Monday. Busy Busy.