Mini Madness

As I mentioned, I joined the local quilt guild the other night. In May the program is called May Mini Madness. Guild members make mini quilts to donate and then there is a silent auction where everyone bids on them to raise money (not sure if for the guild or for charity). I came home from the meeting wondering if I had enough time (2 weeks) to pull together a mini for the auction. I also had most of the remains of a charm pack that were wanting to be used. I started looking for a pattern to use up the charm pack, not thinking about a mini and then stumbled onto a tiny paper pieced cake stand pattern. I adapted it into a basket and used cherry fabric to make little baskets of cherries. And by little I mean 3 inches.

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I made four of these and am trying to figure out a good layout. I am considering a 9 patch type layout, which could require another basket, or not. I am feeling indecisive on it. I would like to take it over to the quilt shop and ask for opinions but that could cause me to spend money which is not the goal. I need to think on it some more. And I sent it out to the committee (my Mom, my Aunt and my cousin) to see what they think about it all. Of course no one has responded yet either.

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Aren’t they cute? The charm pack is Recipe for Friendship from Moda. They are Mary Engelbreit fabrics, or at least the matching panel is ME so I assume they are all ME fabrics. The cream with dots was something I got in a scrap bag from the local quilt shop. They have some scrap bags, about $3 each. I found two the other day that had all neutrals in them. I have been using them in my Geese in the Forest blocks and in these little baskets and here and there when I need a little bit or piece. Most of the pieces I got in the bags were around 6 inches wide. It has been very useful. I hope they have more!

Totally unrelated but I was looking over on Kate Kwiltz today and saw her post about shopping at IQF in Chicago. She posted the beginnings of an orange and turquoise four patch quilt. I love the orange and turquoise together and had not even thought of it. I may spend some time this afternoon looking in my stash for orange and turquoise and appealing to the committee to send me their scraps. 🙂

We have tiny cucumbers and tomatoes in the garden and all sorts of good things going on there. Almost everything is planted for now. I am going to put in a few more green bean seeds since those will can or freeze well if we have an over abundance. I think will stick the remaining onion sets in amongst other things too. I don’t know if they will do much as they have been sitting the greenhouse for awhile, but, we’ll see. Oh, and we’re going camping this weekend for the first trip of the season. Lots to do to get ready for that one. I need to get easy hand sewing together and find a campground. We’re going to go up to Gainseville and hopefully go to a U Pick strawberry farm.Woo! Strawberry jam here we come!

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More Crafty Goodness

It is one of those weeks when things are getting done and checkmarks are being put in boxes. I visited the McKinney Quilters guild for the first time last night. I’ve been meaning to go for quite awhile. It was a pretty good group. I am interested to see what the upcoming months will bring since I signed up to be a member. I am used to the format we had at Dunes country Quilters, where someone would present a tutorial basically and give us the basics to get started, then we would go home and work on it. My Mom, ever the over achiever, works to get it done each month and take it to the next meeting. Anyway, between challenges and tutorials it was an ongoing source of new ideas and projects. This group has a sit n sew night, round robin quilts and various other things going on that sound interesting. Also, I won a pair of tickets to the Arlington Quilt Show which I was already planning on going to. Sweet. Of course now I need to find someone to go with me. I could probably convince Robert but I want to wait and take him to the big Dallas show since there will be more quilts and more to see. I’m guessing he’s good for maybe one quilt show each year. The speaker last night makes portrait quilts. Impressive stuff.

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While I was off at quilt guild Robert went grocery shopping and came home with groceries and these beautiful lilies. Why? Just because he’s very sweet. Bonus – they were grown in Texas.

Today I snapped some photos of some swap stuff I’ve made recently. So, if you’re Anita, stop reading or you won’t be surprised when your package arrives!

We were supposed to make one kitchen towel and two potholders, so this is what I came up with.

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Two potholders for a red and cream kitchen. Notice the Texas fabric in the one on the right. My swap buddy is from Wales (as in UK) so I thought adding a bit of Texas would be fun.  The back of each potholder is plain linen that matches the kitchen towel.

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This towel is linen with a red zig zag stitch around the edges. The flowers are English paper piecing with hexagons. I have no desire to make lots of EPP flowers and sew them to each other but I do love to make them and applique them to things!

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I also made a set of 20 recipe cards with tabbed dividers. It seemed to go with the gift and I already had all the supplies on hand so it was a pretty quick project. It really didn’t photograph well unfortunately. The recipe cards all look like the one in the front, though in different ink colors. The dividers ar2 3/4 inches wide with the tabbed tops with different  categories. Now I just need to pick one recipe, convert it into metrics and write it on one of the cards. I am also including some of my favorite blueberry tea and some Texas honey. I had other ideas of treats to include but beef brisket is too heavy and chips and salsa are too fragile. I thought tea with honey would be a universally good choice and since it is Texas honey it’s something she won’t be able to find in her local shop.

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I think a cute dog picture is a good way to end every post, don’t you?

Even More 3D Stars!

I figured out the other star that the class had completed.

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So, I made one square last night and five more today. Not bad. And much better than my normal daily (or even weekly!) average. Now, even though I started on the third class, I’m all caught up with everyone else, and with no extra help from the teacher. I’m happy with that accomplishment. 🙂

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More 3D Patchwork Stars

I don’t think I mentioned that at the end of the quilting class, I asked the teacher for the directions from the first class so I could catch up. She told me she didn’t think that would be a good idea since I should probably do it when she was there to help. THAT annoyed me. The block was fairly simple and I thought i could certainly at least give it a try on my own. Well, this morning after I completed my “homework” from last night I decided to try it.

First, the homework –

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Then, two versions of the first block that was made in class.

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So there teacher lady! I will most likely go into the quilt shop before the next class and figure out what the other block they made was and get that done too. I am all for supporting my local quilt shop but learning those two on my own will save me going to two make-up classes at $15 each. Considering I’ve averaged spending about $100 there the past two months, I’m signed up for an ongoing $20 per month block of the month and I’m considering another $10 a month block of the month program I don’t feel bad trying to save $30. Also I was annoyed that she was treating me like a clueless beginner. Yes, I made a mistake. That doesn’t mean I’m a total beginner.

Three Dimensional Patchwork Stars… Eek!

So, that great, regular, flat fee writing gig I had? On hold now. They will get back with me “sometime next month” to see if they can afford a writer. So, I am back to scrambling around looking for something steady to go with all the little here and there writing jobs. I may have to go out into the world and find a part time job doing something in the meantime. We shall see.

On the upside of it all, I have been making it a point to take a time out now and then and do some sewing and to go to the local quilt shop. I had been going to the larger quilt shop in town but was feeling a little put off by it. They frequently don’t even say hello when you walk in the door. Whenever I walk in I feel like I’ve wandered into their exclusive club and as long as I buy some fabric and let them get back to their visiting it’s all good. I am totally spoiled since I was good friends with the quilt shop owner back in Indiana. She was always excited to see me, would show me this or that she had in mind and she had great classes that I really enjoyed. Now maybe she was just a good salesman but I never spent tons of money (my mom did though) so I don’t think it was 100% that. We found the shop very shortly after she opened though and my Mom was there at the going out of business sale too. Anyway, I was used to a different feel from a quilt shop.

I started going to the smaller quilt shop in town, right off the downtown square. I love the downtown area. It is growing every day and just full of cute little shops, restaurants and all sorts of interesting things. Last week they had the “Hard Time Social Club” which is basically a group that gets together and has a potluck dinner and the group leader gives examples and ideas of projects you can do to use up scraps. It was very fun and relaxed and I enjoyed it. Everyone was very welcoming and it was nice. While I was there I saw some examples for the 3D Patchwork Stars class. I thought it looked pretty interesting and the class itself is only $15. Of course the book was $17.99 but, I had most of the fabric I would need for it so it wasn’t a huge investment overall. I decided I’d jump in and take it, even though it wasn’t the first class.

Well, jumping in was a little more tricky that I anticipated since the teacher didn’t know I was coming so I didn’t get an email of the cutting list. I had to spend time cutting while things were explained and then things got sticky when my quarter inch seam got criticized, measured, etc. And then the teacher put some big green tape on my machine. Ugh. I was like.. uh.. and she’s taping. Then she sews and the bobbin runs out. She’s like, how do you change the bobbin? Well, it’s under the tape. She took my really really nice scissors and CUT THE TAPE. I had to bite my tongue. I’ve had the same pair of “razor-sharp” fiskars for 17 years and they have never needed sharpening precisely because I don’t do things like cut tape and paper with them. Anyway, we got it sorted out and I was sewing desperately trying to catch up. Then I had to take a seam out. Where was my seam ripper? Under the tape. *sigh* It was a little frustrating. Not to mention the class is all about precise piecing and cutting. Precise is not exactly my thing. I did survive however. And I came home and wanted to sew a little more before I forgot how to do it all. After I ate the delicious wild Alaskan salmon Robert made for dinner (yum!) I sat down to work. The center square everyone was moaning and groaning about and putting 8 pins in to sew in class did not seem so terribly hard to me. I finished up the block in about 45 minutes I think. I am going to make the second one today sometime and I may use some of the techniques for a potholder I am making for someone. Of course, I might also do a simple checkerboard for that one too! Anyway, I may try to make some of the other blocks in the book too. I’m not sure. I asked the teacher for the directions for the first block they did and she wouldn’t give them to me since she “didn’t think it would work out too well for me.” Here’s my block:

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It doesn’t look like a whole lot I guess, but every triangle shape on there is folded and there is a little pocket behind it. You can’t tell since it is pressed really well at the moment. I am going for 30s fabrics, and the background is white Kona cotton. I prewashed it all, which I don’t normally do but I thought with the red on the white background, and I also have some navy blue I’d like to use in it so I thought prewashing might be a good thing. We were also instructed to starch all the fabrics. I think mine minght need a little more. Since I already have the book, I will probably continue on in the classes since they are only $15 each time. I am also signed up for an applique block of the month through the shop. I have two months worth waiting to get started. I am trying to finish up a swap project that is due at the end of this week before I start that project though.

Oh, I also completed a pillowcase the other day which I took in to be donated to the ConKerr Cancer organization. They collect fun pillowcases for kids with cancer. I made one with jungle animals that was pretty cool.

We had a good weekend. We got tons done and worked our tails off for a lot of it, but there was a lot that needed to get done. Hopefully I can continue to get things done around the house this week and get things cleaned up and more clutter free. We are planning to go camping this coming weekend so the house stuff will have to be caught up to make it happen.

This is a great picture of Daisy deciding to snuggle with Robert that I will leave you with…

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Just call us the Busy Bees

There is just so much going on sometimes. Daisy dog got spayed on Monday. She slept most of yesterday but today she is ready to go. I think we will have to take a walk later to burn off some energy.

I was pretty bummed during the last week of March to find out I wouldn’t be writing for Green Daily anymore. It looks like they cut the staff down to only 2 bloggers. Ouch. As usual, the bad news was pretty easy to turn into a new opportunity though. I am working with a company called Grow and Make and writing some green living guides and articles which is really fun. And, the articles are longer so I can dig into topics more which I am enjoying. The other nice thing is that there is a set schedule. I need to write x number of posts per week/month and I get paid a flat fee. I like that. Sometimes too much freedom makes me lazy since I figure I can do it later, etc. So, I am writing for them. I am also working on some articles for the BootsnAll travel site. I met a bunch of people that write and edit for them at South By Southwest. Speaking of which, I need to get back to work on my article. I definitely need to get better at time management for myself. It is difficult to work on the internet so much since there are some many things that can be distracting so quickly.

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On Saturday night I broke the clothesline. Argh! The clothes were not quite dry so I left then out, thinking I would bring them in before I went to bed (pretty common practice here). Before I went to bed it started raining. Now, this has happened before and we’ve just left the clothes out on the line so they would have a chance to dry in the morning. It hasn’t been a big deal. Of course, we hadn’t done it when there were heavy thunderstorms before. The clothes got wetter and wetter and heavier and heavier until finally the arm bent. I guess the upside is I can use at least one side of it until we either fix it or get a new one so that is good. I wasn’t looking forward to jumping up the electric bill this month by using the dryer a lot.

On Sunday we decided to stay home from the family brunch. We just really needed some time together at home. Robert continues to be crazy busy at work and doing fire department stuff and we needed time to be together, work together and just reconnect. Some weeks two or three nights involve him coming home from work, eating dinner, changing into his fire department uniform and leaving again. Other nights he comes home, eats dinner, watches something on TV and can barely stay awake. On the weekends it is really great to have time working together at home and talking. It helps him to relax and unwind and it really helps me to feel reconnected to him.

I recently made a list of things that needed to be done at home that I needed help with. On Sunday we picked one and got to work on it. Not surprisingly the first thing my husband chose to do was to update and organize the disaster kit. He has a master’s degree in emergency preparedness so of course we are prepared at home. Our time on Sunday was mainly spent going through everything and pulling out expired things, brainstorming about what needed to be added for myself and Daisy and then a trip to Walmart to pick up replacements for expired things and other things we decided to add. Robert made the original kit and list several years ago so he needed to update some of the things he needed or didn’t need as well.

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Other time was spent on the garden and the yard. Robert smoked a beef brisket on Sunday afternoon so we were outside most of the afternoon so he could keep a general eye on it. The photo is one of the rows of peas in the garden. The peas are doing wonderfully. The rest of the garden just seems to be waiting for it to get warm. It’s still a bit cool overall. Usually spring in Texas seems like it lasts for a week and then it’s hot and in the 80s and even 90s by the time May hits. Obviously it’s not May yet but we do seem to be having more spring than usual.

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The Indian Hawthorn bushes in the front of the house have finally bloomed. We have been waiting for them for a few weeks now. They always look pretty when they bloom.

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These are the annuals I planted last spring. They never really went away all winter and now that spring is here they have gotten much bigger. I can’t remember what they are, but they sure do look good so I’m not complaining! My Aunt tells me this is not an uncommon thing for the annuals to just keep going for a few years. Nice! We are working on finding good perennials for most of the spaces in  the landscaping beds that need something. Drought tolerant perennials too so they will look good even if we don’t water the heck out of them. We definitely like the idea of low maintenance landscaping!

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The other thing growing really well so far is the lettuces. I have a little lettuce garden in the front, planted in two livestock troughs. The lettuce seems to  be really happy there and I think in a week or two we will be eating a LOT of salad. The big plant to the left is some spinach that survived the winter that we have been picking off lately. It’s flowered and everything now though so  think I will cut it  completely back and see what it does.

I have been cooking a lot, sewing some (not as much as I want to), trying to get the house cleaned up and decluttered and working, working, working. I stumbled across a blog the other day that quoted a Bible verse and I wanted to look it up in Message Bible and see what that version said. I stumbled across something else I had underlined nearby and I liked it so much I printed it up in a large font so I could put it on the wall in my office.

“Pursue a righteous life – a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith.”1 Timothy 6:11-12

Isn’t that great? A life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness and courtesy… That sounds about perfect to me!