Spring Cleaning Day 3 – or not

So this is the third day of spring cleaning with SimpleMom. It is the second day of living room cleaning. For me, it will be the first day I go to work in an office in about 14 months. No worries, it’s not a 9 to 5 job in a cube farm or anything… it’s a part time writing gig in a creative online media joint and I’ll be going in one day a week to work there, have meetings, etc. I might do some cleaning in the evening, but for the most part i will be focusing on “going to the office.” I’m actually kind of excited about it. So, instead of clutter, let’s look at the garden.

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Look at that beautiful cucumber flower. I am hoping I can grow enough pickling cucumbers to actually do some nice pickling, well, at least one nice batch. We have gotten so much rain this week I was worried that the garden might get a little over saturated but it looks like it is actually thriving. The fact that it is not yet regularly topping 80 degrees is pretty out of the ordinary and due to the rain we have hardly had to water the garden for TWO WEEKS! Craziness. The peas are going gangbusters and getting tall and flowering, tomatoes, cantaloupes, squash, cukes, and pepper are all flowering. We’re eating lettuce from the garden almost every night in a salad. There are three tomato plants with little green tomatoes growing and my second batch of potatoes (planted in straw in a chicken wire tube) are sprouting. It’s all looking really good.

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The Spring Cleaning Party has been really fun. I’ve been trying to hit most of the pople that are posting about it and reading up what they are doing, looking at before and after pictures and leaving comments. It’s interesting to see other people’s organizing ideas, see that my house isn’t really the messiest place ever (it’s just normal) and read about some of the revelations people are having. I’m really glad i decided to participate. I think Robert is enjoying it too. He, of course, likes the clean house, but he’s also helping out and making an effort to purge some of his stuff too since I am making a real effort to go through my stuff. I hope being at work most of the day doesn’t derail the Spring Cleaning Party at our house, I won’t actually be behind but I have a lot going on Thursday and Friday as well. Not to mention I have some sewing projects I’d like to finish up so I can meet some deadlines. We’ll see I guess.

And here’s one cute puppy to start your day.

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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!

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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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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Wait, where did my week go?

I was just telling Robert the other day that in the past 6 months I have finally come to understand the saying “time flies.” In the past, I honestly almost never felt that way. Days continued to go by slowly, no matter what was going on. The past 6 months have gone by in a blink or less. This week, I feel like I haven’t even gotten started and already it is Thursday. We are planning to go camping this weekend so I think tomorrow will be filled with preparations for that.

I think no matter what we do this weekend there will be some kayaking involved. My poor husband has been itching to do some serious kayaking lately and it just has not happened. I am not sure yet where we are going either. Obviously someplace with a lake. 🙂

I increased my paid posts by 1/3 last month (75 vs. 50 in August) so that made me happy. It is still not as high as I want to be, but at least it is forward progress. I am struggling to make time to work on posting AND work on other story ideas and find places to pitch them to. I guess it is something I need to learn how to do. I need to make more money so I can get my savings account built up, take some classes and just generally have more flexibility (and security as far as back up funds). I need to get better at keeping myself on a schedule and if I can do that,  I think it will all fall into place.

I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesday. I joined the program about 2 years ago and used the online tools and lost about 30 pounds. When I met Robert, we quickly discovered that we both love to try new and interesting foods (and chicken wings) and we love to cook. That 30 pounds came back AND it brought along some friends as my mother would say. So, I need to get that taken care of, seriously. Luckily, my husband thinks it’s ok to make that monthly expense a priority as it will improve my health in the long term. He is also thinking about joining at some point, though right now he is so busy with work it isn’t going to happen. Maybe in another month.

I need to take some photos of the quilt blocks I made for exchanging with my cousin. They are super cute, as are the ones she sent to me. We are exchanging them every month until our quilting retreat in March. I will try to do that later today.

Not much progress

I have not made much progress on things around the house this week. I got a decent amount of posting done for work, though not as much as I would have hoped for. It seems to be that week of the month that I am just a slug overall. I got as much done as I could and the house isn’t a total disaster, so, it’s bearable. I need to get to bed early tonight so I can make some definite progress tomorrow.

We went to my nephew’s soccer game on Saturday morning. Actually, my Aunt and Uncle and the nephew stayed over on Friday night. My Aunt and Uncle had a conference locally Friday and Saturday so they went off to the conference and we took the kiddo to his game. We had a lot of fun watching and taking pictures. He’s the one in the middle in the grey jersey. He’s only 6 but really enjoys playing sports. This is his first season playing soccer.

After the game we ran some errands and came home and did an art project and some playing until my Aunt and Uncle were finished up and came to get him. Sometimes the three of us have a great time. Saturday I think Robert and I were frustrated by not having much time together all week and I think the boy was tired so, it wasn’t as much fun as it normally is. But, it was still a decent time together. He is usually a very good boy when he is with us so beyond some whining there is not usually a problem.

I should understand him better, after all, he is an only child, just like I was. I just think, while I didn’t enjoy it as much, I had better ability to play by myself. I guess different kids adapt differently though. Anyway, I should give the kid a break as I have been in his shoes myself.

I did some sewing this afternoon which was nice. It took a bit to get the space cleared in the hobby room but once that was done, I enjoyed myself. I may do some more now that Robert is off to the fire station for the evening. We’ll see how motivated I get.