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August 11, 2014

Quiltsmart Rescue

Hopefully you are enjoying the Quiltsmart posts. I am very excited about the projects and having so much fun with them. A few set backs, but it's less stressful when I have multiple projects to work on. I hate when I am so focused on one project, if I come to a problem like fabric shortage or running out of the correct thread, it derails the entire day!

So yesterday, I was working on my medallion for my solo Round Robin and despite being pinned to the fabric the printed interfacing was snagging on the bottom of the foot on my machine. The previous 20+ pieces I had sewn had no issue. But things happen and it made this piece all puckered and wobbly (technical term!). My Mom thorized that the bobbin had gotten snagged on something internally because the stitches got really close together in some parts. 




Since I hadn't changed the foot, stitch, tension, etc., it seemed plausible. I was worried about how to proceed since this was a centerpiece that the "feathers" revolve around. So my options were:

Discard the piece and go on without it (Quickest method)
Replace it with a ZigZapp circle or other shape (Easiest method)
Carefully try rip the stitches and salvage the interfacing and fabric (Chaleenging method)

Mom and Mattie have both said that the interfacing is stronger than it appears, so as long as I was careful it would be o.k. 

So in the end, I was able to fix the problem. Obviously, its not something you'd want to do often, but at least ypu don't have to scrap a project because of a mistake!

Until our next cup of tea ...





August 10, 2014

Woody Woodpecker Lives in Our Trees!!

We have some pretty big holes in our trees made by woodpeckers ... Jamie is intrigued by them because he hears them but never sees them.


They are sneaky little buggers, I rarely see them myself but they are always out there just knocking on wood!!


I've made references to Woody Woodpecker but he's too young so maybe we will have to find some old cartoons for him to watch. The holes and lines are pretty artistic but sadly they bugs are killing our poor tree. We've had a few yard maintenance days where we had to trim it back so the dead parts don't affect the healthy parts.




Just another random adventure in our own backyard!

Until our next cup of tea ...




August 9, 2014

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! A Proclaimation!

I have declared it The Year of Quiltsmart! Seriously, I have so much interfacing that I have purchased or been gifted from the owner, Mattie, over the past 2 years or so and I have a list of projects I have been wanting to do. 

Mattie and my Mom, who owns Bear Thread Designs, have worked together for years, friends almost from the start. As we all do, we help our mom's friends nearly as much as our own moms, so sometimes when I help Mattie she will pass along printed interfacing that was pulled from stock because it was printed wrong, or too light, or other minor imperfections. I guess she thinks I'm too old to reward with ice cream (I'm not Mattie!!)

Anyway, last weekend as I was looking for a particular fabric I decided this year (meaning school year) was going to be Quiltsmart Project Year!! I'm a little excited! 

Wednesday night I was watching reruns with my husband of our favorite show and decided to multi-task and organize some of my craft room stuff, which ended up being organizing and sorting my Quiltsmart printed interfacing ... 




Thursday night, I was able to finish sewing the pieces of the Princess Feather Medallion to their fabric and all except 3 pieces were flipped and ironed. Hope to finish that this weekend so I can get the medallion sewn down and be ready when the Round Robin meets in September.







Last night, I worked on the design and plan for a floral quilt, using Quiltsmart ZigZapps. I even started sewing because  this quilt is one that I am very excited about. It's one that I have wanted to mimic from a quilt my mother has from a class. Since it was applique, I didn't even attempt it, but I found a way to recreate it with Quiltsmart! 




So, um, yeah. Now you know I am a project-hopper. I usually work on about 3 projects at a time, rotating to whatever project hits me when I walk into the room. I actually get projects done.

I'll keep you posted as the projects progress.

Until our next cup of tea ...













August 5, 2014

Picking Back Up on these Patriotic Projects

This past weekend, life finally slowed down long enough for me to pull my chair up to the sewing machine for a little stress-relieving sewing. First I did a little organizing, my craft stuff is in a pile since we added a third workspace to our office/craft room once I started working from home for the magazine ... but the craft shelf was put on hold when our little guy had one too many tantrums about picking up his toys and Daddy boxed everything up and put it in the office. It didn't affect him at all. It's been three months and he hasn't missed the toys at all. {sigh}
 
So for now, everything craft-related is still in boxes until we can sort through and get rid of the toys and he earns the rest back with helping us around the house, but more on that later.
 
While I was looking through the boxes, trying to find something to work on (trust me there were quite a few half-finished to choose from). I found a small group of triangles made from strips. So I started sewing them together.
 

The stripes were going in various directions and I ended up with three different blocks in the end.
 
I made two of these ...

 
... Six of these ...
 

... And two of these ...
 


 
The way I cut them was random and not by any pattern, rather a passing thought that was apparently interesting enough for me to make a bunch of strips and sewed them together, then cut. Unfortunately, I cannot find the notes I'd made to allow me to make more, so that's why I was left with triangles in a pile. But not to waste them, I decided to sew them together and see what inspiration I would find. After staring at this random group of blocks, I think I've got an idea of what I'd like to with them now.
 
 
This small flag was made around the same time as the strips. I used a star from Quiltsmart, and I think I may make some more of these for a small table topper or something ...
 
Well, I'll keep you posted on the progress of these projects and more ...
 
Until our next cup of tea ...
 
 

August 1, 2014

The Accidental Chef: "Not So Stuffed" Cabbage

Mmm ... Cabbage. O.k., so I am aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm, but who am I to judge.

One of my favorite fast and healthy recipes is Stuffed Cabbage though my patience for a 12-step program when it comes to making dinner is not usually something I am willing to undertalke when I am in the mood for a favorite dish. So sometimes, I make a shortcut, and that is how "Not So Stuffed Cabbage" came to be.



So this is what I did ...

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey (or 12-15 meatballs)
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 (10 oz can) tomatoes
  • 2 (15 oz cans) tomato sauce 


Directions:
1. Brown ground beef/turkey. Add onion and chopped garlic and cook together, then set aside.
2. Cut cabbage into 1-inch squares and saute (or steam) until desired softness. 
3. Add the meat mixture to the cabbage. The add tomatoes and tomato sauce.
*** Note: You can also add 2 cups of cooked rice, though we only eat rice occasionally.
4. Simmer for 10 minutes. Enjoy!!




Until our next cup of tea ... 



July 28, 2014

A Beau-TEA-ful Treat!!

So yesterday, I showed you the Round Robin tea-themed quilt that was completed over the last year by my fellow quilt team members. At the conclusion I eluded that there was another tea-related surprise that I got this weekend and here it is ...

We had quite the active weekend, playing at the park, swimming, an Astros Baseball game, and more. While out and about my husband asked if I wanted to stop at a local consignment store in our community to see if they had any cabinets or hutches because we'd been trying to find something to display my tea cup collection since we first got married, 10 years ago. 

When we got there we found two beautiful cabinets and after some discussions and comparisons, we decided to go with this one ...



After the baseball game, I spent a few hours unpacking my tea cup collections and tea sets and arranging them. 






Between my collection, the glass pieces and china we inherited from George's grandmother and my great-grandmother, the cabinet was filled in no time. About 2/3 of the pieces fit, so we'll have to come up with some other display methods.

Until our next cup of tea ...









July 27, 2014

Waiting with Anticipation ...

Editor's Note: I had wanted to post this yesterday, but had to wait for my mom to return from the Quilt Retreat where they revealed the Round Robin quilts to the owners. I was unable to make it and since she didn't return until nearly 10 p.m., this post is going out today instead.

This week I finished my first Quilting Round Robin. Last November my Mom and a group of quilting friends needed another person to fill out their Round Robin, which was part of 3 other groups of 6. Since we started a meeting behind and one person short, we needed to attend our first meeting, their second meeting, with our medallion block and one border.

This was my medallion, is Sweet Tea Cottage Block of the Sweetheart Cottages in the Follow Your Heart Pattern by The Quilt Company. It was the first pieced quilt block like this. It was not as hard as I thought it would be and look forward to trying other patterns in the future.


 
Then I added a checker board style border and solid to bring out more of the green accents in the medallion.
 
 
The Shabby Chic look and soft pinks and greens are something that I have always loved though it was not the dream George had in mind for a home when we got married, so I never really decorated the home in that theme. But when I saw the Sweet Tea Cottage Block, I know it had to be the centerpoint of my quilt.
 
As far as my first Round Robin experience, I would have to say it was very intimidating. I am a novice quilter, at best, mostly making large repeating blocks. I have been exploring with Quiltsmart's printed interfacing, but I have very little confidence in my own skills. It was a big hindrance because despite the support and encouragement of the other quilts in my team and the others in the group, I still felt like I would be the person to mess up these beautiful quilts for everyone else and it soon prevented me from having fun. I learned a lot from the other participants and really enjoyed the experience, but after some thought I decided to continue in the Round Robin ... but solo. That just means each meeting I will work on a quilt and add a border, it will just be one quilt - mine. That way if I ruin it, or waste fabric trying to do something new, or any of the other worries I had, it will be at a cost to me, not another quilter. In fact, it will be the one I wrote about in my last post.
 
But regardless, last night was amazing. My mom arrived, as I said, pretty late. We had just come back from an Astros (MLB) baseball game and was trying to get the 4-year-old to settle down after copious amounts of junk food and sugary treats.
 
She arrived, ready to reveal my quilt and this is what greeted me ...
 
 
 
A few close ups of the various borders ...
 




 
Absolutely beautiful! I just keep opening it up and looking at it ... only to find something new to fall in love with. {sigh}

I will probably add another border or two to finish it off, and then hopefully get it quilted. But this wasn't the only tea-themed surprise this weekend. Come back later to learn what else I got to feed my obsession!

Until our next cup of tea ...







 
 






July 25, 2014

Quilting with Quiltsmart

So I just finished the last of the quilts from the Round Robin I participated in this past year (post on that coming tomorrow). But during that time I have been wanting to just saddle up the the sewing machine and get creative with some of the Quiltsmart interfacing I've got in my QS box in my sewing room. It sits there staring at me, begging to be inspiring but with so much on my plate lately and the commitments that I'd made didn't allow me to just be creative at the sewing machine. In fact, sometimes I was stressed trying to get to the projects on my list!

But, the Round Robin quilt that I finished on Tuesday was the final project to be complete! So excited!! Even though I am in the final frenzied weeks of the Fall Quilt Issue at TEAinTEXAS, I did spend my lunch hour "playing". 

I had previously started working on a Princess Feather pattern. The first border is not necessarily a border as much as turning the medallion on point. Something that I am scared to do because of the math involved and the potiental to waste fabric getting it right. But turning it on point using the grid interfacing and 2-in squares. Previously I had cut the squares and ironed them to the interfacing hoping for time to sew them ... but then my sewing machine broke.

But my dear sweet husband surprised me with a Husquvarna Viking Opal 670 in May and now I am in heaven!! So today, I finally had the time to get some stitching done, so off I went, getting started on my waiting Quiltsmart project!


Oh, did I mention it's Christmas themed!?! I have never made a quilt with the holiday theme or colors. I have always been hesitant because it was a little intimidating to make a quilt that was Christmas-y without being childish or "country", I wasn't sure if I could make one that was elegant and holiday-insired. But I am up for the challenge!! 

So let's see where this journey takes us!!

I am also in the early stages of working on a secret Quiltsmart project, something that I'd been thinking of and making notes on for about a year now. I'll post some sneak peeks of it, but am hoping that I can have the full vision complete by Christmas for a big reveal. Fingers crossed! 

Until our next cup of tea ...




May 31, 2014

Batter Up! Time to Rally Around the Home Team!!

Well our little Monkey has just finished his first season of Little League Baseball and it was an experience for us all! He was one of only 3 4 year olds, all who barely made the cutoff age by a month or so. The other 8 kids had played both Sping and Fall of last year in Instructional T-Ball and are moving to T-Ball.

Oh, was fun it was to watch him play, though most of the time he was dancing, practicing to be a Ninja Turtle or Superhero or picking clovers. The three of us moms were assured that all of the others did the same thing at this age, so hopefully next year will be more actual playing.

He was great at hitting and fielding, but once he was bored, other interests took over.

He did swim for about a year (you'll see that in previous posts from 2011) and even spent six weeks in soccer (the coach spent all her time on her phone and we had a lot of "breaks" where the kids sat around.) I decided that I should probably start a scrap book for him with photos and stuff because if I wait too long, it'll just be overwhelming. So I spent a few hours pulling out scrapbook paper I'd collected, sorting through digital photos and ordering prints and gathering notes of what I wanted to do. Finally I was ready to start!! Let the fun begin!!

Here is the first page for baseball. I wanted to get all his team info on there because I'll never remember. I can't even remember kids from his preschool class last year, much less any of his teammates years from now.

Well, I'm off to get some more pages done while he is running errands with Daddy. Ah, the life of a crafty mom!!



Until our next cup of tea ...


May 26, 2014

Experiencing Our First "Palooza" Together

This weekend George and I celebrated out 10 year anniversary and since military life often has us separated for long periods of time, we decided to spend the weekend doing a lot of activities as a family, rather than just the two of us.  

One of the many activities we did this weekend was attend the Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center. It was a first for all of us, though George and I had been talking about it for years. I really love Si-Fi movies and shows, even some books such as Space Western. Though my interests are different than George's in books, we usually enjoy the same movies and shows.

The Comicpalooza was great, we saw so many different characters, artists, collectibles and more. I really was excited to watch Jamie experience everything at such a young age. At 4 he still believes in the reality of super heroes and other characters, and I was interested to see how he'd react to seeing some many different characters, even multiples of the same one. 

He really enjoyed it, and his godparents joined us as well. 

He got a lot of stuff, a plush Batman, his first (Spiderman) comic book, a lightsaber, and more. When we started out for the event I knew I wanted to get him some original artwork. As a former photography artist, it has always been important for me to support other artists, specifically military and  hometown (Houston), as some of my previous posts show.

When we first arrived and I saw all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle art, I thought for sure he's want nearly everything he saw because we are in the process of redoing his bedroom in TMNT. While he liked them all, it was Lego Super Heroes that caught his eye.  

We stopped at a variety of booths, looking at the artwork and making a list of the ones that might make the cut, with the intent of choosing one before we left. But we stopped at one particular booth, with artist Oliver Banks, and he's complete and total focus on Jamie and answering his questions and listening to the rambling stories of a 4-year-old made me completely convinced that this was the artist where we would get something from. He even patiently laughed and waited while Jamie changed his mind, 2 or 3 times before deciding on "Lego Superman" and "Lego Batman". 


After we left the booth and walked around a little more, Jamie and his plush Batman were called over to a table by an artist, who handed him a piece of cardboard with a marker sketch of Batman and gave it to him. He said he was waiting for a kid who loved Batman to give the sketch. We were so stunned and thanking him profusely, we forgot to get the artist's name! Yep, total failure, but we are going to try to figure it out via the signature and I'll try to reach out to some of my contacts in Houston to see if they can help. Not really my area of expertise, but I've found that the Marketing Industry can leave you surprised sometimes.

All in all, it was a great adventure and Jamie even got to take a picture with Spider-Man! What a treat!!! All in all, we are so excited to be able to explore our own hometown after years of exploring where the Army sent us, and we are are already talking about next year!



Well, until our next cup of tea,


Even Mommy and Daddy found something to take home ...