18 December 2014

Yuletide finishes

 It's the Holiday Season

Perhaps you started handmade, heartfelt gifts for Christmas or birthdays and then got caught up and then life took over?  That is exactly what happened to me last year.  I was determined to not only complete WIPS started for the holidays last year, but I would also get them done before December rolled around.   I think mug rugs/snack mats and place mats are great for practicing skills or demo blocks.  They go together fast and like cooking in a microwave; "instant" gratification.  These two projects are also neat for trying out decorative trims or new products.  You can have a project like this pieced, sandwiched, quilted and bound in about two hours.  (If you are beginner it may be longer)  And like most quilters I get a wee bit giddy when I pull projects out of the dryer.

Although I did not complete my goal by getting WIPS done before December, but I am 98% complete with the Yuletide WIPS.
First Mug Rug or Snack Mat

The first is a mug rug in solid green and low volume prints, FMQ'ed with a meandering squiggle and a botched flower in the middle.  My FMQ skills are not the best, but I try.  (Perhaps that is why I have so many tops finished and they sit waiting.)

Used zig zag stitch to keep from rolling up in the wash
Mug Rug Back

I used stripey green to make a binding.  I also like the Christmas fabric on the back.

I also made four place mats using a QAYG method.  I picked various fat quarter Christmas prints and left over fabric from the stockings I made last year.  This is a great project for scraps or orphan blocks.  I also used scraps of batting trimmed from quilts and other projects. 

I used decorative stitches to decorate the place mats over a few seams.  I used red, white and cream-ish natural threads.  I used my walking foot to complete the QAYG.  

Four place mats posing for photos
Decorative stitching showing up on back - right side a chain of snow flakes
More decorative snow flakes

red zig zag contrasting with blue, green and cream

I just love those happy little trees!

I cut the binding on the bias, but it didn't give the effect I wanted. I also used some decorative stitching on some of the place mats. 
used zig zag to keep binding from rolling and add pizazz
Fitting PERFECTLY into poly envelope!

Have you ever focused on a handmade Christmas? 

Another general question - do you find that sometimes your phone camera does a fantastic job and other times all the pictures look like junk?  All pics taken with iphone.  One thing I did ask santa for was a camera so I can take pictures of stuff for the blog.

12 December 2014

A Friday Finish of Sorts

Although I have been like a little Elf in Santa's workshop, I don't have much to share in the way of my makings, until after the holidays (of course).

I would like to share what I have done with my Low Volume Charm Swap fabrics I participated in with Chelsea at Patch the Giraffe and Melissa at From Bolt to Beauty.  As I opened my squishy package, I loved each print, but thought that if I made a quilt out of exclusive low volume prints, then I knew the quilt would get stained, or have dark jeans bleed over it in the wash.

I decided since all the "heavy lifting" was completed by the ladies and their great job choosing and cutting their charms, I would do a four patch.  I added some fabric from my stash that I had cut in to charms previously.  (I really like bright colors!)

I dug around on pinterest to see what might inspire me.  I decided to do a disappearing four patch to add visual interest AND offer a bit of a challenge.  

I used THIS YouTube tutorial from Missouri Quilt Company.

I found this block to be fairly easy, but once you sew and press you then have to cut, sew and press again.  My sewing set up makes this a wee bit challenging, but perhaps I can scare up a longer table at some point so I can have my machine at one end, my cutting mat at the other and I don't have to set or shove my machine over to make room for the mat to cut and trim.

I am quite pleased with the results. 
Left over blocks from the layout
I decided to set the blocks on point and use some fun chevron fabric as setting squares.  I trimmed my blocks down to about 8 inches and cut 8 inch blocks from the chevron fabric.  

A fun Layout - I think

closest chevron "block" is just the rest of the fabric folded for the picture (HA)

This one is a bit fuzzy

I hope I have enough chevron fabric left to make the setting triangles.  I have never set a quilt on point before and look forward to the challenge.  Good think I have my Robert Kaufman quilting app on my phone!

Have you ever attempted a quilt challenge that made you nervous?

Linked up with TGIFF and Finish it up Friday

11 December 2014

Thoughts on the Road to Making More McNays

This month we embarked on our journey towards parenthood.  It all started with a surgery. (That's what all good medical stories start with).  We were delayed in starting fertility treatments due to some nice cysts that grew on my ovaries.  Our doctor monitored them and decided that they needed to be dealt with.  

The following day I was getting looped up on some awesome drugs for an early morning procedure.  The doctor used a huge needle to aspirate both cysts.  A was "awake" but not aware of anything.  The last thing I remember was putting on the clinic's socks over my socks and moving towards the table with the stirrups.  Then I was waking up in my bed.  Ken helped me get dressed and drove me home, brought me into the house and put me to bed and I had no recollection.

Does anyone else find it eerie when recovering from anesthesia or other medication that causes amnesia???

Anyhooo - we waited all day Friday for all my medications to arrive from our special pharmacy.  The medication was ordered Thursday with overnight shipping for Friday.  The parcel didn't arrive at all Friday, although UPS did deliver the previously ordered dog shampoo.

I called UPS and they told me that the local distribution facility was closed for the weekend and my package would be delivered Monday.  I waited ALL DAY Monday and even missed work for this package.  I was also scheduled to tutor a student that evening, and so, after waiting all day; I decided to take my chances and go to my tutoring appointment.  

As I was leaving, I got a call from UPS stating that my package would arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 pm.  Although I got lost on the way to my appointment, I tutored my student and raced home - barely making it for 8:30.  

It was evident that UPS hadn't even arrived as there wasn't a note left on my door.  I beat them home!  I called UPS and spoke with someone to make sure my arrangements for picking up the parcel at the distribution hub. 

As I hung up the phone, I heard the familiar roar of a diesel engine and squeal of brakes.  The UPS man arrived with my medications at 9:00 pm.  

I promptly unpacked the box and stored the medications in their proper places (refrigerated and non refrigerated).  I gazed at our little Christmas tree and reflected on the little miracles that took place over the past two weeks.

  1. Payments were made in full to begin treatments and pay for surgery
  2. Surgery was successful and I recovered with minor pain
  3. Money for medication was available and paid
  4. My husband has a generous employer that offers great health coverage including fertility treatments
  5. My husband was wise with finances in having money available to make sure payments were made
  6. The medications arrived just in time for me to begin the hormone therapy
  7. I have generous friends and family who participated in our fundraiser last year to help off set medical costs
  8. I have a local support system that encourage me and are willing to give me my shots 
I think I need not any gifts for Christmas this year.  All we really want is for the treatments to be successful and result in pregnancy.

07 December 2014

Quilt Tops and Love

I wanted to blog about the process of one of my most recent quilt top finish for about two weeks.  My husband brought home a nasty virus and we spent about two weeks sick. Hopefully I will get some good pictures of the quilt top for this post.  

It all started with a phone call.  I called home and by brother answered the phone.  We talked about school, Seahawks, a girl who he's interested in, cool YouTube videos, music and such.  And I asked him if he would want a quilt.  He told me he thought that any sort of handmade gift is awesome and special.  

Now this brother is kind of a "black sheep".  Most families have one.  He has made some poor choices and had alot of struggles.  Some of those struggles are self inflicted, others are bumps throughout life, exacerbated by his choices.  There are some days when he thinks I am a corporate sell-out, others that I am the only one who "gets" him.

I asked if he wanted me to make him a quilt, and what sort of color scheme he likes.  He told me that he liked the new Seahawks colors.  I went on to the interwebs and researched the new colors and then I pulled out my trusty grid composition book and started sketching out ideas.

I decided that I would also include the old Seahawks colors as well.  This was the first time I actually sketched out a quilt top instead of just winging it.
notes for 12th man quilt

During planning and sewing of this quilt top I have had very unique impressions that this quilt will serve as a symbol of care and love.  Hopefully I have made it long enough since the guy is over six feet tall.
using notes to layout blocks
seahawks quilt all bound washed and dried

12th man block and my gold toes at the bottom

Have you ever made a quilt or handicraft that you knew would be cherished by the recipient? 

24 October 2014

October is a Favorite Month

Spring used to be my favorite time of the year.  Temperatures climbed to the low 50's and if it was above 50 degrees I was allowed to wear shorts.  Growing up in the Pacific Northwest we had few-ish warm days, and that was Mom's rule.

I have been living in North Carolina for the past seven years and have endured seven HOT SWEATY HUMID summers.  I look forward to cooler temperatures and crunchy leaves.  So to pay homage to David Letterman here is my top ten list of why October is a Favorite Month.


October is a Favorite Month

  • It's cool enough in the morning and evening for a light jacket or sweatshirt
  • Falling leaves that blanket the ground 
  • SOCKS!  I don't get super sweaty feet and I can oil them up after my pedicures.  PLUS Socks with shoes, generally I never wear closed toed shoes. 
  • Snuggling under a quilt with a good book or while watching a movie
  • PUPPY SNUGGLES.  Both doggies like to join me under said quilt. 
  • All Hallow's Eve or Halloween -  this means trunker or treat at church and costumes, cute kiddos asking for treats like 'choch-rit' (chocolate) 
  • Squash and Zucchini season - there's nothing like oven roasted squash or butternut squash soup.  And we cannot forget about spaghetti squash topped with marinara and mozzarella. YUMM! 
  • Not being damp from morning to night.  I am not a sweaty Betty, but during the summer, there is not much I can do to mitigate the humidity.  I just stick to air conditioned spaces. 
  • Jeans and Long Pants.  I wore jeans every day back in the PNW.  Out here in the Old North State, I wear skirts and dresses, sandals and flip flops.  The cooler weather allows for my toes to get chilly and WANT to be in a closed toe shoes.
  • APPLES.  In the PNW there are quality apples and peaches and pears year round, but in the South, there are peaches in the late summer and dinky New York apples in the fall.  The good Washington apples are great during the fall but the quality drops off a TON by December.
What are your favorite things about fall???

22 September 2014

Growing the Family One Step at a Time

It has been QUITE a while since I have blogged about increasing the number of members of our family.  Attitudes have changed and we have experienced emotional and spiritual growth.

We came to the conclusion that being foster parents would not be in our best interests.  As we took the classes offered by our county human services department, Ken and I became polarized in the ages that we would want to foster.  Our opinions caused hurt feelings and divisiveness in our relationship.  We came to the conclusion if we were in this much disagreement before we have children staying with us, then who knows what sort of turmoil having a child with baggage may cause.  In addition, there would be additional monthly expenses that could not be factored into our already tight budget.

We are currently working with a nationally top rated fertility clinic to add babies to our family.  The physician sat us down and in no uncertain terms explained I had reached my lifetime limit of clomid and femara.  These drugs stimulate ovulation, however in my body, they also cause large cysts formed on my ovaries.  We were told that IVF or embryo adoption would be our ONLY options.  The physician also told me that my weight (which had increased steadily as I took the various courses of clomid and femara) needed to decrease by 40-50 pounds.  

I have been a round chubby person my WHOLE life.  Working out and eating fewer calories has NEVER worked for me.  The problems that I have with fertility also exacerbate my weight problems.  I was prescribed a medication that helps my neurotransmitters associated with appetite and satiation.  I have also been being held accountable for my food choices by a friend in which we made the same commitments to one another.  We offer encouragement to each other and "confess" when we make mistakes.

So since August 30th I have lost 17 pounds.  

I am grateful for the encouragement of my dear husband and other friends for their encouragement.

And as an additional bonus through my employer, I earned a Carnival cruise to the BAHAMAS.  Ken and I are not the "go on a vacation" type.  Vacation to us is a road trip or accompanying my husband while he's traveling for work.  This is going to be super exciting for the both of us.

18 August 2014

A Pair of Quilts and Wall Hangings

I don't really have a clever title, but this project was definitely a labor of love.  My fantastic friend Gina decided to inform her friends that she was pregnant with TWINS after she was four months along.  I was so happy for her.  I probed her for name ideas and her nursery theme.  She brushed me off the first few times, and finally she told me elephants.  I thought that was a sweet idea!  BUT Gina had specifications for her elephants.  They had to have trunks turned up because up trunks are good luck. 

Finished wall hanging and in process blanket
I searched the interwebs for images that were appealing.  I saw alot of cute stuff, but most of it was for girlie-bobs.  I didn't feel confident in my drawing skills.  I ask an artist friend of mine to do a line drawing, but alas, I didn't get it in time and if I was going to complete TWO wall hangings and TWO baby quilts, I had to get down to business.  

I found a piece of clip art that I liked and I used it as a reference to draw an elephant.  I cut out my paper drawing and outlined it on a piece of cardboard - like cereal boxes are made of.  I cut out my cardboard elephant; and traced it on to the interfacing that I ironed on to my grey fabric.  I traced my second elephant facing the opposite direction.  I used two different decorative stitches to applique the elephant on the background fabric.  I used spray baste to adhere the quilt sandwich and used simple outline and straight line quilting using my walking foot.  I am not at all skilled at quilting, but I have less anxiety when I use a walking foot.  I then made my own binding and machine bound each of the wall hangings using a zig zag stitch.  I used some scrap fabric to make two corner rod pockets for hanging.
Zach and Jeff on their special blankets

I made simple quilts for the babies because I wanted them to be sturdy for lots of loving and would hold up to washing.  I used some cute elephant print fabric with up trunks and decided to use the same grey from the elephants for the back.  I decided to inset a piece of grey fabric on the front and then use a strip of elephant print on the back.  I also found some flannel that had grey polka dots and used my same elephant template to make elephant appliques, facing different directions.  I used interfacing to stabilize the flannel.  

Twin Tummy Time

11 June 2014

Projects for New Arrivals

I have been busy like a mad woman starting and finishing projects for little ones joining the world.  My sister's little fella; who has affectionately been nicknamed Rooster by his older, three year old sister, made his debut into the world a wee bit early.  He was born three weeks early and is experiencing a bit of jaundice.  Other than that he's a happy guy.

I was under the gun to get his blanket finished.  You see, my in-laws traveled from Washington to Florida to visit their grand kids.  They decided to fly to Raleigh to spend time with us before winding their way down the Atlantic Coast to see the Florida family.  They agreed to take the blanket back to Washington for little Rooster.

Roosters Strip and Flip on the trusty Dining Room Chair

I had the top all pieced and the back sewn up, I just needed to cut the batting and baste.  I had a rather frustrating time with quilting my last quilt and I didn't want to do a crappy job, so I used spray baste AND safety pins to baste Rooster's blanket.  I decided to quilt it using 100% cotton machine quilting thread and my walking foot.  I did my best to quilt it about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the seams.  It turned out nice and structured without any huge puckers or bulges.

Fresh from the Dryer and super Snuggly

For the binding I decided to make my own bias binding.  This was my first time making my own bias binding.  I was using a polka dot material and I didn't want all the dots to line up.  So I cut the fabric on the bias and sewed the strips together and then ironed them in a double fold.  I had some trouble with the strips seams lining up with the corners of the blanket.

Binding View A
I stitched the top side with a straight stitch using my walking foot and then the back side I used a zig zag stitch to keep the sides of the binding from curling up.

Binding View B

Granted, I am not going to win any fair ribbons with this design, but I was happy for the experience with completing another WIP.


Two elephant wall hangings - need to be bound
Two baby quilts - fabric picked out and cut
Naughts and Crosses - blocks finished, still deciding on the layout
Deanna's Dresden - still sewing and starching the little blades 300 done, 600 total

One king size quilt that I probably will never touch again