Friday, May 27, 2011

Hexie and Etsy

I spent yesterday putting the binding on my Kindle covers for Etsy, and found that I had just enough scrap to make my hexie into a little pot holder or mug rug.  I didn't want to change my machine around to do free motion, so I may (or may not) add quilting later.  As with so many other things in life, once I got one hexie under my belt, I'm eager to do another!!  I've heard that these are addicting.  I can now understand that!  Hmmm maybe a hexie postcard is in order.... :-)

Here's my stack of Kindle covers all done, but this morning we got such a dark storm come through, that the light is going to have to improve a bit before I can get some decent pictures for the shop.  Luckily it's already starting to lighten up as I write.

I hope all of you have a great Memorial Day week-end!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My first "Hexie"

I really needed a distraction yesterday, and as I read through just about each and every post on WIP Wed, I decided it was time to do my first hexie!  I've been an admirer of these hexie quilts for ages, but the hand sewing part of it really discouraged me from trying.  My hands are really in bad shape after too many years of uncorking and corking test tubes in the medical lab, so I really try to avoid hand sewing, because it causes my hands to cramp and go numb if I do it for too long. 

So I decided to start small.... really really small, with the tiniest of subjects.  One of tiniest of things is a molecule.  The hexie shape,  recently acquired coffee fabric and my inner science nerd coalesced yesterday, and the "caffeine molecule hexie" was born. I have to admit too, that it really was so nice to have a hand project to work on while I watched the finale of American Idol last night (for the record, James "Durbin was my favorite, with Cassey being a close second).

It was my first ever use of freezer paper, first hexie, and first hand-sewn project in many years (I was an avid cross-stitcher in high school, college and through my 20's though).  Trying to get my new machine to sew the rest was a challenge, and I'm not entirely happy with the outcome, but for such a small project, I learned a heck of a lot in a very short time!!  It also reminded me that I don't need to tackle a whole quilt to learn a new technique.  Sometimes just a sample block and a few hours can teach me a great deal!

Of course one thing led to another and as I worked, I came up with a new quilt idea, and different techniques to try next time!  I don't think I'll be doing very many more of these hand sewn beauties, but I'm very happy to admire others in blog land!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WIP Wed, and Remembering

There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself.  ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

Today's a tough day for me and my family, as 3 years ago today we lost my dad suddenly and unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism.  To see all of the horrific tornado devastation on the news also brings the grief right to the surface yet again.  I feel lucky that my dad was in a hospital, with my mom close by when he passed, as I know so many people in the Midwest weren't as fortunate.  I'm also incredibly lucky to have had such a wonderful dad, as I know so many people don't.

As I work through my grief, I keep trying to think of a way to remember him in a constructive, positive way.  While looking through all of the lovely quilts and projects on Lee's of Freshly Pieced" WIP Wed post, it suddenly came to me.  Instead of crawling under a quilt every May 25th, I hope next year to donate a "charity" quilt on this day in his memory.  My dad was a Presbyterian minister for many years, and helping other less fortunate was something he did his whole life.  I think he'd like this.

My "Japanese Quilt" was my first charity quilt, and initially I thought it was going to be hard to give it away.  I've given numerous quilts to family members, but never to a stranger.  But you know what?  It really wasn't.  Once it was gone, it felt really good to know that it may help someone, or in my case our Japanese sister city of Minamisoma.  I have a few ideas for my dad's charity quilt.  He loved children very much, so I may focus on quilts for kids.

After finishing my Supernova, I decided clean and organize my sewing/quilting space (also our master bedroom closet).  I finally got around to actually counting the number of finished quilt tops that I have which need to be quilted.  The number isn't as bad as I had expected... only 8, and one of those is almost done (Bliss).  I have a few other quilts that are in various stages of cutting and piecing, and more than I could ever count in my head, or written down in my journal as future projects.

I'm almost finished with a new batch of Kindle covers for my Etsy shop.  I may also try to sell them on Amazon if they let me...  Anyone have Amazon experience?  After re-listing several of my covers, I'm beginning to understand why people complain about Etsy fees.  

My new-found fabric postcard addiction has also been very distracting.  I don't want to show you the ones I'm doing for a swap, but here's a few that recently got made and sent to family members for their birthdays!

I have my next quilt all planned out, fabric selected, and I'm itching to start, but the garden and kindle covers are a priority now.  I love the name of the quilt block, taken from my 365 quilt block calendar...
If you've made it this far, thank you so much for reading!  I'm linking up with Lee's WIP Wed.  Come over and join us for some really great inspiration.  Thanks Lee, for hosting us!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Best way to preserve tomatoes and peppers (get them planted now!)

With our garden getting started, I just thought I'd revisit this post that I did back in October when I tried out some new ways to preserve last year's fall harvest.  Be sure to read how I did it there.

The results were incredible, and I may not ever get out the canning kettle again when it comes to tomatoes!  I hate heating up the kitchen in the warmest parts of the year.  I still remember my grandmother looking at me like I was crazy about 20 years ago when I told her that I had learned how to can and was doing a lot of it.  She said "Don't you have a freezer?!?"  While I still like to can, I have to agree that sometimes the freezer is indeed better!

Basically, I roasted the peppers, let them steam, then laid them out on a cooking pan to freeze, then put all of these into a big zip lock bag to pluck out 2 or 3 at a time all winter.  Here's a picture of the peppers I used all winter long, right out of the freezer.  The wonderful part is that you just run them under water for 20 or so seconds, and the skin slips right off.  I'm for sure going to do some red peppers this way as well.  They're great in any egg dish, chili, stews, etc...

The tomatoes turned out incredible.  No peeling or chopping.  I just put them roasted into a blender, pureed them seeds, skin and all, and poured that into canning jars, leaving enough room so that they would have room to expand and not break the jar, put lids on them and kept them in the freezer.  They were all totally gone before Thanksgiving :-).

So, go plant some peppers and tomatoes soon!  If you can't, there will soon be plenty at the local farmer's market or grocery store to take home and preserve for next winter!

Monday, May 23, 2011

My first "guest post",, and a wonderful week-end

First of all, I am a guest poster today over at Sylvie's blog, "Quilters, Fabric Art, Creative Sewing!"  She's an amazing fiber artist and quilter who travels the world in their yacht, which is powered by the sun.  I met her on Etsy, and just love her personal blog as well, "Adventures at Sea".  WOW!  Head over to either one of these blogs for some amazing inspiration and virtual travel!

Next, I just want to thank everyone for all of the wonderful comments left here.  I really do appreciate and read every one of them.  I try to respond, but sometimes I have a hard time finding the time!  But they really do mean a lot to me!!!

With Spring here, I've been finding more and more to distract me from blogging and sewing.  Here's where we spent the week-end...
It was very close to the Grande Ronde River, near La Grande, Oregon.  Such a sweet place!!

We got to see lots of flowers, and even found a huge patch of morel mushrooms!!

I've been having a fun time working on Kindle covers and fabric postcards for my swap (you'll have to visit my guest post to see the progress on these).  I'm so glad my friend Monika introduced me to the fabric postcards, as they will be a perfect summer quilting and sewing "media" when the weather turns hot and the last thing I want to do is work on a warm quilt :-). 

With only a dozen-ish days left of school for the boys, a beautiful garden and berry patch that my husband has been working hard on, I won't be blogging as much as I have.  I'll try really hard to do better than last summer though, which shouldn't be hard at all LOL.  I hope you all are making fun summer plans and enjoying the warm weather.  With so many horrific weather events occurring "back East", including my birthplace of Baton Rouge, I feel very fortunate here in Eastern Oregon.  I hope all of you are safe as well!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bloggers' Quilt Festival entry: Medical Lab Quilt

One of the first "link-ups" that I went to on-line was Amy's Bloggers' Quilt Festival on "Amy's Creative Side" Blog, only 1 year ago.  It was part of what got me hooked into the whole quilt blog world, because I found so many wonderful quilt blogs as I looked at each of the links!  I'm so excited to link up this year with my "Medical Lab Quilt".  Thank you Amy for creating this wonderful festival, and please take a look over there for some incredibly amazing quilts, and quilters.
Amy's Creative Side
I started sewing this quilt on January 1st, 2011, as part of a "Fun-a-day" program at our local art center.  The idea was to do something creative each day in January, then to get together in early February to share our work.  I knew right away that I wanted to make a quilt, but I wanted to stretch my skills by doing something not only different, but something to practice a new skill.  I had taken a free-motion quilting class several months earlier, and decided I wanted to practice these skills.  As a former medical technologist who worked in a hospital lab, I decided to pick the topic of things, mostly under the microscope, that I encountered in the lab.  Each day I thread painted a different quilt block.  You can see all of the blocks in my blog in the month of January, 2011.

I love this quilt because it combines 2 of my favorite things... science and quilting.  Not only did I get better at free-motion quilting, but I also used the "quilt as you go" method for the first time.  Right now it's on display at our local hospital, through the art center.  I truly had fun-a-day while making it too!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Supernova is DONE!!!

Whew hew!  I just got her done!  You can still see the yellow chalk in the photos.  I'll try to post pictures of it after the wash, but my husband helped me get these pictures taken just minutes ago, and I wanted to show them!!

I decided to free-motion stars and suns (big stars) into the design, and just love the way it turned out.  I am glad I stuck with it, despite the machine problems.  After all, our house is mostly powered by the sun, ever since October, so we're become just a wee bit obsessed with it....

The stripes kind of remind me of Saturn, another celestial object.  My son got a telescope for his 11th birthday recently.  His big brother will officially be a teenager very soon :-O.  but one of the first things we saw in his telescope was Saturn.  AMAZING!!!  He also got this recent picture of the moon.  Don't ask me how he did it!!

I already have a space themed quilt planned and partially cut out for my youngest, and an electronics themed one for my oldest son.  Too much fun!

I also did a biased binding for the first time on this quilt.  I wanted the diagonal element with the quilt and had this great batik fabric in my stash that I used.  I love the way the whole quilt turned out, and thanks to Lee very much for sharing this design and quilt along with all of us!!!

Here's one last picture of another blue / yellow / purple item in our yard :-).


Is it really Wednesday again?!?!  The weather here has finally turned incredibly nice, so I spent most of the week-end out in the garden and yard.  We planted more blueberries, a few more trees (including a sugar maple to remind us of Michigan), a few perennial flowers, and a lot of tomatoes.  We're waiting to plant peppers, squash, and okra until the weather is consistently warm, which it may just be.  The last 2 days have been amazing!  Much too nice to stay inside sewing.

Like many others on Freshly Pieced WIP Wed link party, I've been quilting my Supernova.  Here it is right now.  I hope to finish it today.

I'm afraid to show your this picture though. I literally spent 4 hours trying to get my new machine to quilt the supernova.  It worked great for weeks, but the minute I started the supernova, it started acting up on me.  I finally gave up, and got out my old machine, that I've been squeezing this big quilt through.  But it's working!  As soon as I switched machines, it was like night and day.  So I'm sticking with the old machine for now, so I can hopefully get this done for the deadline...

I also finished my Japanese Quilt.  I'm donating it to a local auction to raise money for our Japanese sister city, Minamisoma, which was greatly affected by not only the Tsunami, but is just a dozen or so miles away from the troubled nuclear power plant.  So sad!

After the Supernova quilt is done, I plan on being outside more and more, and in here on the computer and sewing machines less and less....  I hope you are all enjoying spring, as I am!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


 I've spent yesterday and today finishing up fabric (post)cards for Mother's Day, so I can't show those (yet).  But I love the way they turned out.  I made them bigger... 6x9-ish.

After getting them in the mail, I finally got the binding sewn onto my Japanese quilt, but don't you know, I came up just short.  Arg!

I decided to make the quilting very simple.  I really like how it turned out!

Now that all of my good safety pins were out of the Japanese quilt, I was able to get the Supernova all pin-basted.  It's ready to roll (and my fingers are really sore...).

As usual, I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced "WIL Wed", albeit rather late, but we're all over there.  Red rover, red rover, come on over!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pillowcase Gift Wrap, and sources for boy / manly fabric

Over the week-end, one of my boys had a birthday party to go to.  I love making pillowcases to use to wrap gifts in, and to use later, but it's really hard to find good "guy" fabric.  As much as I love quilt shops, they're probably the worst place to find good "manly" fabric.  As my husband has pointed out more than a few times, even some of the fabric designed with men in mind are way too feminine.  I'm the only lady in the house (unless you count the cat), and my boys all like to hunt, fish, and do outdoors things, so I tend to buy up any camouflage fabric that I come across.  I try to keep some on hand for these pillowcases.  They're super fast and easy to make.  I'm horrible at wrapping presents, so I bet it's faster for me to make one than it is to wrap presents with paper.

General fabric stores like Jo-anns are the best places to find guy fabric, but I've also put together a list of on-line sources.  I have not shopped any of these, but hope to soon.  If you know of any other good sources, I'd love to hear about them!!

 I'm also linking up with Quiltstory's Fabric Tuesday's link party today!  Come join us there!