Monday, January 31, 2011

Monochromatic challenge - yellow

I was going to do the number 4 for this block but decided 5 stars deserved the yellow color.  As a reminder, this is the monthly monochromatic challenge held by Judy at Patchwork Times. Many are doing quilts and since I'm trying to complete UFOs instead of add to them, I determined 1 block each month for a small toddler quilt.

That said, I am not a fan of my work on this block but it's not horrible. I know my errors and will fix them next time. For instance, if you are working with Steam-a-Seam, be sure to reverse the pattern on the fabric or you waste the fabric. Instead, I added 2 layers of satin (the "5") and spray basted it down to sew.  There's another lesson. Spray baste + Satin (okay, fake satin) = FAILURE.  Yep, had to pin the sucker instead and then pray I wouldn't have pin holes.  Luckily, no pin holes.

Finally, this would have looked a lot better if I used a darker yellow as the background and the lighter fabrics for the applique.  I will do this right for the rest of the blocks.I can say that I do like using the minkee fabric (hard to see it's minkee) as the large star. I like different textures for toddler quilts.  I may or may not re-do this one at the end but for now, this is the first finished block.
Eleven more months of blocks to go plus 4 "filler" blocks for my design and the quilt will be done.  Maybe it will make for a nice donation to a children's hospital.  Here's hoping.

Happy Monday Everyone!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mug Rug Swap

I have finished my mug rugs (first ones ever made) for my partner in the swap over at Quilting Bloggers.  This first one is my practice one and I'm glad I did the practice.

On this one I had the binding seam connecting on the short side and it didn't leave me much room to work. Learned lesson one, put the bidning seam on the long side.  Learned lesson two, I still suck at quilting on my domestic machine. I cannot get speed right. I'm too impatient to go slow but break needles when I try to move fast. I think I find a happy medium but then I can't move in a consistent manner and my stitch sizes are different. I'll take my mid-arm for quilting any day.  Finally, lesson learned number three, I cannot machine bind, no matter my pinning or care, and have the sew lines match up on both sides. If you click on an image, you will lines just inside the binding on some sides. That's just the way it is. I hope my partner doesn't mind. The one that is really noticeable I left because I thought it actually looked kind of neat in the overall quilting.  

Anyway, DD says she likes this one so its hers.

The next two are for my swap partner and are front and back shots. Not perfect but I like them. My swap partner said she liked bright colors and not dusty mauve or blue. Not the calico hues, basically.  So, I went with playfully bright and hopefully 4 different schemes (being 2-sided) that would give her an option no matter her mood.

Cheers! Beck

Friday, January 28, 2011

Online Guilds - Favorite Things Friday

My favorite thing does not come with photos or fun jokes today. I'm keeping it super simple and super real.

I call all my online quilting activities and interactions with others (blogging, Facebook, Yahoo Groups) my "guild". My life has not presented the opportunity to break away and go to guild meetings in person but through the internet, I've been able to connect with other quilters, learn a ton of new techniques, get and offer advice, share successes and big failures and participate in quilt alongs, swaps (my first is in process now), mystery quilts, etc.

I'm extremely thankful I not only happened upon a quilting group first through Yahoo and then through the blogging community. I've made friends and I'm truly, truly blessed and more knowledgeable and skillful because of it all... because of YOU participants in it all.

So, my favorite thing is this online guild. I know you will always be here, even if your physical life distracts you or mine distracts me for a bit. 

Thank you, my friends.

ps- link over to other favorite things with the button on my side bar. It is a "feel good about life" injection everyone needs once a week. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finally, SNOW!

I've been saying all I wanted was snow in this country location I'm renting so I can enjoy the pretty white views.  I've finally got it but before I get to pictures, I have to let you know how the afternoon went.

At about 4pm, my work internet cut out. My little AT&T air card could not get signal. Yikes! I transfered to my home aircard, Sprint, and was able to finish up work for the day then work offline for the rest of the day. It's a good thing there is a Sprint cell tower in my neighbor's yard or I fear that wouldn't have been possible either.

So, DD and I are having a rare, nice evening (she's 14, I'm grumpy by nature, it's rare) and the hubs is at a conference in NC. We are chatting and watching TV When, 7:30pm, the DirecTV signal goes out. Ahh, bummer. So I put her to work. I sent her into the other room with a stack of strips cut for my postage stamp quilt along with the instructions to toss them all on the bed and then just pile them back up. Like 52 card pick-up. Exactly 1 hour later, power flickers a couple times and goes out.

I admit, I had a teeny-weeny self-pity moment wondering what to do. Yep, about 3 seconds there I thought maybe I should cry and have a tantrum but then the real me returned and I went down, moved stored boxes, had a picture drop on my foot slicing a chunk of skin off with the corner of the frame  and checked the breaker just to be sure it was weather and not my house.

Went back upstairs, realized it truly is pitch black in the country at night when even the moon is covered by clouds. Gave DD extra blankets, told her to dress warm, gave her one of the dogs, and instructions not to flush the toilet unless she pooped.  Handed her a flashlight, said she could read for a bit and then nighty-night.  I took the other two dogs, dressed warm, read until about 9pm and nighty-night. 

In the midst of this, I was also about to have a dead cell phone. I was just about to go to the car and charge it for a bit when I remembered the hubs got something that I was never sure was necessary. It was a remote charger thing for our phones. GO HUBS! You ROCK, I'll admit it. YOU WERE RIGHT. (and see, I even said it to the world.) Phone now charging, I was able to call our electric company and report the outage (after 4 tries of circuits being busy).

At 4am, the power came back on. Woo-hoo NOVEC. I was concerned about where I'd have to go to work today but all looks good for productivity. lol  There are no "snow" days for home workers, I don't think. DD just woke up, enjoying another day off of school and the dogs loved being out of their crates for the night and in the beds but hopefully, tonight and tomorrow will bring normalcy back. 

At last, here is the snow scenery I am finally enjoying.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foodies, can you help with bread? Also, a stew recipe.

I can't make bread products. I've tried. I used to be good at it but when I started being a better cook and baker (of sweets), for some reason, my bread making skills suffered. I can't even make a decent bread machine bread (although I'm convinced it's because the machine went on the fritz and wasn't all me)!

Today I was making dinner and decided to bite the bullet and try again. I figured 1 year was long enough to hide and I'd better step out of the shadows and face up to whatever it is I'm doing to screw this all up.  I tried Judy's recipe for Baking Soda Biscuits.  It's a decent biscuit, light on the flavor but that's perfect for what I wanted which was a bread to sop up the gravy of the stew I made.

Her's look like this. (This picture is linked from Judy's posted recipe in the blog link above.)
Mine look like this. Just a tad taller than the 1/2" I was told to roll the dough out to.
Taste was fine, rise was not. What did I do? The dough was not too wet, did I over handle it because I rolled it out as her recipe suggested? should I have just patted it out to 1/2" thickness and left it? Really, I need help here, my bread or biscuits NEVER rise. I am thinking they used to be too wet but now I'm thinking it's because I'm handling the dough too much.  Can it be? Anyone who can make a successful bread, please speak up and I thank you (as does the hubs, the kids, the dogs, my waist line -wait, the waist line might not thank you) in advance.

Onto dinner. Today was a clean out the fridge meal.  My DD loves these meals, they almost always "work" and then I need to post them here so I can remember to come back to them when we want to replicate it.

See how good this looks? 
All the following are leftover ingredients.
- Elk roast, about 1.5 lbs., cut into small cubes (Beef is interchangeable here.)
- Roasted potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, celery and liquid from the elk roast (be sure veggies get chopped into bite size pieces for this one)
- 1/2 can Busch's Bourbon and Brown Sugar baked beans
- 1/2 cup cooked greenbeans (chopped into bite size pieces)
- 1/8 cup marinara (spaghetti) sauce
- 1/8 cup alfredo sauce
- 1/4 cup brown gravy
- 1/4 robust and fruity red wine
- Seasonings, to taste = black pepper, sea salt, paprika, italian seasoning (I used dried seasoning, not fresh)

Dump all ingredients into a large stock pot and stir to combine. Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1 to 1.5 hours.  Serve with bread or rolls you did not screw up. Or, serve with the screwed up rolls and tell people not to complain because they didn't have to cook. Whatever works in your household.
Oh, hey and try a glass of that red wine with your meal while you are at it. Yum.

Have a nice evening!

Bidding closed - Thank You

The auction for a two-sided fleece blanket has ended. The winning bidder bid $70US.

THANK YOU all so much for your support and your generosity in this and all the other auctions to raise money for the Flood Relief in Queensland.

If you missed the auctions and still want to donate, please feel free to click here and donate.

Hooray for good-hearted people!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The crafting community is stepping up in a big way!


More than $45,000 has been raised so far by the crafting community for the Queensland Flood Appeal. If you are looking for the Master List of Auctions and Raffles you can find it at Make It Perfect. There is something there for everyone, from handmade toys and jewelery to handcrafted clothing, bags, art prints and more. Go, look, and if you are so inclined, bid or donate. A worthy, worthy cause.

The Sarcastic Quilter auction is still active and  details can be found here (the auction ends at midnight on Monday, January 24th):
How would you like a quilted fleece blanket?
Please, ladies and gentlemen, maybe you can't bid or have donated already, but you can spread the word. Please let your friends, neighbors, and co-workers know about these auctions and donations. There's a few days left and maybe we can all help bump that final donation number up to over $100,000!

Thank you for your time and your bids, on this blog or others, and happy bidding to the rest of you.  I know our friends in Australia will be putting these donations to great use.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How would you like a quilted fleece blanket?

Have you also seen the news about the flooding in Queensland, Australia and wondered, "is there a way I can help?"

If the answer to one or both of those is, "yes," then you have stopped at the right blog.

Toni at Make It Perfect has organized a world-wide blog auction event.  Each auctioneer participant is holding an auction from his or her own blog with the proceeds going to the Queensland Government Relief Fund and I am one of those "auctioneers."

These pictures from the web tell the story of their need.

If you want to help, this is a simple and interesting way to do it. It wasn't that long ago the United States needed flood assistance in New Orleans and many of you out there know the region still hasn't fully recovered. Let's do what we can to make Queensland recovery as painless as possible.

So, what's up for auction is a quilted fleece blanket. I want whoever wins to be able to choose the design or colors you want so once we have a winner, I will contact you and you will choose the solid color fleece for the back and you will also tell me what pattern/color/themed fleece you want for the front of the blanket.  There will be no batting but the two pieces of fleece will be quilted together to make a nice, tight, two-layered blanket. The finished blanket will roughly measure the width and heigth of the fleece panel you choose (for instance, these panels run anywhere from 48"w x 60"l to 72"w x 60"l).  If you don't choose a panel, but themed fabric, the bolt cut will roughly be 54"w x 60"l).
No matter the size, it will be a super warm and cozy blanket, I promise!

I know it's hard to bid on something you haven't see so I am providing a few examples of quilted fleece below. (I'm sorry for the bluriness but took em quick for this post.)  Just remember, yours will be customized to what you want and I will help you find the right fabrics.

How this auction works:

1. Bidding will start at $20 (USD).
2. You can place a bid by leaving a comment on this blog post with your bid amount and email address. Please make sure that your bid is higher than the previous bidder.
3. Your bid must be in whole dollar increments.
4. This auction is open to everyone, however $10 will be charged for International addresses (including Canadian). Postage is free for United States residents. The postage charge will also go directly to the Queensland Relief donation. So, if you bid $20 and win but live in Canada, you will donate $30 to the Queensland Relief. (The idea here is I will not be making any money but by donating supplies, time, and the mailing to you, I'm 'matching' your donation bid.)
5. The auction begins NOW and will END at midnight on Monday 24th January 2011.
6. At the close of the auction, I will contact the winner (please make sure your bid comment includes your email address). The winner will advise of the fleece blanket they would like (colors, etc) and the winner will pay the winning amount directly into the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal and send me proof of payment via email. Once proof of payment has been received, I will start work on your quilted fleece blanket.
7. Estimated completion time will be one to two weeks for the blanket (I'm sorry but I have a day job to pay the bills) and then regular post mailing (no priority shipping unless you wish to pay that directly). I will notify you once it's gone out to you.

Thank you for participating and happy bidding!  Let's remember every little bit counts so please spread the word to friends, family and co-workers of this effort.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

Today's favorite thing is nothing exciting. It's hardly ever metioned, as a matter of fat, until one finds the need is so promnient they acknowledge it.  Me, on the other hand, every morning and most nights, I'm proclaiming how much I like it, not just need it.

This morning, it occured to me that it is one of my favorite things. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Del Sueno. (Spanish)
Codladh. (Irish)

(Incidentially, I was going to provide you with several translations of "sleep" but in Italian, French, and German, to name a few. Translate from "sleep" to "sleep" on the online translators.  How annoying is that?)

Sleep rests my body, absolutely. Sleep is also my natural reaction to stress. If I have something deep to think about, sleeping on it generally works for me. Imagine how tired I am when big decisions like where to live next are hovering over me!

I like sleep, it's one of my favorite things.  And maybe, just maybe, I'm one step away from being a narcaleptic because right now, I'm fighting closing my eyes and simply sleeping and so I'll just leave you with a picture of what I'll be doing as soon as I sign off here today.
Don't forget to check out other favorites by following the link on my sidebar!

Cheers! Beck

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Queensland Flood Relief Appeal Auctions

Ladies and Gentlemen,
With the terrible flooding through Queensland, Australia, many of us have asked "can we do something to help?" 


You can donate directly to the Queensland Government  and/or you can place a bid or bids on various auctions which will begin to be held on Monday, January 17.

Toni at Make It Perfect is organizing a world-wide blog auction event.  Each auctioneer participant will hold an auction from his or her own blog with the proceeds going to the Queensland Government Relief Fund.

I wlil be one of those "auctioneers" please circle back here on Monday and look through the other auctions which will be listed on Toni's blog.  Auctions will run through the week. 

If you want to help, this is a fun way to do it. It wasn't that long ago the United States needed flood assistance in New Orleans and many of you out there know the region still hasn't fully recovered. Let's do what we can to make Queensland recovery as painless as possible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I want to post a show and tell...

but I have nothing to show.

No show means I can only tell.

Tell #1: J decided to make a quilt for his soon to be born step-brother (as in, on the 12th the C-section is schedeuled!).  No, not me, on the ex's side.  I am happily over the baby thing. This was a designed by J with a small whisper of inspiration for something easy to do by me and is being put together by both of us. As we work this, I'm writing a tutorial for you all. It's probably stuff you already know how to do but J thought it would be fun and hey, who am I to argue with an 11 year old who wants to step into the quilting world and see it posted about? And a boy at that! (I'm imagining great things from him in the future where we can all say, "we saw his stuff when". lol)

Tell #2: I've have enough fabric for my monochromatic block but frankly, I'm not happy with them. There's not enough texture. I think Tell # 3 is firmly in order now.

Tell #3: I must go to JoAnn Fabrics. I need to get a 2.5" GO dye for my Accuquilt cutter (OMG, I LOVE that thing - see Tell #4) and now, some additional fabrics with TEXTURE for my monochromatic block.

Tell #4: I've decided to write an Accuquilt cutter review.  This will serve one of three purposes. 1- reinforce why you love the Accuquilt cutter if you have one, or 2- make you work really hard to save up and buy one, or 3- remind me not to be such a wuss about trying new things (you'll understand when I write it).

Tell #5: Three of the four quilt tops for the last minute Christmas quilts are completed. Quilting commences this week and the 4th top gets piecing started tomorrow evening.  Something super easy.  There's nothing like working on a Christmas quilt in Jan. but then, since they are more "comfort quilts" which came about due to a divorce, maybe I shouldn't refer to them as Christmas quilts any longer but actually as Comfort Quilts?

Tell #6: No work on my PhD/UFO #6 yet but I anticipate completing it fairly quickly once I load it on the frame. I believe I'm still on track to do this before the end of January. (It's my lie, let me live it how I want.)

Tell #7: I became a detective in the Quilting Is Murder Quilting Mystery (and as soon as I can find the button code again, I will add that to my side bar.) You should join too! I think I'll be making a lot more purchases of goodies through this but OH THE FUN! Anyway, it IS free and in it's first "clue" week until the 15th so, sign up and play along!

Tell #8: I'd been thinking I might like to participate in a block/fabric swap this year since I've never done one and I am now confident enough in my work that I don't think I'll offend anyone with what I send them. I have also been thinking about making those Mug Rugs Ms. Barb has been showing off so beautifully and even provided a tutorial for.  Then I found this Mug Rug Swap on Quilting Bloggers and now I'm trying hard to talk myself out of adding to my already full plate and NOT signing up. I'm losing this argument.  After all, they are small, can be quilted quickly on my domestic machine, and I would only need to make 2.  And the crowning argument? I could "double" my creation and use 2 for the upcoming giveaway I know I'll be participating in come February. -sigh- You'll know my decision if you see another button pop up in a day or two. 

Honestly people, all I have to say for myself is, "I have nothing to say."  I just want to know, "what is wrong with me?" LOL

Okay, I've tattled on all quilt related items except one.  Tomorrow, I start again wtih my love/hate affair with Ms. Jillian Michaels.  I threw her to the curb early Nov. last year for reasons only known to the Sweet King but she's accepted my apology and has decided to give me one last chance. I don't think she's going to be easy on me. Thankfully, Tara at TINYGLUTTON is also working with Jillian and we are going to do our best to keep each other motivated. 

Tell #9:  My stats again.  159lbs now.  (Bad girl, gained it back from before.) 25-30lbs to lose

Anyone else want to tell on themselves while they have the chance? No?  Yeah, I thought it was just me.

Tell #10:  I'm having a glass of wine to cope with laying out all my "sins" to the world. (I really just wanted to "tell" you 10 things.)

Cheers! Beck

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A better day today

First, a big thank you for all your well wishes and thoughts yesterday. The day did slowly progress and did get better.

Hubs managed to say ALL the right things from the tailgating and game such as, "it's not as much fun without you, miss you, really wish you were here."  Then he'd turn the phone over to our friend and I'd have girl chats and texts.  Then back to the hubs who would share some photos because they were so freaking close to the field!  This all helped.

LSU WON!!! (Helped even more.)

I managed to let go and wait for an answer to come to me regarding some items I was largly fretting over and lastly, I managed to talk to one other source of my extreme worry and feel a little better for it.

One additional and very important note.  To "anonymous" (aka - my sister) thanks for the laugh. I know you are not the decision maker of the family and don't think I didn't notice you pushing my visit down under. I know it's because you are going to try to find a way to tag along... you are quite transparent. :)

To my friend down under... I appreciate you taking the time while I babbled on. Were you to confused after watching some of the game?

Thank you again everyone.  Back to a quilting related post today.

Cheers! Beck

Friday, January 7, 2011

Favorite Things Friday 2011 edition

Before I get to my favorite thing today, I have to say, "GEAUX TIGERS"!!!!  LSU plays Texas A&M today and they need to win, win, win big!  The hubs bought us tickets and he went to the game but unfortunately, I was not able to go. He's in Dallas, TX (at the new stadium) with some friends of ours from Lafayette, LA.   I am sure they will have a blast and I am equally sure it has nothing to do with my pissy mood this morning.  (Okay, maybe a little but there's more to it that I won't bore you with like lack of sleep, a big decision looming, uncertainty in a few other areas of life all rolling together at once. - Oops, looked like I bored you with it but since I have, if you are the praying sort, I'm going to actually ask you to take a moment with God today to help center and guide me. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Thank you.)

On to a more fun topic, a positive one I'm hoping will help me shake this mood today, FAVORITE THINGS FRIDAY! The first for 2011.

Today's feature: Roses and lavender. And hydrangeas, and mums, and day lillies, and butterfly bushes!  How about "Flower Gardens." (Except lavender and roses are my favorite out of the bunch. lol)
All kinds, and colors of roses.

This is my favorite place to purchase roses for growing. Jackson and Perkins. I love their product and have never had a problem with them.

You see, when I first started working with roses (and then later other flowers), it was when the hubs deployed the first time and it was 3 plants out front.  From Lowe's. I came home one day to find my neighbor had left 2 more plants in front of the house.  Whether she thought it was too bare looking or being a soldier herself, thought it would help me along, I don't know but I never did get the chance to plant those babies.  I pruned them with the other 3 which were planted and they grew like crazy.  I was shamed into planting them the following spring figuring, if they survived an entire year in a plastic store pot, they earned the right to thrive.  I loved the hardiness and unfortunately, it became a test for too many plants such as chrysanthamums and day lillies.  

By the way, day lillies and mums... super hardy and prolific! Day lillies work beautifully as filler for rose bushes.  Mums are great for fall color.
When I land where I'm going this year (one last move for a while, phew) I will start another rose garden. I will add lavender (which I love but haven't tried to grow yet) and roses.
Day lillies and mums and I will find a place to grow hydrangeas.
My first experience with those also proved successful. 

 I will add butterfly bushes and other interesting flowers so I can continue to have beautiful visitors to my garden. (The two below are visitors I had at my last home in VA.)

And there you have it. Flowers and flower gardens. 

Ahh, between that and the coffee, I'm feeling better. Gardening flowers is therapy for me so even thinking about it can help, it seems.

Have a good day and check out other favorite things with a click of the button my side bar!

Cheers, Beck

(p.s. - all pictures except the butterflies are taken from various web photos)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What is this ailment called?

Sick, sick, sick. What is wrong with me? I'm crazy... sick.

Did you notice I added a new button to the side of my blog? PS I Quilt Postage Stamp quilt along. 

Like I didn't have enough to do. 

There's something wrong with me.

I have to finish up the Christmas Quilts for my friend and her 2 girls (which I hadn't finished or added them to my 2011 UFO b/c I REFUSE to let them linger longer than next week).  Then I have my monochromatic block (at least it's only one block and it the longest part of making it is actually finding the right fabrics, then I have my Summer Porch quilt to finish.

Along with that, I want to finish the Make Life quilt so I can send it on its way and not dally any longer.

I'm sick, sick, sick to add in a quilt along.  (Oh, and you may think it's not so bad but please realize, I decided to double the qulit along quilt size so I can put it on the bed for hubs and I)  -sigh- 

Any idea what this ailment is called?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011



Are you wondering what I mean? Well, I'm excited to say, yesterday began the first day of my blog being Spotlighted by Chris Dahl over at Learn to Quilt.  I wrote the article (it's very hard to "sell" yourself, btw, when you have nothing to sell), she cleaned it up (edited my crap nicely) and posted it.  Many thanks to Chris, it's great to have a chance to meet new people this way and hopefully, have a few more folks join my upcoming quilt along (my regular readers, you didn't think I forgot about that, did you? -evil laugh-) Please go check it out and while you are at it, take a look around Chris' site. There's some great information there.

And just so you know, I considered this a bit of a milestone so I used the spotlight as a night to indulge in an orgasmic experience. Yes, I just said that, and no, I won't gross you out with my next statement... read on.  I went to Cold Stone Creamery, the devil's storefront, and had a small Oreo Creme Ice Cream with Oreo cookies mixed in. 
Oh my God. It's good I generally avoid this store at all costs. As Ms. Pyjamas said in her post the other day, I'm an Oreo pusher and that's simply because, I'm a double stuff Oreo addict and this ice cream is just the best second to a double stuff Oreo. Ever.

On another quilting news front, here's the design for my monochromatic challenge block. Since I'm putting all blocks into a quilt, you can see now what my idea was. A number, a shape and a color. What little child wouldn't love this, especially when I use different texture fabrics like I plan to! :)  I told you it would be simple and childlike.
And finally, my UFO challenge quilt #6 is my Summer Porch quilt. That's the one I'll be finishing this month.

Cheers! Beck