Monday, May 28, 2012

Another finish

I am linking this one up to AmyLouWho's Sew & Tell Friday.

I'm glad I finished another quilt on my WiP/UFO list.  This is a very sweet feeling.  I spent the weekend saying prayers of thanks for our soldiers, past and present. I spent many minutes remembering the fears and worries of hubs being deployed and my thankfulness he's home safe.
I spent many minutes thinking of the soldiers I know overseas now and those I know only through some of you in blog land.  I've spent those same minutes praying for their safety and for the safety and strength to their loved ones at home.

I've also spent many minutes thinking about all the men and women, 100s of years gone and gone just recently. Those MIA, KIA and POW.  I've thought about why they do what they do and how I feel about it. I am proud of our military members, past and present.

This Memorial Day, I'd just wanted to say, "I remember." I remember my history lessons and I remember my own past. I remember what I can so I teach my children. So I can help them understand what this country is all about. Who we are as a people.  I want them to know, it's important every child know and understand the sacrifices that give them the life the opportunities they have today.

I feel maudlin as I write this and I'm sorry if it comes across this way but to me, Memorial Day always feels a little like a wake, part sorrow, part memory, and part celebration.  It's always felt that way to me. It probably always will. 

But, onto happier commentary. -wink-  With all this thinking, I've been quilting and sewing. I've sewed 4 more of the blocks for my sisters' quilt. 
I've also quilted and bound my SIL Victorian Harlequin quilt (previous posts here and here and here). This is a large lap-sized quilt with a pink, minkee polka dot as the backing. 
I did not border the diamonds which made setting it for quilting a little difficult.  Okay, a lot difficult. So much so that I think I will never try to set diamonds straight for quilting again. I will have a border on them.
All in all, though, I think it turned out okay. I used a continuous line design. Cabbage rose, loop and leafs throughout.
Frankly, I'm having a hard time boxing this up to send when Christmas rolls around. I want to test it out and cozy under it now. One puppy actually tried. 
Did you have a good weekend?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just a peak

A quick preview of what's on the frame, waiting to be quilted.  Remember this one? -wink-

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weigh-In Weds. - Natural vs. Processed

For today's weigh in post, I will tell you I'm still at about 160lbs.  I'm an ass, waiting to exercise, the day is done... not doing it. I've asked hubs last night to wake me early when he leaves for work and not let me go back to sleep.  I told him he was allowed to use whatever nasty words were necessary to get me on the elliptical before he's out of the house.   For being a retired Command Sergeant Major in the Army, he is unable to do this.

Well, let me clarify. He can't do it to me, his wife.  I love he respects me so much he doesn't want to try to, um, motivate me like he might have some soldiers but I need someone to motivate me like that! lol

So, do me a favor, if you leave a comment, will you please remind me as nicely or as harshly as your hormones will allow (I can take it) that I have to get my rear up and exercising int he morning because this procrastination crap just ain't cutting it?!  Thank you in advance.  I can take it, I promise. :-)

On another note, I've spoke a bit about it before, natural foods vs. processed foods.  Everyone talks about how fast food is bad, junk food is bad, etc. It's only recently that you've started hearing about why (or at least, I've started hearing about why) but I've caught myself wondering why I, who I think is averagely smart (okay maybe not if I create a word "averagely" but you understood what I was trying to say so I think it works), didn't connect the dots in the first place.

Processed food = chemicals.  Natural food = no chemicals.

right?  You knew that but have you yet put 2 and 2 together and realized your body is natural. Nature created us and nature created how we process energy and waste.

What do chemicals do in your body? They change the way it works or trick it's natural process into working inefficiently or differently.

I came across this video the other day, linked from one of the blogs I read, and I sat down and listened. It's a bit lengthy and wordy but it echoed how I've been thinking and feeling about food for quite some time.  I do not (and likely won't) subscribe to the program and I'm not saying I endorse what they do or don't do. I'm just linking the video because it's easier than typing out my thoughts. lol

Beyond Diet

That said, I want to challenge you this week.
First, sit down for few minutes and think about what your typical dinners look like at home.  Is it meatloaf, instant potatoes and canned green beans? Is it frozen shrimp, pasta and jarred alfredo sauce? Is it salad, steak and baked potato? Is it carry out, order in, or fast food?  All of the above?

Second, ask yourself what you can change to make it healthier.  Chances are, you will see a lot if you are thinking processed vs. natural. Get rid of instant potatoes and mash fresh potatoes, for example.  Get rid of carry out, order in and fast food due to the high salt and fat contents, for example.  Make your own alfredo instead of using a jarred one.

Third, now that you've taken a look at you typical diet and the areas you are sabatouging yourself without realizing it. Take a deep breath and ask this next question, is it realistic for me to make these changes all at once?

I'm betting that answer is "no". It was for me, at least. I can't cut out the order in AND get rid of my convenience meals in the same week, b/c I haven't gotten into the groove for cooking every night.

Figure out what you can change THIS week and keep doing next week. Then what can you add as a change next week?

For instance, can you get frozen veggies instead of canned if fresh veggies are not available?  If you have a farmer's market, make it a family outing and get some fresh veggies.   Roast them or steam them or use them in a casserole, whatever.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Even the labels of low fat, natural, organic... you have to be careful. Read the ingredient list.  How natural is it, really?

In today's society, not everyone has access to or the ability to eat a 100% natural diet without a lot of effort but there are things you and I can do to put us in the land of our diets being a majority natural.  Eventually. It's a slow process and you will need to have patience with it, you will FEEL better, you will TEACH your tastes to change.  Start putting flavorful herbs in your foods (I bought lemon thyme and am growing it, surprisingly, and add it to my seafood dishes now to help cut on the need for salt, etc.)

I come back again to saying, if you don't have handy access to growing herbs, veggies, etc. Plan your menu for the week and head out to market. Get only those foods/ingredients.  The staples you keep in your home should not be Twinkies for snacks. It should be dried banana chips. lol Is that realistic?  Maybe for me, but hubs hates it. We compromise with Sun Chips for him and the kids. I don't like them so I'm less likely to steal them and munch.  

That reminds me tell the family what you are doing, enlist their help!  How to enlist? tell them they can help and have say about what the menu is or you choose and they just have to deal. You'd be surprised at how willing they are to help and you will be teaching them and yourself about natural vs processed, how bad is it, etc. when looking at whether it's the right message to send your child in purchasing the Pop-Tarts for breakfast.

Okay, I know it's starting to sound a little preachy, I don't mean that. I'm just throwing out the thoughts that have rattled in my head a lot lately and what I've done with my family.  My teens now just eat whatever (the benefit of being a teenager, hungry means eat, period) so they don't get involved unless they have a craving for something.  My husband was harder to bring around until I told him I found it discouraging to try to make a healthy and like-able family meal and his first comments were negative without even trying it.  I also pointed out it didn't matter that when he did try it he liked it, it just made it hard to stay encouraged to do the right thing.  :) That worked! Now he just comes home and tries it. Mostly likes it but even if he doesn't, he just eats it. He's started putting in requests now. steak, chicken, tilapia and I've added mine to him... wild boar, elk, bass.  I tell him to go get the truly organic stuff!  lol

And that, my friends, is what I'll leave you with today.  Have a great hump day!


Now, if you've read this far, the new Burger King commercials with David Beckham and the smoothies just make me laugh. Here's a couple to view that will hopefully make you laugh,t oo:  (This one is my favorite.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

SMS Giveaway Day - Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt

This giveaway is now closed.  
Congratulations to Cahrenholtz who was comment was #114 out of 176!
(I had to delete a couple duplicate entries and those entries where I had no method of contacting the person which is why this is out of 176 instead of 190.  Thank you everyone for stopping by.)

I am so glad I did not miss it this time around! This post is all about the Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway Day and if you are here because of the link you've seen over there, welcome.

Recently I agreed to test a pattern for Rachel at Scrapendipity Designs.  It was so much fun! The pattern is called So Whimsy and she created it using Dr. Seuss prints. Since I had leftover fabric from my previous Seuss quilt, I volunteered to try it out.
My review: Super quick, super easy and super cute! I recommend this pattern to anyone who is looking for a quick quilt to put together for a baby shower or toddler's birthday, whether using Seuss or another character's print line.  Rachel is selling it on Etsy and Craftsy but I'm not sure I can link to a store per giveaway rules so I'm just linking to her blog where you can find information on the pattern if you are interested.

This brings me to the SMS Giveaway, I have no home for this lovely.  It measures just under 36"x42" and is made of 100% cotton fabrics and 80/20 cotton/poly batting blend.
The batting was from my scraps so I'm not sure who the maker is but I can say this is a pretty thin quilt which makes it PERFECT for a new baby or a toddler to use during the warm summer months.
This is machine pieced and quilted with cotton and poly threads.  The quilting is a varigated rainbow color in large, meandering loops.
The backing and binding, well, it's Seuss on the front so we had to have a crazy 2-direction stripe on back, right?
If you'd like the opportunity to win this quilt, take a look at the rules:
  1. I will ship internationally. 
  2. This giveaway will close on May 25 at 8pm ET (5pm PST) and upon close, I will use the Random # Generator tool to pick a winner from the comments.
  3. I will email the winner (Please make sure you leave your email address in the comment or be sure I can contact you if you are the winner. If I can't reach you, I'll choose another winner.)
  4. I will mail your winning quilt by June 1.
  5. Please leave me one comment telling me whether you hunt or if your husband/partner hunts, and what, or not. (Odd request, isn't it? LOL- I just felt like being different and figured no one ever asks this kind of question!)
Finally, I have waited to add a label (which will include pattern name/maker and quilt maker) so that if you'd like it to have a customized, short statement, I can add it to the label.  (i.e., To: Curious George, From: Grandma Banana with love...)

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the rest of the Giveaway posts, there are lots of them in 5 different categories -- Handmade for the Home (quilts, hot pads, pillows, etc.), Handmade BagsHandmade Baby + Kid ItemsSewing + Craft Supplies (fabric, patterns, buttons, trims, yarn, etc.), Handmade Accessories (hats, scarves, belts, adult clothes, etc.)!

I hope to see you again soon.

(ps - This comes from a non-smoking home but a home with dogs. It has been washed and the dogs have been kept away during it's creation and completion, but if you have allergies, please be sure to wash immediately in cold water when/if it arrives to your home.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival - The DWR, one last time

If you are here from the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side, WELCOME and if you are a regular reader and are here because you know I love you, THANKS for your patience while I write, one more time, about the Double Wedding Ring quilt. Lastly, if you are here for FTF, the Festival is my FTF this week.... check it out and you can see why.)
My feature quilt for this Festival is a recently finished Double Wedding Ring quilt. Through it all, it's been "The Double Wedding Ring".  No special name because the pattern, when said out loud by me, in whatever tone I use at the moment, accurately reflects my feelings and opinions about this quilt of mine. I have grown to love this quilt, after cursing it, hating it,  praying to the quilting goddesses about it, seeking assistance from all of you regarding it, procrastinating on it, and forcing myself to get it done.

The background: I started quilting in late 2005 and blogging in 2007. It was in 2007 that I started the ambitious project of the king size double wedding ring quilt. I did not know how to sew curves, or even how to do a double wedding ring but I thought, "surely I can do this. I've sewn some clothing with pleats and I can sew a good straight stitch, I can do a curve."


I plugged ahead. I bought fabric (without a pattern, just bought a ton of Aunt Grace repo fabric). I found some patterns on the internet and did a couple practice, test pieces with scraps.  At this point, I learned I was screwed.  I wanted to make this beautiful quilt for my girlfriend for her wedding in July and I didn't know the first thing about getting it done right. This was a tough pill to swallow but swallow it, I did.  She would not be receiving this quilt by July but surely, I could still figure it out and get it done, right?

Yup, royally screwed.

Method, after method, including the purchase of a special foot and no luck. The beautiful thing I discovered, however, was the internet quilting community! I found you all to be helpful and enthusiastic in your assistance to my questions.  At the end of the day, I was pointed to the Quiltsmart Method. This method is basically an applique type of method and it worked beautifully. The blocks finally stated coming together quickly and I got in high hopes I could have this done for my friend's first anniversary.
Until I got the top done. Then I realized I knew nothing about quilting a large quilt except I didn't want to pay to send it out (thinking my work was too novice to send to someone else who was so accomplished - wrong, I know, but I was insecure then) and I knew I didn't want to try to quilt it on my domestic machine. I had been pondering a mid-arm and frame and this just became the final push to get one. So I did. Then I felt I needed to do some good custom quilting so the top was set aside while I practiced and learned all the intricacies of quilting on a frame. Then we had some family moves and the top went into storage.

When I took the top out of storage, I had water stains on it. Again, the helpfulness of the online community came to my rescue. "Quilt it anyway," you said.  "Wash it after with a color catcher when you are done," you said. I did both and it worked.
I practiced custom quilting on this quilt, I've learned a new marking technique using the Frixon Pens (posts here and here), and I've realized a true sense of accomplishment.

This quilt has grown with me. As my skills have grown, this quilt has become a symbol of the changes and new abilities.  It has also become an example of my own confidence in my work.

The husband loves it, I love it and instead of being given to my girlfriend, it now resides on my bed. (ps - this is a king sized quilt.) 
Heck, even my puppies, who are the greatest fans of my quilts, love it!
The moral of this long story, keep trying new things and if you set something aside to finish later, get back to it eventually. It's worth finishing it off and seeing how your new techniques and skills take that top you felt so so about to something you love.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the Festival. I plan to browse and browse until I can browse no more this week. I also plan to check out the Sponsor links and do a bit of shopping. I have to show my gratitude for their sponsorship, right?  -wink- Maybe you can take a look, too, these are some great events we get to participate in (and you can join the Festival, too), in part, because of these sponsors.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Upcoming events! (& Weigh In Weds.)

Let's start with the last half of that title, shall we? Do you remember Weigh-in Wednesday? I do, every Weds. I mean to post and then, oops, the day is over. I've not been doing much on the exercise front so really, what do I have to post?  Start, be lazy, start, be lazy... a bad pattern. I'm going to break that this time around. I started Monday.  I told the family they were in this with me and no complaints to anything I make for dinner. Most will be things they like, some won't.  So far so good. I've had salads and served good stuff like a zucchini caprese sandwich with tomato basil soup. 

Wish me luck and to you, if you want to lose some weight and get healthy, jump back in with me. It's spring, it's a good time to get moving again!

As for the first part of that title, on Friday, Amy's Creative Side will be hosting the bi-annual Blogger's Quilt Festival

On May 21, Sew Mama Sew is hosting the bi-annual giveaway day

I'll be participating in both. Maybe you'd like to also?  Take a look at the links.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Progress. A little at at time.

Today's post isn't about words, it's about pictures.  Today, I'm posting a picture of a few of the projects I've got going on.  I have been restless lately b/c I want to quilt my Swoon quilt but am waiting for batting to arrive. I thought I had it when I loaded the quilt but nope!
Anyway, I've finished a block from the Little Birdie stitch a long. I haven't cleaned away the markings or pressed it yet but you can still take a look.
I've finished a couple more of these blocks for the Jinny Beyer UFO I have hanging out there.
I've been making up a pattern using my Wee Woodland jelly roll.  This is as far as I've gotten. Before I start stitching crazy angled fabric, I'm sitting on it. I am not sure I want to have the angled fabric strips coming off the middle square or if I want to have it hang in each side. We'll see. It's not a project for any purpose other than playing with pushing myself to be creative so no hurry.

Finally, I've made some progress on my son's Monopoly quilt, which also is a "make it up as you go" design.  However, I am pretty sure that even if I don't like the finished product, he will and that's all that's important. Regardless, so far I don't dislike it or like it but it is growing on me. :-)

So, what are you up to? How does your progress look?

Last little thought, I had a nice Mother's Day. Kids were helpful with some house items (like moving boxes out of the garage) that I really wanted done and we cooled off with ice cream at a local stand.  Thanks kids!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Photographing your finished quilt (a new finish, too)

When I went to the Sewing Summit last October, one of the classes, Photographing Your Creations – Simple Changes for Maximum Impact was taught by Vanessa Christenson of V and Co.

The class was great, Vanessa was (probably still is) super nice and a cute, petite little thing. I mean, she's one of those bubbly sweet ladies in a tiny, thin body that you want to hate out of jealousy but can't help but love! :-)

Anyway, she had some great tips and out of respect for her and her time, I won't go over everything here. I suspect she's posting them on her own blog here and there.  I do want to give you a brief glimpse, though, of her process for taking photographs and which I found to be helpful.

1) Take a lot of pictures just to get a few good ones.  Now this I already did but it was nice to not feel I was insane for taking 30 photos of one quilt just to post 3.
2) Use good lighting.  Natural light, filtered is best. An open west facing window in the afternoon or outdoors in the morning or evening.  Flashes wash out color and only highlight a center spot while indoor lighting is often too yellow-ish in the photo.
3) Staging.  Display your quilt in various scenes to set the mood you want for the quilt.  Yep, you want your quilt to evoke a mood. For example, if you are photographing a baby quilt, why not put it on the floor with baby toys around/on it.

The following is a photo I posted immediately after the Summit.  I loved the way it came out but I took about 12 photos to this one that I didn't like.
 This one wasn't my creation but I wanted to showcase the colors in this mini quilt and placed it against a bush whose leaves had changed.
I've just completed this quilt for my sisters for their table. I love the beautiful Samoan fabrics and the background fabric is a mottled tan which looks like sand.  I couldn't help but quilt waves into it once it all came together.
But how to photograph it for the most impact? That was the question I was left with so I started playing with photos.  Take a read of my thoughts as I try to work the process of photographing a quilt. (Warning, lots of photos!)
I initially thought I wanted to show it as it is meant to be, a tablecloth. Or maybe show it near the table for perspective. First shot but the flash went off.
 Further back but it doesn't show any detail and I don't like it hanging over the chairs after all.
 How about on the table itself.  Oops, lighting.
 A different angle helps grab the sunlight but doesn't show the quilt well.
 Closer in.
 Another two slight perspective shifts.
 I should do a couple shots outdoors just to see what I come up with.
 I have some flowers let me try with those.
 Then again, I haven't planted them yet and I don't want to show the buckets from the store.
 Not enough flowers in the last, let me try this... maybe I can crop out the buckets.
 Change in perspective again and again.

 And again.
 Eh, not feeling it. Maybe over the fence? If I put it over the gate, an arch look could work.
 Change in perspective.  Again.
 And again, and again.

 I look to my left and see the tree hanging over the fence rail in the corner. Maybe this is a good idea.  Drape it over the fence.
 I don't like I can see the ground, though and it might be too shadowy on the big screen.
 A more straight on shot.
 Change in angle.
 Perspective shift again.
 One last time.
 I wonder if I could drape it nicely?
Nope, I don't like the drape. Let me stop here and see how they look on the computer.

I did that and was pleased to find a couple I really liked (see the grouping over the fence with the tree draping over it).  I chose one I liked best and decided whether to edit for brightness, cropping, etc. but this one I left as is.  I didn't like the the way it looked once cropped, it became blurry.
So what's the point, you may ask? Well, for me, the point is to keep the finished products interesting and intriguing. To finish off the entire project with a little flair, so to speak.  It's a personal preference and I enjoy the last little effort to finishing it this way. Now, I am almost bummed if I don't get the opportunity to play with the photos and quilt a bit.

I hope you've enjoyed my peek into my brain and maybe, you've become inspired to play around with setting scenes in photographing your own creations, whether quilts, handbags or whatever.