Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday Moments: Tuesday Edition

We went out on Monday and cut down our Christmas tree. It was tough finding a family farm that will let you drive through their field to pick out the perfect tree. Oh we found plenty that would let you park your car outside the lot, walk the lot, cut down your tree and then drag it back to your vehicle over acres. No thanks! Not with a toddler.

We eventually found the farm perfect for us, and I think this was at least our third tree from this place, whose name and exact location we bicker about every year in the car on the way there. We love them though. All of the trees have some issues, as natural trees tend to do, so it's always my husband and I getting out of the car, circling the potential tree trying to decide if we can turn the bald spot to the wall before we unbuckle the kids to check out THE ONE.

Sure it's a little lopsided, but as far as the kids are concerned it's six feet of pretty.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Challenge results

If you recall, one week ago I entered the One Thing, One Week Challenge over at Amy's Creative Side. Except I dubbed my challenge "Three Things, One Week" because I wanted to finish the backing of my quilt, finish painting some name ornaments and finish one coffee mug cozy.

Did I do all of that? No. Am I saying I completed the challenge? Yes.

First things first, I scratched FIVE things off of my list, but I definitely have some explaining to do. I'll start with the incredibly, awesomely good accomplishment that makes me think I can call this complete. Not only did I finish the backing on my quilt, I basted it. And although I listed one of my secondary goals as "start quilting" I actually sat down and finished quilting the entire thing this weekend. I am hoping to have it bound and washed by Wednesday to throw up a big finish picture, but for now I offer a tiny bit of photographic evidence.

Now, the other two things I scratched off of my list aren't as good. See, I wanted the coffee cup cozies to go around those reusable coffee mugs that look just like the generic white cups you get from the coffee shops. I thought it would make them look extra real and more like a complete gift. I went out on Black Friday to my store of choice and they had two left...and one was broken. Since this was going to be a gift for a couple, I wanted their cups to match. I had this moment, standing in the middle of a crowd where I imagined walking up to a sales associate, asking if there were more mugs anywhere, waiting for this person to find more mugs if there were any, purchasing these mugs, taking them home, and sewing two more things before Christmas...or just grabbing the insulated travel mugs that were also on sale for a dollar less. I came home with the travel mugs, scratching the coffee cup cozies and shopping for extra manly fabric off of my list, and probably most importantly the extra stress of being in any store, any amount longer than necessary on Black Friday.

I did paint quite a bit on the name ornaments too, but they are not finished yet. Still, very productive weekend where I "finished" at least three things. I'm calling it good. Hop on over to Amy's and see what everyone else has accomplished.

Amy's Creative Side

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some updates

I spent all day yesterday scouring the web for articles on adjusting my tension and photos of what bad tension looked like trying to figure out exactly what was wrong. I threw in a scrap of the poinsettia print that I am using to back the monkey wrench quilt and finally, amazingly, got my tension worked out to perfectly even stitches on both sides of my fabric. I was thrilled.

Then I put in the fabric for the coffee cup cozies and when I took them over to the ironing board saw that my tension had somehow unadjusted itself to the same raggedy mess it was before the four web pages and hour's worth of work. Sigh.

At that point I searched for what to do when your tension won't stay adjusted, and pretty much concluded that the inside of my machine is a dirty, lint-covered mess, so the tension knobs can't even work properly because they keep slipping. I hope this is the problem as a new sewing machine is not in my budget this time of year.

My mother-in-law has agreed to loan me her baby for awhile until I can get mine in to be professionally cleaned. A really spiffy Brother machine that you don't even have to use a foot pedal for and that threads itself...and all sorts of fancy stuff that I don't know how to work. Hopefully the learning curve will be small because I still plan to try and complete my challenge list by Monday even though I am cooking a large Thanksgiving meal tomorrow and hitting the dreaded mall for Black Friday.

And one last note...remember how I wondered at the end of my gift card holder post if the couple would even get the joke? I got my official thank you in the mail earlier this week. "Thank you for the bear and the gift card." The bear. Yep...they had no chance of getting the joke if they didn't even think it looked like a dog. I am definitely the crazy lady who gives adults stuffed animals as wedding gifts. Spread the word.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Goal oriented

My husband ordered this car part from a local auto shop a long time ago. See, he wanted a new bumper, and this place told him, "Don't pay that outrageous price, we can build you one." Well, we had a pretty good relationship with these people, so my husband said, "Great!" and handed over the money for supplies. At the beginning of last week he went into the shop and discovered that absolutely no progress had been made.

So my husband said, "Every year I take my kids into a field to pick out the Christmas tree and we get tons of family photos with my truck. Either my old bumper needs to be put back on for free, or my new bumper needs to be done next week." And suddenly, work started on the bumper. My husband came home triumphantly saying, "Our mechanic is just like you. He needs a deadline."

I laughed, but I couldn't disagree with him. I always, always have some tiny bit of hand sewing to do in the car on the way to exchange Christmas gifts. I always end up deciding the second week in December that someone doesn't really need some gift I was going to make for them. I just don't have enough motivation in the earlier months of the year to get it all done on time.

Thank heavens that Amy is holding another One Thing, One Week Challenge. A charm pack is excellent motivation.

Amy's Creative Side

My goals for the week (goals with an S! There are only 34 days until Christmas!)

-finish the backing for that quilt I mentioned four days ago and still haven't touched.

-finish painting on two name ornaments

-finish one coffee cup sleeve

Secondary goals that I would love to meet, but am not deeming necessary right now:

-get the fabric for another coffee cup sleeve (something manly, don't have much of that in my stash)

-baste the monkey wrench quilt

-start quilting on the monkey wrench quilt

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We've got trouble

Right here in River City...and then something about a pool table. Sorry, it's been a long time since I've seen The Music Man.

I'm currently working on the back of what will eventually become my monkey wrench quilt. I have the piecing part done and have once again written "Merry Christmas" along with the name of the recipient and the date to be sewn into it.

I just have two really long seams sew on each side of this in that same poinsettia and holly fabric, then I can baste and start quilting it. I have scary quilting plans for this quilt. It includes curves...I'm not a fan of sewing curves, but if I can pull it off it will look lovely.

That isn't the "trouble" part though. My tension is messed up. Seemingly randomly, without me making any adjustments, my tension just went out of whack. I've been trying to get it back in order. It needs to be perfect before I start the quilting where every stitch shows. Ugh! Cross your fingers for me that I can solve this one!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Moments

We had my son's third birthday party this weekend. It was a good time with a ton of food and little children running all over my house. I loved it.

However, I invited two families to the party (totaling five people), who did not show. And I trimmed a couple of the usual folks off of the guest list to make room for these people to come. I feel really terrible about that, because I know that the people I didn't invite would have shown up and celebrated with us and had a great time. I guess I know for next time.

And I guess I'm eating leftovers all week, because I cooked for all five of those folks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More tops

I finished the tops from the sneak preview last week. Well, maybe not finished, but they're as complete as they're going to get for awhile.

I'm putting this photo first because the colors in the quilts kind of distract from the overall look I was going for. I actually colored a diagram in on graph paper and decided I wanted this band of dark diagonally across the center because the typical half dark and half light log cabin block didn't work when there were only 3 of them. There was always one block that faced the wrong way, or some weird, random pattern would emerge, and while it was pretty, I thought this was prettier. My husband looked at all of my colored pencil sketches and picked this layout as his favorite too.

So here it is in the Christmas fabrics. Mistakes galore! I am glad this one is for my mother, who doesn't sew at all. She will be so much less likely to pick out all of the flaws than my quilter mother-in-law.

And the batiks. I nearly went with a white instead of the purple on this one, but I liked the idea of no real break from the colors. I'm glad I didn't go with the safe choice now, because I think it would have turned out nowhere near as striking.

My husband thinks these are too small as is, so I am toying with the idea of a border or two and thicker binding like on my disappearing nine patch. I already purchased the binding material for the Christmas fabric one and only have enough to do a half inch binding (still twice as wide as what I normally do, but a 1/4" smaller than my disappearing nine patch binding). I'm thinking maybe a small 1 to 1 1/2 inch border, but am not sure how that would work as these were made entirely from 2 1/2" cuts of fabric. All of the sudden throwing a different measurement in there scares me. Though I guess I could rip it all out if I didn't like it.

I have awhile to think about it, as I plan on quilting the other top I finished back in September before I haul these two back out of the closet. In the meantime though, I'm open to suggestions!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday Moments: Retro Edition

I was busy yesterday, and "Retro Tuesday Edition" seemed like a crummy title. But I am here, and preparing to celebrate my son's third birthday. How did that happen? How did I bring him home from the hospital in his little Winnie the Pooh hat and matching overalls three years ago?

It alternately seems like it can't have been that long and like he has to have been around longer. How can there be so many funny stories and so much love for a person I have only known three years? Was I really only 27 when he was born?

In a way, he is the reason for this blog. When I was pregnant and nesting so bad I couldn't stand it I begged for a sewing machine. I didn't want to clean my house, I wanted to create things. And I got it for my birthday, so hugely pregnant I couldn't even fit my belly under the table. Eventually, I got on it and cobbled together what I could remember from junior high sewing class and the instructions from the book I started making things. Now I couldn't imagine my life without either one.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The cutest!

I made the cutest gift card holder you will ever see. Or at least I think it is.

There is a couple in my family who I have mentioned a few times on this blog, they're the ones who gave me my dog. Well, it was more, "I got this dog and now I can't have her at my place. She is going to die if you don't take her." Because I was in the market for a miniature pinscher or a Welsh corgi and a black lab is totally the same thing.

Anyway, I wrote awhile ago that they were getting married in the fall. This couple truly is a fan of those gifts that keep on giving because they thought it would be an amazing and cute surprise to up their wedding date by nine months. We got an invitation in the mail approximately one week before the big day and had to do some serious scrambling for clothes to wear to the event and a gift.

Which is where the adorable gift card holder comes in. He may look cute, but he has sinister motives. See, I didn't just tell my husband and write on the blog that I was getting these folks a puppy, I told them. To their faces. Panicked faces, that hurriedly informed me that their newest place still doesn't allow pets (obviously they don't want my pain-in-the-rear dog either, even though they promised when we took her over a year ago that they were looking for a new place and would take her back in a "couple months, max"). I just wanted to package up a little reminder that I haven't forgotten my promise.

Or it's possible that they won't get the joke at all and will think that I'm just a nut job who gives stuffed animals to adults as wedding gifts.

Yeah, probably that last one...

Thursday, November 4, 2010


When I was recovering from my surgeries back in June my lovely friend Keli sent me a package full of books and magazines to encourage me to sit back and relax. My mother-in-law came to help and paged through one of the books frequently, often turning back to the same pattern over and over as if trying to memorize it. Once even taking the book from my hands and exclaiming, "So that's how they did that!"

When I found a batik jelly roll on clearance at an online fabric shop in August I snapped it up, even though I wasn't too sure about the color scheme. Batiks are her favorite fabrics and the pattern she loved was from the Jelly Roll Quilts book.

Meanwhile, for my own mother I hadn't a clue. Part of me wanted to do her favorite color, but as I planned my quilt gift to be for the entire family (something to snuggle under on the couch, a small throw quilt) I didn't want to do anything that was too geared toward just one member. I was really at a loss, then I found another jelly roll on clearance and convinced myself that working on two identical quilt tops at the same time would be much quicker and easier than making two different gifts. Plus, my mother-in-law and mother will not be sharing any holiday time with me and my mom would end up with no idea that she was getting my mother-in-law's favorite quilt pattern as her gift too.

It has been quick. That part is true. I nearly have all of the blocks ready to sew together. I keep going back and forth about which one I like more, or whether I like either of them at all. I plotted the whole quilt out on graph paper (the instructions and layout in the book are for a bed-sized blanket) and I know that I like the look of the finished product on paper. It's the fabric part that I'm not so sure about. Either way, it's too late to turn back, and even if I'm disappointed in the end product it is a big part of what I have planned for Christmas...so cross your fingers for me!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Moments

I dressed up as a cowgirl for Halloween this year. After the night was over, I took off my hat and both kids tried it on. They giggled and acted like fools until the camera came out, then even my not quite three year old was too cool to wear the hat. I reached into my bag of Mom tricks (or maybe the candy bowl by the front door) and conned both kids into wearing the hat for a photo.

I've gotta get those embarrassing photos for the graduation party collage somehow!