Thursday, August 25, 2016

cedar ceilings




Tyler thought 
we should have some Arkansas cedar
somewhere on our house,
and we decided the porch ceilings would be the perfect place for it.

Like everything else in the building process,
it's a little more involved than you might think.
Especially if you aren't just slapping the boards up there
all rough-like...


Each of the 122 boards
(that's just for the front porch)
need to be run through the planer
19 times.
10 times.


One person can run the planer,
but it's about 4 times faster if two people work together.


After their final trip though the planer
the sides have to be squared up,
so they get run through the table saw
twice.
(this job definitely takes two people)


After the sides are squared up,
the guys will tongue and groove them 
with a router 
so they fit nice and snug.


Then,
they'll be ready to install,
and we'll have Arkansas cedar on the porch :-)

And then we'll do it all over again for the back porch...


(I took these photos before we'd installed the front doors.
That should give you a clue how long we've been planing boards...
We've moved on to the squaring,
and we're half  done.

Takes a dang long time.


Gonna look real pretty, though :-)


Monday, August 22, 2016

first days


So.
Brandon went to school for the first time ever today.
Which means that 
has been getting a lot of air time...

sniff

The years sure do fly by.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

the rag barn


There's a fabric shop in the little town of Alpena
 called 'Rag Barn' .
Every time we pass it
(on the way to and from Branson)
I remark on the clever name
and say, "One of these times,
I want to stop in there."
This time,
Tyler turned the van around 
and we went in for a quick peek.

Ya'll.
If you are ever anywhere near Alpena Missouri,
you really should stop.

(there's no bathroom, though,
so you'll want to pop in to the gas station across the street for that)

In addition to tons of quilting fabric at great prices,
there's a decent assortment of garment 
and home decorating fabrics, too.
There are ribbons and trims galore
and 
all sorts of little girl accessories
like headbands, flowers and jewelry.

I showed tremendous restraint
and only bought 2 fat quarters,
but
I could (happily) spend a lot of time
and a lot of money
in that shop!

I think I know what I want to do for my birthday... ;-)

Friday, August 19, 2016

a quick trip


I was out working on the house
when the kids all came out to say goodbye.
They were heading to church
for the first of 5 days
of summer fun.

I called out goodbyes,
and reminders to be loving.
As they walked towards the van,
I thought,
"Now I can really be productive!"

And then immediately after, 
I said to myself,
"All you've done all summer
is try to get stuff done.
Not having the kids home for a few hours
isn't really going to change anything."

I sent Tyler a text
that summer was almost over
and I hadn't enjoyed the kids at all.

I've just been so focused on doing.

We decided then and there 
that we'd try to take a vacation.

The beach was out of the question,
but we figured we could do a few days in Branson.
And we could (finally) take the kids to Silver Dollar City.

So last week,
when most of the world was posting back to school pictures,
we took a little get-away
and spent some much needed time together -
playing,
enjoying each other,
and eating junk.

The forecast was pretty awful,
calling for rain Sunday - Wednesday
but the weather ended up being just about perfect
when we went to SDC.

(Josiah rode every single ride with his big bub.
The rest of us were a little more 'selective'...)

Thanks, Love!
(And thanks, Gramma and Grampa Bill
for the souvenir money :-) 

Friday, August 12, 2016

hexies for Laura


I had one more bag-as-money-holder graduation gift 
that needed to be made.


Seeing that graduations are in April / May,
and it was the tail end of July
before I got around to it,
and the gal it was for
 is just as sweet as can be,
I figured the bag needed to be
extra special.


I didn't want Laura thinking my tardiness
was 
in any way
a reflection of how we felt about her,
and what better way to prove that
than a bag that takes ridiculously long to make?

I guess the bag itself
didn't take a long time,
just the making of the front fabric...


and thought that might be a fun one to do.

Let's just say if I were ever to make an actual 
modern hexie quilt,
I'd be using hexagons
waaaay bigger than an not quite an inch!


As much as I wanted it to,
the aqua with gold Xs just wasn't working for me
as the background fabric,
but I really wanted to use the C&S fabric.
(I thought it was just perfect for Laura!)


I wanted to use it so badly 
that I almost decided not to use my hexies,
even though I'd just spent an hour digging through scraps 
to find just the right ones
and another 3 hours making them...


I walked away from it for a little while,
and when I came back,
I decided I'd use the hexies
and
the Cotton & Steel,
I just wouldn't use them together together.


Satisfied with my new plan,
I cut a piece of sparkly fabric
(leftover from the church)
then pulled out the Elmer's 
and started glue basting hexies
once I was satisfied with my arrangement.


Then I marked quilting lines with my hera marker
and stitched across all the hexies.


For the back,
I just stitched every vertical row of gold Xs
with metallic thread.


After that, it was just the simple matter
of cutting a lining,
adding a zipper,
and sewing it all together.


Laura - we love you!
You are a most excellent young lady
and I am so glad I've had the privilege
of watching you grow up.


Monday, August 8, 2016

10 things


In honor of our 29th wedding anniversary today,
I was going to be clever
 and write up "29 things you should know..."
but really,
I don't even know 29 things
 you should know about love and marriage.
I just know a few.


1.
Love isn't all about butterflies in your stomach at the thought/sight of your man.

2.
But there are still butterflies....
:-)

3.
It is absolutely foolish to pick apart your man.
Stop it!

4.
Say "yes" 
every time it is humanly possible.
(without rolling your eyes, huffing & puffing, sighing, etc)

5.
Figure out what makes your man feel loved
and do it.

(It is very likely that his love language is not your love language,
so this could take some work)

6.
When he speaks to you in his love language,
instead of your own,
recognize that that is love too.

7.
Believe him when he tells you you're beautiful.
(And thank God he's got awful vision)

8.
Don't hold mistakes over his head.
Seriously; there is no good to be had
 by a woman making her man feel small.
(men all over the world 
are cringing at the sight of 'small' and 'man' 
together
in the same sentence ;-)

9.
Sex is not a tool to be used to control/reward/punish your man.

I cannot tell you how sad it makes me
when women use it as such.

It is the one thing
that makes a marriage relationship 
different from all others.

10.
Choose love.

~

Happy Anniversary, My Love.
Thank-you for marrying me.
For choosing me, out of all the women in the world.
Thank you for being faithful.
to me,
and to God.
Thank you for making me want to be a better me.
and for loving me, unconditionally.
Thanks for all these kids.
And for never complaining 
when my sewing crap explodes all over the house.
You are my world
and I'd take 
you 
over a million dollars
and a house on the beach. XO

Faith & Freedom, a finished quilt


In mid January,
Jodi asked if she could hire me to make a quilt 
for her oldest daughter
and her husband.

before quilting.
(and before I moved around a block there on the top left)

She knows my story
(that when I sew for pay,
I use 100% of what I earn 
to buy sewing machines for Rahab's Rope,
so women rescued from the sex trade
can learn a new skill 
- sewing -
 so they can support themselves
and their families
safely
and with dignity.)
and she knows that I love to infuse meaning into my work,
so she thought I was just the person
to make this special anniversary gift.


First and foremost,
Chris and Kristin's
(how cute is that?!)
Chris and Kristin's 
love for God needed to be evident.


And coming in a very close second,
their love of freedom,
and for each other.


We messaged back and forth some ideas,
then drawing inspiration from this pin
and Fig Tree's Milky Way pattern
I drew up a design.

Then I re-designed it,
so it wouldn't be quite as much of a puzzle to put together
once I had all of the components pieced.


Kristin
(also known as Pookie Bear 
to those of us lucky enough to know her as a little girl ;-)
met Chris in the Afghanistan desert,
while she was an Airman
and he was a soldier in the US Army.

Between them,
they've served our country for 16 years!
(Thank you!!)


They are celebrating their 3rd anniversary on the 24th.
(This is the 3rd time they've celebrated their anniversary apart
due to deployment and separate duty stations.)


I chose to use a range of cream - tan colored neutrals
to represent the sand they met on
and since Kristin prefers vintage over modern
I went with a whole slew of prints
(with a few solids thrown in)
rather than a single solid tan for the background.


 Mostly,
 I bought all the fabrics I found 
that were in the right color family
(and since I ordered a lot online,
I bought quite a few that weren't in the right color family, too.
I now have a decent stash of darker tans)
but I selected a few based on their interests,
like these:


Chris works with Special Forces, and I thought the fabric with letters and coordinates was perfect for that :-)

and a few more that I apparently didn't photograph.

Kristin's favorite color is green,
while Chris's is blue,
so that determined our color scheme

plus - green is the Army color,
and blue is the Air Force color....


but I had to add a little red,
because,
well,
*freedom* calls for red, 
I think.


I picked a pinky-red 
to represent their daughter, Adelynn
(and even free-motion quilted her name in that firework/star,
but you have to look really closely to see it)



I'd already started making my blocks
when Jodi messaged me
that she'd like Africa and Germany represented, too.

Africa,
because Kristin lived there for 6 months, 
teaching school in Ghana,
and Chris will be going there for his next tour of duty.
(Now, is his next ToD,
so he is actually in Africa right now)

That one was easy,
because I won a few yards of this awful blue and green zebra fabric
They say if you cut it up small enough,
even ugly fabric looks good,
so I kept it.
I'm so glad I did,
because it was just perfect for this project.


Germany 
needed a nod,
because both Christopher and Kristin were born in Germany!

That one caused a bit of consternation.
How was I going to represent Germany??

I have a couple of blogging friends that live in Germany,
so I thought maybe I could ask one of them to send me something.
Also, there's Karen,
whom I met in Dallas,
when she was moving back from Germany;
I thought she might have a small strip of suitable fabric....

But I'm not very good at asking for favors,
so I googled German fabric designers,
and found that Brigitte Heitland was born in Black Forest, Germany.
(one of the places, incidentally, that our families visited together!)
And I just happened to have a couple of pieces of blue zen chic
in my stash :-)
so it seemed like an excellent choice.


I had intended for the church to be a little more subtle 
then it ended up,


but then I got to thinking,
isn't that really how it should be?
(Not the church, exactly, but our relationship with God.
It should be evident to all,
not just those who look closely...)


So I decided it was fitting that the church
was so 'front and center'..


I tried trapunto for the first time on this quilt.


Suffice it to say, there's a bit of a learning curve,
and it definitely requires some extra time,
so it's not a technique I'll probably use terribly often,
but I was glad to push myself and add to my skills
and it's a perfect addition,
in my not-terribly-humble opinion ;-)


Because I didn't want my church just floating out there in space,
I anchored it on a lush green lawn
(made from 184 pieces of  36 different fabrics)
where you can imagine people sprawling about on quilts of their own,
to watch the sky explode with color.


Even though there are plenty of triangles in the background
I used a few in the grass, too,
so they'd be more obvious,
because Jodi had requested something to represent the Trinity.

Tri-angles; Trinity...
(I thought it worked)

Plus
it added more dimension to the grass ;-)


I added the improv curves to the horizon,
another new-to-me technique,
because I thought it would be far more pleasing to the eye
than a hard line.


I admit I was quite nervous
cutting curves across my already completed firework blocks,
but I'm pleased with the outcome.

I think next time I play with improve curves, though,
I'll do it on fabric that didn't take me hours and hours to make first.


Jodi had mentioned a quote that Kristen and Chris like
from a paper by Gordon Hinckley
'a silver thread in the dark tapestry of war'
(or maybe it was a sermon? 
I looked it up,
but I've forgotten now)


I wasn't sure if I wanted to add the quote to my design,
but I knew then and there
that I was at least adding some silver thread 
to the quilt.


The doors and windows seemed like the perfect spot.
(Serendipitously, the silver thread
refers to a new church,
planted during the Vietnam War.
I didn't learn that until after I'd started quilting the church.)



I had an awful time finding something I wanted for the back
and frankly,
I was being cheap especially thrifty.


Normally,
I charge for expenses
plus $10 per hour for labor.
I pay myself back for the fabric and notions,
and then all of the labor that I'm paid
goes to buy sewing machines.

Because Jodi is so special,
and I knew I wanted this quilt to be extra special
(aka - would take a really long time to make!)
I didn't want to charge by the hour,
so just quoted a flat price.
My goal was to keep costs at $100, so I could give 3 machines.


Needless to say,
it's nearly impossible to make a lap sized quilt
for only $100 in supplies,
so I'd already gone over my self imposed limit.

I really wanted to give 3 machines, though,
so I was just going to cover the additional cost.
And I didn't mind, 
because it was for Pookie...


So - back to my backing dilemma.

Tyler fussed at me for being cheap,
and said, "It's for Kristin.
Buy the backing that the quilt deserves."

I finally found a soft flannel,
with blue and red stars on a mottled tan background.

Perfect.
(I somehow missed getting a picture of the whole back of the quilt)



I prewashed it with extra warm water and dried it on high,
after have been advised to do so by my google search,
and then I sewed two 70 inch x WoF pieces together,
after carefully glue basting my (horizontal) seam.

And darn it!
That fabric had shrunk enough
that is was too short.
(I hadn't thought to measure after pulling it out of the dryer - duh)
So I pieced in a strip of the fabric I'd bought for binding the grass portion
and all was well.


I was out of both my bamboo blend and Warm and White batting
(I don't even know how this happened!)
so I ordered more bamboo
and while I was at it,
to try.

While I was waiting on the batting to arrive,
I worked on my surprise quilt.


The new batting seemed pretty soft,
a bit heftier than other battings I'd tried,
and it had great reviews.
so I figured I'd give it a whirl.

That was a good call; 
it's very nice,
and I will certainly order it again.


I'm sure it's partly due to the flannel backing,
but this quilt is really snuggly with a lot of weight to it.
It quilted up nicely 
and hand-quilting was comparable to hand quilting bamboo.
Definitely better than Warm and White.

The fact that it's inexpensive is a happy bonus.


I didn't want the binding to frame the quilt
as much as finish it off nicely,


so I chose Michael Miller's Theory of Aviation
since the colors seemed perfect
(and hello - aviation / Air Force...)


and made yards and yards (and yards)
of 2 1/2 inch bias binding strips
which I then sewed by machine.


As you know, not my favorite method,
but more durable, I'm told ;-)


After quilting the church,
I free motion quilted loops and swirls and asterisk fireworks
to create a great texture


and I hid a bunch of words 
and their wedding date 
among the quilting, too.


Like little surprises to be found :-)


I worked from a list of qualities and attributes that Jodi had given,
but added a word of my own, too.


Since I didn't have a single color that was just right,
I quilted the grass with 4 different green threads
in a sort of spiky zig zag of different heights.


I ended up quilting it a little more heavily than I'd planned,
but after washing, that area was still plenty soft and drapey.


All together,
I used 125 fabrics,
1800(ish) yards of thread
2 cans of sizing and 1 can of starch
prob'ly 10 needles
4 oz of basting spray
over 100 hours
and lots of love and prayers.


When I received the check from Jodi,
she'd paid me a lot more than the agreed upon amount.


I'll pay myself back entirely for all supplies,
and I will be able to give five
(five!! :-)
sewing machines 
to Rahab's Rope.


Jodi ~ Thank you for supporting my dream,
and helping me 
help precious women.
And thank you 
for allowing me to participate in a family heirloom.

I hope I correctly interpreted all of your hopes and wishes
for this special gift.

Kristin, Chris ~ I hope when you use your quilt,
(and please - use it!)
you feel the love of your family,
and my love, too.
Your mom is so, so proud of you both!
I feel like I know you now as a woman,
Kristin,
and not just the chubby curly haired, sweet lipped baby and toddler 
of my memories.

Happy Anniversary!


It was an honor to make your quilt.