Tuesday, April 29, 2014

poetry in fabric

Just in time for his 46th birthday,
I finished My Love's quilt!!

For starters, I pulled all of my California Dreamin' fabrics that weren't pink.
I looked at every piece of fabric I have, and added any that coordinated to my stack.
Then I cut a little piece of 

and carried it with me everywhere I went for a few months 
and added fabric to my stack every time I found a piece that went with it.
My logic was - if it goes with Jenean Morrison's "Santa Barbara", it goes with the quilt.
When my fabric stack was tall enough, I had Tyler inspect it to make sure I didn't put anything too girly in it. 

I started cutting into my fabrics June 26th, just a few days after I finished the lightning fast Purple Posies.
It took me just one day shy of 10 months to sew my final stitch.
I did spend some time on T's quilt and other small projects during that time, 
oh, and Claire's quilt (which is basted and awaiting her mom to work some quilting magic on it :-) 
but the bulk of my sewing time has gone to this.

I totally lost track a few months ago, and can't even begin to guess how many hours I have in this quilt.
I just know it's a lot.
Tyler says it's completely appropriate that I would spend the longest on his quilt
and that it be my masterpiece ;-)

The star block is called a lone starburst
I think a lot of people just make one 'lone' block, and make a pillow out of it.
Which I think is a really good idea ;-)
It turns out that I'm not a big fan of foundation paper piecing.
I soldiered on, because it was all supposed to be so perfect.

This quilt is so not perfect.
But it is perfectly lovely anyways, I think.

I sent out an SOS back in January, because when I started putting the stars and the border together on my makeshift design wall,
I thought it was awful.
When Tyler came home and saw it, though, he really liked it.
In fact, the border was his favorite part of the quilt!
I about hit him.
I mean - the stars are the quilt.
I could have already made him 2 whole patchwork quilts in the time I'd spent on those stars alone!
(to be fair - this was his favorite quilt so far - so I shouldn't have even been surprised.)

I still wasn't crazy about the patchwork border - I thought the blocks were too big,
but since Tyler liked it, and it was, after all, for him,
I began sewing everything together, starting with the center stars.

When Tyler saw the squares that were created from the star points,
he said it was poetry in fabric.

And he finally fell in love with his quilt.
(he was getting a little nervous that he might not like it)
(I was a little nervous he might not like it, too ;-)

I was so glad that I'd decided to add the patchwork centers to the squares after sewing them together,
because I am telling you - those blocks did not line up properly, 
and if I'd have added the triangles during the paper piecing stage (like I did with the small diamonds) as I'd originally planned,
 I'd have ruined the quilt!

Tyler doesn't care much for FMQ (free motion quilting) and he likes machine quilting to just kind of blend in.
He likes hand-quilting, though, to be very visible.
So, I machine quilted diagonal lines in the patchwork square border, around the patchwork square centers (once outside, twice inside)
and around each star in 3 spots.
That was a lot of turning, let me tell you!
Then I hand quilted stars in the white and green & yellow borders, in the squares and diamonds and rectangles that the star points created,
and in the centers of all 24 stars.
(Joining hand and machine quilting isn't new for me; I've done it on the peace quilt, Lily's, Connie's, Penny's, and  TJ's.
I have plans to mix the two in my next quilt, too)

It seemed fitting to use the Santa Barbara print as the binding,
so I did :-)
I also pieced in a some solid orange,
which was a good move, 'cause when I showed Tyler I'd sewn the binding on,
he went around the quilt 'til he found it,
and smiled,
"I figured you'd do a little 'pop'."

I was about to toss it in the wash late Friday morning, when my friend asked if I'd made a label for it.
I hadn't, but I knew I really should, this being my masterpiece and all ;-)
so I whipped one up with scraps.

It was pretty much the only surprise
when he unwrapped the quilt for his birthday.

the stats:
"Poetry in Fabric"
Made June 26 2013 - April 25 21014
My own design, using the lone starburst block.
Quilt measures 78x90 after shrinkage.
Fabrics (40ish) are a hodgepodge of designer and not designer fabrics, purchased from several shops, both locally and online.
Thrifted vintage sheet backing, with 3 rows of patchwork squares pieced in.
Pieced and machine quilted with white and pale yellow 50 wt. Aurifil thread.
 Hand quilted with 4 colors of size 8 perle cotton,  and for the star centers, DMC embroidery floss.
Machine attached, hand-sewn-on-the-back binding.
Made with love.

Chicken approved.

I had a super hard time getting decent photos of this quilt,
and I still haven't managed to get a full shot of the front or back yet.
After 4 days of trying, I just decided to pass off my lame attempts, and keep the rest of my hair.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.
Amanda Jean :-)
And even though it is no longer a work in progress, I'm linking up with Lee anyways ~ I figure ya'll won't mind;
so many of you have kindly been cheering me on throughout the past 10 months.... (thank-you!!)

Monday, April 28, 2014

it's a good life

It's not perfect, but it's good.

I was sick over the weekend, and still not quite up to par today,
but I knew I could handle ironing fabric.
I decided I'd take everything outside, and soak up some sun
and enjoy the breeze
while I was at it.

Jeremiah and Josiah were busy in the Study Shack.
(which hasn't been a 'study shack' in years, but a storage shed...)
"A little spring cleaning"
Josiah had told me.
But I figured there was more to it than that.
What kids decide to 'spring clean' a storage shed for no good reason?
It turned out 
they needed a clubhouse
and thought the SS would do nicely.
It will.

So I sprayed, and ironed, and sipped at my tea.
Texted my friend pictures when I came upon a fabric I especially loved.
And listened to my boys work well together - not a single cross word!

They unearthed a small doll house I'd set aside to sell at the Growing Kids Sale,
only I could never quite jump through all the hoops to partcipate.
So the girls laid out a checkered cloth on the front porch
and played
with their 'new' toy.

I am grateful for this quite life I lead.
Thankful that my husband works hard, and earns enough money that I can stay home.
It's not a ton,
but it's enough.
I'm thankful for days moments when there is no bickering,
only the sound of happy chatter,
diligent work,
and the wind in the trees.

It's a good life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

bacon bean bundles (only - NOT) for big families

Most of the kids just up and decided they no longer liked my green beans several months ago.
When I'd include 'green beans' in the reply
when I answered the dreaded "What's for dinner?" question,
they'd asked hopefully, "Canned??"

Um. No.

So I wanted to find a way to serve green beans that everyone would enjoy.
Which led me to those cute little green bean bundles.
But really.
Who has time to tie their green beans into bundles?
And who only eats 6-10 green beans?
So I came up with a bundle-less batch of green beans.
They get a thumbs up from everyone but Lexi - she thinks they are too sweet.
(They are pretty sweet, and I'll write the recipe as I made them, but I'll probably reduce the sweetener next time)

Pre-heat your oven to 400.

Snap the ends and any bad spots off of 1 1/2 - 2 lbs of fresh green beans (or use frozen - the skinny ones are yummiest)
then partially cook them by any method you prefer (steam, microwave, pressure cook...)

While your beans are (par)cooking,
put 1/2 a stick of butter into a 9x13 baking dish, cut it up so it'll melt quickly, and stick it in your pre-heating oven.

Grab a pound of bacon and cut the whole package in half.
Save one half for another batch of beans. Or maybe some bacon wrapped dates. Or cheesy jalapenos.Yum.
The other half (using the little plastic thing that is under the bacon as your cutting board) slice through all the bacon strips at once - and cut the bacon into 1/2 - 3/4 inch pieces.
Throw away your 'cutting board'  and wash your knife.

While your butter is melting, gather up the following ingredients, and when the butter is melted (mostly melted is okay, too) add:

2 Tbs braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
3 Tbs xylitol
1/2 Tbs molasses
(If you are not a nutjob like me, and use sugar - just use 3 Tbs brown sugar in place of the xylitol and molasses)

Give it all a stir.

By now, your beans should be partially cooked, but kinda crunchy still 
(softer is okay. They just might fall apart. They'll still taste good though; no worries)
so remove them from the heat, drain them, and toss them onto the sauce in the 9x13 pan.
Give it all another stir and spread the beans out evenly(ish).

Now take your (raw) bacon pieces and layer them (touching) over the beans
and stick the pan, uncovered, in the oven 'til the bacon is mostly crispy - about 45 minutes or so.

Tell everyone they have to eat the beans under the bacon
 - they can't just eat the bacon - 
and enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

going the wrong way

We're going screen-free tomorrow and Saturday,
so I'm posting my 4 wk progress report a day early.
(I know - the blog is usually exempt from screen time decrees, but I figured - it's only 2 days...)

The title may have given you a clue;
I'm up 2.2 lbs.

I quit taking my measurements after the first 3 I took 
showed (not insignificant) increases.

I can not express how discouraged I am.

I want to cry.
I want to say screw exercising.

But I'm tired of being fat, 
so I won't do that.

Well, I will cry.... 

It clearly doesn't matter, 
but I didn't miss a single workout the past 4 weeks,
even though some days I really had to talk myself into exercising.
I ate well 90% of the time, and even when I 'cheated' I didn't go hog wild
and I drank plenty of water.
I (mostly) took my supplements - which aren't specifically for weight loss, but are supposed to be helping me be healthier over-all.
I get plenty of sleep.

I don't know what else to do.

(And I know it isn't all about the scale
or the measurements
but still - it feels like I got a big fat F on a test I worked really hard to prepare for)

Friday, April 11, 2014

eating my words

I knew.
I knew it when the words came out of my mouth.
(or rather off my fingertips...)

Tyler is always (there I go again ;-) telling me not to use absolutes.
I immediately thought (and almost typed, in parenthesis, of course)
'Just watch! Now I'm going to have to pre-wash at some point.'

For 3 or 4 weeks now, I've had a red and white quilt in my head.
After I'd amassed a nice little pile
(don't worry - it will grow to be a bigger pile ;-)
I thought,
'That is a lot of red. Red is one of the most likely to bleed colors, especially if it is not designer fabric.
Most of this is not designer fabric.
I should probably prewash. That would be smart of me.'

That was quick.'

If I have to eat my words - there are much worse words to eat.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

nearing the finish line

I'm not quite done with the quilting yet,
but I went ahead and attached the binding anyways.
This way, I've got my choice of injuries.
Do I want to cut up the pads of the first 2 fingers on my right hand
by stabbing them with the back of my needle?
Or would I rather scratch the thumb of my left hand all up
by nicking it with the point??
decisions, decisions.
(although, I actually didn't nick myself one time on the binding of the last quilt. hmmm)

I calculate I've got about 13 episodes of Leverage
until the quilting is finished
(all that's left is 3, plus a little bit of the 4th, corner stars)

and about 6 hours on the binding

Then, I can toss this baby in the wash!
I don't think I could ever enter a quilt into a show,
because by the time I finish, it's filthy.
(It is my understanding that quilt show quilts are unwashed, as they show off the quilting better if they aren't all crinkly)
This one is especially dirty! Bleh

and there's plenty more where that came from....
Plus, lots of spots of sewing machine grease where the quilt rubbed against
the needle bar whilst smashed into the too-small throat space while quilting.
I'm hoping to get it out with that Grandma's cleaner stuff - anybody used it?
Linking up with Lee's Work in Progress Wednesdays

p.s. if you are wondering about Claire's quilt - Lynnet and I will be working on it Saturday :-)
It was a little ambitious to think we might get the top sewn last time we got together.....
Quite honestly, it's probably ambitious to think we might get it all sewn this time, even. But we'll do our best!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

lest I forget, a delicious jalapeno dip

to go along with my crackers that I thought I had finally perfected, but 
- in fact -
did not
(they had no crunch. They were also too salty, but that is easily fixed.
I am unsure what to do about the lack of snap. Any ideas??)

and they looked so nice, too  : /

Anyways, to go with the perfectly flavored (salt issues aside) but crackless crackers,
I made a delicious jalapeno green chili dip.
So delicious,
that Brandon thinks it might just be better than the Best Dip in the World.
(he suggests a side-by-side comparison. Of course he does. ;-)
Very high praise, indeed,
and I sure don't want to forget how I made it.

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c greek yogurt
1/3 c mayo
1 small can green chilis
2 (could have used 3) large jalapenos, diced 
some onion powder
mix together, then add
large handful grated cheddar/jack (probly 1 1/2 c)
and mix again.
spread into a smallish baking dish (I used the brown brownie pan)
and sprinkle with parmesan cheese

bake at 400 for about a half hour.
cool slightly before serving with crackers (preferably crunchy) and celery sticks


edited 08/2015

We make this dip at least 2 times a month.
(although - I love it so much with celery of jicama,
I've abandoned my attempts at cracker making)
When we 'make it and take it',
it never fails to get rave reviews.

What I do differently now:
I don't bother softening the cream cheese
and just throw it all in the food processor, including the parmesan (probably 1/2 c, maybe a bit more)
Sometimes I sub sour cream for the greek yogurt,
and sometimes,
I just add both ~ this recipe is not finicky :-)

Friday, April 4, 2014

out of the rubbish, a quilt

I turned it into a cozy quilt.

I know you are shocked ;-)

It was tricky to find enough usable fabric.
And by usable, I mean, it doesn't yet have rips or tears,
but there are still plenty of fraying bits in my 'usable' pieces...

Matching the plaids on those corners 
was not an option.
Surprisingly, it doesn't bother me one iota.
I actually think it is more pronounced in the photos than it is in person.

The AMH fabric that I ordered for the back 
didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped it would,
but Tyler was impressed enough with the softness 
(unwashed, of course. I never pre-wash my quilting fabrics.)
that he wanted me to use it anyways.

It made finding an appropriate binding a wee bit tricky,
but I am quite pleased with what I ended up with.

I chose a skein of embroidery floss that matched the binding
 to do my one 'x' of hand-quilting.
Because I had to do just a little hand-stitching, ya know?

I almost completely sewed the binding on by machine;
I figured it is such a small quilt, it'd be great to practice on.
But I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
I simply enjoy hand sewing the binding down too much.
And I like the look of a hand sewn binding.
(plus - my straight stitching still leaves a lot to be desired. 
Tyler thinks those diagonal lines are super straight, 
but in reality, they are - um - super organic.
And by 'organic', I mean
really wavy.)

I finished sewing down the binding on the way home from my mom's house on Sunday,
and already this quilt has seen a lot of use.
As a matter of fact, I had to steal it from Lex' so I could take it out for pictures...

Here's hoping for another dozen or so years of cozy comfort
from a beloved shirt.

many thanks to my stud muffin quilt holder ;-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

sorta random (but some of it goes together) stuff on a Thursday

Goodness, life is moving swiftly.

Saturday, as you prob'ly guessed, we celebrated Lily's 7th birthday,
which was actually Sunday,
but we were leaving the house at 8:30 am, with no clue what time we might get home.

It was a princess theme this year.
(not that we normally do themes - but she requested first, Cinderella shoes.
Then later, she suggested to Tyler that a Cinderella dress might be nice, too. 
And then I heard her say something about having a princess birthday this year...)
So anyways.
She got the shoes.
And the dress.
And the other dress (the servant one) which she will let Lexi wear, if she begs enough.

You'd probably be surprised to know
did not 
make either.
Something about that little plastic brooch picture of Cinderella on the bodice,
sort of confirmed 'it's a Cinderella dress'.
Plus, Tyler sweetly told me he'd rather me spend my sewing time quilting,
instead of stressing over making a costume.

I would have argued with him, 
but I'd made Lily a purple princess dress for Christmas,
(which is when she got that fancy tiara)
and I spent $30 just on the fabric,
so I was pretty sure buying one for $34
was a bargain.

Oh ~ here's a little funny about the tiara:
For several weeks after Christmas,
every time we left the house
she'd say something about hoping we didn't get robbed.
She was just sure 
that the first thing the bad guys would take
would be her tiara

Back to the weekend.
we left at,
well, not quite 8:30,
 more like 8:40 
and then we ran into a little trouble called a leaky gas can,
but we finally arrived in Rogers at just under a half hour late
at 10:20 something.

We  were joining one of my brothers
and one of my sisters,
and their loves,
and our boy
to give my mom and stepdad their Christmas gift.
A day of labour.

They had a tree that was leaning.
So for Christmas, we pitched in and gave them money to go towards cutting it down,
we gave them a work day.

We got sooo much done!
My Mom and Daddy raised them some hard workers.

Come to think of it,
my kids' Momma and Daddy
raised them some hard workers, too,
'cause ya'll,
those kids worked hard!
And they loved (almost) every minute of it.
I was (and am) so proud of them!

I skipped my exercise Saturday,
on account of all the work I'd be doing on Sunday.

Speaking of exercise,
my sister, Lish  told me about a site, Fitness Blender, that has lots of workout videos.

Yesterday, she, TJ, and I all did the same video;
she'd texted it to me
and I texted it to T.
It was intense.
I liked it!
And it was fun,
knowing that we were all going to do the same workout on the same day.
Separate, but together. (sort of...)

I haven't seen our tiny feisty white hen in a few days,
and we haven't gotten any white eggs this week.
I'm a little worried something got her.
But - that's happened before, and she's turned up,
so I'm hoping she is okay this time, too.
She's not much to look at, but man, I like her!

Testing is tomorrow.
I always have to buy new calculators for testing.
And pencils.
Where do they go??

The dogs eat the pencils,
but what about the calculators?!

This is Josiah's first year to test.
I've really downplayed the whole thing, so as not to cause him any undue anxiety.
I hope that was the right call.

And isn't that pretty much how all of motherhood is?
Hoping that you made the right call....

Speaking of testing,
Jeremiah and Josiah are black-belt testing Saturday!
I'm trying not to be nervous about that.
Brandon has midterms (his 1st of 7)
but I'm not so nervous about his.

I'll leave you with this:
My mom had given us some bags of shelled 'raw Spanish peanuts'.
Lily ate a few 
then said, "Mmmm. Tastes just like peanuts, 
only  more Spanishy."