24 October 2010

Happy Birthday!

In honor of my birthday, I'm being lazy and not posting any pictures. I have 10 more disappearing 9-patch squares (the unit with one big square, two small rectangles, and one small square) left to quilt on Pop-Pop's quilt and I'll be done quilting it. I'm really excited, although I'm a little disappointed that I didn't finish it this weekend. I had hoped to be able to enter it into Amy's One Thing One Week Challenge but didn't get it done. Oh well! I've made a TON of progress on it, so I'm happy.

Today (Sunday) was my birthday so I...did a ton of cooking and house cleaning. Exciting, right? That's what happens when your husband's on a business trip. My landlady brought me some of her apples from the tree in the back yard (organic, home grown!) on Saturday morning so I turned those into applesauce today. I also experimented with a Mexican dish that turned out almost right - the recipe said to use the pepper and onion fresh but they didn't get cooked enough in the oven. They were easy to pick out though and the rest of the dish was good. I made myself a carrot cake to celebrate, and I'll bring the rest of it to work so I don't have to take it home.

I went over to Karin's house to play with her adorable little kitten Moritz. He's adorable...I have a few scratches on my hand from him but that's a small price to pay for playing with an adorable kitten! He wasn't really into snuggling, which was a little sad, but playing was fun too. I got to see some of Karin's quilts in person and they're pretty breathtaking. I saw pictures of all of her other quilts - she keeps a journal complete with pictures of each quilt or sewing project she makes, and believe you me that there are a lot of them and they're impressive!

With that, I must be up the kitchen, frosting the last cake, moving the laundry to the dryer, and going to bed. I hate having a birthday at the end of the weekend!

17 October 2010

Weekend Update

Hello! I thought I'd give ya'll a little update on my weekend. It's been quite wonderful so far...too bad it won't last longer. I went out to dinner on Friday night with a friend, her kids, and a few other ladies with their kids. It was one of the most stressful dinners I've ever been to. We had 7 children there all told, with the youngest being a baby and the oldest being about 6 or so. Four boys, three girls. Needless to say, it was a bit of a headache. We were in a back corner of the restaurant, but those kids would not listen for anything. Nobody got dessert that night. I think the restaurant, and everybody there, was glad to see us go.

Saturday, I went to a Pampered Chef party. I was only allowed to spend the cash I already had in my wallet, which was a whopping $15. I got two spice rubs...that mandoline slicer was calling my name, though. SO awesome. I always cut myself when I try to use my grater's mandoline side. Last time, I got my knuckle and it took almost a month to finish healing. Something to save up for, I guess!

I spent all of the rest of my day grocery shopping and sewing. I made this Potato soup for dinner, and it was amazing. I altered the recipe a bit, though. I used more of the celery, onion, and potato - I used the whole onion, I think either 3 or 4 stalks of celery, and 3 potatoes. Then, before I added the cream at the end, I added some baby spinach leaves and let them get all wilted. It was awesome! My bacon was a little chewy, though, because I tried using too small of a pot. If you have a large saucepan (a few inches high but with a very large bottom), use that for this soup. That recipe was enough for me to have one bowl plus seconds for two meals.

Sunday morning, I got up and made two batches of my favorite cookies. We were having a potluck lunch after church. Once those were made and baking, I put together some beef stew in the crock pot. I wasn't planning on eating it tonight, since I wanted to finish the soup, but I wanted to have it done for tomorrow night. I kind of ad libbed on the recipe, so I'll have to let you know how it tastes! I also made bread, and this time, the loaves didn't stick to the pan. Picture perfect! I'm thinking about trying to make whole wheat bread, but am kind of reluctant to change. I love this recipe for its simplicity, so does anyone have any advice?

On the sewing front, I ordered the backing for my mom's and my mother in law's quilt. They're actually the same backing, a batik that was on sale at Hancock's of Paducah. I felt really bad for buying it though, because I had to get a ton (pieced back) and even on sale it was expensive. 10 yards of a fabric that's priced at almost $10 a yard...yeah. I had my husband's permission, though, so I bought it. This is the backing:

I swoon over batiks, so this was right up my alley. Hooray! I'm now about 2/3 done with the quilting on Pop-Pop's quilt. I'm so excited because this means that it'll be done with plenty of time to enter it in the Project Modern Challenge!

In other news, I got to see Pop-Pop today. I was Skyping with my mom, and my dad was picking him up from the Assisted Living Center for Sunday lunch at my parents' house. We stayed on long enough so I could see him and he's looking great. He's looking much better than the last time I saw him. The Assisted Living Center is definitely taking good care of him. If nothing else, the food has made a big difference. He hated cooking for himself, so having food prepared for him is a huge thing. My dad got him to talk a little bit about when he was in WWII, which I always love hearing about. I can't wait to have this quilt for him. He hates the cold, and it's about to be winter so it'll be just in time. He seriously is a bigger baby about cold than my husband (I love you, honey!), who's from Texas. He was wearing his jacket, zipped all of the way up, at my parent's house today.

My husband today was saying that I'm perfect. Why am I perfect? Because I can make yummy food (like beef stew and homemade bread and cookies and potato soup) and I can sew and make quilts for people AND...I'm a nerd. I'm a nerd because when he sends me links like this one I start thinking of what else I would have to put with it to have the right outfit (my black leggings and my Rocket Dogs shoes). And when I can't figure out what movie to watch, I watch our Special Extended Edition of the Lord of the Rings movies. And then laugh at them. Because quotes like "Are all these children yours? Gracious, you've been productive" just make me laugh. Besides, when Agent Smith from the "Matrix" movies comes out with long hair and elf ears and says "Welcome to Rivendell" you just can't help but mentally a "Mister Anderson" to the end of it. And then, because you really can't talk about Lord of the Rings without showing this, here's one of my favorite little songs made from bits of the LOTR movies:

Now whenever you see the movies, you'll remember these little bits of the movies and will laugh at them. I love this video...seriously!

I'm supposed to get the first snow of the year this week. I don't know if I'll see it, since my office is in the basement, but I hope I do. There's something magical about the first time it snows. But if it snows daily until spring, I might start having problems. We'll see!

Anyways, just out of curiosity - what did you get done this weekend, sewing or otherwise? I'd love to see some comments about it!

11 October 2010

It's Been a While...

No, I'm not referring to the song by the same name by the band Staind. I'm talking about how long it's been since I last posted. I've been very busy at work, and for the next two weeks or so it'll be busy, but hopefully after that it will hopefully calm down a little bit. Well, it probably won't, but I can always hope, can't I?

On Thursday, I got the package I was waiting for in the mail. What did it contain? Well, it had 5 yards of this fabric:

That's "Journey's Beginning Brown Trees" by Wilmington Fabrics - t's the backing for Pop-Pop's quilt. Isn't it pretty? It's soft and subtle and just generally awesome. I'm excited that I'll have some of it left over for future projects. :) The package also contained three packs of Warm 'n Natural Batting, the twin size pieces. So I put aside the piecing of my mom's quilt top and got working on Pop-Pop's quilt. I started by ironing the backing, which I've never done before, but it made a world of difference in getting the fabric to lay flat and not be wrinkled on the back. I pieced the back for the first time using the masking tape method of holding the fabric down and stretched out. It worked kind masking tape wasn't very sticky so a few pieces of it came up while I was pinning, but hey - it held it out flatter than it would have been otherwise. Once I basted it (I miraculously had enough pins! I put one pin in each of the big squares of the design, in alternating directions...if one pin was vertical, the next was horizontal, etc.), I had a brilliant idea. The kind of idea that makes a light bulb appear over your head...and break, because it can't handle the brilliance of your idea. Why don't I move my sewing machine and table out into the living room? My laptop hates playing DVDs, and I could just go play my movies on the TV and watch them that way. Plus, since my sewing table is usually against the wall, it would give me much more room for keeping my quilt away from the machine while quilting it! So I did just that. My sewing setup is in the living room, and I can enjoy my movies and work on this quilt simultaneously. Hooray for me. I am so'd think I would have figured this out sooner, but hey - late's better than never!

I did change my quilting plan. After a lot of consideration, and reading a lot of different blogs about quilting, I decided that instead of quilting in the ditch, which would draw attention to where my blocks don't line up exactly, I would echo quilt inside of each shape. I'm just using plain white thread, and I absolutely LOVE the effect it gives. It really accentuates the fact that each piece of the disappearing 9 patch block is separate, and that the "fields" of the quilt are all separate. Plus it makes a nice design on the back! I'm not quite halfway done with the quilting. I was hoping to get more done tonight, but I got a chance to talk to my mom tonight and I wouldn't have given it up for anything, even if it meant that I could have this quilt completely finished.

Don't get me wrong, this quilt is far from perfect! I'm not sure if any of my quilts will ever have the corners actually line up, or if I'll ever manage to do my anchoring stitches without ending up having sewn sideways and having it be perfectly obvious that I went back over that area...but I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure if I care that my quilts aren't perfect. I mean, I'll strive to make them well. I want my quilts to not fall apart in a few years or less...I'd love it if I could still see some of my old quilts from when I was just starting out quilting when I'm old and gray, and see that they've survived the years...the being dragged around the house, the spills that inevitably happen when babies are involved, etc. Sometimes I wonder if I really should care about getting my corners to match up exactly, and whether I should be bothered when my quilting isn't perfect. It seems like all of the quilts I see online that other women make are perfect. I can't see any flaws in them. But are they really there?

My mom (who used to sew all of my clothes when I was a kid...surprisingly, I still can wear a pair of shorts she made me...they were more like culottes back then and now they're the type of shorts that I'll only wear in the house when it's just my husband and I...but she made them I think when I was in 5th grade so I take that as a sign that I'm doing okay!) tells me that I shouldn't strive for perfection. There are cultures in this world that purposely ensure that any product they make isn't perfect. For instance, Persian rug makers used to intentionally mess up the pattern somewhere just so that they wouldn't insult Allah - since Allah (in their religion) was the only perfect thing in the universe, they would ensure that nothing they made was perfect. Maybe I should just say that I agree with that idea - God is the only perfect thing anywhere in the universe, so why would I want to make my quilts compete with Him? Haha, somehow I don't think that would fly. My wonderful mom has sent me pictures of quilts in magazines that have obvious flaws, where corners don't line up, etc. for me to look when I start feeling inadequate because my quilts aren't perfect. But it still kind of bugs me. Should I really care? I'm not sure. I'd love feedback. I love quilting, but I am afraid that if I were to pick out every seam that wasn't 100% perfect and straight, I'd hate it. Any thoughts?

On a lighter note, my dad found this blog. It's kind of a funny story how it happened. I had sent my mom the link to this post by Lynne at Patchery Menagerie. One of my mom's favorite words is Aubergine, and she absolutely loved the quilt that Lynne is making. Apparently she forwarded the link to my dad. Not thinking about my mom looking at the quilt, I left a comment on Lynne's post, offering up some of my scraps if she wanted them for her next few words. My dad checked out Lynne's post and saw that "Emma" (with my avatar, which he knows from my other blog) had posted a comment. He clicked on the link, and found the Quilting Hermit. Don't worry though - he read through it a little bit and saw that I was posting about making a quilt for my mom, so he did not send her the link to this site. He and I will keep it a secret until after I give her the quilt. Hi, daddy! It sure is a small internet, isn't it?

Anyways, on that note, I'm off to bed. I start work again tomorrow (hooray for 4-day weekends!) and I desperately need to get a workout in before heading to work. I've eaten entirely too much this weekend, thanks to sleepover movie nights, movie and a board game nights, and a farewell lunch for a friend. I hope your weekends were as productive as mine was! Tschüss!

03 October 2010

How I Know I'm Insane...

I had an impromptu long weekend this weekend. The rest of the office was going to a "golf tournament" (weather forecast for Friday was no higher than the 50s and rainy/overcast all day). Their plan was to drink a lot and pretend like they enjoyed golf. The best part about it - because I would have been the only one there, my boss gave me the day off.

I sewed all day Friday. I mean LITERALLY all day. I took a few breaks, mostly just my mealtimes, and I sewed until midnight. By that point, I was delirious and nothing was working right so I stopped, and I finished the last of the leaves Saturday morning. But...I forgot to take pictures. I then started sewing leaves and the rest of the quilt top together...but I forgot to take pictures. Are you sensing a theme?

I know I'm insane...because of how I designed the leaves to fit together with the rest of the quilt. There are multiple places where the only way I will get the pieces to fit together are inset seams. Places where I can't attach piece A to piece B without piece C too...but I can't attach piece C without also attaching piece D to piece E...and so on. Places where the only way to fit them together without piecing the whole quilt simultaneously is to sew a 2.5" block individually to one of my leaf blocks - which will require, in the future, doing a 90 degree Y seam - something I abhor. I hate Y seams, mostly because they always make the centers off. I'm pretty much insane.

I mentioned this to my husband when we were talking, and he laughed. His reaction was "well, you don't do anything halfway or easy...and I love you for that." I think he's ridiculous...but he loves me, and I love him so I guess I can tolerate it. :)

My other insanity...I babysat a 2 year old today in a non-childproofed house and I still want to have kids someday. My feet hurt from running after him all afternoon (well, for about 3 hours of it), taking him upstairs to look out of the window, and letting him go out on the terrace to ride his tricycle and come within inches of my toes...but he's awesome. He's an adorable little kid, even if he is 2. We watched a grand total of 3 VeggieTales movies, but I think we officially only saw a total of 1.5 movies - half of each one. His attention span isn't that long. Despite his being 2 and my house not being childproofed, I managed to cook dinner and feed his mom when she came to pick him up (his older brother wasn't feeling well). Chinese food is my favorite thing to cook, even if you do have to spend an hour or more on prep time before you cook. I made Orange Beef, Chinese Green Beans, and rice. For dessert, we had bread (my bread stuck to the bottom of the pan and tore, so we ate the chunk that stuck) with local honey. It was fantastic. And I did it while also having to chase a 2 year old. I rock.

Sorry for no pictures, but I'm tired and want to go to bed. I hope you all have a great night, and I'll check back with you this week!