Sunday, August 28, 2011

Me, Myself, and Irene

That movie has been playing on TV all day for the last two days now.  I think it is the cable companies attempt at a little humor.  Living on the east coast of Virginia and growing up on the east coast of North Carolina hurricanes aren't really a new thing for me.  Now that earthquake we had last week, that made me nervous.  I know people in California were laughing at us because we all freaked out over something that most veteran earthquake dwellers would have laughed off and said you call that an earthquake but it was the first time I ever experienced that and hopefully it will be the last.  My hats off to you guys who find it to be no big deal.  We made it through Irene pretty much without a scratch here at my house, in fact we never even lost our power.  Now my brother who lives about 4 blocks away is still without power but I imagine they will get it back pretty soon.

Hurricane prep

The damage from Irene.  Nothing major just a pile of downed limbs.

Trimmings from the blocks for my current quilt.
The good thing about bad weather on the weekend is not feeling guilty about sitting inside sewing.  I didn't actually sew much because our power was surging a little and I was afraid something bad would happen to Bertha but I did manage to get a bunch of blocks trimmed up for a quilt I am currently working on.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

4 Months 9 Days and Counting

That's right, we only have 4 months and 9 days until Christmas. Did you just realize it will be here before we know it too? I had a little bit of a moment this weekend where I realized just how close it is. I use to be really good about slowly buying things through out the year and typically I would have all of my holiday shopping wrapped up by the end of October. Now that Homemade Gifts are a priority I find that I procrastant more and end up with a last minute rush.

I've been toying with the idea of making little bottles of Homemade Vanilla Extract for several years now. The trouble is that it takes at least 3 months to steep and I usually remember I wanted to do that about a month before Christmas. Not this time. This time I am going to do it. I thought little baskets with some gussied up kitchen towels, homemade extract, and a few other kitchen yummies would be the perfect gift for my sister in law, mother in law, and father in laws girlfriend this year. And so today I ordered my vanilla beans and I'm excited to put this little project into motion.

For those of you who might want to give this a try I found my vanilla beans here. I recommend doing this with a friend because the cost of beans goes down the more you buy. I'm also going to try my hand at making these carmels with some of the left over beans. I am pretty sure I will be getting my bottles here because it's the best value I have found so far but if any of you have a good lead on some pretty bottles let me know. If you have any great homemade gifts that you think would be a good addition to my baskets please share your recipes, tutorials, or links. I'd love to check them out. And as always I'm at a loss as to what to buy or make for the men in my life so any ideas you have about that are welcome as well.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Farmer and I

The farmer and I sat down over the weekend and had a nice long heart to heart about our relationship.  I told him I felt like he was dragging me a long on an emotional railroad what with all these ups and downs in our relationship and the hard times we had been facing over the last two weeks or so.

Block # 72 Railroad
He told me not to be such a sour puss and that if I would pay more attention to him instead of silly little things like scrubbing the linoleum we might have a real chance at making a go of it.

Block # 71 Puss in the Corner
Block # 55 Linoleum
 I agreed to try and by the end of the day we had decided it would be best if we did not waste our love.

Block # 30 End of Day

Block # 97 Waste Not
Most of these blocks went together with very few hitches.  Waste Not was made using the templates and overall I am happy with it.  That one point their on the left hand side could stand to be just a little sharper but I'm thinking it will correct itself since it will end up a little bit in the seam allowance anyway.  It's not as sharp as some of the ones I saw that has been paper pieced but I'm pretty happy with it.

I know this post is a few days early but it was such a cute little story I had to go ahead and share it with you all.  Hope you are having a wonderful weekend and I can't wait to see how everyone else is progressing with their farmers.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm Moving!

It's decided the Farmer and I just can't play nice together so I'm taking my ball and going home. Back to the city even. No I'm not giving up on this quilt along just yet but this week really has made me doubt my abilities to see this quilt through to the queen size beauty I was imagining. I'm thinking a twin (throw) might be a better goal at this point.

I made this first block up earlier in the week with little to no trouble. I hung it on the wall and I was quite proud of that little block and even went so far as to name it my current favorite. I like that it has some small pieces so it wasn't the easiest block I had made but there is also something about the fabrics in this block that I think just set off the pattern and make it a happy little block.

Block # 12 Broken Sugar Bowl

Later in the week I was consumed by preparing for a yard sale and then a sick puppy. The yard sale went well but who knew it would be so much work. My mom and dad saved the day by bringing up portable shade Friday afternoon which came in handy on Saturday as I tend to get sunburn just from seeing the sun on tv. Still no clarification on what is effecting the bulldog but I've been doing some research online and my best uneducated guess is that it's a mild case of canine drop jaw. The vet has no idea what it could be. This brings me to Sunday when I decided to sew up my second block for this week so that I would have something to tell you guys about today. So here is the story of my EPIC FAIL.

Oops those aren't long enough

I started by selecting Block #88 Star of Hope it looked easy enough and some quick math led me to make 8 1 1/2 inch HST and a 5 1/2 inch square. It made sense at the time but oops those side pieces aren't long enough.

Fail # 2
Rather than scrap the tiny HST I searched through the book and found Block #93 Swallow. Again I did some math cut the remaining pieces and went to work. Maybe I need to take a refresher course in math because clearly this did not work out well either. So I called it a night. Monday night I was determined that I was going to make my second block for this week. I had heard a few times about Lori from Bee in my Bonnet and her tutorials so away I went. I read through all the tutorials made a trip to Office Max to get some graph paper and then got to work on Block #50 Honey's Choice. I drew it all out and figured out how big the pieces needed to be. I realized that I could use those same 1 1/2 inch HST but I was feeling lazy and rather than unpick that seam I just made some more. Everything was moving along smoothly. I realized I made a mistake in cutting my center pieces 1 1/2 by 3 instead of 2 1/2 so just a quick snip to fix the problem. I finished the block and I was pretty happy with how the pinwheels were lined up and then I went to square up the block.

Too Small

Tears were shed and that was the end of the night for me. The block only measures 5 3/4 instead of 6 1/2 like it should. So I am 3/4 of an inch short all the way around. I'm guessing I can take this apart and just cut the middle pieces a little bigger to correct the problem but hey what did I miss? On the graph paper it all lined up correctly. But then again the graph paper is drawn to the finished size of the block and not the unfinished size so maybe those pinwheels were suppose to be 2 3/4 and not 2 1/2? It's all so confusing to me. I wish I knew how to paper piece better so that I could make some of these blocks that way. In the mean time I don't guess I will be taking any more short cuts but rather cutting each and every template.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WIP Wednesday # 9

Well I can't believe it's already Wednesday again.  I haven't had much time to sew as of late with all the stuff going on around here but I did manage to make a small dent in the WIP list this week.  I managed to finish my July blocks for Do.Good Stitches just in time for the end of the month.  Sometimes it is the blocks that look like they are going to be easy to make that leave me frustrated and spending way to much time with my frenemy the seam ripper.  In the Grace circle for July we were asked to make these wonky cross blocks.  Well I don't really like crosses to be wonky so I'm looking at these more as wonky plus sign blocks.  Personal preference.  But boy oh boy did these little buggers put me through the ringer.

Wonky Plus Signs July Grace Circle Do.Good Stitches
I'm still working away on my Farmer's Wife Quilt Along blocks.  I have to say that I am really enjoying this sampler and the skills I am learning and practicing.  I will admit that after seeing Camille's blocks this week two things happened.  (A) I was wishing Ruby was out already.  I mean come on enough with the teasing already.  (B) I found that there is another sampler book based on Civil War love letters.  I mean really love letters, and the calm colors of Ruby.  Yes I'm already plotting adding the book to my Amazon wish list for Christmas.  Can you blame me?

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 10
I managed to get caught up to block 5 on the Summer Sampler Quilt Along.  I know still very far behind but I am really liking the look of these blocks so far.  And goodness you should see some of the suggested blocks popping up in flickr to make in order to increase the size of this quilt.  Some of them are just amazing.

1st 4 Blocks Summer Sampler Quilt Along
I'm adding a new project to the list as well.  After seeing this quilt I knew I had to make one.  In celebration of my promotion (yes I got one, no it doesn't really mean anything) a fat quarter bundle of Joel Dewberry's Heirloom made it's way to my house.  I can't wait to get started on this one.  I picked up Kona Maize, Butter, and Champagne Tuesday during lunch in hopes of getting started but the two yellows aren't right and I can't decide if I like the Champagne or if it just makes the fabrics look dirty.  I really have to love this quilt as I am making it to sit out year round on our couch.  That's the plan anyway.  I wanted something more unexpected than off white but not too dark.  Suggestions?

Head on over to Lee's to see what everyone else is up to!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 10

So since the farmer and I are still recovering from the bumps in the road last week I decided I better stick with two fairly easy blocks for this week. I didn't really want to mess with templates and since I've already discovered my paper piecing skills leave much to be desired I figured I better do myself a favor and go with easy. I ended up making these two little blocks and the only part that required much thought on my part were the center hourglass blocks. Easy enough, I ended up making them larger than necessary by mistake and then just trimmed them down to the right size. All in all I am happy with the way the blocks look.

Block # 109 Windows

Block # 69 Practical Orchard

I found a little bit of Fresh Cottons online and placed an order for a few pieces to give me a little more room to work with. But I am still very much considering adding in another line as well. I reached out to my good friend Corey because I know she loves Fig Tree as much as I do and I knew she would have some on hand to compare. She suggested mixing in Buttercup as it will add blue to my range as well as some peachy tones of pink. I'm thinking the touch of blue might be just the thing so now I am on the hunt for just a little bit of Buttercup to mix in.