Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Little Bit at a Time

I did a little work on Running Stitches tonight. As I was buying the fabric for the cornerstones, the lady cutting the fabric kept commenting on how bright it was. I thinking I'm liking bright! I might have made a mistake in my math. I didn't write anything down, but I remember planning on 6 by 5 for 30 blocks needed. As I'm laying it out, that seems to be about the right size. I keep thinking I may have cut 30 each of the dark and the light. Hmmm, Maybe I'll be making twin quilts.
We had Thai Beef Strips for dinner last night. It was one of the meals I made last week at My Delicious Dinners. It was served over rice, which turned out really well, and there was A LOT of it. For some reason I decided that it would taste really good as rice pudding. I found a recipe, online but it called for a ratio of one cup of rice to one cup of sugar -- wow that didn't sound right. So I used one cup of sugar and FOUR cups of rice -- and it turned out really tasty. It reminded me of the comfort foods of childhood. I didn't grow up poor, but we knew about potato soup, bread pudding, hunter stew and goulash in our house. Those were the dishes that got us through to payday. Here's my modified recipe for rice pudding:


4 c. leftover rice
1 c. sugar
2 c. milk
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine rice, sugar, butter, flavoring. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring after 15 minutes and again when pudding is done. Serve warm or chilled.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This and That

I was blog hopping yesterday and found an idea for fabric grocery bags Quilting in Connecticut. There was even a little pocket on the front to tuck the bag into for storage. I didn't have a pattern, but it said use a plastic grocery bag as a template. So I sat down and came up with a bag from some more of the scary blue and hot pink birds of paradise fabric. It is lined with some leftover orange from the orange and teal pinwheels quilt that is hanging patiently as a flimsy in my closet. I think I have forgotten everything I know about sewing things that are not flat, and had trouble with the whole lining and turning part. Every time I make a sundress for the girls I struggle with the whole turning of the bodice with the straps step. So it's not quite orthodox, but I think I'll find some directions and make a few more.
I did that last night instead of working on Dear Jane, so I pulled out a block that I had kitted long ago (I have April 8 written in the margins of the book) and tried again to do some paper piecing. I keep thinking I'll get good at it if I keep trying, but maybe that's just wishful thinking. I think it's a tad too small, but I can figure that out later. It's called Springbook Park, it is K-8, and it has 24 pieces. The pattern only calls for 23, but one of my white bits was too short and needed some help. Can you see my extra seam?
One of the Girl Scouts from our troop came over to play today and she was wearing the flip flops we made last night at the meeting. It was like little pom poms on her feet. Can't get much cuter than that! I can imagine all 9 of us running around at Camporee with our matching pom pom feet.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Using LOTS of scraps

Tonight was a girl scout meeting. We made flip flops to wear to Camporee. I'm not sure how many yards I used, but it was a lot of ugly! Our theme this year is going to be red white and blue, so I pulled out everything in those colors that I don't love anymore. The scraps I like the least were the ones the girls fought over -- paper glittery snowflakes and blue with hot pink birds of paradise were the big hits of the night -- yikes. Not much time for sewing tonight, but I might pull out some Dear Jane Blocks while the president gives his state of the union

New Quilt in the Works

I was browsing at Quilting Keepsakes and found this really cool running fabric. I can't tell you how long I spent when I was working on my "Road to a Marathon" quilt trying to find running themed fabric. So I had to order a yard of each! I didn't have anything for the cornerstones, but the stripes for the side pieces were already in my stash. I also needed a border fabric for Carolina Crossroads, so off to the fabric store I went. I should have been grading papers last night, but instead I got a whole quilt cut out. I have enough of the theme fabric for a 5 x 6 setting and then I think I'll back it with flannel so it will be snugly. I'm going to call it "Running Stitches".
I just got an e-mail from my mom saying she loved my new blog. My husband thinks I should put more kid pictures in and call it a family blog instead of a quilting blog. Maybe I"ll hybridize.....
Tomorrow is the Florida primary so there is no school for the kids. There are two tax bills on the ballot as well, so I'll have to make sure I get out and vote, even though there are no democratic delegates for Florida.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I finished two more dear Jane blocks. They are Molly's Muffins (G-13) with 13 pieces and Pie Sale (H-6) with 21 pieces. I really like the way Pie Sale looks, I could imagine a whole quilt out of this one.

I finally finished putting the Carolina crossroads top together, now I just have to decide on borders. My husband says that the top is complicated enough, I should only use plain borders. He says that about all of my quilts.

Our baby doll is on oxygen! I used to laugh when all of our babies would nurse, kids notice everything! They were fascinated at Christmas with their baby cousin and wanted to know why he had tubes in his nose. I wonder what they would do to their babies if we went back to visit now and saw his new feeding tube?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Little Quilting

My 6 year old had a chess tournament on Saturday (his first one!) and it required a lot of sitting and waiting. I was smart enough this time to bring along some handwork. Fortunately I had a package of prepared Dear Jane blocks ready to go. It took 8 hours to play 5 games of chess and appliqué two blocks (along with a few breaks for pizza and cheezits)! We took home a trophy for 5th place in the K-1 division and a first tournament pin. The first block is J10, it's called Cheiko's Calla Lily and has 21 pieces. The second is C11, it's called Soldiers and Sailors Monuments and has 12 pieces.
Then I decided to practice paper piecing on these little log cabin blocks. I ordered a panel of quilting saying from Keepsake quilting that is made of 3.5 inch blocks. I thought I could alternate them with these little guys and make a little wall hanging. I love the accuracy of these blocks, but I don't enjoy the process as much as regular piecing. Still, I think they are awfully cute:)

Monday, January 21, 2008


This is the spot in our minivan where our radio and XM receiver used to be. Why would someone steal the faceplate to a radio and leave the radio behind? Why does my husband refuse to lock the car at night? Am I going to have to drive from pawn shop to pawn shop to buy back our stolen merchandise AGAIN? At least this time, unlike the last, my dear husband didn't leave my purse unlocked in his car while I was giving birth to our third child. And at least it was just our car that was broken into, and not our home this time. Still, I've cleaned more fingerprint dust than anyone should have to, and spent more time in pawn shops than I would like to. SIGH...
I would have been fine just being robbed, but it was hard to explain to the kids. We simply said that bad men had broken into the car and taken daddies radio. MY little princess with the earnest wisdom of her four-and-a-half years looked at me quite confused, and said, "Mommy, I thought bad guys were imaginary." We spend so much time telling her that all the bad things are make-believe and that she shouldn't be scared, how do I tell her that bad guys are really real even though monsters are still just pretend?

I was up until 1 last night finishing up the blocks for Carolina Crossroads. Now I just have to decide the sashing issue and I can get the top made. I don't have any large yardage for the back, so I was thinking about doing the Bonny Hunter 10 inch square thing. I did find the label last night, so that is ready to go. I just want to add the final piece count after I decide about the borders and such.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

To Sash or not to Sash?

I was happy enough with my Carolina Crossroads, I thought it looked quite nice actually. Then I saw all the people who were adding sashing strips to the quilt and changing it from a diagonal to a straight set. Well, I've already made the setting triangles, so there is NO way I'm going to change the setting, but some of the quilts with sashings added are quite nice. And so now I have to decide which I like better. I see the stars without sashing, but my eye seems to find the massive checkerboard first. I like the way the exact blocks used are camouflaged and the eye flows over the quilt in the original design, I think it makes it look more complicated. But each block is highlighted by the sashing strips. And so, now I must decide, to sash or not to sash. I've still got 9 more rail fence blocks to sew together, so I guess I can mull for a few minutes more. If I leave it on the floor of the family room for a couple of days, I can assault people who come to the door and make them vote.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's begining to look a lot like A QUILT

I got my side triangles finished this afternoon, but haven't had time to do the corners yet. Still, I couldn't resist, putting together my thoughts on the last set of squares and seeing what they would look like together. I think I must be pretty close, there are only so many logical ways for the rest of the squares to fit together. I love the way the two squares play so well together, making a secondary pattern, you almost can't tell where one ends and the other begins. I wish I had a design wall big enough to play, but my husband is quite used to coming home to a quilt in the formal living room. It's even cold enough now that we had to close all the windows, so the blocks won't blow away:)

Sunday, January 13, 2008


These are two options for sashing the Elm Creek Quilt. The strips are two inches, the purple is a plain sashing square, while the pink uses corner triangles to turn the sashing square into a flying geese star. I like the star effect, but it might be adding too much business to an already complicated quilt?
I am almost done with my next step for the Carolina Crossroads mystery. I planned to get it all finished this weekend. Then my daughter came home from school telling me that one of the girls in her class got checked out early for leader daughter camping. I said, "That's silly, the leader daughter camping trip isn't until next weekend!" Well, I guess I was off by a weekend. We managed to be packed and out the door in 23 minutes flat! We made it halfway across the state and hardly missed a thing. So my sewing plans got a little waylaid along the way. I didn't even have a chance to grab handwork on the way out the door :(
The kids are all off school tomorrow, so Dad is going to stay home with them in the morning. One of the advantages to being a teacher is supposed to be that I have the same days off as my kids, but sometimes our schedules just don't sink up. At least next Monday is a "holiday for all" And thanks to my poor scheduling capabilities, I'll have an unplanned three day weekend at home.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Two more Elm Creek Blocks

After pulling out my Elm Creek Sampler Quilt yesterday, I realized that I have enough blocks made already for a foyer quilt. I finished up these two, which were already cut and decided to turn the blocks into a quilt. After taking out the mysteriously large blocks, I'll have enough for a 5 by 6 setting. I think I'll add a simple sashing, a colorful border and call it good enough. As much fun as it is to make big quilts, I'd rather have finished ones to hang and enjoy. That will also liberate the scraps for something fun!
The kids are home early today which is very odd indeed. Usually semester exams fall just before winter break, and everyone gets out early while the older kids are taking exams. Well, the legislature got involved, and mandated a later school start date. So exams have been moved until after winter break. After having two weeks off, they go to school for two days, and then have early dismissal for the next three days. To make matters even worse, they get next Monday off for teacher planning. The Monday after that is Martin Luther King Day, another holiday, and the week after has another teacher workday! Having a day off every month or so is nice, but occasionally there has to be a full five day week -- doesn't there?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Elm Creek Jane Revisited

I was talking to Melinda at who is also working on Sylvia's Sampler from Elm Creek Quilts. I really haven't seen anyone else working on this one! Everyone seems to be doing Dear Jane. I was inspired to pull out my blocks and see where I stand. I was puzzled to find that most of them were 6 inches unfinished, but some of blocks were 6.5 inches -- I don't know what's up with that. I also put in some of the first Dear Jane blocks I made early on before I switched to a blue and white color scheme. I'm not planning on making the whole quilt, but I haven't decided yet when to stop. I still need to decide on setting options. I have been pondering making each block into a star using flying geese units. Maybe I'll make a couple and see how I like it. I guess I should figure out how big I want it to be and where I want it to go. I've got a quilt spot in the foyer for small quilts and have been trying to do a seasonal type of thing. This would work for the summer I think, but sashing might make it too big.

Monday, January 7, 2008

In denial

So I know I should be working on lesson plans, or laundry, or something productive. But I had a quilt in my mind and I wanted to play with the idea. I had been admiring Bonnie's Cathedral Star Quilt, but didn't really want to do any HST blocks. So I came up with an Irish Chain variation, and wanted to make a block to see how it would look. I was trying to make the star points in warm colors and the four patches in cool colors, hoping that it would make the star points pop out, but I'm not sure if that's the effect I'm getting. Anyway, it was fun to play.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Getting ready to shift gears

Thanks Tamera and Ila for you comments on my recent post. I'm still new to blogging and have not yet figured out how to respond. Any helpful advice out there? If I click on the comments, it will let me comment on the comment, but it only seems to list on my site, not to go back to the sender. Is that right? Or is it considered appropriate to follow the links through the senders homepage and respond via e-mail? Is there some brief manual out there on the etiquette of blogging that I should Google? I lurked in the background of the Quilt Maverick ring for over a year, but have just now started to participate thanks to the Carolina Crossroad Mystery Group. I have to say that I am enjoying keeping track of my progress and creating a record of what I do. I've even learned a few handy HTML codes.

Speaking of progress, I cut out the rest of the hourglass blocks for step 5 of Carolina, and finished bordering the John Deere Quilt. I still plan to piece the back to that tonight and get it off of the living room floor before the school week starts. I've enjoyed spreading my quilts out all over the house over the break, but I'm sure my husband would like to sit down to breakfast without moving a cutting mat, or lounge on the couch without peering over an ironing board! Still, it was nice while it lasted.
I'm trying to look forward to getting back to school, but I've had such a nice break that it is hard. to do. I had to look up my own syllabus online to remember where we are supposed to start the new semester (stoichiometry in chemistry and the benthic zone for marine science -- aren't you glad you asked?). I was afraid that tomorrow was a Girl Scout night as well and was ready to have an anxiety attack, but I was off a week, so I can wade back in a little more slowly -- whew!
So with all of that looming, I slipped out of the house this afternoon to catch a "chick flick" and enjoy a few minutes without the kids. I really do love my kids, but if I had to play another board game or referee another heated negotiation I was going to get a little grumpy. So I saw PS I love you, even though the review said it was full of "shallow tear". I have no objections to shallow tears, having been known to tear up over a McDonald's commercial. It was just what I needed, and put me down south by the fabric store where I picked up some green quilting thread and a can of spray baste. Life is pretty good most of the time.

Almost forgot about a Sunday Stash Report. I used up lots of yardage in the borders and backs of the Pinwheel and John Deere Quilts. Even though I bought some remnants and three new reds, the amount out is still more than the amount in!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Patriotic Log cabin layout

I was playing around with the layout for my log cabin quilt this evening, and came up with this. It's 10 by 12, with 8 inch blocks, it should end up about 80 by 96 before borders. Now I know how many of each block to make!
I put borders on the John Deere Quilt tonight, but the light isn't good for pictures at night. The flash doesn't reach from the balcony and everything ends up looking dark.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Border, Back and Binding Ready to GO

I bordered the orange and teal quilt tonight -- all from stash! I even used three orphan blocks. I thought I was going to have to buy fabric, but I kept going to the cupboard and pulling things out, some matched better than others. Of course piecing the back took longer than sewing the blocks together for the front, but they are both done now. I cut the binding, and threw everything that was left into the scrap bag. Now I have an empty project container to ponder......

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Two Tops in Need of Borders

I took two sets of blocks that had been aging for a while and sewed them together into tops today. Now I just have to decide on borders!
The first is a teal and orange pinwheel that I started as one of two options for his bed when my son was really into orange. I ended up going with a larger pinwheel I did "quilt as you go", which has been on his bed since shortly after we moved three years ago. So these poor little reject blocks have been sitting nicely labeled wondering what to do now that his favorite color is red.
The second is a set of courthouse step blocks that I pieced with my nephew while he was visiting this summer during his baby brothers surgery. We did lots of projects and outings as distractions, but didn't manage to finish this up. If I get my act together I can ship it off in time for his birthday next month.

How many UFOs is too Many?

I like to think I don't have any UFOs, just lots of WIPs (works in progress). I like having something in each of the different stages of completion so that I can work on what I am in the mood for; appliqué or hand quilting in front of the TV, serious chain piecing if I have time in front of the machine.... you get the idea. But I have trouble justifying so many things left undone. Starting something new is always more fun than finishing. I have finished the blocks for three quilts that sit as blocks in baggies! That may not seem like a lot to some of you, but I only finished 8 quilts all of last year! So, in order to satisfy my need for variety, without becoming overwhelmed with guilt about projects not finished, I'm going to try to have only one quilt in each stage at a time.
Now I just have to assess my WIPs list and see where I stand.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Step 5 half done

I was surprised to see step 5 posted already, but I was home today on winter break with the kids and decided to jump in. I cut fabric for 50 squares, but worried that I didn't have much variety in my reds. Most have already been cut and fed into the 1.5 inch strip tub. I was surprised to find so few in my 2 inch tub, and very few in the stash. I like the way to new blocks look, I'll just have to decide whether to use what I have or go get a few more reds. Given that we are supposed to have the coldest night in at least 5 years tonight (it could freeze!) I think I'll make do with what I have.
I seem to have a very small stash compared to most of the bloggers I read, but I'm not as prolific as them either. I try to have a few things on hand to fill in and in planning for future quilts, but never in large quantities unless it's needed for something specific. I haven't really found my "quilting voice" yet, so I'm not sure what I would collect if I were to try. I guess my fear is that I'll get lots of something, say jewel tones or reproductions, and then decide that's not really my style after all. I tend to like scrappier quilts, so having bits of lots of things tends to work for me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

First finish for 2008

I pulled the girl scout quilt out yesterday and got it quilted. My troop made this as part of a learn to sew badge. I think they did a great job! We worked on tying it, but with 8 year old attention spans, I thought they could use a little help in the finishing stages. We have had trouble deciding what to do with it. Everyone has a special relative or friend they want to give it to. I quilted loop-de-loops in the center and a simple meander in the border. I finished sewing the binding down this morning while watching the Rose Bowl Parade.