Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge: January Motif

If I stitch fast enough does it count as aerobic exercise?

I've misplaced a month. Does anyone know what happened to January? I had big plans for lots of finished projects this month, but as it turns out I have nary a one. However, I am slipping in by the skin of my teeth with the January FMQ challenge. To tell the truth, FMQ is still really scary to me. So I saved it to the very last day of the month so that I would just have to do it anyway. Procrastination at its best. Here are the results of my January practice.

First, I sketched out a couple of sheets of leaves in my “warm-up notebook.” When I felt pretty comfortable with it, I doodled out a page in my quilt journal so I'll have it for future reference.

Then I filled up about half of a practice quilt sandwich. I got some white muslin which is about 36" wide. I cut it at half-yard intervals and made 18” x 18” practice sandwiches. I used a bright green {polyester} Sulky embroidery thread so that the quilting would show.

The top two leaves here are the teacher's pets on my practice. And in the bottom right corner is the class clown, who doesn't have a stem down the middle and has something weird sticking out of the top of it.

Then I moved on to my Sampler Quilt. I picked two neutral Kona Cottons and did the 42” x 42” size. Since this is a sampler, I used AURIfil Makò 50-weight thread in an olive green color, so that the quilting would show. And show it does, for better or for worse.

This is my favorite leaf. It was the very last leaf I stitched today. I guess you could say it is the grand finale.

There is a bonus to waiting to the last day of the month to do January's exercise. I'm all warmed up now and tomorrow the February motif will be revealed, so I can get it done early.

Today's post brought to you by:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sabbath Songs: Because I Have Been Given Much

If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. –Thomas S. Monson

Preface: I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Our church does not have a paid ministry and members are asked to help out with everything from custodial duties and grounds maintenance to lessons and “sermons” on Sundays. When I use the word sermon, I use it loosely, because although there is a topic assigned, it is left up to the person who has been asked to speak what he or she wants to talk about. Sermons, or “talks” as we call them, ranged from a few short minutes to thirty minutes and two or three people are asked to speak every Sunday. Starting at the age of twelve Young Men and Women are asked to give a three to five minute talk about once a year. Last week Grasshopper had the opportunity to give a talk. He did such a good job and didn't seem nervous at all. I thought it would be fun to share his talk, along with one of the songs we sang during the meeting.

I was asked to give a talk on gratitude today. Gratitude means thankfulness and appreciation for the things we own, the house we live in, to even simple things like thankfulness for a nice warm bed to sleep in. President Monson said, “do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted.”

In Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the ten lepers. Leprosy is a contagious skin disease, which eventually leads to death. Ten lepers approached Jesus and asked to be cleansed and so Jesus told them to go to the priests. On the way they saw that they were cleansed. They went on their way and only one man returned to thank Jesus. Jesus performed a wonderful miracle for these ten men, but only one was grateful enough to return and thank Him.

Thanksgiving is one of the best times to show gratitude because the holiday focuses on thankfulness and gratitude. But we should look for things to be thankful for all year round. President Monson taught us that gratitude is a divine principle. He said, “we can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’”

President Joseph F. Smith taught how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. He said, “the grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life.” He continued: “Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!”

Prayer is the key to having a grateful heart. President Monson taught, “A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said that ‘feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’”

If we work on having a more grateful attitude, we’re a lot more likely to be spiritually strong and happy. I’m thankful for a lot of things, like my house, my neighborhood, the school I go to, even my psychical abilities, and I’m also thankful that I could come up and give a talk. There’s almost always a way to be thankful for anything.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Favourite Things Friday: New Red Coat

Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem. Most things are judged by their jackets. –Baltasar Gracian

It is no longer Friday anywhere in the world. I checked. But I haven't done an FTF since December and I have a really good one this week. Since it is my blog and I make the rules, I'm doing Favourite Things Friday on Saturday this week.

If you've followed me for any amount of time, you'll know that I love to get a great deal. Buying on sale is my middle name. In my family, we call it being a bargain shopper. And you bet your boots I am. I am very conscious of how I spend my money and I like to make it go as far as I can. That being said, I am not a thrift-shop kind of gal. There are lots of people I know who find amazing things at thrift shops and I truly admire them for this skill. Intellectually, I know that there are a great many wonderful deals to be had. But emotionally, it is much more satisfying to me to make an amazing find on the clearance rack. I love the feeling of getting something brand new for practically nothing. Case in point: The price tag on this red coat said $150.00. I brought it home with me for the sum total of $18.69. That is 88% off!

Style & Co. Double-Breasted Pea Coat with Removable Hood, Macy's

Special thanks to e. of Pink Suede Shoe for the photography. You are a genius.

I found a few other really great things on the clearance rack this week as well. There are probably too many to include in one post. As dorky as I feel posing for and posting pictures of myself, I've decided to break up my haul into smaller posts over the next few weeks and show you what I got on what I've decided to call Wardrobe Wednesdays. In the meantime, I'll be drooling over wearing that red coat every chance I get.

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Must Ask . . . What Is Your Dream Job?

Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties. –Doug Larson

I guess I satisfied your curiosity last week with my answers to your questions, because there were only a few more this week. But they were a really great bunch which gave me plenty to talk about. I'll start off with Richard's question: What are your 3 favorite blocks. And what block do you hate (and no, "square ones," is not a fair answer to either)?

My favorite blocks to make are Pinwheels, Stars and Flying Geese, not necessarily in that order. A pinwheel block was the first block {other than squares} I ever pieced and it was love. That pinwheel was the very center of the quilt and it went inside a star block, which uses flying geese units for the points. I'm just guessing here, but perhaps that is why those blocks are at the top of my list. I'm working on a Pinwheel Sampler quilt, which I hope to finish up in the next few weeks. I'm also working very, very slowly on a star quilt, which I hope is going to be awesome if I ever get it done. I've only been working on it here and there for about five years now. As I mentioned, flying geese are most often used in star points, but I also love them on their own and plan to use them in the border of another of my many, many Ph.D quilts. For flying geese units, I really like Patti Anderson's no-waste method of piecing them.

And blocks I don't like to piece? Any block that doesn't come out how it is supposed to :rofl:.

From my cute sister, Jill, If you could have any animal as a pet, what would you choose?

We have a fire-bellied toad named Pants {sadly, Violet died}. I like keeping toads, aside from the keeping live crickets to feed the toads and having to buy cricket food to keep the crickets alive and keeping the aquarium slime-free.

Someday, I think we'll get a dog. That will be dependent on how long I keep working, though, because keeping a dog locked up all day while we're away just wouldn't be nice.

I think the pet I would absolutely love the best, though, is not really one pet, but more of an eco-system. I would love a salt-water aquarium. A really big one. With lots and lots of colorful fish. And sea horses. I once saw a tank of just sea horses and they were the coolest little creatures ever. This tank would, of course, have a built-in maintenance man to keep the tank clean and balanced and running like it is supposed to.

And finally, Ann Marie asked, If you could have your dream job, what would you be doing? Where we you be living to do it too?

Great question! Thank you so much for asking :wink:. I have several dream jobs. Some of them are jobs that would be a dream to do and others are more like jobs that I could only do in my dreams.

In the category of jobs that would be a dream, I would love to work on the gardening/landscaping crew at an amusement park. Specifically, I'm thinking of a local amusement park, which sits smack in the middle of my mom's house and Mr. Bug's job. If we moved to the city where it is located, it would cut 5 hours and 20 minutes of commute time every week for Mr. Bug, bring me a hop, skip and a jump away from my mom AND make working in their gardens a possibility.

As far as other plausible jobs, I'd love to work in a quilt shop, and especially would like to teach classes. Working at quilt shop, however, does not seem like a very good source of income. I know all you fabric-a-holics know what I mean. I think that would have to be a job where I wasn't depending on wages earned.

In the realm of really-cool-but-a-total-longshot would have to be the writer of books that people like to read. You might have noticed that I like to write. I have ideas for a couple of books floating around in my head. The trouble comes in inventing a conflict that is interesting enough to engage the readers without doing something that has already been done. Doing so almost necessitates using supernatural elements in the story, which I'm really hesitant to do. After all, who can top Harry Potter? Still, one day, I might actually try stringing together a few thoughts and see if a plot develops.

If none of those work out, I've got a day job that I like. There are certain things I don't like about where I work, which I won't go into because that can get you fired. The job itself I do like. I work with numbers. They are predictable. Consistent. Dependable. Constant. That I like.

How about you? I must ask . . . what is your dream job? There is a poll in the sidebar with lots of options. Vote. Obviously, I couldn't anticipate everyone's dreams so if you don't find what you're looking for {or even if you do} leave me a comment and tell me how you'd like to spend your working hours.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rainbow Connection

When it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow. –GK Chesterton

It snowed on Saturday night. Not really big news for this time of year, except it has been an extraordinarily mild winter. But it brought about an interesting phenomenon that I've never seen before, and of course I have a story to go with it. LadyBug and I went out to shovel on Sunday afternoon. It was kind of a two-part job this time. Grasshopper and I shoveled together before church, so it was LadyBug's turn to come out and help me afterwards. She loves the snow and shovels for as long as she can stand it and when she can't resist the call of the snow any longer she falls down in it, usually on her back. Pretty soon, she said, there's a rainbow. I was a little bit surprised and looked around for it. I couldn't see it, so I asked her where it was. She pointed straight up and said, there. And there it was. A rainbow on the dome of the sky. I guess that's what you'd call it. I've never seen one that didn't touch the horizon at one point or another and I wondered how often rainbows occur at the top of the sky.

And then I wondered how many rainbows I've missed because I was looking down instead of up.

This song has always been a favorite of mine. Jason Mraz does an especially awesome job.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Week of Giveaways: Winners' Roll-Call

I nod to a passing stranger, and the stranger nods back, and two human beings go off, feeling a little less anonymous.
Robert Brault

I've had so much fun the last couple of weeks and I think my week of giveaways was a huge success. I started planning in about March of last year and am so happy with how it all came together. I enjoyed reading each and every comment, even though due to time constraints I wasn't able to reply. Thank you all so much for reading, commenting and sharing!

And now it is time to reveal the winners. It is always a little sad for me because only one person gets to win each prize. Honestly, I wish I could pick you all as winners, but there can only be one. You all knew that when you signed up, right? I had Mr. Bug and the Little Bugs help me with the random draw. Based on the number of entrants for each giveaway, I gave them a range of numbers and let them pick one. I didn't tell them which giveaway they were doing or coach them in any way to pick the winners. It was completely fair and absolutely random.

• Embroidery Gift Pack Winner:
Drawn by LadyBug

Congratulations to
:partytime: Mommarock :partytime:
of Run to Momma

who said: I'm at that point where I'm no longer happy that it is my birthday, but I'm happy that it is yours :biggrin:.

• Backyard Baby Fat Quarter Bundle Winner:
Drawn by Grasshopper

Congratulations to
:partytime: Priya :partytime:

who said: Love the colors .... would love to win.

• $50 Long-Arm Machine Quilting Gift Certificate Winner
Drawn by Mr. Bug

Congratulations to
:partytime: P. :partytime:
of The Way I Sew It

who said: I blogged about your giveaways, so here is my extra entry!

• Project Polka-Dot Quilt Kit Winners
Drawn by LadyBug

Congratulations to
:partytime: Christine :partytime:
of MacDonald's Patch

who said: Please count me in. I just love all those dots. I can't believe there's 112 different dotty fabrics! Thanks for the chance.

Drawn by Grasshopper
Congratulations to
:partytime: Janet :partytime:
of Caribou Crossing Chronicles

who said: Oh wow! Lovely giveaway. Thanks for entering me.

• Machine Quilting Tools Gift Pack Winner
Drawn by Mr. Bug

Congratulations to
:partytime: Martina :partytime:
of Sunshine Quilting

who said: I want to try machine quilting this year, so those items would be just perfect! Thanks again, this was a fun week. Hope you have a wonderful birthday too! Be blessed

Thank you, again, to all who entered and to my sponsors, Angie of 5 Little Monkeys Quilting and the Fat Quarter Shop.

To my winners, I would love to see what you make, so please send photos or a link to your blog posts!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Must Ask . . . What Would You Like to Ask, Part II?

I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. –Eleanor Roosevelt

Today's the day that I answer all your burning questions. I know you've all been waiting for it with baited breath so, let's get rolling, shall we?

First up, P. of The Way I Sew It asked, If you had a personal assistant (like I wish I did), what would you have asked them to do for you this week?

My answer to that question today is that I would have a P.A. take down my Christmas tree, because yes, it is still up on the 19th of January. Now that I've outed myself, I'm going to have to take it down tonight because that's just plain embarrassing.

When I read P.'s question two weeks ago, the first thing that came to mind was that I wouldn't so much like a personal assistant as I would like to be able to split myself up, like that movie with Michael Keaton, Multiplicity. In the movie, he clones himself and each of the clones possesses one of his character traits. So, I'd like to split off the part of me who likes to do housework {and really, there is a part of me who likes it. Or, maybe I like the satisfaction of having done it} and let her loose. Then I'd send the part of me who likes my job off to work every day. I'd send the part of me who likes to run errands off to do that, the part of me who loves children off to volunteer at my kids' school and I'd have the part of me who loves to cook prepare menus, prep ingredients and feed us all delicious and nutritionally balanced meals every day. And then the REAL me would sit down and sew. At the end of the day, I'd put myself back together and enjoy feeling like I had conquered the world.

Shay from Quilting In My Pyjamas asked, What have you wanted to do since you were a child that you still havent done yet?

Of all the questions, I think this is the hardest to answer. The first thing that came to mind was that I've never owned a pink Volkswagen Beetle. When I was a kid, that's what I wanted. I did own a red Volkswagen Beetle, which started out as a sort-of tomato soup pink before my dad painted it red, and which I loved to pieces. But there is still part of me that would love to drive a really pink {as in Pepto pink} VW Bug.

Something else that came to mind is that I would love to go to a masquerade ball. It just seems so mysterious and glamorous and grown-up. A charity in Utah has hosted one for the past two years and I really wanted to go. If I ever had the chance, I would absolutely jump at it.

Elizabeth at Mom's Sewing Room wanted to know, Where do you sew? Do you have a room, table, a place you can leave things or do you have to get stuff out and put it away every time you sew?

I do my machine quilting at the kitchen table because it is big enough to support most of the quilt as I work. But I do most of my sew in my living room and my sewing is always out. I have a card table set up in there and my projects are all over the place; stacked on the table and under the table, on the ends of the couches, stashed in the bookshelf and sometimes spread across the floor. We don't have a family room, just the living room that the front door opens into. I suppose that is why I'm not too worried about getting the Christmas tree down, because having my sewing mess all over the place and the tree still up is only slightly more embarrassing when someone comes to the door than when someone comes to the door and it is just my sewing mess.

Also, (I know this is TWO questions) are either of your kids interested in sewing?

LadyBug is a little bit interested. She's done a few projects by hand and we had "sewing lessons," but she got bored having to practice sewing lines on paper and learning all the names of the parts on the machine, so I think the answer to your question would mostly be "no," although I would like to involve them both more. Perhaps there will be a mandatory pillowcase workshop rather soon at Bug Cottage.

Ann Marie at 16 Muddy Feet asked a really delightful question. She said, If you had $1000 to spend on fabric, where would you go to buy it all?

Mary Jo's in North Carolina. Mary Jo's Cloth store is a mecca where you'll find mountains of fabric at thimble sized prices. While I've only shopped their shelves from the virtual world, I have it on good authority that Mary Jo's is everything it promises.

Marianne, aka Ranger Anna at Misadventures with Rangers wanted to know, Were/are you a Girl Scout? And for how long? (I was going to ask you where you got your quiz widget to ask this! It's the 100th year of Girl Scouting and I've been one for 50 of those... sheesh.)

First off, Marianne, congratulations! That is really something to be proud of. Secondly, I hope you won't unfollow me when I tell you that I am really mostly an indoor kind of girl and was not a Girl Scout. Camping/hiking/scouting is just not my cup of tea, though it is not for lack of trying. Between the ages of 12 and 18, I went camping every summer with a girls youth group. I even went winter camping once. I dug a snow cave and slept in it and everything. I have allergies and being out in all that nature is really miserable, especially the sleeping portion. I also miss showering and toilets that flush. However, I do support the Girl Scout cookie program whole-heartedly, so I hope that wins me some brownie points.

Marianne, e-mail me and I'll tell you how to do the quiz widget.

Richard over at Richard Quilts asked, I am new to quilting so my question is how long have you been quilting? Oh and what is your most prized quilt that you have ever made? Wait that's 2 questions. Oops.

Two questions are totally allowed. To answer your first, I have to start at the beginning. I started sewing when I was 8, and moved from the basics like pillowcases to simple shorts to more complex garment construction. I started my first quilt 11 years ago. It is still not finished. I have only been doing my own machine quilting for about a year-and-a-half, and up until that point I only considered myself a seamstress/sewist/patchworker.

As for my most prized quilt, well, you opened a can of worms with that one. I can NEVER narrow any category down to just one favorite because I believe that every thing has its own kind of beauty. But, I'll give it a shot. I really love my Snowball Quilt because it was my first big success with free-motion quilting—the first quilt I did without stippling/meander or straight lines. And I really love the Glad of Heart and Kimono Garden table runners I made for Christmas gifts this last year.

Thank you, everyone, for such thoughtful questions! This was so much fun for me. I think that you all were pretty easy on me, though, because no one asked me about my most embarrassing moment. I wouldn't have been able to answer that anyway because I tend to repress those things. So how about we play round 2? I'm doing this mostly because I really need to go take down my Christmas tree, but also because nobody asked what my dream job would be {hint, hint}. So, go ahead. Ask me anything you want and I'll answer them all next week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Project Polka-Dot: Progress

We cannot direct the winds, but we can adjust our sails.

I've got the first polka-dot quilt top finished. The bottom half of the quilt top is considerably less bumpy than the top. I'd kind of figured out the secrets of the Drunkard's Path dies and adjusted my seams accordingly.

I love how colorful and scrappy it is. There are 112 different dotted fabrics in the quilt {there are four small circles on the quilt back}. This quilt does not have any borders, but I'm going to bind it in a really pretty red mini-dot. It will finish at 42" x 56". The polka-dot quilt kits I'm giving away include fabrics for two borders and those will finish at 52" x 66". I'll pick two winners and they'll each get one quilt kit, or if the winner is not a quilter, I'll turn the kit into a quilt for them. The giveaway closes at 10:00 pm MST on January 19th, so there's still time to enter.

I tried to arrange the fabrics so that they complimented those around them. I know it is a scrappy quilt, but I like to try to manage mayhem. Just for fun, I thought I'd see what this quilt looks like in terms of tones rather than colors. As you can see, the darks and lights are all kind of scattered. I'll be making a polka-dot quilt for myself, and I'm thinking of grouping tones together, with the darkest tones in the four corners and then working from dark on the edges to light in the center.

Besides the polka-dot quilt kits, I have a couple of other giveaways going on through tomorrow night. If you haven't already entered, check them out!
Week of Giveaways Directory:
Embroidery Gift Pack
Backyard Baby Fat Quarter Bundle
$50 Long-Arm Machine Quilting Gift Certificate
Polka-Dot Quilt
Machine Quilting Gift Pack

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The One Where My Blog Post Was Rescued

Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day. –Sally Koch

Blogger ate my post. It was unretrievable from my end. I sent up a flare for help. In less than 30 minutes there was a response and in just over an hour, I had my post back, complete with font formatting and hyperlinks in tact. Amazing. And also a little scary. What you put out there on the internet is forever, so be careful.

Sheesh. I'm starting to sound like my dad.

The reason I lost my post was because there were some questions about the vodka in the Magic Starch recipe and I went back to clarify. I think I replied to everyone who left a question in the comment via e-mail. But just in case, I know absolutely nothing about vodka. I don't drink, which, I must confess is more of a reason for having never made my own batch of Magic Starch than having to run all over town to get the ingredients. I wouldn't want anyone I know to see me at a liquor store. Then again, if I ran into anyone I know at the liquor store, I'm sure they wouldn't want me to see them there either. However, after having tried the Magic Starch I'm afraid I'll be making that trip when I run out of my supply. It is really great stuff.

But I digress. I did a little homework on the ingredients. Alcohol enhances the smell of the essential oil and also is a preservative for the mixture. Vodka is the recommended means of adding alcohol to the mix over rubbing alcohol. There are pros and cons to each side. In the pros column for vodka, it has no additives and dries quicker than rubbing alcohol. And drinking the leftover vodka can be either a pro or a con, depending on if you're a teetotaler or not.

Because of the lavender, Magic Starch and/or linen water {recipe without the liquid starch} has a really pleasant smell, which is part of the reason you'd want to use it. Rubbing alcohol has a really potent and unpleasant smell. I've never tried making it with rubbing alcohol, so I don't know if the smell would overpower the lavender. It is also toxic, which is another con, but then again, liquid starch is probably toxic too so you wouldn't want to drink it regardless of the type of alcohol in it. It seems to me that it is a judgement call. If you try it with rubbing alcohol, let me know how it works.

Back to the subject of this post, thank you to my blog post rescuers. You know who you are. It means a lot.

Piece, out. –E

The One Where Blogger Ate My Post

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

–David Dixon

Blogger ate my post. My post from yesterday. The one that took me 1½ hours to write and edit. There were questions about the vodka in the Magic Starch so I went back in to add a few notes and when I re-published, blogger ate the text.

This has happened before. I get a post all typed up, publish it and nothing but the title shows up. It happened last Wednesday during my week of giveaways. I wrote the post the night before and scheduled it to publish at midnight. The title of the post but no actual post was up for about 18 hours before I could add the text and 12 people entered to win the giveaway without knowing the details. I hadn't save a copy of that post, but reproducing it was easy. It was mostly copy, paste and tweak a few details. Yesterday's post? Not so much?

Since this has happened before, I usually check to make sure that the text made it into my post. I open my blog in a new tab to see if what I typed appears. If it didn't, I go back to the tab I published in, hit the back button to get to the composing page and the information is still there. I copy it, close the post and go back to the list of posts, edit the post so I can paste the contents back into it because it is now empty and then publish. A little time consuming/frustrating/annoying, but no harm done because my post is still there.

Today, when I went to view my post to make sure the changes came up, the page wouldn't load. My computer is stupid sometimes and takes forever to load a page. So, I closed the tab and opened my blog from another tab. No post. No way to hit the back button. It wasn't in the history. I checked Facebook, where I have it set up so that when I post there the first paragraph of my post shows up and there's a link back to my blog. But the whole post isn't there. I don't have a copy of it anywhere. And I don't really have the heart to re-write it. I'm not making much sense now, trying to describe to you the ways that I can't find my post.

So, the big question, does anyone have my post from yesterday still open in a tab on their computer? Or am I the only one who keeps multiple tabs open at once? Does anyone get my posts via e-mail and still has yesterday's post? Even if it is just the text, I can add back in photos and silly videos from YouTube.

Any help would be appreciated!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol. 22

If you put your happiness in temporary things, your happiness will only be temporary. –Steven A. Cramer

A Week of Giveaways Directory
I am so happy with the huge response to my week of giveaways! Thanks to each and every one of you who entered. I have so enjoyed reading your comments and hope to squeeze in a little time to reply to each of you before the giveaways close. You can enter through 10:00 pm on Thursday, January 19th and the winners will be announced on the 21st. If you haven't already, check them out.
Embroidery Gift Pack
Backyard Baby Fat Quarter Bundle
$50 Long-Arm Machine Quilting Gift Certificate
Polka-Dot Quilt
Machine Quilting Gift Pack

My Kingdom for a Butter Dish
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . wait. That's not right. Different story. Let's try again. Sometime last summer, I'm not exactly sure when, but I think it was about the middle of June, Mr. Bug knocked the butter dish {the everyday one, not the fancy one that matches my china} off the end of the counter. It was an accident, but our tile floors are not the least bit forgiving and anything that falls on them breaks. So it was with the butter dish.

I put “butter dish” on my grocery list and the next time I went shopping at the big blue box store, I looked for one. The shelf was empty. The was a little price sticker saying that butter dishes were $3.97, but there were no butter dishes. I circled “butter dish” on my list, as I do with things I can't find or they are out of, so I'll remember to put them on the next list. A week {or maybe two—I'm foggy on the details at this point} later I went shopping at the big blue box store. “Butter dish” was on the top of my list, but the shelf was still empty. There happened to be an associate on the aisle and she asked me if I needed help finding something. I told her I was looking for a butter dish, but there were none there. She kindly scanned the price sticker on the shelf and told me that they had six in stock, but perhaps they hadn't been brought out from the back yet. I thanked her and circled “butter dish” on my list. Again. I have been repeating this little ritual three or four times a month since then, and the spot where the butter dishes are supposed to be is always empty.

I am a creature of habits. As much as I hate the big blue box store, I still shop there because I mostly know where everything is and I can buy jeans for the kids, oil for the car, fabric and groceries all in one stop. I really hate running all over the place to get everything I need, so the convenience of having it all in one place supersedes the several annoyances that come with a large and spacious building that sells anything you could need. Also, I really hate driving anywhere that takes more than 10 minutes to get to. The nearest locale which may have a butter dish is between 20 and 25 minutes away, depending on traffic. I don't like to drive across town. Even for fabric. But I'm beginning to think that we'll never have another butter dish unless I shop somewhere else.

Or maybe I can hold out just until they do inventory and they find out that they in fact do not have six butter dishes in stock and order some more in.

Magic Starch
I'm big on washing fabrics before I use them. Because most of what I buy is 100% cotton, that means it needs a good pressing before I use it. I like to use a little starch, which makes exact cutting easier and the blocks press out better as you put them together. It also keeps the fraying down. My friend, Angie, gave me this recipe a long time ago. I never got around to trying it because procuring the necessary ingredients required driving all over town, which, as you might know, I'm not a big fan of. So Angie sent me some. She actually made some up, put it in a recycled 1-liter bottle and mailed it pretty much across the entire country to me. And I love it! The stuff is liquid gold! Fabric presses up like new. I've been using it carefully, because when I've used up the stuff she sent, I'm going to have to drive all over town so I can make my own. I'm sharing the recipe with you. Try it. You'll thank me later.

Magic Starch
2 cups distilled water
2 oz vodka
10-15 drops pure essential oil of lavender
⅛-¼ cup liquid Sta-Flo® liquid starch {ironically, available at Wal-Mart}

• Combine all ingredients. Put in a fine misting spray bottle and spray on fabrics before pressing.

• Recommended for cotton fabrics. Synthetic fabrics may stain due to the oil in the mix.
• Shake before each use to make sure the ingredients are mixed well.
• Use the cheapest not-really-fit-for-human-consumption vodka you can find with the highest proof available.
• Vodka is an emulsifier for the oils as well as a preservative which will help keep the starch fresh over time.
• Vodka is recommended because it has no additives and dries quickly. Rubbing alcohol can be substituted, but some recommend against it because of its toxicity.
• You can mix other oils, such as peppermint, jasmine, chamomile, bergamot or sage to enhance the smell, but make sure to only use clear oils so you don't stain your fabrics.
• Tap water contains chlorine which will destroy the essential oils, so do not use it.
• If you leave out the starch it makes a great linen water to use in your iron.

Monday Music Spot: Total Eclipse of the Heart
A little something funny, especially if you lived through the ‘80s.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sabbath Songs: Amazing Grace

Big Tom and Little Jim: A Parable

Years ago there was a little one-room schoolhouse in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough that no teacher had been able to handle them.

A young, inexperienced teacher applied, and the old director scanned him and asked: “Young fellow, do you know that you are asking for an awful beating? Every teacher that we have had here for years has had to take one.”

“I will risk it.” he replied.

The first day of school came, and the teacher appeared for duty. One big fellow named Tom whispered: “I won’t need any help with this one. I can lick him myself.”

The teacher said, “Good morning, boys, we have come to conduct school.” They yelled and made fun at the top of their voices. “Now, I want a good school, but I confess that I do not know how unless you help me. Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me, and I will write them on the blackboard.”

One fellow yelled, “No stealing!” Another yelled, “On time.” Finally, ten rules appeared on the blackboard.

“Now,” said the teacher, “a law is not good unless there is a penalty attached. What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?”

“Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on,” came the response from the class.

“That is pretty severe, boys. Are you sure that you are ready to stand by it?” Another yelled, “I second the motion,” and the teacher said, “All right, we will live by them! Class, come to order!”

In a day or so, ‘Big Tom’ found that his lunch had been stolen. The thief was located—a little hungry fellow, about ten years old. “We have found the thief and he must be punished according to your rule—ten stripes across the back. Jim, come up here!” the teacher said.

The little fellow, trembling, came up slowly with a big coat fastened up to his neck and pleaded, “Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like, but please, don’t take my coat off!”

“Take your coat off,” the teacher said. “You helped make the rules!”

“Oh, teacher, don’t make me!” He began to unbutton, and what did the teacher see? The boy had no shirt on, and revealed a bony little crippled body.

“How can I whip this child?” he thought. "But I must, I must do something if I am to keep this school.” Everything was quiet as death.

“How come you aren’t wearing a shirt, Jim?”

He replied, “My father died and my mother is very poor. I have only one shirt and she is washing it today, and I wore my brother’s big coat to keep me warm."

The teacher, with rod in hand, hesitated. Just then 'Big Tom’ jumped to his feet and said, “Teacher, if you don’t object, I will take Jim’s licking for him.”

“Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?”

Off came Tom’s coat, and after five strokes the rod broke! The teacher bowed his head in his hands and thought, “How can I finish this awful task?” Then he heard the class sobbing, and what did he see? Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. “Tom, I’m sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever!”

To lift a phrase from this simple story, Jesus, my Redeemer, has taken “my licking for me” and yours for you.

Declared the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: …

“… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

–Gordon B. Hinckley, “Christmas: A Result of Redeeming Christ,” Church News, 10 Dec. 1994, 4, reprinted Ensign, Nov. 2001

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Stitch In Time: January Finishes Linky Party

The difference between try and triumph is a little umph. –Unknown

Starting a new project is exciting. I love to start a new project. Sometimes the middle part is a bit tedious. But oh how I love to see a project through to completion. There is such a feeling of accomplishment in finishing something you've started. I know there are lots of linky parties out there, but I wanted to have a little community for crafters and quilters to give each other a little encouragement, cheer each other on and ultimately have a place among friends to show off those finished projects. Also, having a little incentive in the form of prizes couldn't hurt either, right?

So, how does it work? In a nutshell, finish a project. Post about it on your blog. Link your post up here. Check out some of the other finishes. Be entered in the drawing for something fabulous from our sponsor.

I'd like to send a big thank you to the Fat Quarter shop for this month's giveaway, a Good Fortune by Kate Spain Jelly Roll. {As a side note, looking for an awesome Jelly Roll project? Check out this tutorial.} The fabrics in this line are gorgeous! Finish a project, link it up and you could win it!

The details {which might be boring but you really should read}:
• Projects must include stitching of some sort. For example: appliqué, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, knitting, practical sewing {garment construction, bags, curtains, etc.}, quilting.
• Projects must be completely finished. As in done, finito, nothing more to add, ready to use/display/give away.
• You can pick something new to do, but projects do not have to be started during the month. If you pick up a UFO, Ph.D, WIP and finish it during the month, it counts.
• Finishes must be completed during this month, but you have until 10:00 am MST on the 1st of the next month to link your post.
• Post about your finish and then link your specific post {instructions here} below. Links to your blog and not the individual post about your finished project will be deleted.
• Have more than one finish this month? Great! Post about each finish individually and then link the specific posts up separately. Each finish, and therefore each link you add, counts as one entry for this month's giveaway.
• Please copy and paste the code below to include this month's button somewhere in your post {not your sidebar}.

• Don't have a blog? You can link from your flickr account. Just post a picture, include a little note about your finish and a link back here {code included below} in the description. Then link up.

• Make sure to visit a few of the other links and leave them some love {ie, a comment}. A good rule of thumb is to visit two links for every one you include.
• Winner of the sponsored giveaway will be drawn randomly from among the links and announced by 8:00 pm MST on the 3rd of the following month.
• Instructions for making an index page to your finishes can be found here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Week of Giveaways Day 5: Machine Quilting Gift Pack

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. –Larry Lorenzoni

Today is the last day of my week of giveaways. I've been planning it for a whole year and it has been so much fun to roll out the giveaways and see your responses. I have really enjoyed reading your comments and seeing your excitement at my offerings.

Just one little housekeeping thing. I have all your comments/giveaway entries e-mailed to me. Unless you specify in your profile settings, the e-mail will not include your e-mail address so that I can contact you directly if you win. Unless I know who you are and where to find you, you must update your profile to include your e-mail address or leave your contact info in your comment. I have gone through and deleted any comments with no contact information {so sorry!}. So, if you've entered a giveaway, double check to make sure your comment/entry is still there. If it is gone, the reason is I have no way to get a hold of you if you win. The "no-reply blogger" button below gives instructions on how to set your e-mail preferences.

Now for the fun stuff. Today's giveaway is a gift pack of tools and gadgets for machine quilting. Behold:

Today's giveaway includes:
• A cute little decorated tin holding 200 size 1 curved safety pins with easy grip covers.
• A Kwik-Klip tool to help fasten the safety pins.
• A blue fine-point water soluble marking pen.
• A white fine-point water soluble marking pen {love this pen!}.
• A package of 5 universal quilting needles {size 90/14}.
• Machine quilting gloves in your size {to improve your grip; not pictured}.

The Fine Print:
• You can enter each giveaway during the week only once. However if you spread the word about my week of giveaways by posting on your blog and sending people on over to check it out, you can have one additional entry on one giveaway of your choice. After you post on your blog, leave a comment on my giveaway post for which you'd like a second entry with a link to your post. Please make sure to include my giveaway button somewhere in your post.

Such a Sew and Sew

• Non-blogging/non-Google users and international entrants are welcome.
• If you do not have a Google account, use the name/url {url optional} commenting option and make sure you leave your e-mail in your comment in the following format: address (at) domain name (dot) com.
• Comments with no contact information will be deleted.
• Google account users: not sure if your contact information will be attached to your comment? Click here:

• Duplicate comments will be deleted. Comment moderation is on, so don't panic when your comment doesn't show up. I'm notified of new comments and will approve them periodically each day, after which they'll show up on the post.
• The giveaway will close at 10:00 pm {MST} on Thursday, January 19th. Winner will be chosen by random drawing and notified by e-mail and announced here by noon January 21st.

Good luck!

Week of Giveaways Directory:
Embroidery Gift Pack
Backyard Baby Fat Quarter Bundle
$50 Long-Arm Machine Quilting Gift Certificate
Polka-Dot Quilt

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Week of Giveaways Day 4: Project Polka-Dot, Half-Baked

Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect. –Chinese Proverb

[Note to my non-quilting friends: Up until now, this week of giveaways has been all about raw materials and tools for the quilting/sewing/fabric arts. However, today's giveaway just might be appealing to even the non-quilters, although you might be seriously bored for the next eleven paragraphs.]

Today's post starts with a story. And you have to indulge me because I'm giving away free stuff and if you want the free stuff, you have to at least pretend to humor me. Also, it is my birthday and you have to do what I say.

Once upon a time, I started a project. A fabulous project with lots and lots of polka-dot fabrics. Well, maybe not all of the fabrics were polka-dotted, per se. But they all had dots or spots or circles or roundish splotches of some sort on them. And as my projects tend to do, this one kind of multiplied into more than one project. Because if one is fabulous, four is better, right?

It started out simply. I pulled all the dotty fabrics from my stash. But the project needed even more spots. So, I wrangled swaps for fabrics with dots. I traded quilting services for polka-dotted fabrics. I begged strangers on the internet for their spotty scraps. OK, not total strangers. Just people I've never met in real life. As this project grew and multiplied, I collected fabric with dots from every corner of the earth {special thanks to: Annelise, Iris, Jerri Lynn, Michelle, P., Sara and Wanda for feeding my obsession}. And a terrific plan was set in motion. This plan was for the most fabulous giveaway ever. A giveaway to trump all giveaways. The polka-dotted queen of all giveaways.

I've pooled ideas from several sources {thank you to Sew Sara for her Dots Crazy and Mini Dots quilts, to Amber for her Dot-to-Dot quilt and to American Quilting who published a free pattern called Connect the Dots, which I can no longer find on their site}. I'd originally planned on making two quilts; one for a really special aunt, who did me a solid, and one for me. I knew this polka-dotted monster that I was creating was going to be the best scrappy, dotty, spotty quilt ever. And that right there is reason to share. So I decided that I was going to give away a polka-dot quilt kit. But as I cut and stacked mountains of polka-dots, I discovered that I had enough dots to reach from here to the moon. Or, to make four spotted quilts. And I decided to give away two polka-dotted quilt kits.

My plan was to have those first two quilts finished and ready to go by now so I could show you how fantastic this crazy, dotty project of mine is and get you excited to win a quilt kit to make your own. But work and laundry and dishes kept getting in the way. I adjusted my goal to have just one spotty quilt ready to show you. When I realized that wasn't happening either, I thought for sure that I'd be able to at least get a quilt top done. But my boss gets disgruntled when I don't show up for work and people kept asking me for dinner and clean underwear, so all I have to show you is half of a slightly lumpy, bumpy quilt top.

OK. So it is a really lumpy, bumpy quilt top with seams that don't match. I've been wondering lately if my giveaway is as fantastic as I thought, or if anyone will even want a polka-dotted queen of all monsters?

You see, it is not just the piecing that makes this quilt a little wonky. Admittedly, I thought that piecing curves would be a breeze since I've been sewing since I was eight. But I didn't match my beginning and ending points quite right, which contributes to the wonkiness. Lesson learned.

The major factor in all of this, though, is that the drunkard's path dies I used to cut the pieces are not exactly symmetrical. This poses certain challenges in the assembly because the blocks aren't square. I didn't want to loose a full ¼" on each piece, so I didn't square up the blocks. Lesson learned. Again.

Despite the non-perfectness of it all, I'm still offering my polka-dots as part of my week of giveaways for two three reasons. First, I've been working on this project for over a year and even though it hasn't come off exactly as I'd envisioned, polk-dots make me happy and I'm excited to see this project take shape. Second, I really do think that this is an awesome quilt and I want to share. And third, I've got nothing else for today. So, without further ado, I'm excited to announce today's giveaway.

A Project Polka-Dot Quilt Kit for each of 2 winners

Each kit includes:
• Fabrics to make a 52" x 66" {ish} quilt top as {partially} pictured above, including small and large quarter-circles and background pieces cut with the Go! Fabric Cutter and Drunkard's Path dies and fabrics for 1" and 4" borders
• Fabric for the backing, including sixteen small quarter circles for use in creating a quilt label and row of "floating" dots up the back.
• 2½" wide bias binding to finish your quilt.
• All fabrics have been washed, dried, starched and pressed.
• All fabrics will have dots {defined as spots, circles or roundish splotches of some sort} on them.
• The background fabric for the quilt top and the fabric for the back of the quilt will be the same.
• Quarter circle pieces, borders and binding will each be a different dotted fabric, with the exception of the pieces for the quilt label, which are all white.

Giveaway Addendum
[This is where the non-quilters can tune back in.]
If you're not a quilter, but you like my dots and want to enter my giveaway, I'll pinch-hit for you on the assembly, quilting and binding. In non-quilting terms, I'll make the quilt and send it to you finished and ready for use. Please allow six to eight months weeks for delivery. In the even that two non-quilters enter and win this giveaway, please allow twelve to sixteen months weeks for delivery.

If you're remotely interested, leave me a comment and you'll be entered to win a kit {quilters} or a quilt {non-quilters only} that has 112 different dotted fabrics in it.

The Fine Print:
• You can enter each giveaway during the week only once. However if you spread the word about my week of giveaways by posting on your blog and sending people on over to check it out, you can have one additional entry on one giveaway of your choice. After you post on your blog, leave a comment on my giveaway post for which you'd like a second entry with a link to your post. Please make sure to include my giveaway button somewhere in your post.

Such a Sew and Sew

• Non-blogging/non-Google users and international entrants are welcome.
• If you do not have a Google account, use the name/url {url optional} commenting option and make sure you leave your e-mail in your comment in the following format: address (at) domain name (dot) com.
• Comments with no contact information will be deleted.
• Google account users: not sure if your contact information will be attached to your comment? Click here:

• Duplicate comments will be deleted. Comment moderation is on, so don't panic when your comment doesn't show up. I'm notified of new comments and will approve them periodically each day, after which they'll show up on the post.
• The giveaway will close at 10:00 pm {MST} on Thursday, January 19th. Winner will be chosen by random drawing and notified by e-mail and announced here by noon January 21st.

Good luck!

Week of Giveaways Directory:
Embroidery Gift Pack
Backyard Baby Fat Quarter Bundle
$50 Long-Arm Machine Quilting Gift Certificate
Machine Quilting Gift Pack

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Week of Giveaways Day 3: $50 Long-Arm Machine Quilting Gift Certificate

There is precious little hope to be got out of whatever keeps us industrious, but there is a chance for us whenever we cease work and become stargazers. –H.M. Tomlinson

I'm really excited about today's giveaway. My super cute friend, Angie of 5 Little Monkeys Quilting, is giving away a $50 gift certificate towards long-arm machine quilting services! Angie and I are part of the on-line Twi-Quilters and she is really amazing! She quilted LadyBug's High School Musical Quilt, a Twilight banner and a table runner for me personally as well as doing the most amazing custom work on the New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn charity quilts we worked on together as a group and the baby quilts we did for fellow group members, Cat and Mel. The quilt pictured here is one of my all-time favorites of hers. She made this wall-hanging for her dad. Here's the back so you can see the beautiful quilting job she did.

As amazing as this is, it isn't even her fanciest work. Hop on over to her blog, 5 Little Monkeys Quilting, and see what else she's done. Then come back and enter to win her amazing quilting services by leaving a comment here telling me which of her quilts is your favorite.

The Fine Print:
• Gift certificate is for $50 towards or 25% off {whichever is greater} long-arm machine quilting services.
• Winner is to pay for shipping of his/her quilt to and from 5 Little Monkeys Quilting.
• You can enter each giveaway during the week only once. However if you spread the word about my week of giveaways by posting on your blog and sending people on over to check it out, you can have one additional entry on one giveaway of your choice. After you post, leave a comment on my giveaway post for which you'd like a second entry with a link to your post. Please make sure to include my giveaway button somewhere in your post.

Such a Sew and Sew

• Non-blogging/non-Google users and international entrants are welcome.
• If you do not have a Google account, use the name/url {url optional} commenting option and make sure you leave your e-mail in your comment in the following format: address (at) domain name (dot) com.
• Comments with no contact information will be deleted.
• Google account users: not sure if your contact information will be attached to your comment? Click here:

• Duplicate comments will be deleted. Comment moderation is on, so don't panic when your comment doesn't show up. I'm notified of new comments and will approve them periodically each day, after which they'll show up on the post.
• The giveaway will close at 10:00 pm {MST} on Thursday, January 19th. Winner will be chosen by random drawing and notified by e-mail and announced here by noon January 21st.

Good luck!

Week of Giveaways Directory:
Embroidery Gift Pack
Backyard Baby Fat Quarter Bundle
Polka-Dot Quilt
Machine Quilting Gift Pack