Saturday, March 23, 2013

Random Bits: Vol. 8

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. –Mark Twain

Identity Crisis
March is having an identity crisis. I wish it would mistake itself for June instead of December.
{We woke up to a good 4" of snow today, completely covering all the spring bulbs that had started blooming. It continued to snow until nearly 2:00 pm. Then the sun came out and by 4:30 pm had melted most of the snow away.}

{Sidebar: I can't take credit for that beautiful bit of prose. A friend posted that on Facebook before the snow and it was so perfect I had to use it.}

The Continuing Saga of the Tortoise and the Snail, or Friday Night Sew-In Progress Report
My goal for Friday Night Sew-In was to finish the straight-line quilting in the white zig-zags of Miss Butterfly's quilt and to wind the bobbins for the FMQ in the colored zig-zags. I had three full zig-zag rows, two half rows {at the top and bottom}, plus one line of stitching left in a row to finish. I did make progress, but I still have one complete zig-zag and a half zig-zag along the bottom of the quilt. My bobbins are all ready to go, though. Never mind that three of the four were already wound.

In the past, I've never tried to strategically place my embroidered quilt labels on the back of the quilt. I just stitched them in along the seam and called it good. With the Pinkalicious and Little Boy Blue baby quilts, the piecing and quilting offered an opportunity to place them so that they wouldn't be stitched over. It was kind of frustrating, though, because the ultra-cuddle I used on the back of the quilts was stretchy and shifted. So when I set out to position the label for this quilt so that the colored stitching wouldn't intrude too much on the white label, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I was surprised at how well it lined up. Horizontally, it is right on. Vertically, the label should sit ¾” of an inch lower, except that when I cut the top piece of backing, I forgot to add the extra allowance and instead cut it exactly where I wanted the label to be. Measure twice, cut once never rang truer.

Handmade by Heidi

Favourite Things Friday: The Frontrunner {a week and a day late}
Last Friday, the Not-So-Little Bugs had the day off from school. I took the day off work and we set off on an adventure. With high spirits, ample snacks and entertainment, we set off to visit my mom and dad via Utah's light rail, the Frontrunner. We arrived at the platform early, bought our tickets and patiently waited for our train to arrive. Upon boarding, we picked seats with a table so that we could play the game Grasshopper brought.

Grasshopper refused to smile, and if we look a bit rough, well, that's because we were. Part of our adventure was to get hair cuts, all three of us {and I got a color}, from my sister. The ride took 1 hour and 57 minutes, traversing 81 miles. This is 37 minutes longer than it takes to drive, but I was all for taking the train since that meant that I didn't have to drive. Before we were barely underway, though, I got a mite queasy. The motion sickness triggered a massive migraine, which I tried my best to medicate and ignore. After our hair appointments, we had a little party at my parents' house. My dad cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and the weather was so lovely {mid-60's; see also, Identity Crisis} that we ate outside. All of my siblings and their kids were there, except for one sister and her family who live in Idaho and who did not have the day off school. It was so nice to be all together. We played games after dinner, and the Not-So-Little Bugs and I caught the last train home. It was definitely a favourite, in my book.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Random Bits: Vol 7

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. –Thomas Merton

I think about blogging a lot. I write posts in my head all the time. But getting them down “on paper” is another matter. This post is a patchwork of the things that have been on my mind the last week or so. I've often wished for a USB port behind my ear, so that I could plug in and download my thoughts. Then I could blog things one at a time. It's been so long, I don't know if anyone is left out there to read this. I hope you all haven't given up on me. There is still a ton of traffic here and I check at least once a day to see if there are new comments. I stopped getting excited a couple of weeks ago, though, because all there is is spam, spam and more spam. I know some of you are also getting spammed into oblivion. Do you think if we asked nicely, that Google/Blogger would put anonymous commenting in its own category to be turned on and off at will and independent of any other commenting options?

A Pocket Dial and Other Telephone Related Chatter
At work yesterday afternoon I answered the phone, but couldn't understand what the person on the other end said in reply to my “how may I help you?” spiel. This isn't uncommon; lots of our customers speak English as a second language, so I took a deep breath and prepared to do my best. However, the unintelligible reply was followed by a long silence, to which I answered “hello?” Then there was a snippet of a conversation, in perfect English, about bone spurs on someone's heels. I tried another “hello?” but it was obvious that I was not included in the conversation.

I'm still scratching my head over it. You have to be a very persistent pocket dialer in order to get to me. First you have to dial the main number, which could be on anyone's speed dial. But then you have to select option 4 or dial my direct extension. And bone spurs, even ones on heels, have absolutely nothing to do with how many people we billed them for last month.

There seems to be a funny phenomenon going on at my desk. Aside from the occasional pocket dial, no one ever calls me at work unless I'm in the bathroom. It's getting so I'm afraid to even go, because I know I'll have voice mail when I get back, which is ten times more work to handle than a straight up phone call. Three times this week, I've come back from a quick potty break to find I had a message. How is that even possible?

My New Best Friend
I'd like to introduce you to Mel. She's my new best friend, which I'm sure she'd be interested to know since we've never met. Mel has a food blog. And not just any food blog. It's a good food blog, which is just what I've been missing in my life.

A couple of months ago, I gave up dairy due to intolerance. Thanks to some great advice from Regan and P., who are both dairy free, I survived my first few weeks of wondering what I actually can eat. {Sidebar: there are milk or milk products in everything, from chocolate to bread to taco seasoning packets. Strangely, there is not milk found in Oreos.} Regan hooked me up with a good dairy-free “butter” and gave me lots of advice on how to live dairy free. P. commiserated over the loss of most chocolate products in our diets. And I muddled through, hunting down every last allergen ingredient list that could be found on the internet for fast-food restaurants. When nothing was available on-line, I called ahead to places I was contemplating eating at and harassed the poor employees into giving me the low-down on what was dairy free. I mourned the loss of pizza and ice cream and my favorite casseroles, which all have cream-of-some-kind-or-other soup in them. And I kind of quit cooking on a regular basis.

Eventually, I found a new-age hippie herb shop that sells lots organic and whole foods, as well as lots of dairy free food items like vegan “cheese” and “sour cream.” I was able to make some of my favorite dishes with the diary free substitutes, but there were still some serious holes in my menu.

Then I met Mel and her fabulous food blog. She has menu plans and a month's worth of meals that take 30 minutes or less. She's not dairy free, but her recipes are fresh, without a lot of processed foods. And she doesn't cook with cream-of-anything soup {at least not that I've seen}. Everything we've tried so far has been delicious. The wraps {with dairy free cheese and sour cream substitutes} we had on Monday were so good, I ate the left-overs for breakfast on Tuesday morning. And the Sweet & Sour Chicken we had for dinner on Wednesday night was also lunch on Thursday and dinner tonight. I've never been so excited to have left-overs. {Sidebar: whoever invented sweet & sour sauce is a genius. Seriously. On the one hand it is so innocently sweet that you want to take it home to meet your mother and on the other, so sour that your eyes roll back a little in your head.} {Sidebar: P., the sweet & sour chicken is gluten-free if you use the right soy sauce. And I'm wondering if you could use honey instead of sugar. This recipe seems to be saying “use honey in me.”} I've pinned about a dozen other things to try from Mel's, and I'm looking forward to it!

I've bookmarked a few other food blogs that look promising, and as soon as I stop drooling over Mel's Kitchen Cafe, I'm going to take a serious look and see what other food adventures I can take.

Quilter's Favorites
You meet the most amazing people in blogland that you might not otherwise ever encounter in real life. Have you met Geta yet? She is a seriously amazing quilter. In a little under two months, she is hosting the Quilter's Favorites linky party.

It looks to be quite the blog event. Anyone and everyone can participate. Geta's put together a list of questions that you can print out and answer as you quilt over the next few weeks. Then during the week of May 10th, you can post your answers, link up and then go learn something new from the other quilters who link up. I'm looking forward to clicking around the blogosphere to see what new project I just have to start.

The Tale of the Tortoise and the Snail or, What I'm Working on For Friday Night Sew-In
I haven't officially participated in Friday Night Sew-In for a year now. But with Mr. Bug on 3rd shift {midnight to 10:00 am}, pretty much every Friday night is Friday Night Sew-In at Bug Cottage. {Sidebar: I am so happy to announce that Mr. Bug is working days again! Do a little happy dance with me!} Even though Mr. Bug is home tonight, I'm doing Friday Night Sew-In, because he's still transitioning from being a nocturnal animal. We'll catch up on our TV and I'm going to see if I can get a little quilting done on Miss Butterfly's Zig-Zag quilt. I was hoping to be a little farther along on it by now.

Since I last posted {11 days ago}, I still had to put the back together before I could baste the quilt. Then I had to make the binding and I decided that I needed to pre-wash and dry the batting {for shrinkage purposes, and not at all because I was procrastinating; see also, persnickety}. After that I was distracted by some chain piecing on a really, really, really old Ph.D quilt that I hope to finish sometime this decade. I was certain that the Zig-Zag quilt need to rest for a little bit, kind of like bread dough. And I knew that basting it was going to be pretty hairy. I was right. It took 2½ hours. I procrastinated that until last weekend and have been working on the straight-line quilting a little bit at a time this week. I had a couple of no-sew days {I must have been really tired or busy to have a day go by without sewing at least a little bit; see also, Mel's Kitchen Cafe}. I have just shy of half of the white zig-zags finished. My goal for FNSI is to finish the rest of those and then wind bobbins for the threads for the FMQ in the colored zig-zags. I will probably bind the quilt before I do the FMQ {the quilt should be pretty stabilized by then and it is just that much less bulk to work with. Plus, it keeps lint from building up on the quilt as it rubs off the extra batting around the edges} , but it is always good to be prepared.

Why, yes. That is a twin size quilt, all 72” x 96” of it, balanced on my little sewing table. When I quilt, I hold as much of it as I can in my lap and then fold or roll the rest of it to fit on the table. This is the biggest quilt I've done, but so far, it is working out nicely.

Handmade by Heidi

Extreme Shepherding
Confession time: I started this post in December. I knew that in my next hodge-podge post, I wanted to show you this funny video. So I threw the HTML code in to a draft and have been moving the scheduled post date up by a few weeks every time the draft got old enough to drop down into the list of already posted stuff and get lost. There wasn't anything else in this post until today. And I'm hoping this is still as funny as I remember!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Zig-Zaggity Woop Woop

If you do a good job for others, you heal yourself at the same time, because a dose of joy is a spiritual cure. It transcends all barriers. –Ed Sullivan

Over the last three weeks, I've been working on a quilt for my cute niece, Miss Butterfly. It's a zig-zag quilt. I've been kind of persnickety about my process, and I think it paid off. None of my points have gone missing and the seams—the whole quilt really—lays so flat. I kind of how it turned out.

I finished the top this week. It's twin size {72" x 96"}, and will be the biggest quilt I've ever quilted on my little machine. I'm looking at the throat space {or harp, or whatever it is called} and wishing for a Sweet Sixteen.

I've been thinking a lot about how I will handle a quilt this size. In my early quilting days, I was a roller. The instructor at the beginning machine quilting class I took said that's how to do it, so that's what I did. But then I read something Leah Day said in reference to rolling a quilt into a log for quilting. She said the reason that logs are floated down a river is because they are so hard to handle, and rolled quilts are equally hard to handle. I didn't believe her. A huge puddle of quilt in the machine seemed like it would be more difficult to maneuver and just in the way. At the time, I was working on my Polka Dot Quilt , and noticed while I was working on the quilting in the larger circles, that the whole process was kind of cumbersome. I decided to give puddling a try—not a complete puddle, mind you, but I unrolled my quilt a little, giving me a little more slack to work with while still maintaining the tidiness a roll creates. It helped, and since then, I've become a hybrid puddle/roller, leaning more towards the puddling, because really, Leah's right about logs being hard to handle.

I'm a little worried too, because the half-square triangles are 6", and that means they are going to require gross free-motion quilting skills, and I'm better at fine free-motion quilting {like how I am in life; better fine motor skills than gross motor skills}. I'd originally planned to quilt arcs in each of the triangles, from corner to corner, making a "net" of flowers in the quilt. But the long side of the triangles is 7½", and to get pretty arcs, I'll have to mark the quilt :yuck: {see above reference to gross free-motion quilting skills}. So, I've revised my quilting plan and hope to incorporate a bit of modern quilting {straight lines} with something a bit more traditional. I think this will fuse nicely with the more traditional calico fabrics and modern chevron/zig-zag quilt design.

This quilt has been in the works for a while. Or at least the idea of this quilt has been in the works for a while. I cut all the fabrics for the half-square triangles early last summer and I worked on the label a few months later, before any sewing actually began. I named the quilt before I even started working on it, thinking of the quilting I planned to do in it. Now that the top is a reality and I'm going to start quilting {and not stop until it is finished}, the name still works, but I did have to do a little tweaking to make the label a little more accurate. It used to say "September 2012."

I usually baste my quilts on my living room carpet {which also doubles as a design wall}. I know that some of you are being carried off in stretchers at the moment, due to shortness of breath, dizziness, pain in your left arm and tightness in your chest, but it works for me. But there isn't enough floor space for a 6' x 8' quilt, so I mopped the kitchen floor yesterday. I'm still putting the back together and seriously considered banning any food or drink in the kitchen until I can get the quilt basted, but decided against it because food and drink are already banned in all other areas of the house and I didn't want the Not-So-Little Bugs to starve. I'm hoping I can get it all together and basted before too much more time passes, otherwise, I'll have to mop the floor again, and frankly, I'd rather be quilting.

Speaking of which, here's a bit of funky swing {which gives this post its title} to quilt by.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mormon Messages: The Civility Experiment

Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. –Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Stitch In Time: February Finishes Giveaway Winner

Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions. –Edgar Cayce

I'm a little bit late getting the February Finishes giveaway winner posted. Work, you know. It gets in the way of real life a lot more than I'd like :lol:. Oh, and I might have gotten slightly distracted. You all don't really need prizes anyway, right? I mean, the satisfaction of a project well done is reward enough, isn't it? What? You need prizes? Well, if you insist {and because I promised}, Grasshopper drew our winner this month. Drum roll please . . . and the winning number is 37.

Spring House

Congratulations to
:partytime: Vickey :partytime:

Vickey will receive a a charm pack of Spring House by Stephanie Ryan for Moda from The Fat Quarter Shop. Make sure to hop on over and see Vickey's super cute red and aqua quilt {and try not to get distracted by the fun linky party going on there!}. If you haven't already, check out a few of the other amazing things that were finished in February.

The March Finishes Linky Party is open, so you can link up as you go throughout the month. Remember to include the March Finishes button {code found in the March post} somewhere in any post you link up. Code for a button for your sidebar can also be found in the March post. The giveaway, sponsored by The Fat Quarter Shop, is a $20 gift certificate to The Fat Quarter Shop!

$20 Fat Quarter Shop Gift Certificate

Today's post brought to you by:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fabulous Fandom Mash-Up

Mash-up: noun, a creative combination or mixing of content from different sources

Fandom in Stitches is a really fun site that hosts lots and lots of {free} patterns for all kinds of fandoms. You can find Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Disney Princesses. That is where I got the patterns for the Sesame Street quilt I'm working on, and where lots of Twilight patterns, including the few I've designed, are hosted.

Jennifer, the owner/editor/designer of Fandom in Stitches, announced a little mash-up challenge last month. The rules were simple; choose any Fandom In Stitches pattern and make it into a project for a different fandom than originally intended.

I didn't think much about it, until just before the entry period closed and one of the Twi-Quilters suggested that I submit something I'd already done. The wheels in my brain started to turn and I realized that I had two other things I could submit. So, I did.

Voting is going on now through the 7th, over at Fandom in Stitches. Go. Have a look. And vote :wink:. There are so many clever mash-ups over there, so don't feel like you have to vote for me. If I weren't voting for myself, I would probably vote for this one.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mormon Messages: Mountains to Climb

If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing. In all conditions, we can choose the right with the guidance of the Spirit. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape and guide our lives if we choose it. We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved in the Lord’s service because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up. And He always keeps His word.

His love is unfailing.
–Henry B. Eyring, Mountains to Climb, April 2012

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Stitch In Time: March Finishes Linky Party

All great achievements require time. –Maya Angelou

Welcome to the March Finishes Linky Party! Can it be March already? February is a few days shorter, but there was a healthy amount of stitching going on. Thank you to everyone who linked up! There were so many beautiful finishes last month! Now get back to your needles and thread because I can't wait to see what amazing projects you finish up and link in March!

To participate in this month's linky party:
• Finish a project {finished as in done, finito, nothing more to add, ready to use/display/give away} with some sort of stitching in it and blog about it or post a photo of it on Flickr.
• Scroll down to see what other bloggers are up to and to link your own finishes.
• Please include the March button in your blog post. Copy the code in the text box below and paste it somewhere in the post you link for this month's finishes. The button is a link to this specific post, so that other bloggers can find their way over and link up too. If you'd like a button for your sidebar, the code is at the bottom of this post.

• Each time you link up a finished project, you're entered to win the March giveaway, a $20 gift certificate to The Fat Quarter Shop!

$20 Fat Quarter Shop Gift Certificate

• Thank you to The Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring our giveaway!

The Fine Print {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 noon MST on the 1st of the next month to link your post.
• Post about your finish and then link your specific post {instructions here} above. 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.
• If you've already posted about a finish for this month, there's no need to do a separate post. Just add the button to that post and link up.
• Please copy and paste the code below to include this month's button somewhere in the post {not your sidebar} you link up for this month .

March Finishes

• 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 join the linky party.

• Want a button for your sidebar? Copy and paste the code below into an HTML gadget for your sidebar. This button is a link to the main A Stitch In Time Linky Party page, which always has the current month's finishes and links to all previous linky parties.

A Stitch In Time Linky Party

• 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.
• Kindly consider changing your comment settings to the pop-up window option for faster and easier commenting for visitors to your blog. Instructions can be found here.