"...for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make" ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In Over My Head!!

Swapping is SO much fun... but sometimes you can over-commit without realizing it! I really did not know I'd committed to so many swaps until I sat down to make a list of them this morning...

For the month of May I have: Kitchen Swap 2009, Mini Quilt In A Bag baggie bingo, Buzz Cuts Bee, Sweet Dreams Bee, pincushion swap, FRIENDS swap, Fabric and Chocolate swap, STUD, and a block to send to Germany for a Show and Tell quilt- whew! I'd better get moving!

I think for June I will tone it down a little... it's fun, but too many can be overwhelming! Fortunately most of these are just making quilt blocks, so they won't take TOO much work... :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Something New

Here it is! My first knitted sock! I am so proud of it :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not Much

It has been a couple of dreary, rainy days here, and I haven't been feeling very well, unfortunately. I have pretty much been snuggled on the couch, watching movies and knitting!

I am feeling better now, though. I plan to use tomorrow to get a lot of sewing done! I have my Sandi Henderson blocks all laid out and ready to be sewn together:
And I have 3 of the 4 rows of coins sewed together for my "Fresh" coins quilt! I plan to get that together tomorrow as well.
I also have fabric from Carol for the Sweet Dreams Quilting Bee, and fabric from John for the Buzz Cuts Bee to play with! And the garden is very nearly ready for planting- that will be Wednesday morning's project, and I cannot wait!
Today I am finishing my first knitted sock! I got a wonderful book at the bookstore called "Getting Started Knitting Socks" by Ann Budd. It has very clear directions and lots of illustrations (for those that want them; I find it easier to stick to the text!)- I was actually quite shocked at how easy it was to turn a heel and make the gussets!
I had avoided learning to make socks because I believed them to be very hard, but now I am finding that they are actually quite easy! I have been finding that about a lot of things lately, it seems. It is making me a lot less reluctant to try new things, since I am finding that things I thought would be hard are usually not.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let's Talk Dinner!

One of my biggest struggles as a homemaker is making healthy, tasty, cheap meals that also keep us from getting bored with what we are eating! It doesn't help that I don't particularly like cooking that much- and that I have a small and badly designed kitchen! So when I saw a review of a cookbook on a local TV station's website, I knew I had to give it a try!

It's called "70 Meals, One Trip To The Store"- and it is a lifesaver!!!

What it does is give you a basic pantry shopping list that you buy semi-annually. Then there is a basic, simple weekly list. And once you have these ingredients, you can make any recipe in the book- lots of them!!

I made my weekly menu completely out of this book, bought everything on the lists, and am so excited to know that I have everything I need to make healthy, tasty and cheap dinners in the house! The recipes are all simple, but very good. I have made a few already, and so far all of them are "Hubby Approved"!

It's available at Organizing Dinner. I highly, highly recommend it!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring In Illinois

Ah! The fresh air... the budding trees... the greening grass... working in the garden... all the normal signs of spring! But if you live in the Midwest, there are other signs of spring, too:

1: Anhydrous Ammonia tanks being hauled past your house by pick-up trucks...
2: Long lines of cars behind farm equipment on the roads...
3: Roads that make you feel as though your teeth are going to be jarred loose...

And the surest sign that spring has come to Illinois:

A weather forcast containing the words "thunderstorms possible; some storms may be severe".

YAY!!! Spring is actually HERE!!! :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All Is Well!

I feel alive again! I absolutely love warm weather and gardening! I am very happy to be able to spend time outside.

I went to the nursery yesterday and bought the plants that need to be started early. I have tried to start my own with no success, so I let the local nursery do it for me! The prices are very reasonable, if you get them small before they've been repotted.

I bought broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, celery, strawberries, pickling cucumbers, cantaloupe, sage, oregano, basil and lavender. And I have seeds for radishes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, sugar snap peas, green beans, pumpkins and sunflowers.

I cannot wait to get all these things in the ground and growing! But I have to be patient a little longer... the soil is still pretty cold, and only the onions, carrots, peas, lettuce and spinach can go in the ground now.

I have one more bed to make... we decided to take an awkward spot in front of our house and make it into a "kitchen" garden! It will have the lettuce, spinach and radishes, and it is very near the front door, so it will be convenient for making salads! I also need to loosen the soil around part of the fence around the "back" garden... I am going to use the fence to trellis the peas and beans, instead of buying more supplies.

But now I need to go grocery shopping... we have no food!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Oh, it was wonderful to spend the whole morning outside, getting terribly dirty and digging new garden beds!! I have been waiting ALL winter for today!

And here's what I planted- it's the blueberries!! They don't look that great at the moment because they were shipped to me. But they will come back! They are in pots so I can amend the soil easily... Illinois soil is very "sweet", and blueberries need acidic soil. So I found organic blueberry food, and will need to add it periodically!

Here is the back garden! The beds in the foreground are brand new as of this morning. It was really easy to dig the sod out with the ground being wet from the last couple days of rain. Now I just need some composted manure and I can plant! Once the planting is done I'll work on the walkways... they look terrible right now!

And then I had some fun with my camera and one of my daffodils! I love this picture!

I am SO tired now, and a bit sore, but I cannot even say how happy I am! I feel like I am alive again after such a long and cold winter! Now I'm going to pay a visit to the nursery- and stimulate my local economy a bit :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Favorites from the International Quilt Festival

Here are my favorites from the quilt show here in Chicago this past weekend... sorry it took so long to post them! I was so inspired by the show (and some of the fabric I found there) that I spent the whole past weekend sewing!

"Flowers In The Night" by Linda Dyken, Mobile, AL- I LOVE all the english paper piecing on this one, and the fact that the setting is so unique- not flowers, like 99% of hexagon quilts seem to be!

"The Beauty Of Pensacola" by Pensacola Quilter's Guild, quilted by Judy Holley, Pensacola, FL- I just love the brightness of it!!

"The Breath Of Life" by Harumi Asada, Chitagun Aichi, Japan- I spent more time looking at this quilt than any other- the amount of detail is breathtaking!

"Chicadee Spring" by Cynthia St. Charles, Billings, MT- this was my personal favorite from the whole show! It's just so whimsical!

"Splendor In The Grass" by Melinda Bula, El Dorado Hills, CA- this is the "Best In Show" winner. I totally agree!!

And last but not least- I went SHOPPING!!! I mostly bought fabric, as you can see pictured above!

Monday, April 20, 2009

5 Signs You May Be A Craftaholic...

1. Your family is not surprised when they are fed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner because you don't want to stop what you are doing...

2. Your family is used to the response "wait till I'm done with this row/round/seam" when they ask you to do something...

3. The news that "we are eating dinner in the living room tonight because my cardmaking stuff is all over the dining room table" doesn't faze family members in the least...

4. The other members of your household know that if they touch your good Gingher sheers for any other reason than to hand them to you, they will die a painful death...

5. You knit in the car- even when it's only a 5 mile trip to where you are going!

All the above are true stories in my household... I have such a wonderful and understanding Hubby!

Friday, April 17, 2009


So I've been browsing the quilts in the Blogger's Quilt Festival... there are SO many amazing quilts out there! So much talent and color expertise, and creativity... I hardly feel worthy to even be in the same group as some of these people!!

There is no judging in this show, which is super cool. Because it means that I am completely free to tell you all that you need to check this one out, because it's... there are no words for how awesome this quilt is!

ONE Inch Short!

This is what happens when you are literally ONE inch short of a fabric... that you have no more of anywhere in the house, and it's not locally available at all (none of my local shops carry cool fabrics like Sandi Henderson!).

So, my quilt will have a pieced... piece! How's that for thrifty? :)

Blogger's Quilt Festival

And, even cooler than the International Quilt Festival, is the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Here is my "entry"...

"The Be Attitudes", pattern and fabric by Nancy Halvorsen. Hours and hours and hours of tracing, cutting, fusing, hand embroidery, blanket stitching and quilting by me!

I first saw this quilt on a postcard that came to the quilt shop I worked at at that time. I fell in love instantly!! I HAD to make it.

I worked... and worked and worked and worked at this!! I thought I'd never get it done... but I focused on the "Be Patient" block and kept at it. I cut out, pieced, fused and appliqued one block at a time, usually one a week until they were all done. Then- I had to quilt it.

Quilting quilts is NOT my forte. If I can't do it with straight lines on my little machine or a pantograph on my GrandQuilter, I ain't doing it! That's what people like Paige are for :) But this quilt didn't lend itself to either option... and I really wanted to be able to say I made the whole thing myself.

So, I hauled my little machine to the dining room table, where I'd have more room. I quilted this little guy first:

I wanted to free-motion around each applique piece, and I had never done anything like that before, so I practiced on something small first.

And that's how it's quilted! I stitched in the ditch for all of the background, and then each and every applique piece, no matter how small, is stitched around, to help make it stand out.

It hangs in my entryway to remind Hubby, me, and everyone who comes to our house about the attitudes necessary for happiness!

Please head over to Park City Girl's blog and look at the ever growing list of people participating! There are links to almost 100 blogs already... and it's the first day of the festival!!

International Quilt Festival

WOW!! It was really good this year! The quilts were amazing... a total switch from last year, when I personally thought the quilts were nothing to get excited about!!

I also picked up a ton (well, it felt like a ton as I carried it around all evening, anyway...) of loot!

I have put all the pictures up on my Flickr site- both of the quilts that caught my eye, and my purchases. Please go take a look!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Time Passes So Slowly...

When you can't WAIT to go somewhere!! I want the quilt festival to start NOW!!! I am so excited... I have my camera ready and my money burning holes in my pockets!

I did while away most of the morning finishing my quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 6. I really hope my partner likes it! It is going to be posted this afternoon. It shouldn't take long to get to my partner- she (or he?!) is in the US.

Here it is!
Just need to wrap it up pretty and get the other things I have ready to send to him (her?!)!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Kind Of Freak Am I?

So tomorrow evening I am going to International Quilt Festival in Rosemont, IL, which is arguably one of the biggest quilt shows in the world!! And what did I do tonight? That's right folks, I just ordered fabric online!!

I couldn't help it! Have you SEEN this collection? It's called Arcadia, and it's by Sanae for Moda. I am in love! And it was free shipping... and tax at Rosemont is like 10% or something obscene like that... oh, I can justify this all night if you make me!!

Here's the swatch sheet from Moda. Make sure to shield your keyboard from the drool!

Blogland Is So Cool!!

Check out a couple of new things I came across today!!

The first one is a virtual quilt festival!! How cool is that? Between April 17 and April 24 you post a picture of your favorite quilt and tell the story of the quilt... and let Amy over at Park City Girl know about it! It's going to be so much fun to look at everyone's stuff and read the story behind it. She has prizes too, to be given to random winners. She even has sponsors! FatQuarterShop.com and Fabricworm are a couple of them... I frequent these places and am happy to see the support!

The second things is the F-R-I-E-N-D-S swap!! You swap one item that begins with each letter of the word "friends", so a total of 7 items are sent to your swap partner! That will be so much fun- I can't wait to get my partner so I can start "stalking" them to learn about their hobbies, likes and dislikes... that's one of the best parts of swapping!

There are buttons on my sidebar for both of these. Go check them out! They are sure to be tons of fun!

Not much going on today... I plan to finish my "Oh, Fransson" blocks today, and also finish my DQS6 quilt.

And then tomorrow evening... I am going to the International Quilt Festival in Rosemont with Vicki (and possibly Paige)!! SO much fun!! It's the only time I can go the whole weekend, so I'll have to pack shopping and looking at the quilts into 4 hours. But there is not much I need as far as the vendors go. I mainly want to look for batiks, and I would like to find some "Wonderland" fabric... it's the coolest fabric ever, and no quilt shops around me are carrying it! I am looking forward to seeing the quilts. They are always fantastic! I better make sure to bring extra batteries for my camera... :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fun With Quilt Blocks!

Wow- it's been 4 days since I last posted... I think that's the longest I've ever gone =)

I've been getting lots and lots of quilt blocks and swappy stuff done! Here are some of the things I've finished and sent out in the last couple of days...

These are blocks for Kimmie in the "Buzz Cuts" online quilting bee!

And these are blocks for Kathy in the "Buzz Cuts" bee...

I also worked on my blocks for the "Oh, Fransson" Mod Sampler Quilt Along...

Clockwise- Blocks A, B, C and D. I need to make the rest of block C, and all of E and F. Then I can put the top together! The fabrics are Daisy Chain and a solid (Mist), both by Amy Butler.

This will be my first quilt that has all the seams pressed open! After reading Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr's argument for open seams in their book "The Modern Quilt Workshop" I decided to give it a try. So far I like how much easier it is to match the seams. Downside- I have never pinned block seams in all my years of quilting, and it's taking some getting used to!

Vicki and Cathy, you can stop laughing at me now... :)

I put together my A Little Fabric, A Little Chocolate swap package for Kathy and mailed it yesterday. She mailed hers to me yesterday, too, so I have that to look forward to in the mail soon!

I also made a mini quilt for Cary in NC for the STUD swap. I'll post a pic of that once I know she's recieved it, since I think she might visit this blog.

I'm nearly finished with my DQS6 top. I need to run out to Tammy Tadd's this afternoon to get some thread... I just don't have the right color pink to finish the applique on a couple of the circles. Then I can sandwich it and quilt it and send it off to... well, that's a secret, isn't it!!

But right now I need to make bread and clean out the fridge. Gosh, I have an exciting life :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sometimes You Just Gotta Let It Go!

Wow, have I learned that lesson in the past couple weeks!

For the Doll Quilt Swap I am in, I had this FABULOUS idea for my partner! I have this really cute owl fabric, and I was going to make a mosaic owl out of hexagons. Well, this idea just was not working. At all. No matter how hard I tried, it would NOT work. I got so frustrated with it! I actually stopped sewing because of this.
Then a couple days ago I made a decision: this idea was not going to work, and I was going to just let it go.
This was one of the best decisions I have ever made! It was so freeing, to just let it go and move on... and I have made two mini tops in the last 2 days- one for my DQS6 partner...

And one that was inspired by the Starbucks travel mug I drink my tea out of every day!
I'm almost done with the spring cleaning for this year. Hubby helped me re-arrange the living room this morning, and I'm working on dusting and polishing and sweping and re-shelving all the books now! Next week is supposed to be nice and in the mid-50's, and I think that's just about perfect for getting the garden ready to plant!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Story Of Joe The Turtle

This is Joe the Turtle! He sits on a shelf at the entry to my sewing room and keeps an eye on things. He is also near the phone, and gets petted whenever Hubby or I are talking to someone!

I am going to tell you the story of Joe. It is in a timeline format.

October 2006: spot ceramic quilted turtle in a gift shop, think it is cutest thing ever seen! But never-before-heard-from "practical" side asks "why do I need a ceramic quilted turtle?" and turtle stays at gift shop.

That night: lay awake, wondering why I did not buy ceramic quilted turtle, since it really was the cutest thing I had ever seen! Resolve to return to gift shop in the morning to purchase turtle.

Next morning: arrive at gift shop to discover that ceramic quilted turtle was bought by someone who's practical side kept quiet. Also learn that turtle is discontinued, and gift shop cannot get any more! Drive home. Begin exhaustive Internet search for turtle. None found. Begin living regret filled life with no turtle.

January 2007: briefly consider learning how to make own quilted ceramic turtle. Idea abandoned.

January 2007-September 2008: think about turtle often, and hope it's owner treats it well. Resolve to silence practical side in the future.

September 2008: At the last booth Vicki and I visit at the Madison Quilt Expo, I FIND THE TURTLE!!! Immediately purchase turtle. And everyone lived happily ever after.

The End