Monday, December 31, 2012

Getting It Done/UFO Challenge 2012 Update

Judy over at Patchwork Times has a new format for making progress on projects for 2013, called Getting it Done.  It's a bit less formal than committing to a list of 12 UFOs for the year, although I did enjoy that as well.  For the new format in 2013, at the end of each month we select four things we want to make progress on in the next month.  So, for January my Getting it Done list is:

1.  Finish chevron tablerunner.
2.  Make heart block tablerunners for Shoppe sales.
3.  Trace at least 4 designs for Greenpiece wool applique blocks and cut out of wool.
4.  Do unsewing on Mystery quilt back and repair to correct length.

In reviewing my list of 12 projects for the UFO Challenge 2012, I'm quite pleased with what got done. My total score was eight finishes out of twelve, which I am feeling really good about.

#1 Judy's Mystery QuiltFebruary's pick.  Needed borders, backing, and quilting.  The top was completed rather quickly since it just needed borders, but I had a more complex idea with the backing which was a FAIL due to miscutting my focus fabric for the center of the pieced back.  That part was rescued but then I again had a FAIL when cutting the side borders, making the quilt at least a foot short.  So that project has been resting ever since.  Progress was made, however!

 #2 Caramel Blues QuiltMay's pick. A 9 patch swap project.  Needed borders, backing, quilting.  The borders, backing and sandwiching progressed fine.  I am now stuck on custom quilting, having started and then removed stipple quilting in variegated thread in the hourglass blocks.  I need to match the thread to the cream background in the hourglass blocks.  I'd estimate the quilting is 2/3 finished in the center; borders will be next.  Again incomplete, but progress made!

#3 Cheddar and Cinnamon Quilt.  July's pick.  This was the only project on the list that had no progress on it--other than to wash the backing fabric, which I don't even remember what I chose!  The top was completed in the 2011 UFO Challenge from another pile of 9 patch swap blocks. 

 #4 Any Witch Way (2).  Swapped for #11, September's pick.  These projects were also on the 2011 challenge list and I had made free-pieced letters for the witches names for one of the two tops; both centers were complete.  One witch quilt was completed and given to my daughter (apparently I never took a photo of the completed quilt).  The other had the names completed, attached, and borders as well.  So, 1 for 2 on that month's pick!

#5 Patriotic Fields Doll Quilt.  January's Pick.  The project needed hand quilting and binding.  Though not completed on deadline, I did eventually put the last stitch into the hand quilting in April, and the binding followed shortly thereafter.  I won a blue ribbon at the County Fair on this quilt (though it should have been hung vertically not horizontally!) 

#6 Yuletide Blessings QuiltOctober's pick.  This project only needed quilting and binding.  It was finally finished as of 10/31/12. I don't have a photo of the completed quilt for some reason but have it hanging over my recliner for the season.

#7 9 Patch QuiltbuddiesAugust's pick.  I smartly only assigned myself finishing the top from the pile of blocks and selected setting fabric for this very large quilt.  The 9 patches were from a swap several years ago with an online group and I got the zigzag setting from  The borders were sewn that way in sort of a mistake but I went with it!  It was completed 9/1/12. 

#8 Greenpiece BOMDecember's pick (previously swapped for March's pick).  The Moda BOM quilt I fell in love with and my hubby bought for me. I had only gotten a few month's worth of the pieced blocks made.  Now it is the month end and while all the pieced blocks are now complete, none of the wool blocks have yet to be! These are the most recent finished blocks: 

#9 TablerunnersSwapped for #8, March's pick.  Two small tablerunners from designer Heather Mulder Peterson. Finished by deadline!

 Party Time runner.
Baby Boxes runner. 

#10 Jewel Box QuiltApril's pick.  Additional blocks were needed to complete the desired setting--many of the blocks were from another swap from several years ago.  I finished this quilt on June 28 and gave it to my boss as a gift, renaming it Jollas de la Mar (Jewels of the Sea).  The quilt is about 65" square but looks rectangular due to the offset layout.

#11 Quiltbuddies Christmas Block SwapSwapped twice to make it November's pick.  A pile of swapped blocks and a sketch turned into a completed top by deadline, 11/30/12.  Not the best photo, however!

#12 Double pink and brown/tan 9 patch blocksJune's pick.  Another 9 patch swap block project.  I had selected a pattern called "X's and O's" from an APQ mag, downsizing it to a tablerunner.  Each large block was 18" or so. This was completed in early September and given to my sister in law as a housewarming gift.

All in all, many happy hours of sewing and quilting represented here (and a number of not so happy hours unpicking and recutting!).  I enjoyed the number picked reveal each month, though I felt free to swap more than once!  Thanks, Judy, for the UFO Challenge. I look forward to the new challenge format this year.

Design Wall Monday--Dec 31, 2012

Last day of the year, last Design Wall Monday, and the day I get my Christmas Annual Newsletter in the mail!

On my design surface today are parts for a small table runner I sketched out for DD Elaine and hubby and am using my new GO! cutter to make.

They tend to like more modern and minimal so this will be chevrons in solids.  It is meant for Christmas but really could be used at any time.  The gray and green HSTs have been made.  I do have more of both solids but am running low on the cream print so will have to see where I stand when cutting for the red rows, three of which are planned, so that means 36 HSTs in cream.  It will be a race to the end of the fabric! I sketched out triangle ends on the runner and since I have plenty of red, may make red borders too since the chevron rows will finish at 12" wide.  See more Design Walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

And have a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Playing with Machines

Not having done any sewing for over a week felt awfully weird.  I was finally able to play with fabric again yesterday.  Another tablerunner was the focus--this one made with my new GO! cutter.

The Value die that came with the cutter has three shapes.  Since all three shapes are cut anytime you run it through the press, it makes sense to take advantage of that.

 I layered two strips right sides together for the HSTs and then centered them over the die outlined in Sharpie. For this example I folded the strip over to get four layers.  I then put four squares over the 2 1/2" die.

After topping it with the cutting mat and running it through the press, eight HSTs and four perfectly cut 2 1/2" inch squares were my reward.

Not being used to stitching HSTs this way, a few wanted to be difficult at first and sucked down with the needle.  I plan to get a single hole needle plate soon, since I have read that helps prevent suckage :)  The HSTs will become a chevron striped tablerunner for DD Elaine. I'm using 2 1/2" squares as a new leader-ender project.  I am determined to deal in the New Year with the myriad scraps clogging up my sewing room.  Some more mini quilts and tablerunners for the Shoppe are in my future.

These scraps, for example, have been hanging around for about 10 years; extras from one of the first quilts I made and kept.  I've sketched out some simple pinwheels for their odd size, 2 x 5" bricks.

DD Erica had requested a pot roast dinner while she was here.  This time I chose to make it in the crock pot and it was delicious.  I cooked extra potatoes and carrots separately since my crock pot is about 40 years old and small.  Do you have to leave instructions for your husband, too? 

Erica has made several batches of her world famous chocolate chip cookies while home.  She didn't use these adorable measuring cup mittens but they brightened up the kitchen.  Erica heads home today and we probably won't see her until graduation day in May.  But you never know, she may need to come home for her birthday in March :)  Now I'm off to the Shoppe for a shift.  I'll be playing with wool applique during the slow times.  Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post Christmas Post

So, I trust everyone is coming down slowly from the hustle, bustle, cheer, joy, family and feast that is so much a part of this season.  We had a lovely Christmas--breakfast in the morning with Nick and Erica, then the marrieds came over, Elaine and Chris, and there were gifts opened with the Lakers game on TV in the background, muted, with our favorite Christmas audiotape playing.  Everyone liked their gifts (and the Lakers won!) and we cleaned up and made our way to my parents' house to add to the horde of diners there, totaling 24 for dinner.  Boy, it was delicious, it was loud, there was laughter, there were toasts, plenty of desserts---and lots of dishes.  I was proud of our girls for getting in there and starting the first shift of cleanup duty.  We went home tired and happy.

Having received another die for my Accuquilt GO cutter from the kids, I set off this afternoon for Joann's fabric to buy a cutting mat for it. Afterwards I decided to take the long way home--the very long way--by way of the beach.  It was a beautiful blustery day as I crossed the coastal plain, heading towards the ocean.

The hills are finally getting green since we have gotten several inches of rain since October.  The strawberry farmers should be happy too.

After parking and crossing over the freeway by way of the pedestrian bridge, I made my way across the coast road towards the pier.  About that time I got a phone call from DH Grant, asking where I was.  When I told him the pier, he said, "I thought that was you!"  He said he had just happened to be driving along the coast road to get on the freeway and caught sight of me, in an unusual coincidence.  I invited him to walk on the pier and he agreed.

Windy and cold on the pier but there were still a number of folks enjoying the sunset.

 Birds were running in the surf in a line....

 And surfers were lining up in the water to catch a wave.

 Being so close to the solstice, moonrise and sunset were only about an hour apart. 

So we got to see both at once.  Great way to end the day, walking with my beloved on the pier.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Holiday Orts

Not much crafting going on here, but lots of shopping and getting ready for the big day.  Here are some orts--bits and scraps of thoughts and events of the holiday happenings.
  • Our former office crew met at a local restaurant for dinner and holiday cheer last week--at a brand new Japanese restaurant.  We had a lovely time though I managed to drop my 3/4 full glass of iced tea onto the table, splash a bit on my former boss, and soak myself quite well.  Nothing says Merry Christmas like a lap full of cold iced tea!
  • Traffic Rant:  I took my mother in law to the store so she could buy some Christmas cards.  Some lazy dodo in a big pickup truck decided to wait for us to pull out of our close parking spot instead of going up the aisle a short way to clearly visible empty spots.  She actually reversed and blocked traffic in two directions in the main lane in front of the store.  I made little effort to hurry my 93 year old mother in law, I can tell you.
  • I love to get holiday cards and letters and especially photos.  I hope this tradition never dies out, though it seems we get fewer cards every year. Ours rarely get sent out before Christmas and that is true again this year, since I just wrote our annual newsletter today and we won't all be together until Christmas Day for a photo.  But I haven't ever missed a year in the last 28!
  • This year a reversal of normal events occurred:  I wrapped packages days before Christmas Eve and put them under the tree.  Maybe I'll blame it on the Mayan calendar prediction crisis.
  • Speaking of presents under the tree: 
This one arrived from Arizona the other day.  Her dog has been keeping close ever since.  Don't you love the Grinch footie pajama pants?  I won those in a white elephant exchange and Erica was happy to have them keep her warm.

Wishing you all warm and wonderful holidays with plenty of friends, family, food, and fun.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Design Wall Monday--Dec 17, 2012

On my design surface is the latest set of pieced blocks for the UFO of the month, the Moda Greenpiece BOM quilt.

Four more blocks are completed.  There is only one more set of blocks to piece, ready for cutting there at the bottom of the photo.  Packets with the medallion center, pieced borders, flap and outer borders are yet to go.  My goal for this UFO was to get all the blocks made and the medallion center pieced and appliqued.  Since I have a couple dozen wool blocks to make, that obviously is not going to happen in the remaining days of this month, but I am pleased to have moved forward this much and will keep plugging on. 

A busy and productive Sunday in the sewing room included framing the snowman stitchery with fabric and a ribbon hanger, making two stocking ornaments for a craft shoppe member's grandsons...

...and completing this stitchery and mounting it in the frame.  I like the snowman and stitched presents so much myself that I may not put them in the shoppe for sale!  Pondering that...

See more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Slow Stitching on Sunday

Today I'm joining up with Slow Stitching on Sunday with a bit of cross-stitching.  First up were names for some custom stockings that a co-member of the craft shoppe wanted for her grandsons. 

I'll cut the pieces for the stockings and get them sewn up to deliver tomorrow.  They will look like the finished "Stacey" sample here, with one change--boys' stockings do not get lace :).  I'm also finishing up backstitching on the little Christmas gifts there which will be placed in the accompanying frame to sell at the shoppe as well.  After those are done I look forward to some fabric playtime on my early Christmas gift:

After trying to win one of these GO! cutters for two years, and telling my husband this is really the only present I want, a trip to Joann's Fabric resulted in a big box coming home with me.  It was on sale and the last they had in the store.  Thanks, darling!

The included Value Die cuts a 2.5 inch square, 4.5 inch square, and 2.5 inch half-square triangles.  I played a little with scraps last night and think I'll have a lot of fun cutting up many more in the future.  The next die I want is the 2.5 inch strip cutter.  Although I registered my cutter on the Accuquilt website, Joann's store prices are better, so I'll be heading back to purchase that die and the cutting mat for it.  I've been setting aside fabrics for two projects that use 2.5 squares and strips and having the cutter to do much of the work is very exciting.  Not to mention being able to empty some of the overflowing scrap boxes!  And now, back to stitching...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmasy Stuff

 This tablerunner my Dad claimed in an unfinished sandwiched state on Thanksgiving Day.  I finally got it quilted and bound.  It's on it's way, Dad!

 A little holly leaf in the center of the Friendship Stars and Xs in the border squares did the trick for quilting. It is a busy tablerunner but I like it a lot.

 My sister in law Mariana claimed this tablerunner.  I liked the holly leaf idea so used it again. 

The loopy quilting is much more visible from the back, although the color is way off in the photo--it is actually a very deep red/burgundy color.  It needs to be mailed off today but luckily doesn't go too far.

Christmas decorating is finally finished.  The tablecloth was an after-Christmas sale purchase from Target last year.  I kind of went for a red, white, and green theme.  But come to think of it, I do that every year :)

This tablerunner was my first attempt at applique.  I didn't know anything about applique when I made it so the complexity of the job didn't really frighten me.  Sometimes it is better not to know, right?  Pattern from American Patchwork & Quilting, probably from about 2000, available on the APQ shop HERE.

 Vintage beaded satin balls made by my husband's grandmother, Rose, many decades ago.

And then there is Rudolph the One-Eyed Reindeer, hanging on the tree.  I'm sure he used to have two eyes when he was brought home from school many years ago by daughter Erica.  I made the cross-stitched ornament for son Nick from some vintage Santa fabric a beloved neighbor gave me.  Wish I had yards of it left but only carefully hoarded scraps remain. Now to move on to the other Christmas tasks of gift buying and wrapping, cards, and visitors.  Better make sure cleaning up Erica's room is on the top of the list since she comes home next week! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Comfort Food

We're getting some cooler weather here in SoCalif.  I no longer say "cold" or "freezing" weather because that leads my sister in St. Louis to call me a liar since frequently she has to scrape ice off her windshield, which of course doesn't happen in my beach town :)  Anyway, hot soup appeals and a family favorite recipe always does the trick.  The base recipe is from the Betty Crocker cookbook my Grandma bought me when I got married.  Over the years I have put a lot of twists on it and it always turns out great.  The only time I ruined a pot was when I added too much salt--so I started cutting the salt from two teaspoons in the original recipe to one, and that worked fine--diners can add their own salt at the table.

Love my adorable gingerbread man spoon rest from Pier 1!

Hamburger Vegetable Soup:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
4 cups water
3 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 tsp garlic salt
1 TBS steak sauce (like A-1)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/8 tsp fennel seeds
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
2 small cans tomato sauce (or one small can tomato paste)

Brown ground beef in the bottom of a large stock pot, drain off fat and return to pot.  Add all the vegetables, water, seasonings, tomatoes and sauce, and stir to combine.  Cover and heat on high until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.   Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.  This recipe serves about 6-8.

I put shredded parmesan cheese into the bottom of the bowls before ladling in the soup so it gets all melted, and serve with sourdough toast (Ralph's grocery store has a rosemary and olive oil loaf that is to die for!).  Be prepared to want seconds :)   Cool and refrigerate leftovers, or freeze for later.

Different twists I have used are to add an Italian link sausage or two, which I cook separately and then chop up and add to the pot.  You could also use ground turkey instead of beef.  Almost any fresh vegetable I have on hand I also throw in the pot, such as yellow squash or zucchini.  I like to use the roasted frozen corn from Trader Joe's, it adds a smokiness we like.  Note that I use very little onion--usually I find recipes too heavy on onion, so I cut it way down.  I like the red/purple onions for the color.  Adjust seasonings to your taste, or spice it up with red pepper flakes or chili powder if you like it hot.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa's Big Night

 : Photo from "Episode 103"

In my last post I shared that my uncle was going to be on the new game show airing Monday night, December 10th, called "Take It All", which is based on the "White Elephant" or "Dirty Santa" gifting game.  It is a fun game to play with friends--strangers maybe not so much!

Uncle John/Santa luckily made it through to the last "Prize Fight" round wherein the last two players have to select a secret vote button to choose either to each keep their own prizes and both go home winners, or try to Take It All and steal the other player's prizes.  However, if they both choose Take It All, both go home with nothing.  Uncle John and the other player were both school teachers and he emphasized how he felt it was a god-given opportunity both of them could benefit by in selecting Keep Mine.  Which is what he did.  The other player did not--and collected over $400,000 in prizes. Santa was robbed!  (link to the full episode on NBC).

My aunt posted on Facebook that after the show some of the audience was really mad, some of whom had to be removed by security.  The other player's shocked students were in the audience and started to chant "Santa, Santa", getting the audience involved.  Uncle John, though at first a bit stunned, took it with a grain of salt, as he was no worse off and had a lot of fun, leaving with his integrity intact.  The Take It All Facebook page has had some interesting reactions too, many of them negative against greed being featured.  One guy started a page on to raise the 50K that Uncle John should have won as his cash prize and give it to him!  Too funny. 

Now, this is a game show and all the rules are explained to all the players and losing is of course more likely than winning.  But having to trust another player with your prizes is a pretty brutal ending!  On last night's episode, both players chose Take It All, and both went home with nothing.  We'll see if this show survives its maiden voyage of six episodes this week.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Finish and Some Bragging

After too many years lingering in a Christmas decor box, an Angel gets a home. 

After my previous post, my mom emailed me to say she had no recollection of giving me back this elementary school project, but was glad I was rescuing it!  She is now hanging in the living room, water stains, backwards R, stiff glue and all--with a knitting needle as a dowel.  Makes me smile!

Now for the bragging part:  My mom's brother John has had a pretty good Santa gig going on for several years since he retired from 30+ years of teaching at a junior high school, including acting runs in Miracle on 34th Street productions and appearances before various groups, both paid and volunteer.  It has become a second career and presently Uncle John is appearing in a Windows 8 commercial as Santa, which has been playing on the ABC channel during prime time.  I am unable to find a link for that, unfortunately, but heard it was on after Suburgatory.  He is also scheduled to appear on a new game show hosted by Howie Mandel debuting tomorrow night, December 10th at 9PM/8 Central on NBC, called "Take it All".  And yes, Uncle John's white hair and beard are all his own.  The family is eagerly awaiting the show and messages will surely be flying on Facebook!

Friday, December 7, 2012

New and Vintage

Two more months' worth of Greenpiece BOM blocks have been added to the pile.

The cutting and assembly instructions that came with this Moda BOM from The Fat Quarter Shop are very good for the pieced blocks and they all have turned out well.  So far I have only made one error in cutting the wrong size triangles, but the generous amount of fabric given for each month saved me.

Love the rich red and caramel fabrics in this one.

I made this Christmas decoration sometime in elementary school, probably about third or fourth grade, I should think.  The R is backwards, but I love the rick rack trim on the angel's dress, and she has the blue eyes I always wanted :)   My mom gave it back to me some years ago and every year since then I've thought about making it into a wall hanging but never have.  Truly all it would take is a good ironing, a slight squaring up, and turning down the top for a dowel to fit through.  Well, this is the year I get it done! I'll show the vintage restoration when complete.  Other decorations are slowly getting pulled out and distributed around the house, we will probably get our tree this afternoon, and lights up on the house over the weekend.  Then it will feel a lot more like Christmas around here!

Design Wall Monday--Catching Up

 Design Wall Monday --See more design walls on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog.  I disappeared for awhile, due to computer issu...