Monthly Archives: March 2015

Happy Mother’s Day to Me

Last year I got such a cool Mother’s Day gift. It may strike you as odd that I am writing about it 10 months later, but bear with me. In April of last year, my son and daughter-in-law were home for a weekend to attend a wedding. Andrew overheard me talking about wanting to learn to use a long arm. There is a shop about 40 miles from my house (everything is 40 miles from my house) and when I was there I found out that a person could take a class on their long arm and then rent it for $20 per hour. This sounded great to me. Just seemed like a fun thing to learn and a nice way to see if I would like to work on a long arm. Being a thoughtful guy, Andrew decided to send me a gift certificate to cover the cost of taking the initial class. I was so surprised to get this in the mail the following month at Mother’s Day.

In theory, this was such a great idea. I just could not get it to happen. Certainly not for a lack of trying however.  This shop is more than a bit flaky. I won’t mention any names, but it is basically the only LQS in the Marysville/Yuba City area. There, now you can avoid it if you are ever in the area. When I got the certificate I scheduled the class. I called them at the end of May and was told I would have to wait until August for the class. Ok, no big deal.  Come August, they call me and tell me they are so very busy that they have to reschedule to October. A bit frustrating but I am nothing if not patient (ha!). So I schedule for October 22nd. October rolls around, and guess what? I get a call on October 21st telling me that they have just returned from a huge show and the long arms aren’t set up and blah, blah, blah.  They cannot actually reschedule me during this phone call and could they please call me back? Fine I huff at them, call me back. Are you surprised that I never got that phone call.  Five months have now gone by and no call.  I did leave a message or two between then and now, but I am fairly certain I am not going to get to take a class.

Now there I was holding on to this gift certificate to a quilt shop. Hmmm…. what to do, what to do? I called a quilty girlfriend last week and asked if she wanted to come along to this oh-so-poorly run LQS. Always up for a quilt shop trip, she agreed.  My mission was to splurge on a pile of 1/2 yard cuts of solids.  My stash is woefully low on any solid fabrics.  I was pretty darn excited. I told myself I could not go over the amount of the gift certificate though. (Remember, I have incredible will power when it comes to fabric shopping.)

Here is a one (Kaufmann) collection that I purchased.



I love the texture in these pieces. The colors are so deep. Look at the violet piece on the right. Gorgeous.

imageOn to another aisle for more traditional solids. These are all Kona solids. Since I don’t have projects lined up for these, I just selected colors that I like to use. I have no doubt that I will find lots of fun quilts that will include these hues.



Sooo pretty. I just love the way they look all stacked up. I don’t really need to sew with them, I can just look at them sitting there in my sewing room and it brings me pure joy.  😉

Now another funny thing about this shop is that their pricing was wildly erratic. The first batch of textured cottons were all the same price and they were a bit spendy. But the selection of Kona solids varied in price from $4.00 per yard to $9.99 (crazy high, in my opinion) per yard. When the owner was cutting the fabrics I pointed out the price differences to him and asked why Kona solids would vary like that. He had no real answer. He said, “I guess the cheaper ones have been around the shop for a while.” What? It made no sense to me. But really, it didn’t surprise me considering my experience with this guy over the past ten months.

No matter, I got to indulge in a stack of gorgeous fabric and celebrate Mother’s Day 2014 all over again!  And get this, I nailed the cost! I was over by eight cents! Thank you Andrew.  🙂

Linking to Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash (even though it’s already Monday!)


Yellow stars – Done!

Another finish! Trying to get things all finished up for March. These stars are my RSC15 project for this month. The color is yellow and these turned out so cute.



Two of the stars have a bit of a mistake. However, I am calling this creative design. Mostly because I don’t feel like ripping it out.  Do you see the mistakes? Hint, hint, look at the star that is second to the left in the picture above.


Here are the first three rows of the quilt. I am following along with Mari over at Academic Quilter. She is posts a new block for this row quilt the first Tuesday of each month. Looking forward to seeing what is up for April!

We are going to work on the house in Downieville this weekend so I won’t get a lot of sewing done. I do plan to take up some hand sewing. I am making some throw pillows for the guest bed and I am going to try hand quilting one while I am up there. I have never hand quilted before so we’ll see how it goes. Are there any tricks? Advice is more than welcome. I plan to quilt straight lines running on the diagonal. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Linking to Angela at So Scrappy for this month’s RSC15 challenge.

Gratitude Week Three

Somehow I missed my goal of a weekly gratitude post last week. All of a sudden the week was over and I didn’t get it posted. Ah well…. let’s make up for that.

Thoughtful gestures, not huge but those times when you know that there was true kindness behind the gesture. This is what I am grateful for this week. I have two examples for you. Both gestures were bestowed upon me by my hubby, a very thoughtful kind of guy.

The first one requires a backstory. I am hypoglycemic which I wrote about about here. Because of this, I rarely eat sugary or processed foods. Anyway, I had been buying these little sugarless, fruity candies at Caroline’s, a local shop in town. I love them – chewy like a “tootsie roll” and very tart.  Just after Christmas, I went to the shop to buy a few and was so disappointed to find out they no longer carried them. C’mon… my big indulgence was gone! A week ago, I lamented whined to Ray how much I missed my little bits of chewy goodness. That night he was all over Amazon and a few days later a box arrived on our porch.

imageWhat a guy, right? He found them and ordered a ton. I will not soon run out!

Second story: Earlier this week I was looking for updated software drivers for my DSLR camera. I went to the site and started the download. As soon as I clicked run on the executable file I knew I was in big trouble. (I have a Windows laptop.) Ahhh!! All sorts of windows started popping up in the background. I was so angry. Clearly the site was a fake and I didn’t catch it. Jeez, it was a mess. I am pretty knowledgeable technically. Before working in HR, I worked in the I/T department for a decent sized company. I was both a technical  writer and a corporate trainer for some large software installations. I KNOW BETTER. I should have paid better attention to the site I was using but jeez, these creepy people make these sites look so legit. I tried to clean up the mess. I couldn’t. Feeling very frustrated, I shut down the computer. The next day, Ray tried uninstalling everything. He then ran the virus scan, which ran for hours and finally found the mess and (supposedly) uninstalled it. Come the following day, there it was; Binkiland was back on my computer and I couldn’t use Chrome (my usual browser). Ugh. I was so irritated. I told Ray and he did some research on this. Luckily this mess was more of an annoyance than a danger. It is an insipiad browser that forces it way into the computer and takes over so it can collect data on your internet usage. That night he came home from work with a pile of pages of instruction and scrubbed the laptop. I know this wasn’t fun for him. He has a stressful job and sits at his computer at work for a good part of the day. He doesn’t usually come home hoping to sit at another computer for an hour cleaning up yet another mess! But he did and  my laptop is back to normal. I am grateful — he is very thoughtful.

Always good to pay it forward right? Time to go extend the gesture to someone else. Recognizing these little gestures and appreciating them make my day that much richer.

Linking to Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl today.

A Finish with a Flange

So pleased to show this week’s finish!!  I love this quilt for a variety of reasons. The colors are just what I wanted for one.  I have always loved a basic pallette using neutral colors. As I mentioned earlier, I then decided I wanted to put a pop of red it. The more I played with this, the more I liked that red. Thus the addition of the large red heart!


The biggest reason though is that it is my own.  The design is simple but it came from me; I didn’t use anyone’s pattern and that is absolutely a first. I used straight line quilting going in several directions. The hearted was densely quilted with lines about 1/2″ apart. I used the edge of the walking foot as my guide for that. The body of the quilt has straight lines going through each square, both horizonally and vertically. I started out marking each line with my Hera Marker but after a while, I got used to the patterns in the fabric and used those to guide me along and just freehanded it. Much simpler and very freeing!


I took my time with this and didn’t rush to finish it. I did get antsy when I was quilting it and again when I was burying the threads around the red heart. I reminded myself to relax and enjoy the process and it was so nice. I loved every bit of it – even the annoying tasks like cleaning up the myriad little threads all over the back before sandwiching it. Even (and especially) sewing the binding to the back. I do love the process. I think part of the issue is that I feel like I should crank something out so I have “something” to write a post about. This was in the back of my mind but really, even though this blog is something I truly enjoy, I don’t want to be cranking out finishes just so I have a post. That doesn’t make any sense to me.


After I got the quilting finished up, I was looking at it trying to decide how I wanted to bind it. I had enough of the fabric from the backing to use as binding but I was torn between using that and using the red fabric from the heart. Finally I remembered a post I had read a long while back over at Persimon Dreams. She had placed a very narrow flange on the quilt before binding it to add a pop of color. Yay-it was the perfect solution. I commented on that particular post and Kim was so kind to send me a quick email explaining how she did it. (So, actually part of this quilt was inspired by another but that’s ok. I want to give credit where credit is due.) Adding the flange took very little time and I think the effect it provides is wonderful.



If you haven’t ever done a flange, it is very easy. I cut strips that were one inch wide of the contrasting red fabric. Then I sewed them together, just as one would with a binding strip. Fold it in half and press so you are left with a 1/2″ wide folded strip. (Kim used a 3/4″ strip ending up with a 3/8″ folded piece but I wanted something a little bit wider.) Once you have the flange prepared, attach it to the quilt’s raw edge on the top side. Sew it to the quilt using a VERY scant 1/4″ seam. I used a longer stitch (my Janome was set to 3.5 stitch length) which made attaching it a breeze. Then attach your binding as usual. Be sure to hand stitch the binding to the back. If you machine stitch it, those stitches will show on the flange. Easy peasy!  If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.


Yep, this was a great finish and I will be gifting it to someone soon. That is the best part – giving it away and giving someone the joy of a cozy quilt. Hope the recipient loves it.

Linking to Sew Bittersweet Designs as this is my March finish for ALYOF. Yahoo for setting a goal (I had better plan my projects for April soon.) Also linking to Freemotion by the River and Let’s Bee Social.

Not a lot of sewing going on

I haven’t spent a whole lot of time at the sewing machine this week. Lots of regular life going on and my neck was being sort of cranky. But that’s ok. I did get a few odds and ends done.

For RSC15 I am working on the March blocks from the Classic Stitches BOM over at Academic Quilter. I only finished five of the ten blocks but they are really fun.


For the kitchen in our Downieville house we decided to put in pleated shades. In keeping with the vintage look of the kitchen, I ordered a Waverly plaid that was printed in yellow, blue and green to make valances. We have green and yellow on the walls and I just put a 1950’s formica table in the eating area. It is gray with turquoise trim and the chairs have turquoise vinyl on the seats. I love pulling all of the colors together with these valances. I made a valance for each of the four kitchen windows. Hopefully we will be up there working on the house over spring break so I can hang these soon.


I’ve also worked a bit on the quilting for the neutrals quilt. I have a newfound appreciation with my Hera marker (which is made by Clover). I bought this (inexpensive) little tool months ago and each time I use it, I am so impressed by it. If you don’t have one, this tool is used to mark lines for quilting. No worry about removing ink or chalk after you sew. It is so cool. I have been marking the lines on the neutrals quilt with it.


The lines aren’t always easy to see. But the indentation left by the Hera marker is enough to guide me along. I don’t mark more than two lines at a time because the indentation doesn’t last very long. If you mark a line and don’t like what it looks like, a simple spritz of water (lightly sprayed) will remove the mark, as will smoothing the fabric with your hands. I don’t know that I would rely on this for intricate marking, but for straight lines it works great. If you want a quick tutorial on using a Hera marker here is a brief video – though it is so simple, not much instruction is needed.


I am quilting down the center of each three inch square and when I finish this direction, I will quilt down the center, going the other way.


For the heart I used lines that were much closer together. I didn’t mark these, just used the edge of the walking foot to judge the distance. It seems to solidify the heart, almost removing the lines of the patchwork. Looking good so far. Should make my (ALYOF) goal of completing this quit in March. Yahoo!

I was lucky enough to have one of my sisters here for a couple of days to visit this week. What a treat. Even better, her son was also here briefly. My nephew and his wife live in Japan which means I don’t see him very often. We used to live next door to each other when the kids were growing up and I miss having them around all the time. Family visits are the best. That’s the update for the past week or so. Hope everyone is doing well and spending some time with at the sewing machine and some time hanging with family. Best of both worlds!

Linking to Freemotion by the River and Let’s Bee Social. As always, links to these sites are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups. This post is also linked to Stephanie and Michelle at Late Night Quilter for Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

Gratitude Week Two

This post is the second in a series on gratitude, or counting one’s blessings. The idea to write about appreciation was inspired by Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl (Yvonne happens to be an amazing quilter by the way. If you haven’t already, please take a look at her work.)

When I was working full-time I went out to lunch one day with friends for Chinese food. I received the following message in my fortune cookie. It said “Enough is as good as a feast”. I love this saying, which is a Buddhist proverb. I had it taped to my computer monitor in my office for years and would look at it often. For me it was, and still is, a powerful reminder that one doesn’t have to have stuff; the newest cars, the trendiest clothes or the biggest stash of fabric, to be content. If you have enough (I interpret that as the basics) then you have a veritable feast.

I have enough, for which I am so grateful and because of which, I am content. There is food in our cupboard and a roof over our heads. I am fortunate. When we lose sight of all that we have, if we are always desiring more, we miss the opportunity to experience the joy of appreciating life at that moment.

So, this week, I am focused on feeling grateful for the pantry that feeds us (messy though it is) and the home we live in (again, messy though it is!) It is enough.

Note: The picture of our home is from last spring. It ihas been ridiculously warm here but I certainly don’t have peonies and iris in bloom yet!!

Linking to Thankful Thursday at Quilting Jet Girl today.


Progress Report

This week has started out with a productive bang. Yesterday I completed my neutrals/red heart quilt top. Today I finished up our taxes (never a fun task). Wow. If I don’t do anything else this week, I’m ok with that!

I got on a roll with the neutrals quilt and it all came together so quickly.

IMG_20150309_2952The fence wasn’t quite tall enough to photograph the whole thing but this is most of it. Pretend I ironed it – the wrinkles are really showing in these pictures!

IMG_20150309_2954I pieced one little random block. When I was trimming the HST’s to be used in making the big heart, I had little bits and pieces leftover. I used a few of them to make this little guy.

IMG_20150309_2953Tomorrow I will get the backing assembled and pin baste the layers together. I haven’t quite  decided how to quilt it. I know I want to use straight line quilting but not positive of the pattern.  Also thinking about quilting the heart separately or different somehow so it stands out more.

Making good progress on my March goal! Also got started on the yellow scrappy blocks for RSC15 and they are going to be adorable. They are a double star block – finished the first of ten blocks today . At least all of the pieces are cut though so they will go together quickly.

Linking to Sew Cute Tuesday, Linky Tuesday and Let’s Bee Social. Links to all of these great sites are located at the top of this page under Link Ups.






Yay for Fridays! I haven’t worked outside the home for the past three years but Fridays still feel good. Maybe not as much of a relief as when I was working but they still give me bit of a thrill knowing that the routine relaxes. No school for Julia, no work for Ray – family time. Hope you are all looking forward to the weekend.

Back when the new year started in January, there were posts flying around suggesting that people select a word to focus on as a way to give a theme to the year. After a brief internal debate over what incredibly important, intellectual and philosophical word would be good for me, I settled on “relax”.  If I could have had two words, it would have been “relax already”, as in! I am fairly certain no one worries as much as I. If there is something to fret about, I will do so. Actually, even if there is nothing to fret about, I will do so. Enough already. I cannot count the number of times that I have freaked out over something only to experience it, or get through it, and think to myself, oh – that wasn’t as bad as I expected. So, my new motto – just relax. I have been telling this to myself on a fairly regular basis over the past couple of months. It seems to be helping. Plus it gave me an excuse to buy this cute panel with alphabet letters and create a little bunting.

imageIsn’t that great? I have it hanging on the headboard of the guest bed which is in my sewing room. In complete honesty, I took a close up shot of the bunting because there is such a mess piled all over the bed. I’ll be honest about it but that doesn’t mean I will post a picture of it for all of the internet world to see.  🙂 I like the bunting and it is a fun reminder of my 2015 word. Plus it makes sense to have it above the bed. Kind of inviting – or it would be if one could actually see the bed beneath those letters.

This week was mostly focused on Etsy product for my shop but I did make good progress on my neutrals/heart quilt. Now that I added the heart, I don’t know what to call it.  I should finish piecing it in a couple of days. Check this out though.

imageI am really liking it.

imageIt is going to be a gorgeous weekend. We will be working on the house on the river that we bought last fall. (I wrote about that here, in case you are curious.) New windows were put in today. Julia and I will work on the teeny tiny yard tomorrow. It is coming along nicely.

Hope everyone is well and happy and relaxed!

Linking to TGIFF, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and WIDTW at SewStitchingCute.





March Goal

The start of the new month means time to set a quilting goal for March. I am enjoying participating in Sew Bittersweet Designs link up, A Year of Lovely Finishes.  It encourages me to make a plan and have one overall goal to work toward. Something about writing it down helps it to happen.

I am working on a basic patchwork quilt right now. I love the simplicity of a traditional patchwork design. I have been collecting an assortment of neutral fabrics – all shades of cream, taupe and tan, both prints and solids. A few weeks ago I started cutting 3 1/2 inch squares. Luckily my son was home and he cut tons of them for me. I decided to go with 25 rows of 20 squares across so I needed 500 pieces. Ian was a champ – cutting 500 pieces would be major neck pain for me. Yay for having kids – see how it pays off.  (Just kidding Ian – love you!)


In addition to the neutrals, I added a small number of squares that have some red in the print as well as a few red solid squares. I love the neutrals but the addition of the red adds a nice contrast.


As I was piecing squares I started liking the red even more. The evolution of a project, right? I started sketching ideas and decided to piece a heart and include it on the lower half of the quilt. This is turning out quite different than my original plan but that’s ok. I am loving it.


I am usually one to follow patterns and directions. For a long while, I have envied people who can just play with fabric and be ok with that. This quilt is one of the first that I have made without a pattern or a strictly defined plan. Makes for a fun project because I have enjoyed the process of letting things evolve. It has also been a great use of stash I have on hand. I bought the red for the heart but had the rest.

The goal is to have this project finished by the end of March. Piecing the top is almost 1/2 way done so a March finish is more than reasonable. Hoping March brings some decent weather to my northeastern friends!

Linking to ALYOF, Freemotion by the River and Let’s Bee Social.