Friday, June 29, 2007

Eastern Market

Thanks to my good friend Kedren, who also happens to be my next door neighbor, I was given an application to Eastern Market. I think she may have had a little talk with Fritz, the super nice man who runs the market as well. I worked up my nerve and sent in the application and I will be a standholder on July 7th! I'm feeling the need to make a few more quilts, maybe a pin cushion or two and even a few animals for the kids. Of course, I only have one week. Here is the beginning of my disappearing nine patch. I'll show you more when I get it finished.

If you need me, I'll be in my sewing room.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jacob's Ladder Quilt

"We are climbing Jacob's Ladder...."

If you know this song from your childhood, you'll remember how catchy it is. I finished a new project last night (yes, at the pool). It reminds me of a ladder and that reminded me of the song, and now I can't stop singing the song. It doesn't help that my ki
ds have a Veggie Tales CD with this song that has been in heavy rotation these days.
If you remember my last post, I pointed you to this lovely quilt. I started cutting strips with this quilt in mind, knowing that I wasn't making this quilt but that a different quilt was emerging. Sort of like Michelangelo's statues being in the marble, he just had to cut away the extra parts. (Did I just compare my quilts to a master? Please insert laugh track here...)After cutting strips of varying widths and lengths I sewed them to strips of unbleached muslin that I had also cut out of varying widths. Let me say that I had the dimensions of this quilt in mind before I started because I had a piece of batting that was a certain size and I wanted to use it. That is how I sized my Japanese quilt too.
After sewing the strips together, I cut them apart again in differing widths. I then added strips of unbleached muslin between the newest strips. This quilt required very little measuring and is meant to be very random. Since I am terrible at measuring, this worked well for me.I quilted around a few of the squares and added a very funky backing fabric. Here is a great tutorial for binding quilts if you want to know how to do it. I learned this from a book but Heather Bailey wrote a better tutorial.
My next door neighbor saw me quilting and said she wanted to buy this quilt from me. I don't think I've ever sold anything before it was finished before.

My next project is a disappearing nine patch quilt....stay tuned.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Japanese Paper Piecing

Here is the latest offering for my Etsy shop. I have loved the center piece on the front of this quilt for some time and decided it was time to try to make it. The block is paper pieced which I have never done before. In very basic terms you draw the pattern on a piece of paper and then sew the fabric to the paper piece by piece. After it is all sewn, you just rip the paper off the fabric and your block is finished. It wasn't as hard as I imagined it to be but I did have a bit of trouble sewing the fabric on in the right direction. I think there is more fabric waste in this type of piecing as well.Tonight I was planning to go to a Stitch and Fellowship meeting at my church. I really want to get to one of these meetings. After a week of babysitting and swim meets I was worn out. Worn out in a good way but not wanting to leave the house.I began a new quilt using the purple and green fabrics I have amassed over the years. I was inspired by this quilt, although I don't think mine will look anything like hers. After this quilt I want to make a quilt of all flowers and then a quilt with different flavors of ice cream. I really must write all of these ideas in my little notebook so I don't forget.Tomorrow we are going to Eastern Market to check out the food and the crafters. If I ever get the nerve up to have a stand with my quilts, this may be the place. I'm still working up the nerve.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Where Has the Time Gone?

Where do the days go? I think I the children. I have been babysitting my next door neighbors for the past two weeks and we have also been spending a lot of time at the swimming pool due to Swim Team. Last night was the first Dual swim meet. It was supposed to be on Tuesday but due to a summer storm was postponed until last night. We of course still spent almost two hours at the pool before the meet was called.What does this mean? It means that my summer of sewing quilts hasn't been too productive. Do I mind? Not at all. It is always a pleasure to watch children play. I am so thankful for my simple childhood and I really have been glad that we could give a similar one to our children.The pictures you see in this post are of the Tie Dye Team. We always make tie dye shirts on the first day of "camp" and so last year the kids decided to name the camp Tie Dye Team.We attended Family Farm Fun Days last week (or some similar alliterative name) and the kids' favorite part has always been holding the bunnies and chicks. We also had a Harry Potter theme last week and the above pictures are the kids making edible wands. Delicious.
I do have a work in progress that has a Japanese theme. I hope to have it finished by this weekend and I will post a picture whenever I can.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Back Yard Bird

Toward the end of the school year the boys and I attended a program at our County Park to make bird houses. We had the best time and since I don't know a thing about hammers and nails and wood, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the boys did. They came home and spent the next two days painting their houses. The park rangers informed the participants that the houses should be placed in a spot about five feet off the ground, near a bush and in a spot that does not get a lot of people traffic. I had to laugh a bit at this because our back yard is about 30 feet long and has no bushes but lots of screaming yelling kids. Well, when has this ever deterred us? We hung the boxes in the only spot available, right on the patio (no foot traffic there, right???). This week while we were sitting at the table, this little birdy was working hard at putting twigs in the little hole of Nathan's bird house. It was so amazing to watch.At the park, we were told that there are several kinds of birds that might use the house but that we DON'T want (house sparrows being one, I think). They tend to build nests close to houses and are pests (but I can't remember why). Anyway, I'm pretty sure that's what we've got but we love her anyway. I guess I should get a book on birds now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Finally Finished!

Well, they're done! Here are some pictures of the finished Toile quilt and the stained glass wall hanging quilt. I finished both yesterday. I need to add a rod pocket to the back of the stained glass so I can hang it behind our bed.I had a request about the Toile quilt. Here's how it was done: All together there are five rows of four blocks. Each block is the same width but each row is one inch longer than the last. You will need four blocks that measure 6 1/2x 9 1/2 inches, four of 7 1/2x9 1/2 inches, four of 8 1/2x9 1/2 inches, four of 9 1/2x9 1/2 inches, four of 10 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches. The white is unbleached muslin (so it isn't really white). The strips between the blues should be cut 2 1/2 inches wide and the strips for the border were cut 3 1/2 inches wide. The pattern for this quilt can be found in the book Quick Quilts to Make in a Weekend. In the book the pattern tells you how to make the quilt using only four differing blue fabrics (they used batik which I like a lot better). If you make it the way the pattern tells it is a bit easier because it can be strip cut and pieced. Because I was using scraps and more than four fabrics I had to do it a bit differently. The book is really great and it is the first book I bought when I was learning how to quilt. I use their technique for binding my quilt but I don't cut my binding the same way. Sorry this isn't the best explanation. Let me know if you want more info. I find the public library has some really excellent quilting books.

Now I must go back to making bags. I had someone from etsy ask me to make her two special order bags. She wants some fabric from Burkholder's. I'm going to get that lug nut wrench before I go!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thank You

The one thing I really wish blogger would change is that I can't send emails to people who comment on my blog. It makes me feel ungrateful or something. Blogger's solution is to respond on the comment page but I don't think people return to the comment page after they comment and so that solution doesn't work for me. Here's my solution for now: A thanks post.

First, thanks to all those great people that I am lucky enough to know personally: Amy, Michele, Heather and Xia. Read their blogs because they have a lot of talent and a lot of great things to say. I wish you could all know them.

Secondly, to the people who have commented that I am not lucky enough to have met in person: Alice, Cici, Matilda, LadybugmommyMaria and Betty. It has been my pleasure to get to check out the other blogs out there. I have to admit I was totally amazed to have had a comment from people who DON'T know me. So, thanks.

Matilda and Cici, thanks for liking the Toile quilt. I have come to like it much more since I've been quilting it. As requested I will post the directions and a full picture in a day or two. I'm hoping to finish the quilt today.

Finally, check out Dawn's Late Spring Field Day post. There are some fabulous pictures and amazing links (I have to find some time to check them ALL out). You'll see some familiar kids (mine) in the post.

Thanks again for reading and have an amazingly blessed day enjoying the every-dayness of it all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

God is Listening

I took a trip with my kids and my two next door neighbor children to Burkholder Fabric to buy the black fabric I need to finish my quilt. Yes, I had to buy a few more pieces as well. This store is about 1/2 hour away from our house if you take the highway. About 3/4 of the way home I got a flat tire. I pulled over, took a look at the sagging tire and took a deep breath. Theoretically, I know how to take off and put on a tire. Practically, I've never done it. I began pulling all of the "summer" goods (fishing rods, chairs, tackle box, bug spray) out of the trunk and looking for the tire and the jack. I prayed, "Father, please help me through this." IMMEDIATELY, a voice beside me said, "Can we help you?" I almost jumped out of my skin. Two very nice gentlemen had pulled over without me knowing to help me. We discovered that, yes, the spare tire was there as was the jack but there was no wrench with which to take off and put on the tire. These men, who still had a long way to return home, went to the next exit to find a wrench. They returned with a mechanic and power tools! In five minutes after their return I was on my way home. Talk about answered prayer. In my journal everyday (ok, everyday that I use it) one of the questions I try to answer is how did I see God in my day? Many days I'm just not sure how to answer that question but today I definitely have an answer.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Progress and Work in Progress

Well, it has been a week of sewing and sitting by the pool. I'm sitting by the pool because Nolan has joined the swim team and he has practice every morning. He truly loves the team and he has the greatest coaches ever. I am really excited for him. His first meet is tomorrow and he is a little nervous. He is swimming freestyle and the backstroke which he has just learned. Diving is really new to him as well so I've been really proud at how hard he's been working.I have a real hatred of having extra stuff. That includes extra pieces of fabric lying around. I didn't want to throw it away so I figured I'd start sewing. I had enough of the fabric I used on those large totes to make some mini totes. I also made these oven mitts and a set of coasters. I now have lots and lots of bags hanging across the doorknobs in my sewing room. How do I store all of this stuff? Everything is for sale in my shop. Now how do I get buyers???Finally, I decided to finish off some of the quilt tops I've made in the past. I'm working on quilting the stained glass quilt I showed you here and here. This bottom picture is a quilt top I made not too long ago in an effort to use up this Toile fabric I bought about three years ago for two baby quilts. I'm not a fan of Toile and really wanted to get rid of the fabric. This quilt top is very wrinkled but you get the picture.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

8 Things About Me Meme

“For this meme, each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.”

So I had to look up the word meme. According to the Urban Dictionary, one definition is "an idea spread from blog to blog." This may take me awhile.

1. I have always wished my name was Elizabeth, not just Beth. My brothers' names are Brent and Brian and so I guess my parents were on a roll with the B names. Unfortunately, when my mother was getting us all confused I was called Breath because I was the only one without an R.

2. I vowed as a child and as a young adult that I would NEVER name all of my children with the same first letter. I should have known better than to say never. We didn't name Nathan and Nolan purposefully with the same letter but knew the names were right and so I just bit the bullet and did it.

3. I first met my husband when I was about 14.
He was (and still is) in a band called the Innocence Mission and some friends of mine introduced us. We didn't give each other the time of day. Later, he came to my high school graduation party (he is 5 years older than I). Still didn't think about each other. Finally when I was 21 he chased me down. Yes, girls, despite the fact that he was a rock and roll star and toured the country and made records (yes, he used to make RECORDS) he chased me and not the other way around. Lucky me.

4. I was in a band called Beatnik Love Affair when I was in college. We made a demo tape and a friend shot a video for us. I still have it if anyone wants a good laugh. No, I will NOT post it on the internet. Private viewing only.

5. I am a terrible housekeeper. At all times there is lots of dust and cat hair covering most of the house. Mike cleans the bathroom. Did I mention how much I love my husband?

6. I thought parenting would be a lot of picnics in the park and laying on the living room floor coloring. I'm still waiting for my kids to open that pack of crayons and the coloring book I bought 11 years ago.

7. I didn't realize parenting would involve so many bugs and creepy things (we have encountered so many snakes lately that a trip to the library was necessary for some understanding of our belly slithering friends). I also didn't realize how much I would love this.

8. Finally, I love homeschooling. I love being with my boys every second of the day and sharing in all of their learning. I did not expect this. I love being the person they talk to about bugs and Egyptians and being asked (for at least the 100th time) which is my favorite wild cat. I love that we can be on a wonderful faith journey together each day, that my husband works from home so that we all interact throughout the day and that Mike and I are the primary people forming the characters of these fabulous boys. I will say it again, I love homeschooling.

Well, that was easier than I thought once I got started. Now I have to tag 8 people. I don't know that many bloggers so some of these people may be really surprised (and I hope not annoyed)! I tag Alice, Rebecca, Da
wn, Ladybug Momma, MaryAlice, Nissa and Xia, Bill and Stephanie.

Because I just CAN'T post without a picture, here is a mini quilt I made the other day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Strawberry mania

I don't know about you but I just can't get enough strawberries when they are in season. My friend Amy at Fresh Vintage posted another strawberry recipe, check it out. On Sunday I made Amy's recipe for strawberry muffins and they were so good I made a double batch yesterday for the freezer. On Sunday I also baked a shortcake. I just googled for a recipe. It is tasty but not as good as my mom's. Note to self: Call mom for the recipe.

Here's a question for you. How many people prefer milk on their strawberry shortcake? I have always hated things that are soggy and so could never add milk. Whipped cream, yes. Nathan begged me to buy the whipped cream in a can. I don't like that kind (I swear I can taste the chemicals) but bought it for him as a treat. When we got it out I told them both to open their mouths and I squirted a mouthful into each of them! They were shocked! My philosophy on this is, if you do it rarely, the treat is wonderful. If you do it all the time it begins to turn into gluttony. Of course, Nathan then informed me he doesn't like the whipped cream!

Of course, when you are a child, the best part of baking is licking the left over batter.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Chi Rho Mini Quilt

For some time now I have been interested in making "religious quilts" or maybe I could call them "quilts of faith"? I really don't know. One of the things that I just absolutely adore about Catholicism is how we use all of our senses to worship. I love to know the WHY of everything. In fact, when my husband (then boyfriend) first took me to his church (he was Catholic, I was Evangelical) I began with all the why questions: Why do you kneel before you go into the pew? Why is there water at the entrance to the church? Why does the priest wear a dress? Who is that person in the statue? etc. etc. I can't even believe he wanted to continue to date me. You must understand that I came from a church that was very plain and I disdained ornamentation in a church believing the money would be better spent going to the poor. And don't even get me started on what I thought about Mary and the Saints (I'll save that for yet another post).

Well, as He is wont to do, God has worked on my heart, and my attitude. I have come to understand how a church can be built to the glory of God. After all, if we belie
ve Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, shouldn't we house him in splendor? Of course we must be on our guard to not put the church building above Christ and the mission he calls us to. We must not put all of our resources into a building. After all, that building is of this world and Christ calls us to "love one another as I have loved you."

Now I'm getting off my initial topic. What I wanted to tell you is that I love religious symbols. I don't have a great understanding of them and wanted more. Im
agine my in-laws surprise when they asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said a book about the symbols of Catholicism. Not something you can just pick up at the mall. Well, leave it to my dear father-in-law to find a book! It was very interesting. Actually they got me another book as well that was equally as interesting. I just love to know the "hows" and "whys" of this stuff. It helps me in my journey to Christ.

Ok, so I have been pondering my "purpose" in sewing. Is this worth while? Since I've been thinking on religious symbolism in fabric I thought that perhaps it was God giving me a nudge so yesterday I took some left over squares from this quilt, looked through the book and decided to try the Chi-Rho. The Chi-Rho is a symbol taken from the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ (XPICTOC, pronounced "Christos"). It has been used for centuries to represent Christianity. The symbol is often used to designate the priest (or on priestly garments or chairs, etc.) because the Rho (P) often is styled to look like a shepherd's crook and the priest is a shepherd to his flock and serves under Christ, the great shepherd.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


I promised you a cute cat picture, and here it is. The kids were disappointed that the farm cats were too wild to pet and we didn't have enough time for them to work on making friends. I had fresh from the patch strawberries for breakfast this morning after discovering a wonderful blog called By Sun and Candlelight. I was inspired by her nature journaling and also how she incorporates feast days in the children's education.This is something that I strive to do with my boys but don't always accomplish, especially in the summer when school is "out" and our day is less structured. I love to add hands on learning whenever possible and the boys retain the lesson so much easier when this happens. I highly recommend you check out her blog.This is my cousin, Bob. It was his farm we visited yesterday. Bob (or Bobby as I still call him) was my most favorite cousin as a child. He is about 8 years older than I am and must have always been super nice to me as a little girl because I had the hugest crush on him when I was three or four. I insisted that I wanted a Bobby doll. Since my mom is the baby of five kids and I was the baby of my family I was very spoiled by my grandmother. Thus, the search for a Bobby doll to please me.I still have it. It doesn't look anything like Bobby but is in fact a Howdy Doody ventriloquist doll. I think they must have picked it for the outfit, sort of farmer-like. This is one of my most fond memories of growing up. We went to visit my grandmother every Sunday afternoon on her little farm and I just loved having all of that space and freedom to roam, barns to explore, kittens to discover and fresh water from the spring to drink (from a pan no less!).
Here is my mom (on the left) and her sister, my Aunt Mary. Mary is Bob's mom. Not only did we get to pick berries, but I got a lesson in tobacco growing. I won't bore you with the details but since it was such a huge part of both my parents' childhood I found it interesting.

I think I'm rambling now. It is nice once in a while to walk down memory lane. By the way, today is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday in Ordinary time. We have a little paper doll priest on our wall and the kids like to change his vestment to the correct color depending on the Church season. In case you don't know, Ordinary time (which means the days are ordered, NOT ordinary) is green - just like the world outside right now. Have a great day.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Then again, maybe I won't

Well, remember those cute buttons I made yesterday? They were certainly fun to create but the more I thought about it and looked at the final project, realized they didn't work for several reasons. The first reason is that they didn't give me the look I was hoping for. The second reason is that I believe a quilt should be used. I mean cuddled, thrown, used for picnics and trips to the park, even thrown up on if you're feeling sick. My quilts are meant for real life and are made to last. Wash, dry, wash, dry, wash, get the picture. I realized that Sculpey clay buttons just weren't going to work in that philosophy. I remembered that we have a fabric store going out of business, so I trekked on out to Hancock fabric where everything is 70-80 percent off. Buttons were 5 packs for $1. Wow. I picked up about $60 worth of buttons for $7. I also found three quilting books with some great ideas for 80% off. You can see the finished quilt with the white buttons. I hope you also enjoy the quilt picture with the cat. This cat thinks he owns the neighborhood. He sits on our railing and eyes up all the dogs that walk by. Crazy cat.Tonight my parents took us to my cousins farm to pick strawberries with my Aunt Mary. My mom always gives us homegrown strawberries in June and I thought it was time that the kids understood how they grew and how back breaking it can be to pick them.
We also took a little tour of the farm to see the cows, pigs, dog and cats. I have more pictures and will post the funny cat picture tomorrow. I now have LOTS of strawberries and have major plans to cook. I want to make these strawberry muffins from my friend Amy, bake up some of my mom's terrific shortcake. (I eat it with whipped cream, not milk. I hate things to be soggy.) Strawberry pie is also on the menu. I think I could live off strawberries for a month without any problem. Since June is the only month of the year that I eat strawberries, I figure why not go all out?

Friday, June 1, 2007

button up

Last night I finished another quilt top. I didn't have quite enough fabric for the backing so I pulled out the other quilt tops I had never made into quilts to see if I could start finishing any of them without a trip to the fabric store. I was able to match up one of them. It is a quilt top I made with this really groovy-vintage looking flowered fabric you can sort of see in these pictures. I didn't (and still don't) love the finished top. I put the whole thing together and then started thinking about how I would quilt it.

When I finally went to bed last night I was feeling somewhat low about my creative abilities. Should I bother doing any of this or am I wasting my time (and more importantly, money)? I mulled over it in bed, prayed for some guidance, thought about a few other things and then the idea to make buttons popped into my head. I have never done this before but we had Sculpey clay and a how-to book so after devotions this morning, I took my coffee out on the patio and began rolling clay.
My plan is to get a lot of the quilting finished this weekend and attach the buttons in the center of the pinwheels on the quilt. First we have a trip to the local public library. It's the kick off of the summer reading program. I can't wait.

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