Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Quilt #1

At some point over the summer, likely at a family gathering, my sister-in-law mentioned that she'd love to have a quilt. Well, of course she would, who wouldn't want something great that we make, right?? ;)

Anyway, she said she likes red, and she always wears black, and not too long after this conversation, Joann put a bunch of red/white/black/blue fabrics on their red-tag shelf.

I love the jelly roll race quilt style, so this was the first one I made for Christmas this year:

It's backed with black flannel, quilted with red thread in the ditch and with red for the zig-zag machine binding that I did.

This quilt is also an amazing testimony to the power of Shout Color Catchers. See that red, with the white? I threw in two of the Color Catchers and the red didn't run at all. Whoa! Love those things!

So there you have it. Quilt number one for Christmas this year :)


Now that Christmas is over I can officially begin the string of "This is what I made for people!" posts, right? Everyone else is doing it, so here's number one for me!

This is really my first year of having any sort of skill whatsoever as a sewist, since I only bought my first machine last November on Black Friday (yes, I've already upgraded!). I'm terrible at gift-giving, and I'll be the first to admit it (see? I just did!) so one day I announced to my coworkers, "Y'all are getting placemats. What colors do you want?"

One lady picked red and black, but then decided she wanted something that would contrast better with her dark wood table. This is what I came up with for her:

Flying geese blocks, with bright happy stripes. They accidentally ended up going in two different directions, so this is who they ended up. They're a set of four - one with the blue stripes and dots, one with the blue stripes and asterisks, and one with purple stripes/dots and one with purple stripes/asterisks. Backed in black, quilted in the ditch and zig-zag machine bound with contrasting white thread. Gray binding left over from finishing our quilt.

Lady 2 asked for "forest colors," and I know from her previous ownership of a yellow SUV that she likes brights, so this is how hers ended up:

I think to have followed the design "properly" the center block should have been yellow, but I picked green instead. Oops? Anyway, the brown prints were all different on each of the four. I was pretty proud that the directional print on the top one ended up all going in the same direction! They were quilted with white, just around some of the squares. The backing fabric was something I had picked up at Joann's and realized I was never going to use - the placemats' recipient liked it, though, because she decided it was kind of Hawaiian, and her family owned a condo there for quite a while. Hooray!

Third coworker said she liked pastels, so here are hers:

These were called some kind of signature block that I found online someplace. The purples are all different on the four of them. The way I put the blocks together formed a pinwheel in the middle of them, which was unplanned but turned out pretty cool! They were backed with something else that was equally floral/pastelly. I quilted them around the inside and outside of the "O" in the middle, so the "O" is reflected on the back, too!

The day I was finally able to finish them, it took me NINE HOURS to get them done. I think I put probably 20 hours in, total for the 12 placemats.


Next year, I'm thinking small zippered pouches!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hoarding...I mean Stashing

Okay so I've gotten a little carried away lately, hoarding stashing fabric. I'm a grown-up, so Christmas presents to myself are completely justified, right?

 All either red-tags or remnants from Joann

 With a gift card I got from work, I went a little crazy on Amazon. The Little Apples I already had, but I got some Hometown, Circa 1934, Sherbet Pips, Pezzy Prints, and some So Sophie.

Not really stashing, but these squares were from a swap - I look forward to using them for a billboard quilt for our guest bedroom that says "ENJOY YOUR STAY!"

More Joann fabric.

Some Joann fabric, as well as some Michael Miller prints - a yard each of It's a Girl Thing, Bloom Zoology and The Brady Bunch, Jan Turquoise - and a couple charm packs of Reunion.

Okay, yup, maybe a little overboard. But I've got a lot of projects in my head!

How was YOUR fabric Christmas??? :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fat Quarter Shop Blogger's Choice Bundle Giveaway

So Quokka Quilts is hosting a super awesome giveaway that I just HAD to get in on. The Fat Quarter Shop has these great "blogger's choice" bundles, were some superstars of the blogging quilter world have chosen 12 of their favorite prints and 3 coordinating solids, and you can buy fat quarter bundles of those custom bundles from FQS.

The giveaway? You choose 12 prints, 3 solids, and get a chance to win your own blogger's choice bundles - but instead of the fat quarter size, you have a chance to win half yard cuts!

So, here's my entry - prints chosen just because they made me feel happy and girly, and because there's no way my husband would want to steal a quilt made from these! ;)

Top Right: Echo Purple Lina

And for my solids:

Okie dokie! There's THIS blogger's choice for a bundle - wish me luck!

Friday, December 23, 2011

books 50 and 51 and 52

I've finished a few books since I posted about them last:

#50, Amy and Isabelle: A Novel, by Elizabeth Strout

#51, Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger

and #52, Monday Mourning, by Kathy Reichs

It is the third one (and my "you've hit your 52 book goal!" book!) that reminded me why I love reading so much. I literally read that book yesterday. As in, the entire thing (okay, all but 10 pages, which I'd read a few days prior), cover to cover. There were parts I was able to skim - thanks to my husband's pursuit of forensic anthropology/entomology as a career, I'm familiar with things like stable isotope analysis - but my word. What a great book.

The thing I loved about it was the surprises - and not always ones that are super relevant to the main plot lines. Like mentions of places I've been to, and seen. For some reason it made me giggle out loud, even though it was in a not-so-hot context. I also enjoyed reading something and saying to Jeff, "Where's the mandibular condyle?" and having him point to it on his own face without bothering to ask why. Reading is generally a solo activity, but reading the Reichs books makes me feel closer to what Jeff does, or hopes to do, anyway.

So there you have it. 52 books in slightly less than 52 weeks! Somehow I packed them all in with my sewing and our home improving. I think my goal for next year will be about the same - I don't manage to sprint through every book like I did that one, so a book a week is right for me. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Somehow over the last month or so I've managed to turn my hobby, quilting, into quite the chore. It's felt like I've been running a marathon at 100-meter-dash speeds. I've churned out ... a whole heap of things, let's just say, including three sets of four place mats each, a cape for a little boy, and a variety of other gifts that I still can't write about because, um, Christmas hasn't happened yet.

And I'm still not "done." At least not as done as I intended to be.

But tonight, when I came home from work with a huge headache, I looked at Jeff (poor guy) with (literally) tears in my eyes and just said "I don't have to have them all done on time, right? No one's going to be mad, are they???"

He gave me a big hug and told me of course not. The placemats alone took me NINE HOURS to finish on Sunday in order to have them ready for this week. NINE HOURS. On gifts for three co-workers. I was exhausted after that. The prospect of attempting to scramble together a ton more gifts in time for Christmas is just much too much.

So some will have to wait.

But luckily for me, quilts don't go bad.

I resolve, in the new year, to make sure my quilting stays a hobby, and doesn't turn back into a chore.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book #49

Book #49: The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment, by A.J. Jacobs

Not as good as his previous works, but in the same vein - A.J. takes on projects that take over his life. His first two books involved him living the Bible as literally as possible for a year and then reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. This book summarized a series of "experiments" he did for a month or so each, ranging from outsourcing his entire life (including having someone else email apologies to his wife!) to posing nude for a magazine after an actress he was writing an article about for Esquire said the only way she would pose nude was if he did so as well.

Same kind of humor as before, and I look forward to reading more books by him. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book 48

Book #48: Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank, by Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D.

The sense of humor in this book reminded me of Mary Roach's first book, Stiff (I recommend that one but not so much her later books, by the way). Dr. Hutter Epstein tackles scientific topics with a humorous outlook and a healthy dose of skepticism, realizing that stories that may have been accepted in their time, such as that of the 16th century farmer who performed his wife's c-section (and had both mother and baby live!), may not be as true as we'd like to believe. She discusses the rise of the c-section epidemic, the emergence of in-vitro fertilization and egg freezing, and the "freebirthing" backlash.

One seemingly mundane thing I liked about this book pertains to the formatting of the book's footnotes. The editor or publisher or whomever is responsible for this made the helpful choice of including the footnotes at the bottom of each page rather than in the back of the book. I really appreciated this, since the footnotes were, more often than not, a humorous side note to the accompanying regular text rather than simply a source note.

The little things that make us readers happy, huh?? ;)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Expensive weekend

This was an expensive weekend for us. After we tore down our shed last weekend, we'd been waiting until this weekend to buy our new one. We already had it picked out, but Lowe's gives all veterans (including those of us without a fancy retirement ID card!) a 10% discount on purchases up to $5,000. So... as much as I was dreading it, we pulled the trigger and bought this one:
This is the 10' by 10' Rainier "wood storage building" from Heartland. Supposedly it will be here and installed within the next month - we're hoping they can come out the week of Thanksgiving since Jeff will be off from school. It will come in a boring primer color, with black shingles. 

Eventually we'll paint it the same color as our house - which, after having a new window installed this weekend, is becoming increasingly patchwork! Most of the house is a beige color, but with all the windows we've replaced, with various kinds of stucco, we've got some lighter tan patches, some white patches, and even now some dark gray patches, haha! It'll all work out. 

Now I just have to go cry over how much we spent this weekend on home improvement projects!

It'll all be worth it in the long run...right!? ;)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book #47 - Driving with Dead People

Book #47: Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway

Holloway's memoir should, by any rights, be somber to the point of making the reader cry - but it isn't. The story of a small town girl who grows up in a broken home,  Holloway finds her own ways to thrive. Her father is physically abusive, her mother in denial, and her and her three siblings are left to deal with it, each in their own way. Monica escapes in school, boys, college, and generally in striving to please. Her one-liners throughout the book are great - one wonders if they're born out of an attempt to cope or out of denial, but I laughed out loud a few times nonetheless. Recommended!


Five more to go for the year to reach my goal! I'm sending out a big stack to swap through tomorrow - I haven't read them all, but I have too much going on with all my sewing projects and just trying to de-clutter the house, I don't wan to keep books around that I'm not as interested in reading as I once was!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Books 45 and 46!

Thanks to posting almost all of my non-wishlisted books onto my shelf at, and subsequently having so many end up being requested RIGHT AWAY, I've been reading up a storm! I've decided that yes, while I still enjoy reading, the one-book-a-week pace is just right for me...but if I'm still going to acquire books, I really need to do some housekeeping to keep up with my goal of "minimal to-be-read books by the time we move in, um, 2013."

Here are the two I finished over the last few days!

Book 45: My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student, by Rebekah Nathan

The premise of this book was interesting - an anthropologist does an ethnography of life as a college freshman. The execution, however, as flawed. There was only so much real integration that Nathan could do, given her much-older-than-the-average-freshman status - she didn't really socialize with them in the same way that someone younger (even mid-20s) could have. Most of the time I found myself thinking "well...duh." Yeah, college is more about time management than learning, in many cases (maybe that's what you ARE learning?). Yeah, college students aren't as prepared as they perhaps used to be - if you're there five minutes, and are even five years older than average, you'll notice a lack of maturity and lack of preparation that, on some cases, is quite startling.

Ultimately I found myself wondering who this book is for. Most college administrators probably already had data similar to hers at their disposal. Current college students (or even those who've at least been there recently) know about the struggles associated with it (and the payoff one earns at the end, I suppose - don't want to be too cynical!). Possibly the group that would benefit the most would be parents of first-generation college students, to gain some understanding of what their children will be going through.

Not a bad book, but not really recommended for leisure reading.

Book 46: Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, by Martha Beck

I can't say enough good things about this book. Looking out onto the prospect of becoming a mom someday, I'll admit that one of my biggest fears is having a child with a disability. Through blogs like Driving with No Hands and a book like this, both about life with one or more children with Downs Syndrome, I've come to realize that it would not be the worst thing in the world. Beck's writing is joyful, skipping back and forth between her horrible experience with being pregnant with Adam and anecdotes from Adam's childhood so far. She relates the trauma of his diagnosis, her coping with that (often alone!), learning to allow herself to receive mothering, her family's reaction, the prejudices from those around her (including absolutely terrible doctors), and how his birth ends up being one of the best things to ever happen to her.

I highly recommend this book. You will cheer along with her.


Almost done with my "required" reading for the year - only six to go! I have NINE books that have either been requested from me or which I've agreed to send in the next week or so. I've started skimming a few, and even though the topic of the book may have been really interesting to me, I'm not going to force myself to read books I can't get into! My folks are borderline hoarders - that's NOT something I want to inherit.

Besides, clearing out books means more room for fabric. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Books 43 and 44

Book 43: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang

The premise of this book is one that's definitely been in the news lately - the development of the Chinese economy through the rise in urbanization. Much of the book does focus on that, with Chang profiling various Chinese women who have migrated from rural villages to a large city in order to work in factories. She discusses their means for getting ahead - often lying about credentials or work experience - and how often they change jobs (and the costs associated with doing so - many factory managers will keep an employee's first month-or-two of wages in order to try to get them to stay for six months or a year).

In the middle, however, Chang focuses on her family's own migratory history, from one end of China to another and, ultimately, out of the country. I really could have done without those chapters. While they helped me understand why she wanted to write the book, it didn't really contribute to the themes, as her family didn't go to a city to work in factories and really ended up much  better off than most "factory girls" will.

An interesting book, but not particularly recommended.

Book 44: I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted (A memoir) by Jennifer Finney Boylan

I've read another book by Boylan (She's Not There), in which she discusses in some degree of detail her transition from man to woman. This book, however, focuses less on the here-and-now, life-changing events and more on the consequences of those changes. Using the "haunted house" she grew up in, Boylan paints herself as haunted, both by the expectations that were placed on her while growing up a boy and by her own past AS said boy.

As with her previous book, I was struck by the frankness with which Boylan is able to write about transgender issues. I enjoyed her writing style and would definitely recommend this book and the other one I've read!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tuesday Link-Ups!

Small Blog Meet

So I've been pretty good at actually making progress - crazy, huh? The bummer about this time of year, though, is that it's getting harder to share projects on here because someone who will be receiving said progress might actually see it - and that would kinda ruin it, huh?

Anyway, these are two projects I can share - hooray!

I'm still pretty much a beginner at this quilting thing - but I've found myself quite taken with the jelly roll race quilt. My first two finished quilts were both jelly roll race-style, and I'm making three more: one I can't share, one I just finished quilting tonight, and another that's still a heap of strips!

This first one, which I just finished quilting tonight (straight line, 2" apart) is for my 10 year old niece, Paige. She's absolutely adorable and I can't wait to see the look on her face when she gets a quilt from Aunt Stephanie! It's backed mostly with purple flannel. I'm really proud of how doing these jelly roll race quilts over and over is making me pay attention to keeping the back smooth! My first two were pretty wrinkly, but this is the 5th quilt I've quilted and it's WAY better! 

This pile of strips is for another gift quilt, and will also be jelly roll race style. I don't use actually jelly rolls - I just cut strips from the fat quarters and remnants in my stash! A few months ago I went through my stash and grouped together fabrics I thought looked good together, cut them into strips (these are 2 1/2", but I've done wider and thinner - you just get different sizes!), and stuff them into plastic baggies - think homemade quilt kits! When I need a gift, I pick a kit and stitch away! :) I have some weddings coming up, so I'll have to make a few more up!!

How do you make gift giving easier? Do you find it hard to keep gifts a secret, too!!?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nothing better than kitties and quilts

I don't think there's much better than kitties or my Wrench kitty on a quilt I'm working on, that just had to be shared. She's not too keen on the sewing machine itself, even though she likes all kinds of other power tools, but she does love comfy quilts. I just had to share. :)

Free jacket!? Yes!

So if you read my blog regularly you've probably noticed the referral link to Crowdtap over there in the sidebar (see it now? hehe!). Crowdtap's a great program that allows you to answer questions and get matched up with brands. The questions, called Quick Hits, allow you to earn money towards Amazon gift cards and to donate to charity - but by far the best part are the Sample Shares! All the sample shares I've gotten so far have been for my favorite clothing store - Old Navy! They advertised Crowdtap on Facebook, and that's how I got involved with the site.

The latest sample share I got was for free outerwear! What an amazing thing to get a free coupon for! It never really gets very cold here in Chico (today it's probably 75 degrees and really sunny!) but I loved the idea of being able to get a classic jacket for free. I also got a coupon to share with a friend, so I took my pal Tamera along with me.

The large fit across my shoulders, but the tummy was too much!

The first jacket I tried on was this one, the Wool Blend Toggle coat in Gray Plaid. I really wanted to like this coat, because I loved the contrasting toggles (especially on the gray one!) but unfortunately, in order to get the jacket to fit across my shoulders, it ended up huge across my belly! I joked that if I were pregnant it would've been perfect, but alas, Jeff and I aren't at the point where we can do that quite yet!

The next jacket I tried out was one of the puffy coats, the Frost Free Midi jacket. The fit was a bit more true to size, but unfortunately...

It didn't have the greatest scent. While the plasticky sort of smell would probably go away after the jacket was aired out for a while, it turned me off from wanting the jacket. I suspect that most of the puffy jackets and vests would have this problem :(

When I originally went to Old Navy I was really hoping to be able to try on the Hooded Twill Jacket. Unfortunately, my local store didn't seem to have it. They did have the Twill Sherpa-Trim Anoraks, but I didn't really like the way either the khaki or the brown color looked in person. I was bummed that they didn't have some of the happier colors (like Parading Peacock!) from the puff coats in this jacket, because that would've been a cool twist on a less-trendy look.

Tamera tried on a bunch of different jackets, including the Wool Blend Double Breasted Coat but she ended up getting the Wool Blend Toggle Coat in gray. She's a bit smaller than me, so she didn't have to go up as many sizes to make it fit across her shoulders.

She was super excited to get a new jacket - she's been working hard to get in shape since having her little girl (who is absolutely adorable!) and she didn't have a winter jacket that fit very well until last Monday! Hooray!!

I decided to go with a classic look for my jacket - I picked the Wool Blend Toggle Coat in gray, which is a longer version than Tamera's that also doesn't have the hood. While I really liked the plum color that the jacket comes in, I figured the gray would be better long-term for dressy winter parties - now if only I had some to go to! :)

I'm not a huge fan of wool, but the collar doesn't really sit on my neck, and the jacket's lined, so it's not on my arms if I wear shorter sleeves or have my hands in my pockets. I think the jacket looks pretty good with jeans, so it's definitely something I could even wear just to work on cooler days!

The best part, of course, was being able to leave the store, with over $150 in merchandise between us - with two receipts that said $0! Thank you soooooo much, Crowdtap and Old Navy!

Want the chance to get in on the great deals from Crowdtap for yourself? Don't hesitate to sign up - here's my referral link again. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weekend a day early!

Happy Friday everyone :)

No, really!

Every year the dealership I work for does a physical inventory of its parts department on the last Sunday of October - or this coming Sunday. I don't have to count parts - instead, I have to do all the data entry - yuck. Since I have to work an extra weekend day, I get the preceding Friday - tomorrow! - off! Hooray! :)

I've got big plans for the day - hopefully finishing up the quilting on one of my gift quilts, making a TON of binding tape, and starting on co-worker gifts! I'm thinking I might make a bunch of zippered pouches (I've never done zippers before! - or maybe some little fabric baskets? I don't know. Gotta use up the stash, though, as it's gotten a little, um, out of control.

Then I want to make one (or 90) of these bags:

From this tutorial by Freshly Pieced. I figured out that it takes 8 fat quarters for the outside, and, um, I may or may not have a zillion of those lying around. Nothing too matchy-matchy - but perfect for the remaining few kids on the "make gifts for these people" list. Or the grownups. I dunno - would you use one?


So I really am pretty terrible at gifts and gift-giving in general, so I just asked what kind of homemade project they'd want - the two of them who are here said place mats. Super! I can do place mats! I'm thinking I'll make them like my friend Dianna made hers, from the first Sew Liberated book. Hers turned out really well, and I'm pretty superb at this style of quilting, so place mats should be easy-peasy!

Aren't Dianna's place mats pretty? :)
Sold! One of them wants red and black, another "forest colors" - I can do that!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book #42 - Plain Language

Book #42 - Plain Language by Barbara Wright

I'm mixed on this book. The story of a Quaker woman named Virginia who marries a just-starting-out rancher, then takes in her brain-injured older brother, this book features some very descriptive scenes...but doesn't really seem to tell much of a story. The plot is fairly predictable. The only aspect of it that was interesting was the idea of it taking place during the Depression, and the main character being Quaker...but for the most part, these things don't really play much of a part in the novel.

I did like how the author attempts to convey the idea that others may know more about ourselves and our relationships than we do, though. That was food for thought.


It's hard to keep up with reading now that the year is winding down - My goal is to read 10 more books, but the holidays are rapidly approaching, so I have all kinds of Christmas sewing to do! I started quilting another gift quilt tonight, though, and should be able to have the quilting done by the weekend. I think what's going to end up happening is I'm going to end up with a bunch of quilts with no binding by the time Christmas Eve arrives - anyone having a binding elf??? ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011


 I managed to finish the quilting on one of my Christmas gift quilts. I can't show the front, but I love the way the red I used contrasts with the black flannel back (love flannel backed quilts!). Just have to bind and wash! I've edited my Fall 2011 to-do list to reflect my progress - isn't it great to cross things off big lists like that? I'll admit, though - I occasionally add things I've already done, just so I can cross something else off!

Splurged and bought my first designer fabric - a charm pack of Little Apples! Not sure what I'm going to use it for yet. Any ideas?? What was your first "designer" fabric? :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lucky Ducky!

Wow! I've found myself on Mr. Random's good side lately or something - first I won the Sewline Trio mechanical pencil from Mauby's and Fat Quarter Shop - then I got the free jeans from Old Navy for chatting with them on Twitter.

Today, I had another win! I scored a bunch of Christmas photo cards from Shutterfly, sponsored by Jen at Crippled Girl - whose blog I definitely recommend following, for her humorous takes on special needs living as well as the thought-provoking guest bloggers she's been featuring lately. Thanks, Jen!The hard part to that will be getting a good picture of Jeff and I - the last pics we have together are from our wedding, two and a half years ago (here's one, just because it makes me smile):

Then (Yes, really!), I hopped on to Blogger to read everyone I follow, and saw that I won again! Quilt Dad has had a series of drawings recently, and I won this book:

Scrap Republic, by Emily Cier. I love projects that use small bits of fabric - fat quarters are my favorite! - so I'm super excited to get this book. Thanks, Quilt Dad!! :D

Wow. That's quite the lucky recap! I'm gonna have to make sure to pay it forward these next few weeks to make up for all the good karma I've been using up with Mr. Random Number Generator! ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Dos

More with the to-do lists - they never end, do they? Sewing, quilting, stuff around the house, presents...ack!

So here's some boring lists. Without any pictures, even. Bo.

-Work on the box of pant-mending Jeff has accumulated.
-Christmas presents - JP, D, L, T, Mom, M.

-Gift quilts: A (piece, baste, quilt, bind), K (quilt, bind), J (quilt, bind), P (baste, quilt, bind), A (baste, quilt, bind), C (um, think of an idea first?), T (piece, baste, quilt, bind)
-Kitty Quilts for humane society
-Bind our quilt - honestly, Steph? Can't even finish one for yourself? Ugh.

-Finally finish painting bathroom, finish the darn thing already! (paint walls, buy - paint - install baseboards, install switch plates/outlet covers, finish painting toilet/sink, finish drywalling skylight thing / paint that, paint door, buy-paint-hang door trim on both sides)
-Clean up shed tear-down project
-Order new shed, arrange for its installation
-Just keep adding things to this list, really it could probably be 80 miles long

Blog posts:
Just write a million and keep it up to date, honestly, Steph, you like writing, is that so hard?

Read books. Just keep reading. Read while quilting, if possible? Srsly.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tiny projects

I snagged these tiny, 1.5" squares from my aunt's stash back in August. They fall fairly neatly into rainbow colors. Some didn't, being too multicolored for easy sorting, but I went with whichever color they "felt" like.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them - perhaps something similar to Rachel's "Bottled Rainbows" quilt-a-long, meant for scraps but I think this would work, too. Ticker tape quilts are fun, and I like the idea of setting them on point, I haven't done something like that before (I'm so new at this!). Maybe rather than try to match specific Kona solids, which I don't think I could do well with the limited number of scraps I have, I might do a from-light-to-dark sort of arrangement on a white background, framed in black. Sounds good to me.

For now, they're sitting on my desk, sorted by color...which means I can't avoid them for too long, since they're in my workspace!

Do you have any ideas for my tiny fabric swatches, other than tossing them up in the air like confetti (also a possibility, particularly if my cats come 'round!!)?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Christmas shopping

So my lovely aunt, whose stash I raided back in August? She's a FIEND for the Has a ton of their quilt kits, all kinds of stuff from them. She SO generously offered to gift me something designer from them for Christmas.

I've never had designer fabric before, so of course I've been picky about what I'd consider.

And then I fell in love...with Outfoxed.

Borrowed from FQS, found here

I love the foxes. And especially the little hedgehogs. I adore all three colorways, and definitely their names - "outwitted," "outsmarted," and "outplayed." So clever! This is the same gal who gave us 1001 Peeps - also adorable, but it doesn't include these amazing hedgehogs, so...not that.

I've already got a project in mind - a lap quilt for me to use for work. Because some things have to be just me. And I picture myself embroidering it with the words "outwitted," "outsmarted," and "outplayed," because, um, those are great things to remind ourselves of while sitting at the desks we don't like dreaming about the sewing rooms that are our shelters.

Am I right??

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twitter - and persistence! - pay off!

So I love me some Old Navy - almost every item in my wardrobe (er...dresser and closet) is from there, including, um, everything I'm wearing today except underoos. I'm the girl who goes there and buys one-in-every-color, please.

And Twitter, I'm hit or miss with, I'll admit. I get into it for a while, then forget about it. One thing I've been pretty consistent about, though, is posting comments to Old Navy - and not always positive things. Their spring clothes this year were dreadful - lots of ruffles and fringe that look like they were swept up off the cutting room floor. And I told them so. I suggested they use bigger models so those of us who aren't size 4 will have an idea of how clothes might - or might not - fit.

Guess what? Those comments paid off! I got an email a couple weeks ago asking for my address because they wanted to reward me for my comments! Yesterday I got a coupon for FREE JEANS in the mail!!!

Of course I headed straight to ON and snagged these, the Sweetheart Boot-Cut jeans in the "Tipai" wash:

After finishing up that great shopping trip - who doesn't love a $0 receipt?! - I came home to more fun news! I won a giveaway from Mauby's for a Sewline mechanical pencil!

Photo from  Mauby's, here
How exciting! I'm always entering giveaways and looking forward to the day I see the "you've won!" line show up about me - and it finally has! I love sewing gadgets, and this will definitely be a welcome addition as I face the daunting task of starting on Sylvia's Bridal Sampler with my fancy vintage fabrics! Check out Mauby's for great tutorials and all other kinds of sewing inspiration :)

How has persistence - or Twitter! - paid off for you lately?

Friday, October 7, 2011

A day late for WIP Wednesday? Oops!

Okay so usually I'm pretty on time - obsessively so, really - but this time I'm a day late for a WIP Wednesday post. Oops!

Anyway, it's been a while since I updated everyone on the progress of the queen-ish sized quilt I've been working on for hubby and I. It's just been MUCH too hot to really quilt something that big, so it's been sitting there taunting me for... well, let's just say the last time I posted about it was in April, though I promise I've worked on it since then!

Well, Wednesdays hubby teaches two anatomy labs in the evening, leaving me to my own devices, so I decided to FINALLY finish quilting it.

In the process, I came up with a name for it: Purple People Pleaser. Why? Because it's got purple on it, and because I like puns, okay? ;)

Without further ado...

I just straight-line quilted, 1/4" to either side of each row.

Until I get around to binding it, it will live here, on the back of the loveseat where I sit. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book #41

Book #41: A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana, by Haven Kimmel

It was refreshing, for once, to read a memoir in which the girl didn't have any complaints about her childhood - she wasn't abused, she didn't grow up in poverty, she didn't even (not really, anyway) write about getting into fights with her siblings. Instead, Kimmel writes about growing up in a small farm town and all that entails - from antics on a friend's farm to stories about her gambling, drinking-but-not-quite-alcoholic father.

I laughed out loud at a few points - not necessarily because the stories were funny, because sometimes they really weren't, but because the way she told the stories from the perspective of a child, yet used adult vocabulary, if that makes sense.

Recommended. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book #40

Book #40 for the year, Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian

I really enjoyed this book. The story of a small-town midwife accused of murder, the novel is descriptive when it needs to be and vague when it doesn't. The narration was good, told from an adult's perspective about events that happened when the narrator was a girl. An interesting look at the idea of American medical establishment vs. "how much of the world still delivers children."

I still have enough time to finish my 52 books for the year, though if you looked at my bookshelves, which are still overflowing, you'd never know that! I really have the dream that my to-be-read pile will be under control before we move in the spring of 2013 - and yes, I really will have to plan that far ahead to get caught up!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September Savings

September's Safeway savings doesn't SEEM that dramatic, but it has a good ending, hah!

For those of you who are new, I absolutely adore Safeway's "just for u" program - I load their coupons onto my regular savings card, and they give me special prices on things based on my purchases. They'll also even give me free stuff, like new products. Super cool, huh?

I'm pretty OCD when it comes to money, so a few months ago I started keeping track of how much money I save just using this simple couponing (plus whatever coupons I might find in the store or online).

This month, Jeff and I spent $232.57 on groceries, and saved $126.47, giving us a savings percentage of 35.22% for the month. Over the last six months, we've saved $868.05, an average of 39.70% per month!!! Wow!

Safeway's started an awesome new program this month, too - now, they've been giving away $0.03 off / gallon of gas at their gas stations for people with their club cards pretty much the whole time I've lived in California. Most of the time, if you make a $50 total purchase at the store, they give you a $0.10/gallon discount. Sometimes they allow you to stack them, sometimes they don't.

Their new promotion is amazing. Rather than make one $50 purchase for the discount, you have to spend $100 total - which, while it's more, works out better for us, because we seldom make large grocery purchases. The deal gets even sweeter - if you buy a $25 gift card to a store other than Safeway, you automatically get the $0.10/gal discount - quadruple points!

How do you take advantage of this? You buy enough gift cards to pay for your entire window replacement project - stacking up $1/gallon off in discounts, the maximum they allow you to use at once - and save $11+ the next time you buy gas!!! Hooray! As long as they're doing this promotion, I'm going to be doing all of my spending at Safeway first, to buy gift cards, then using those gift cards at the stores I'd normally shop at.

The only downside I've found to this so far is that gift card purchases don't seem to count towards cash back on my Discover card - but hey. $1/gal is better savings than the 1% I'd be getting back doing all the spending on my Discover!

Cat Mat #1 Complete!

 Cat Mat #1 for Butte Humane Society is complete! As I wrote about the other day, I've decided to help out the local humane society by making cat sized quilts (would they be cat lap quilts? I'm not sure) to go on the cat trees that they have in their catteries.

It took a whopping 45 minutes, start to finish, to make the one that Molly is so kindly modeling for us! They're super easy to make - scrap batting, probably a fat quarter of flannel for each side, and some leftover white flannel binding I'd made up for another project. I'm set to volunteer today, so I'll take it with and hopefully get the go-ahead to make a whole bunch.

I'm joined up with Lily's Quilt's Small Blog Meet-Up again today - welcome to everyone who's new! I love quilting, picking fabrics, saving money, reading books, and of course kittens (I have two, Molly and Wrench), and I occasionally write about home improvements, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Actual content!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've recently started volunteering for Butte Humane Society, where we got Wrench and Molly! Hooray for kittens, right? Definitely! Anyway, what better way to help out than to volunteer my sewing services, huh? Of course!

The catteries, or rooms the cats that are able to be in groups live in (some can't live in the catteries, either because they're not friendly, too little, or can't handle free feeding) have modular plastic cat tree things, kind of like this:

Image taken from here

In order to spruce up the trees and make the vinyl a little more comfortable, they usually put towels in them...

Which is fine and dandy, except that the towels have to be cleaned, and a load of just bath towels takes FOR-EV-ER to dry. Solution? Little quilts, of course!

One of the seat-parts of the cat trees, and a stack of cut-up batting scraps
There's always scrap batting left after making a quilt, especially when you're as terrible new at it as I am, so why not put those batting scraps to good use? I was able to cut out enough to make 21 cat mats! I have already talked to the volunteer coordinator, who directed me to another volunteer, who told me last Saturday that they have all kinds of fleece pieces and both flannel and regular sheets that I could use, she just has to get them out of the warehouse.

They also have bigger quilts and blankets that I told her I could probably cut down into smaller pieces that they can use in the cat center!

How exciting - and what a great use for scraps that were otherwise just going to keep hanging out in my sewing closet! :)


I'm quite possibly the worst blogger on the planet - I think every post starts with an apology on how I don't blog very much!

I haven't been getting very much sewing done. Work has been stressful, and my computer at home has been acting up, so I don't get to relax when I get home because I've been trying to figure out how to fix it.

We have, however, been making some progress on the house - at least theoretically. We've gotten approved for a 0% credit card (for 21 months!) that we're going to use to buy the new shed, which will replace this:

Ugh. Don't even get me started! The whole thing leans, there are holes in it... it needs to go. We've also gotten some plastic bins to put my husband's bone collection in (another "don't get me started!" topic!!) and have figured out how we're going to dispose of the garage, too - apparently Waste Management makes things called "Bagsters," which are like disposable, portable dumpsters. You buy one at Lowe's, then fill it at your leisure and call WM to get it when you're done. I think this will be WAY better than getting a real dumpster again, because we won't have as much and because we don't have an actual time table for taking down the garage.

In other news, after all this talk of spending money, here's some about savings: This past week, I managed to spend only 18 CENTS for two POUNDS of angel hair pasta! Safeway's having a sale where you buy eight specially-marked items and get an additional 50 cents off per item - plus I had their special "just for u" pricing on the pasta - AND I found a $1 off two packages coupon in the aisle - bringing the price down to nine cents a package! Hooray! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011


So one of the gift quilts I'm working on was supposed to come out like this:

Tutorial available here

a bunch of chevrons. Pretty cool, right? Well, it would be, if, um, I hadn't completely screwed it up.

Instead of being a nice set of chevrons like that, mine's about 1/3 chevrons, 2/3 squares-on-point. I'm not sure what exactly I screwed up, and I'd rather not think about it *too* much, LOL. The whole top is done now, though, so that's how it will stay.

Right now my WIPs are include:

-Queen-ish sized quilt for Jeff and I, about 75% quilted
-One gift quilt, basted about maybe 15% quilted
-Two gift quilts, top finished and backings prepared, but not yet basted
-One gift quilt, top finished, backing not yet acquired/prepared
-One gift quilt, pieces sort of cut into triangles
-One gift quilt, still just a bunch of fabrics in a heap
-Nine patch squares and charm squares bounded in white; nine-patches sewn into rows, so far. Not sure what the plans are for this one.
-Tetris quilt - fabric acquired, still uncut
-Sylvia's Bridal Sampler Elk Creek quilt, fabric chosen, book acquired, but that's about it.

Um, I think tha'ts about it, other than fabric combinations I've vaguely put together.

Anyone wanna go to work for me so I can catch up a little??!? Hopefully the weather will stay cooler so that ironing or quilting doesn't seem like such torture!

Books 37, 38 and 39

Book 37: Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, by Michael Perry

This book is part memoir, part "this is what it's like being a volunteer firefighter in small town America," part eulogy for those small towns themselves. The book started out well, but went downhill as Perry became more introspective and reflective. The vocabulary was actually relatively challenging, though, which was interesting for me since I don't usually find myself unsure of what words mean! Not particularly recommended.

Book 38: The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank 

I enjoyed Bank's writing style in this book. The sections work almost as short stories, but were connected very well in the end. I found myself able to relate to the struggles of the protagonist, and appreciated her eventual use of a self-help book to try to fix her life, comedically. This falls into the "I can see why this was a popular book" category, and was a quick, easy read.

Book 39: Room, by Emma Donoghue

I'm really, really torn about this book. The premise is very interesting: a boy, named Jack, is raised inside one single room, with no access to the outside world other than what his mother tells him and what he sees on TV. I was fascinated with the first half...and yet the second half was lacking. I appreciated that it was told from Jack's point of view...and yet at the same time, it didn't seem to work for the whole book as well as the author may have intended. The model of writing and building action and all that generally takes the reader up a slope, with a sudden drop towards the resolution near the end of the book. This one went more like this: / \. Up, peaking at the halfway point, and then right down. I've shared the book with my pal Tamera so that I could get her opinion on it to see if it was just me!


I'm still on track to hit 52 books read this year! Hooray! My hope is that, by the time my husband and I move out of our house, my "to be read" pile will be minimal - this means I have two years of reading probably 75 books a year to catch up. Yikes!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy Saturday

This Saturday was pretty eventful - another shift at Butte Humane - three hours of washing and drying a TON of laundry, cleaning litter pans, and, since unfortunately their dishwasher is broken, doing dishes by hand, too. I was so busy that even though I was at the cat center, I didn't see a single cat! LOL! This guy's really cute though, so here's a gratuitous cat photo:

I've never SEEN a cat like this before! Amazing? Yes.

Before that, though, one of my coworkers - the same one who laid our kitchen tile floor - which looks like this:

Wrench wasn't sure about this new floor at first - but she definitely loves sleeping on it, now!

It's a black and white checkerboard floor with lovely black grout - so it doesn't look dirty! Hah! Love this floor. The tile store actually didn't have solid black and white tiles, but it's close enough. :)

Anyway, our bedroom used to have a terrible sliding glass door in it. We think that the people were originally planning on building a deck off the bedroom...but never did, so it was just a big single-pane stupid waste of heat. Hah.

No more sliding glass a normal, new construction, dual pane window is there, instead!

I don't have that many great "before" pictures of our house...probably because the house was SO terrible. Seriously, who does something like this:

That's right. Tile, EVERYWHERE, except on the floor where it belongs. The window to the left, as well as the window facing the same direction in the living room, were surrounded by that terrible green and gray checkerboard style tile. The tile served as baseboard around the bottom of hte dining room (I'd forgotten about that!).

Oh wait, and there's more tile - around the pass-through from the kitchen to the dining room. And that red stuff, to the right of the stove (let's not get into the terrible placement of THAT!) - that's more of hte same tile, SPRAY PAINTED.

Okay now I've gotten completely off track remembering how terrible the tile was! There's MORE of the tile, in a different pattern, on the wall facing the dining room. There are also beams that run across the living room and dining room ceilings (one in each room) - each was also covered in the tile, which had been half-spray painted white, too...but only the green squares? I don't know.

Anyway, enough with the terrible tile. Ralph came, the door's mostly replaced with a window, and in a month or so, provided it isn't raining yet, he will replace the other window in the room with a proper dual-pane window, too.

I got a bunch of sewing done - a little quilting on a gift quilt, and yes, started ANOTHER project? Oye. I'm never going to finish anything. Oh, and I sewed two really big pieces of flannel together that will serve as the back for a top I've already made. Oh, ANDDDDD I also went to Joann, again, with Dianna, because she dragged me out of the house to look at yarn.

Tomorrow? Visiting with a friend, perhaps, and probably finishing this season of True Blood, so no spoilers, people! :P

Hopefully your weekend's just as productively busy as mine!! :)