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!