Monday, August 30, 2010

Simple things make me smile . . . bunting edition

Natural linen, aqua/red/grey, flea market fancy and bunting . . . as the song goes, these are a few of my favorite things. Making this little bunting was so fun and it really makes me happy just looking at it all cute and festive. I have a feeling we are going to have a few open surfaces sporting some bunting in the upcoming months.
I am thinking Happy Birthday Bunting, Happy Valentine's Day, Earth Day, Happy Holidays, Happy Halloween, maybe even a few silly ones . . . Santa, Noel, Ho/Ho/Ho . . . how about the kids names on some for their rooms, or the word play, explore, go wild in the playroom. Brace yourself family this house is about to become buntalicious. We will see how long it lasts, I think one of my favorite parts of the bunting I just finished was the scrappy bias tape paired with the linen and the fact it was made using my favorite HTF/OOP fabrics might make it hard to duplicate.
Okay enough of the bunting crazy talk . . . here is a sneak peak of the bunting made for my Urban Home Goods partner. I am pretty sure she might now I am her partner, but if I showed the linen side of the bunting, it would be a dead giveaway! So here are some random bunting shots!
This little project really only took a few hours to complete and I think the cutting and ironing took longer than the sewing. It was fun to practice poppy treffrey style coloring on fabric in making the designs and letters. I can see where one could become addicted to drawing with thread!
The main thing I worked on late last week and over the weekend were my blocks for the 3 x 6 bee. Most of them are in the mail and here are all 6 together. The block is based upon this tutorial from Twin Fibers. It is a wonderful block and would make a great pillow, wall hanging, etc . . . with something special in the center square.
The best part is they are all in the mail and I can breath a sigh of relief, that another deadline has been met!
Okay off to make some more bunting . . . the kids loved it and I promised them!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bee Blocks on the brain

Okay so I have spent WAY TOO much time stressing and working on this quarter's bee blocks. I have no idea why it went south . . . but I think now it is just me not paying attention!
I was determined to learn to paper piece and do a 10 point star. I spent HOURS working on four blocks and only one really came out good enough to send someone. I did learn a little and I promise when I am not under the gun time wise, I will go back and master this block. Here are some photos of the good, the bad and the ugly.
the good
the bad
and the UGLY!
Needless to say I was stressed, I didn't want to give up . . . but I just don't have two hours to work on a block and then have it crash and burn when sewing the two pieces together. I was blog surfing and cam across this lovely tutorial from Twin Fibers and decided to change course.
I have now made four of these and when loading the images into flickr I realized for one, I added a color in that the was not requested. At this point I am banging my head against the wall. So I am back to 3 down and 3 to go, with one lovely block for me to use at a later date!
Here are the three I have so far. This block takes me about 2 hours to finish as well (including fabric cutting) but at least when I am done, I know it is something I can send!
Block for Karie, she asked for blue, orange and white or gray.
Block for Marianne, she asked for lime green, soft pink and grey.
Block for Valerie, she asked for purple, grey and white.
I hope to get these finished this weekend and then I will be in a good position to get all swaps mailed and delivered on time. I look forward to getting back to the Urban Home Goods Swap!
I have two projects basically done and want to work on a few small fun items!
This morning the kids and I reviewed our list we made in June of fun things to do this summer. After finishing his cereal Max pushed the chair back and told us it was time to "sieze the day" and check a few items off our list! Too funny. I am getting ready to leave on our adventure, but not sure I have the right seize the day clothes!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rainy Sunday and 360 degrees of chaos

This lazy rainy Sunday started out to be so ideal. We woke up and all hung out this am, I finished some hand-stitching on project 2 for the Urban Swap and had great expectations for the day! We got the kids ready and went to our favorite diner for breakfast. The place was so crowded with tourist on their way to the Saratoga racetrack, but we waited our turn and enjoyed ourselves despite the crowd! Then we took a wonderful drive to extend the outing. Driving in the rain is peaceful! Finally the natives were restless and we knew we had to bring them home and enjoy and inside day. I was hopeful to get some sewing in . . .
I got my second project (can't tell you yet, it is a secret swap) done for the Urban Swap with the exception of the binding, which should get done tonight. So I started feeling that good feeling of checking things off the list and making something I feel good about sending to someone . . . So I decide to take my chances and let the kids continue to play on Steve's watch (he sits on the couch watching sports and surfing his favorite Boston sports blogs . . . ) and keep sewing.
So onto the 3 x 6 Bee blocks . . . which I am the caretaker for our hive and have yet to start! I kept waiting to find the perfect block. I also want to try stuff I haven't done before. I decided to tackle a 10 point star and try paper piecing for the first time. I was able to sneak off to Staples and enlarge a template I found on-line. They couldn't get it quite big enough for a 12.5 inch block, but I wanted to add a border anyway . . . so off I went.
It started off great. Picked fabrics quickly and got to work. Then failure, I couldn't get the center points to match . . . at all! I ripped the seam three times and finally decided to finish, just so I could see if I really wanted the border. Here is what I ended up with
The top and the bottom halves are not centered right, no points match, the points on the bottom got lost and it is just an all over disaster. I plan to keep trying tonight and work hard to see if I can get it right. I really think that is the beauty of this bee to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new.
While I was sewing this is what was happening around me. It will take days to recover from the mess three kids and one husband made in a couple of hours . . . not to mention the sewing mess I have been making for weeks, it is much worse than anything the kids could do! I stood up from the sewing machine and took photos as I turned around in circle. Here is the 360 degrees of mess (including opening one sewing closet).
Ellie fighting the humidity today Mess on the dining room table
Mess on the sideboard Steve's spot on the couch with remote and laptop
Sam's fleet all lined up One of Ellie's piles that is everywhere
fabrics in the closet from recent projects or newly purchased that need put away
Under my sewing table that just got thrown under when the doorbell rang today and some friends stopped by!
So friends is it worth checking out for a whole day and just relaxing . . . I think so, even though my block was a bust, we all enjoyed the day and I like cleaning big messes for days to come!
Happy Sunday night!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When all else fails . . . semi-naked painting

Okay so it is getting close to the end of summer, a few weeks until activities start up again, a couple mornings a week of pre-school and Max will enter third grade. I have had to try a little harder to entertain. Dropped Max at camp in the morning and he was picked up and went to a friends house for an overnight. Ellie and Sam miss him and get bored when he is gone all day.
Late in the day I had played all the princess girls I could muster and zoomed cars with Sam for hours . . . I had to resort to taking the clothes off and getting out the paints. It kept them entertained for at least 45 minutes, which was long enough for me to crack a beer and get dinner started . . .
Once I had found my calm again, I gave them a quick wash with the hose and was able to make it through the rest of the night until bedtime. I have to say it was a good night after a VERY LONG day! It is getting easier and I remind myself that I will miss these days at some point . . . but for now sometimes I just have to find a way to make it through the day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Blog-a-versary Megan!

Happy One Year of Blogging to one of my favorite on-line peeps! Thanks for inspiring me with all your wonderful projects, stories and photos of your wonderful red wines! I feel lucky to get a glimpse into your life. This is quite the generous giveaway, check it out and take a peek at Megan's blog if you haven't visited before. She has produced some amazing quilts this year. Here are a few of my favs:
While you are looking around here blog, you might just want to wish her a big Happy Blog-a-versary and enter her generous giveaway for an amazing rainbow of OOP and HTF gems!
Thanks again Megan for a great giveaway!
Megan just sent me a little care package to brighten my day and let me just say . . . THANKS! You are a great friend and very generous, I really appreciate the sweet note and helping me get my sewing mojo back!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hustle Award

Max has a great basketball shirt with a slogan that reads "hustle never rides the pine". I think it is perhaps a slogan I try and live by. I might not always be the smartest, most talented, etc . . . but always know I try hard and am trying to instill that in our children. So I must tell you Hawthorne Threads just really blew me away. Usually I give one of the kids my hustle award for the week, but this week it has to go to Charlie and Lindsay.
I was drawn in my their wonderful newsletter showing me eye candy I could just not pass on . . . I think I placed the order around 3 pm on Monday and it arrived in my mailbox at noon today. Granted we live about 45 minutes north of their location, and the USPS should get some credit . . . but they cut, packaged and got that order on its way! Thanks so much and all I can say is you have made the starting line-up in my book! Here is what they sent me . . . yummy, huh?
The scale of the elephants is great and they are really CUTE, even cutier in person.
This one speaks for itself and says . . . WOWZA! Leicen
New AH and so close to their old Downtown Dot that I really loved, but love these colors even more!
The black with the fall color apples is fantastic. I think some clothes for Ellie in this for sure!
Loving these two and my new favorite color, grey. It is my new black . . .
I think this grouping might be my favorite and the colors are so wonderful!
Started working on the second project for the Urban Home Goods swap and of course the iron spit up a bit on the fabric and it looked like a little rust . . . ughhhh! A quick hand wash and it is all good I hope! I think I am gonna love this project and who knows if it will actually leave our house!
Posted a question on irons and how to solve my dilema on flickr and had some suggestions of trying a clean with vinegar. It was not a fun task, steaming vinegar through the iron, but it did get out some rusty looking bits. I am going to give it a go in the am and if it doesn't work . . . off to buy a new iron. I love this cheap little number, but maybe will need to upgrade.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cutting into the Good Stuff!

A stack of my favorite fabrics, quick skinny dip in the pool at mid-night, time to myself and staying up way too late . . . priceless! Starting to get a little spring in my step and some sewing mojo back and loving it! I had a fabulous Saturday night both with the family and after they went to bed. I think I just needed a little time without my three (okay we can add Steve to the mix as well) so four whinny demanding peeps in my head! Wow has life changed that I find staying up four hours later than everyone on a Saturday night and sewing bliss . . . but it was!
I cut out fabric when the little kids napped and got the patchwork almost done for this Urban Swap project. We had a picnic dinner out in the yard and Max directed his brother and sister in a crazy little dinner show. The fish tacos were a big hit and they were dancing across the yard, eating their tacos and having a wild time. Max begged for a fire and some s-mores, so it turned into a party. Being the all-star mom that I am, I brushed their teeth but failed to wash their sticky faces before sending them off to bed. Steve, Max and I played a few games until the fire went out and then they went into bed just before mid-night and I decided to have some fun!
Here is what I came up with as Project 1 for my partner in the Urban Home Goods Swap - a craft and/or vendor apron. I am in love! It is inspired by Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki.
The patchwork ties are for sure a new obsession. I think any time you sew bits of fabric together, iron, fold, iron, sew again . . . and you get this magic- I am in! The ties are way too long, but I love to wrap ties a couple of times around to get the cool vendor look going . . .
Started off with boring canvas and decided to use the good stuff. I ordered this on ETSY from Japan, but now that you can find it at Hawthorne's and even though I can't drive the half- hour to Albany any more to pick it up from them, it is a one day delivery! They are out of it right now, but I can wait patiently for the restock! I love the elephants with the patchwork and hope my partner does too!
Have had a couple of Aunt Cookie panels for about a year now and have decided to start using them. They are so fun and I think add that perfect touch to this project. Also this grouping of four really sums up my partner for me. It has been so fun stalking her blog and flickr and I have been an admirer of her sewing for a year now. I said to my swap mama how I was a little nervous making stuff for a sewing rock star, she of course said all the right things, but in the end my sewing is a bit on the karaoke side . . . but it is the effort that counts right? The inspiration from this group is off the chart, check out the flickr pool if you have a moment!
Finally I have a pledge to make . . . I will cut into and start sewing with my favorite fabrics. If I run out . . . who cares! It was so fun using my favorite fabrics on this and it just makes me smile. I was smiling sewing with them, cutting them, ironing them . . . I just L O V E Flea Market Fancy Large Blue Bouquet and Grey Seeds together. Add in the red ovals from Blank Textiles and the Aunt Cookie panel and I am in heaven. How about you partner?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How do you break a slump?

Ughhh. Since going on a wonderful vacation in April, life around here has not been a bowl of cherries and I have found myself in a big slump. A slump as a mother, wife, and my creative side as well. I think the slump started with Steve's infection he picked up in Mexico. We struggle to stay ahead of the kids and our commitments on a good day, but when we added a hospital stay, crutches, visiting nurses into the mix . . . life got away from us.
Fast forward six weeks and the sudden death of Steve's father and especially for Steve, the slump continued. I am not sure which is worse, battling a slump of your own or helping those you love with one they face? Having my mom to talk to and around with us the last 10 days really helped me to realize that it is time for me to step up a little more. I have taken on tons of extra stuff that Steve handles and that coupled with him sleeping downstairs in the hospital room we have created . . . has me missing him a bit. Also I miss seeing him smile. The kids miss having happy parents. Pretty sure we have passed our slump onto them a bit. They wonder when Grandpa is going to come down from the sky with his new friend Kevin (when people have told them Grandpa is up in Heaven, they understand it as his friend Kevin) I think we actually have turned things around for the kids, getting them back to their routine and spending lots of time with them. Much harder on Max then the two three year olds, but at 8 you tend to bounce back pretty quick and also he has the whole ability to think for himself thing going on. So here is where the silver lining of this story comes in and a feeling I needed to make sure I captured in print . . . what I learned from an 8 year old and little league baseball.
Max has had the opportunity this spring and summer to play on a baseball all-star team. He loves baseball and has been thrilled to be a part of this special team. They had a cinderella season and became the team that just kept going. Sports in Max's young life has always pretty much gone his way. He is a bigger kid and gifted with some athletic talent and some brains, a good combination. This experience for him was the story of the little fish in a pond of some much larger, more experienced and a little older fish. In short, Max made solid contributions to the team, but for the first time in his young life he was not one of the team leaders. He struggled a bit to find his way. He along with a few other kids on the team were moved up from the Bantam group, where they faced a batting machine instead of live pitching. He started off hitting okay, but as the team kept advancing and the pitchers faced got stronger . . . Max struggled with confidence. He started to come to the plate a bit defeated. It was so hard to watch our always confident and positive kid struggling. (note to max if this is ever read later in life- tons of great hits and plays did happen both in the state tournament and the mid-atlantic championships, you had a great experience) In two recent games however, he struck out five times in a row. He was in a slump.
Here is the fun part of the story. He realized after those two games that the only way to get out of his batting slump was to face what was going on. On the way home from the second game, he asked me and some others, how he could shake this thing. Then he thought about it and realized that it really was a confidence thing, he knew how to swing and just needed to think positive. He needed to swing the bat and have some fun. So he did. An older brother of a friend on the team, took the boys out the afternoon before the last game and he shook off the curse. Or at least he changed his outlook. They ended up losing the game by one run and not advancing to the finals, but it was a heck of a battle and great game. Also they were the first team in the history of our town to even get to a regional tourney and to tie for first in the pool, they did great! He ended on a positive note and is committed to practicing hitting all year, so he will be able to make the transition to the new league without having to face another slump. In the car going home, he told me that HE had to decide for himself to break the slump and it was in his head. You just have to shake these things off.
I actually think the kid is on to something. I have decided to change my mindset and get out of my funk. I am hoping it will be contagious and help Steve as well. My day with the two little ones has been great. Getting back to being a boy enjoying summer has been great for Max. He is attending real old fashion swim, games, hike, etc. kind of camps in the woods the next two weeks. He mentions he misses Grandpa, but that getting back to life has helped. Just like the batting mom, you have to put it out of your head for awhile. Smart kid, huh? So Mom is going to get Dad back in his groove and we are going to find our mojo. I don't know about you, but being happy and positive is really such a better way to spend the day.
From a creative front, it did work for me today. I am a bit over committed in flickr swaps and decided to take care of a few. A sense of accomplishment is a great feeling and I love the items I made. First I finished a clutch for the gather clutch swap and I think it is fun and great. I hope my partner feels the same. Had a hard time getting a sense of what fabrics she would like and what I had that might have a vintage feel. In the end, I just had to go for it and stop worrying. I think it was a solid double.
Then I finished this am with my two little helpers a pair of potholders and a fun little towel. I am not sure if I will use them for the Potholder Pass or the Urban Homegoods swap. I think I will see if either of my partners remark on them or perhaps make a second similar set. I love this fabric grouping from Robert Kaufman and paired with linen, black, white and red just can't be beat.
So friends, how do you get out of your head and break the slumps in life you face?

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