Saturday, December 22, 2012

{Post 1,102} Take 2

Here's the second 3-1/2" square ornament.  I love their simplicity.  They are both on the tree for now, but they might end up being gifts for someone.  I quilted this in the ditch with metallic gold thread.

I think I like having a light "star" better.  It sort of resembles a snowflake.  This is a cream with Christmas words in metallic.

{Post 1,101} Quilt Ornament

Did a few everyday things this AM, then wanted to sew so badly (even if it was just for a few minutes!).  This is the result...all from scraps of fabric and batting on my cutting table.  It is 3-1/2" square.

Inspired by Ruth, who made some of these herself and showed them on her wonderful blog.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

{Post 1,100} Christmas Runner

Gifts.  They are a thorn in my side.  I always feel like the gifts I give are inadequate.  But I'm doing my best and putting a lot of heart into them!  

I made two of these Little ZZ runners as gifts.  One for my girl, Elisabeth (that I never posted a picture of finished), and one for someone else.  The someone else hasn't seen hers yet.  It turned out so nicely that I decided to make one for a surprise for a woman at my church.  I admire her very much.  In fact, when I grow up, I want to be as selfless, kind, and loving as she.  I am going to surprise her with this tomorrow.  It is finished and measures 17-1/2" x 23-1/2".

Little ZZ #3:

Scrappy red binding, too.  Three different fabrics that I had bits of in my binding drawer.  I like it!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

{Post 1,098} Possible Do For Tonight

Is this too Princess Leia??  Potential do for the Christmas shindig tonight.

I am considering removing them recombining the two bottom ones.  Hmmm...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

{Post 1,097} Hair Now, Hair Now!

Nothing quilt-y going on here, but I do have two new hairdos to show.  I did the first one myself.  It's called a waterfall braid.  I liked it.  Would probably look better if I let my hair curl at the ends.  

The second one is quite hilarious.  It didn't turn out "quite" right.  My hairdresser was a little exuberant to begin with.

The best way to explain this is that one pulls up about 1/3 of her hair into a ponytail in the center of the top of the head.  Then a French braid is done all around, pulling 2/3 of the hair from the outside and 1/3 from the ponytail (leaving the ponytail holder in).  It should have been braided much closer to the top and tighter, but it does give one a good laugh for the day.  I'm not going to say anything about it and see if my husband notices.

For your viewing pleasure...

It was a red-letter day for a few other reasons.  I bought a blouse today.  And a necklace.  And earrings.  I don't remember all of those things happening in the same day (OK--the same year) for as long as I can remember.  You see, tomorrow is my husband's Christmas party for his work, and I want to look my BEST.  The above picture is not my best :), so I'll press onward for a good hairstyle. 

I didn't just buy any old earrings, I bought miniature chandeliers.  My girls were shocked.  I only wear very tiny, hardly noticeable earrings...until tomorrow!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

{Post 1,096} JOY to the world!

Here's the finished product on my new mantle idea for this year.  We have a big, long, mantle.  I am no decorator.  I combined a couple ideas I saw here and there.  Wes cut out and nailed everything all together for me.  That's my pine cone tree on the left side (by the J) spray painted gold.  

Here 'tis...

And, what would my blog be without a close-up?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

{Post 1,095} Pine Cone Tree

This is what I started working on tonight.  I got a pine cone piece splinter, and let me tell ya----it hurt!!  I had to stop.  Since my adventure, I have found a better way to remove the pine cone pieces.  Here you can see what I tried tonight...pruning shears, scissors, CHISELS!!  None worked too well.

Here I am gluing them onto my poster board shaped trees.  I could wait no longer.  Even though I'm not finished covering the base (due to the aforementioned splinter), I spray painted the bottom of this tree metallic gold.  It.  is.  amazing.

Pic of that to come tomorrow.  This was tedious, but will look so cool when it's finished.  And it was nearly FREE!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

{Post 1,094} Bedroom Update Part 1

While I am not completely finished, I have made great progress.  My desk is completely cleaned off and organized. I even set up my charging station for my iPod, phone, camera, and tablet (back left corner).  I have always set my lamp up on something, and the station itself is the perfect height.  All things from the top have been put away.

Before and after (and notice in the before that my computer isn't even on the desk):

Here's a better picture of my bathroom with the flower arrangement:

I went through all my wall quilts that are not hanging right now and got them rolled up and put in the cedar chest in my room.

Here is the chest of drawers before and after:

I had to do a slight repair on my December "Count on It" quilt.  Where baby Jesus' neck and "shirt" touch, the red showed through the flesh-colored fabric.  I held my breath and cut into the quilt from the back, feeling like a textile surgeon.  The operation was a success.  AND I have a cleared-off chest of drawer top.  This and the cedar chest are my two hot spots in this room that attract clutter.

Off to do 48 hours worth of dishes (we've hardly been home) and make a dessert for a luncheon tomorrow!


{Post 1,093} Update Around Here

One of my sons and I have been sick for a week.  Miserable existence, but it could be so much worse.  I was feeling a little energy last night before bedtime, so I made a list of a few things to get done today.  Then, drats, I only slept about an hour and got up until after 4:30 this morning.  

The 3rd thing on my list of 21 (I stopped making the list at that point because it was becoming depressing and overwhelming) was to finish arranging the flowers in the cone in my bathroom.  Here is what the bathroom sink area looked like after we took down the big mirror and installed medicine cabinets WITH STORAGE!!  After much deliberation, I purchased a floral cone made out of a thick wire-looking stuff that had been aged to rust and looked good.  I had a dickens of a time getting something to look good IN it, however.  This is what I came up with this AM:

Then I topped it off by scrubbing our bathroom from stem to stern.  Whew!  Now on to our bedroom (which I constantly feel guilty about because it's my "dumping ground" instead of a restful retreat).  New purchase of craft supplies?  DUMP.  New-to-us clothes from Goodwill that need washed?  DUMP.  Paperwork?  DUMP.  Bobbins, thimbles, etc.?  DUMP.  Christmas decorations (finished or in process that I don't know where to put)?  DUMP.  Box for broken blender waiting to be returned?  DUMP.  I'm sure you get the picture.

I took some before pictures.  The afters are always so inspiring.  Off to tackle the first area!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

{Post 1,092} Little ZZ Center Finished

The center of the Little ZZ (I think that stands for Zig Zag) is finished.  I am so done in.  Whatever this is that has me by the throat (literally) is wearing me out.  It's like a cold that has all settled in my throat.  Makes me cough a lot, and I'm short of breath nearly all the time.  Heaven forbid I have to WALK!!

This did, indeed turn out the projected size of 17-1/2" x 23".

As usual, I sew first and think of a recipient later.  I had several different people in mind.  Now I know who it will be, but they don't know it's them, so I'll keep the recipient a surprise for now.


{Post 1,091} Runner Rearranged and Partially Sewn

Here is the progress picture on my runner.  I did it.  I rearranged some of the blocks.  I noticed in the sample picture that there are 3-5 blocks of one color in a row, so I f-o-r-c-e-d myself to do it.  

The top left corner is sewn together, and I have 3 more rows pieced to add later (just lying quietly on the design wall).  Off for an errand and might sew more later.

{Post 1,090} New Runner Started

My sweet 14-year-old got her top braces off yesterday.  We left our house at 7:30 and didn't get home until 4:15.  I have been under the weather (yes, that's me coughing and hacking), so I was completely exhausted after all that running around.

We went to Hobby Lobby for a couple specific things.  I always peruse the quilt magazines while I'm there.  I saw this little runner (17" x 23") and decided to give it a go.  

It is a FREE pattern from Fons and Porter.  I love free patterns.  I cut out a bunch of strips this morning, sewed them together, subcut some units, and some triangles.

Here is the quilt laid out on my design wall.  It is in perfectly OCD rows of green and red zigzags.  I tried to mix them up as I laid them out, but I.  could.  not.  

I sewed a bunch of strips up and ended up with about twice as many red units as green.  One of the things that appealed to me about the original quilt's picture is that the colors are all red and green, but they are mixed up.  Can *I* do THAT??  I'm gonna try before I call it a finished design layout.  I want to be less perfectionist, but old habits die hard.  Stay tuned.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

{Post 1,089} Candle Holders Finished!

Here are my 4 completed candle holders.  Too bad we can't eat in the dark!  

{Post 1,088} New Hand Project Started

This is my latest hand-piecing project.  It will be a very long and slow process, but I wanted to document it for myself for the future.  I started by cutting up one brown and one cream (for alternate squares).  I have used 2 pinks so far.  As I come across pieces large enough (5-1/2" square) of the creams for the alternate squares, I will add them to the pile.

These are LeMoyne stars.  I am making them all brown and pink with one cream background per block.  If history repeats itself, I will have many fabrics represented by the time this is a finished quilt top.  I am thinking of making a bed-sized quilt and quilting it by hand, so look for the finish in about 14 years.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying the hand piecing.  

I might even get all fancy and use some brown alternate squares or (!) pink ones.  Pink was the favorite color of one of my grandmothers.  I've never been fond of it, but I like it in these.

Here is the other project I am working on today...machine quilting my green scrappy square shams to match my Christmas quilt (which is on the bed as I type).  I took my DH's advice from the last time I nearly went blind quilting with matching thread and am quilting with the muslin on TOP instead of the usual backing location.  It's going well, and I might finish them today!

{Post 1,087} Fall Candle Holders

Here's another Pinterest-inspired project that was more difficult than it should have been.  But now that I have some experience under my belt, I'm rolling along and nearly finished.

These are four fall candle holders.  The Mod Podge (MP) is wet in the picture.  They are quite pretty when dry.  I know this because they were dry before I put on this last coat of stuff.  Later I will post a picture of them with candles inside.  

This came about because someone asked me if I was "doing" Thanksgiving at my house.  We made the decision some years ago that we would always stay home for Thanksgiving (barring any very unusual circumstances).  We invite others who are not traveling to see their families and take in single college students that would otherwise be alone for the day.  It's usually a big ordeal.

Well, this same person asked me what I was using to decorate.  The question took me by surprise, so I answered, "Food."  I truly hadn't thought about it.  What is more beautiful than a bountiful buffet including a wide array of desserts?  I knew I'd be cooking all day Wednesday as well as Thursday morning right up to the 20-minute feast.  It did get me thinking, however.

I had pinned a picture of a clear glass jar that had fall leaves Mod Podged to it.  It was made by a CHILD!!  How easy could that be?  It was actually quite frustrating.  They had left out a few pertinent details.

The most important (but unmentioned) was that a large-mouthed jar was necessary.  At least something you can get your hand down into (for placing the candle!).  I tried a regular-sized canning jar.  No go.  I peeled off my leaves (which was easy because the stinkin' things didn't stick in the first place) and washed the jar.  

I eventually found out these important steps:

Gather a variety of leaves in both color and size.  You might have a tiny space that needs a little more color.  We have some great leaves around here.  Rachel was getting them for me as we came home from an errand.  We saw a magnificent red-leaved tree in someone's yard (fairly close to the house).  I told her to ring the bell and ask them first in case they looked out the window and saw her making off with their leaves.  When Rachel asked how many she could have, the lady said, "Take them all!"  Hahaha...that's someone who does NOT like to rake!

One must "press" the leaves to dry them and make them perfectly flat before using the MP to hold them to the jar.  I did this by layering them in an old phone book (the one I use for paper-piecing foundations, incidentally).  The first batch was pressed for 3 days because I was out of town.  I did a batch last night for just a few hours, and they were divine.  Place something heavy on the book or whatever to really PRESS them.

Make sure your leaves are not too thick.  I had some fabulous green leaves (I don't know which kind...not magnolia--I'm not that stupid!) that refused to bend around the jars curved surface.  See the little white string in the above picture in the lower right-hand corner (in the shadow of the MP bottle?)?  That's waxed dental floss.  I would not be outdone by a recalcitrant leaf, so after applying more MP to the outer surface of the leaf, I wrapped the dental floss around the jar to keep the stem and top of the leaf in place (ha!  take that you stupid leaf!).  Victory was mine.  Later I carefully unwrapped the string and put another coat of MP on.

At first I thought I'd just use canning jars I had here.  That idea quickly went south because I didn't have any wide-mouthed ones.  I didn't want to buy any jars either.  Ironically enough, as I was leaving yesterday to take my daughter to her piano lesson, I texted her teacher that if she was just about to throw away a large-mouthed clear jar, save it for me...I was on my way.  Ironically enough, she WAS about to pitch a salsa jar.  It was PERFECT!  I also repurposed two natural peanut butter jars.  Since we switched to a mostly whole foods diet over a year ago, we don't buy much stuff in jars.    Another sacrifice on my part (I'm such a martyr).  My fourth jar IS a wide-mouthed canning jar, but I only had the one.  I purposely used 4 different sized jars.  The perfectionist in me just had to let that detail go!

Whew--if you've read all this, you are either a true friend, or someone with too much time on their hands.  Picture of the finished product later...and some quilting!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

{Post 1,086} Christmas Quilt in Place

This morning when hubby and I made the bed, I remembered that he wanted to put our Christmas quilt on November first.  Happy November!

Gonna hafta do something about those pillow shams.  The red behind them are our regular pillow cases.  Even if they were the right size, I am not liking the dark cream.  It's one of my favorite Thimbleberries creams, but it just looks weird.  Maybe something green would be better?  That's my plan!


{Post 1,085} Light Fixture Painted

The brass towel rings are next!  Bwahaha...I feel like a villain with a can of spray paint.  It's empowering.  Here's a pic of the newly-painted light fixture:

When the lights are ON, it's so bright that the fixture looks lighter than it really is.  It looks better and darker in person.  The finish perfectly matches the mirrored cabinet frames.  

Here is light off:

One good thing about taking it down was seeing how it was put up.  it just has one hole in the center for wiring.  The downside is that when I went to Lowe's yesterday for ceiling paint, I looked at light fixtures.  I think the one I liked was $90...and we need two!  I also looked at ORB towel racks.  Not for $22 each, thank you very much.  I'll just spray paint our rings and see how that goes first.

The quilt isn't necessarily staying.  I just didn't want to put the lightning bolt back up there ;)


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

{Post 1,084} Where, O Where Did theBrass Light Fixture Go?

Where o where did the light fixture go?  O where, o where could it be?  In the garage, drying after being spray painted oil-rubbed bronze to match the mirror frames!  I put a space  heater next to it and am rotating it, so it's nearly dry!  Yippee!

Please note the burn marks on the ceiling from the 8 light bulbs in the fixture.  They will soon be gone...maybe even today!  But most likely before the weekend.  I have been reading horror stories about painting on an old popcorn ceiling (which is what this is), but I'm going to put paintbrush in hand and hope for the best!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

{Post 1,082} Grapevine Lightning Bolt

Purely for your amusement, I am sharing the picture of my grapevine lightning bolt in our newly updated (somewhat) bathroom.  I wanted a random shape that was not round.  This usually hangs above the robe/PJ bar to the left of my sink.  Hahahahaha:

I hung it with an easily removable Command hook that was very tiny.  It's too much brown and not enough substance.  I still like it in the long, thin space above the hanging bar though.  Back it will go.  I like the things I've collected/bought, so I like to "shop my own house" when I'm looking for a decoration.

FWIW, I'm also going to paint the light fixture with oil-rubbed bronze paint.  We will probably put in other light fixtures above each mirrored cabinet at some point, but to make it less BRIGHT BRASS, I am going to paint it.  The thing is, it got soooo cold yesterday that I think it's too cold to paint in the garage.  I am going to give it a try anyway, and use a space heater until it's dry.  I'd like to do that tomorrow, but we'll see.  Time will tell!  I will paint the hinges on the cabinet below the sinks at the same time.  The knobs are a combination of very little brushed brass and ORB finish, so I'm going to leave them as is.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

{Post 1,081} Bathroom Finished But Needs Decor

Our bathroom is finished for now, but is in need of some decor for between the mirrors.  I thought a wreath would be lovely, but since the mirrors are oval, that would be repeating the shape too much.  Any suggestions?  I love dried flowers, grapevine wreaths, quilts (haha--who would've guessed?), etc.

I might move our two wedding pics in there with some wall words or something.  These are above the headboard of our bed, but might look nice in the bathroom:

You can see on the right side of the bathroom pic a little of my new valance (in the reflection in the right mirror, too).


Saturday, October 27, 2012

{Post 1,080} Master Bathroom Face Lift

My husband is just THE best.  I have been asking him if we could take down a big, flat mirror in our bathroom (behind the double sinks) and put up some mirrored cabinets (for storage, you know).  He asked me if I wanted to go look at them (again) last night.  I had resigned myself to not getting them for at least a month (we are acting our wage, incidentally).  To my great surprise, we brought two new mirrored medicine cabinets home last night.

Another great surprise was the answer to the burning question..."did I paint behind the big, flat mirror when we moved in here, or did I go the easy route and leave it green?"  Wes (being the eager beaver that he is) took down the mirror while I was taking Rachel to the flea market to peddle her biscuits and coffee.  That explains why my "before" picture does not have the ugly, flat, too-small mirror in it.  Yes!  I HAD painted behind the mirror.

ANOTHER great surprise was that we had nearly a gallon of our original wall paint in the garage.  I had it re-shaken at Walmart while I was out this AM, and we were ready to go.

Here are before and after shots of "the wall":

The smoke signal in the middle is where I burned a candle and had it set too close to the back wall.  The smoke will not scrub off.  I tried every cleaner I had plus an extra-large dose of elbow grease, and no change.

Here is the after:

My sweetums also fixed a drawer in our bathroom that up until today never closed.  See second picture, second drawer down.  That's nearly 7 years of not closing.  

Instead of just standing around and waiting for the paint to dry (ha ha), I scrubbed the white window blinds that are to the right of the counter above.  One spot of cleanliness does surely lead to others.  

Future plans include painting the countertop and backsplash (yes, I am giving it a try), recaulking the sinks, and painting the cabinets in there.  Very ambitious, but I am loving the improvements already.

If I get my new red valances lined with light-blocking fabric today (and that's the plan), I am putting up my new valance and Christmas shower curtain today.  It will be our reward for working so hard on the bathroom!


Monday, October 22, 2012

{Post 1,079} Shower Curtain Finished - No Picture

My Christmas shower curtain is finished.  Lined, buttonholed, everything!  No picture.  I have been piecing a backing for my first Christmas quilt gift.  It has been coming along swimmingly.  Check it out on my secret blog.

Friday, October 19, 2012

{Post 1,078} Shower Curtain 6/7 Finished

Making up for all those days of not posting, yes??  Here is my progress on the shower curtain:

I just have to add the last printed piece on the right and then line it.  There will not be any batting.  I will sew 3 sides and then turn it right side out.  Then I attach binding to the top of the curtain just like a quilt (only on one side).  Then 12 evenly-spaced buttonholes.  No quilting either, so I'm nearly finished!


{Post 1,077} Three Panels Together

My Christmas shower curtain is coming along.  I have 3 of the 7 verticle sections sewn together.  You can get an idea of how it looks here, pinned to my existing curtain.  I have all the panels sewn, just need to sew them to each other, line it, and make those 12 crucial buttonholes.

I'm pretty sure I like it.  Finished is good, yes?

So, I'll have another pieced panel, a print panel, a pieced panel, then end with a print panel.  This uses up every last inch of the Christmas print.  

I just started using a new system for remembering about a week ago.  It's's life-changing...I'm calling it "writing it down on paper".  I was trying to remember how big different runners and wall hangings that I made my girls were.  So before I gave Elisabeth this wall hanging to take to Wisconsin, I measured it AND WROTE IT DOWN.  I wrote down the measurements of Emily's table runner.  Even when making the shower curtain above, I am constantly having to make calculations then remembering them.  Funny thing...the weakest ink is stronger than the greatest memory.


{Post 1,076} New Shower Curtain Construction

I knew I'd have a little more sewing time today.  So I am starting (and possibly finishing) my Christmas shower curtain.

Recently I was shocked to find out that my husband LOVES Christmas decorations at our house.  He even said something like, "I'd leave them up all year if I could."  

I made us a Christmas bed quilt this year (just finished recently) that has its own story (click the underlined words to read all the posts about the quilt).  That led to buying inexpensive but perfect red valances to match the quilt.  Few know that our shower has a quilt for a curtain!  I patterned it after one I saw in a magazine years ago.  I made it when we moved in here 6-1/2 years ago.  Here it is...

My current bedroom and bathroom valances are made from the fall print that is the large alternate block.  

Here is a peek at what I'm doing for a new curtain:

I needed about 70" of the focus fabric (which is not pictured).  It was still on a bolt foundation on my shelf.  I didn't know how much was didn't look like much!  72"!!!  Just enough!!

Stay tuned...I plan to sew, sew, sew on this puppy today.

~Joan, who is making her own design and holding her breath that it looks good

Thursday, October 18, 2012

{Post 1,075} Lone Star Quilting Finished

Finished the hand quilting on this mini.  I quilted it to death.  I like to use matching thread when possible and in certain instances.  

I am including a picture so you can see where I quilted the straight lines since they are in matching thread and difficult to see.

Emily sewed the binding on her last quilt.  I think she'd like to do this one, too, wouldn't you, pumpkin?  ;)

~Joan (or Mom if you're Emily!)