Monday, June 26, 2017

Is there something in the water?

Have any of you ever noticed that babies seem to be born in waves?  So many in a circle of friends and family all at once.  Babies everywhere!  :)  Which means a busy time for a quilter.

*Warning - photo heavy post because it has been awhile since I have had any photos at all :)*
I have four so far.  Two already done - one born and one next month.  Then I have two more that need to be done before winter.  Baby quilts are so much fun.  You can play with color and design; so easy to get done in a few days.

The first one I made was for my son's new half-sister.  He is currently visiting his dad in Montana and wanted to take a gift to the new baby.  He has been an only child for 15 years and is pretty excited about meeting her.  He picked some pretty fabrics out of my flannel stash and I got to work so he could bring it with him.  I think it turned out pretty well, despite being a bit louder than my usual tastes.

The second one was for a friend's baby shower.  I picked out the fabrics only knowing that she was having a girl.  I didn't know her color scheme at all.  Turns out it was a great match to her bassinet and other baby room items.  :)  I did make a big boo-boo here though.  It was so shocking and funny.  Early in the day of the shower, as I was finishing the quilt I posted a quick photo to Instagram, not even thinking.  At the shower as she is opening the bag she says, "Is this this one on Instagram?" with a smile on her face.  ACK!  I was mortified.  I can't believe my blunder.  Heehee.  In the end it was quite hilarious and she told me that she had made a comment to her husband that she hoped that quilt was for them.  :)

It is so much fun making soft flannel baby quilts.  Everyone wants one of their own.  :)
I have two more to make and I will share them when they are received.

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Quilt Retreat Series: Part 2.2 Food

This particular list is going to be a bit personal.  I have been making my way towards a healthier lifestyle and am focusing on maintaining a balance in my life.  I am aware that there are lots of people that LOVE the junk food.  I do too on occasion, but I try to make sure that is not all I eat. So, this post is going to reflect that.

 Packing for a long quilt retreat can be quite intimidating.  You are breaking out of your comfortable routine.  Possibly feeding only one when you are used to feeding a family.  There are plenty of retreats out there that supply all meals in one form or another, but other than goodies for the community snack table, we aren't going to focus on that today.  We are going to talk about the situation when you need to handle all of your own food and possibly those of the entire group.

So, in my case, I will be packing for two people for seven days with a plan of eating out only one day.  We have access to a full kitchen with supplies, but no food.  I think that meal prepping will be the key here because who wants to go to a quilt retreat and spend any time in the kitchen?
I have tons of online recipes I have tried and love, but I am not going to link to everyone because I prefer to get permission for that and it could get out of control.  I will give you a link to my Recipes of the Healthier Kind Pinterest page which you are more than welcome to follow or ask what I think about any of the recipes there.

I am a new Beachbody Coach *shameless plug here* and I tend to have my Shakeology for breakfast just about every day.  I will just decide what I want to blend and bring those things.

  • Unsweetened Almond/Coconut Milk
  • Frozen banana slices
  • Vanilla (don't forget these kinds of things for your meals -- salt/pepper/sugar -- you may be used to having them in your kitchen and your venue might not.
  • Other fruits
I am going to prepare a few things ahead of time that will be great for breakfast or snacking on.
  • Oatmeal cups
  • Cut fruit
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Yogurt
It is also a good idea to check with your venue to see if they have a coffee pot or tea kettle if you like those beverages in the morning.

I have found that I don't often want a traditional lunch.  Breakfast is eaten late and you certainly don't want to interrupt your sewing time, but make sure you have something that you can eat at anytime of day.  You will need to keep your energy up for all that quilting and visiting.  

  • Sandwiches - Easy and simple.  Keep it basic.  Small ones on rolls are an option too.
  • Salads 
  • Chips or Pretzels
  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Vegetables sliced and ready to munch on.  Hummus or dip would be a nice addition.
  • Sweet treat - Brownies, M&Ms, licorice, cookies
  • Popcorn
For me, this is the time to take a good relaxing break from my machine.  I need to have something substantial for my evening meal.  Most traditional dinners take time and "cooking" to make.  My recommendation is do everything that you can ahead of time.  Chopping veggies, cooking meat, measuring spices, etc.  You would also need to verify what appliances and other cooking implements your venue has.
  • Tacos - make the meat ahead of time and reheat.  Chop tomatoes & lettuce.  Shred cheese.
  • Salad - always a good option
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup -- nice for a winter retreat
  • Any kind of crockpot complete dish - stew, chili, chicken fajitas.  Just prepare it all ahead and dump in the crockpot in the morning.  
  • Any kind of casserole that you can refrigerate and then just toss in the oven.
Don't forget your drinks!  Not all venues will have a great tap water system.  At the very least, bring a good, lidded water bottle.  Stay Hydrated!!
  • Coffee or tea - don't forget your creamer
  • Bottled water or even better your own filter pitcher
  • Adult beverages - make sure your venue allows this, because not all of them do.  And remember the rule "No red wine at the sewing table!"  :)

Another thing you want to be aware of is the other quilters at the retreat.  Are there any severe allergies?  Make sure you don't cook anything too pungent that will make its way into all of the rooms - think fish or buffalo wings (who would eat wings with all that fabric around I don't know).

Don't show up to your retreat thinking you will just eat whatever.  Especially if your venue is out in the country somewhere.  You may not even have access to a regular grocery store or restaurant.  If your retreat is supplying meals, you will still need to bring anything that may not be supplied.  "What do you mean you don't have that Butter Pecan coffee creamer I need to use?"  Also, I cannot think of a retreat that lasts more than 2 hours that doesn't have a community snack table.  It doesn't need to be anything fancy (unless of course you make amazing lemon bars), but you should contribute something.  

I hope this helps you plan a little better for your next quilt retreat.  And like I said, feel free to visit my Pinterest page or email me with any questions or if you need more suggestions.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Winner! Star Blossom

Just a super quick post to congratulate Rose from Something Rose Made for winning the giveaway for the amazing new quilt pattern Star Blossom by Dave The Quilt Engineer and Tish's Adventures in Wonderland .

You can find the post about my version of this beautiful pattern here:  Star Blossom

If you want to try out this pattern yourself, you can find it in Tish's Craftsy shop.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Where does the time go?

Seriously, this blog break has gone on for far too long.
Time has completely gotten away from me.  I think 4 out of 5 of my last posts have been apologizing for my absence.  Between my job, working out more, learning Irish (Gaelic), and getting my quilt ready for my VERY FIRST pattern being published in International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene magazine this October I have been swamped.  Oh, and I ran in the Starlight Run 5k with my son and friends AND I had 2 sets of company come visit me in the last couple of weeks.  All good things!  :)

Here is a little bit of what I have been up to quilting-wise:

I have been trying very hard to keep up with my Bee Inspired bee blocks.  Not quite on time, but not too late either.  I am hoping the rest of the year I will be more punctual.  These little grey pieces were so tiny!  I completely forgot to take a photo of the finished block.

I finally purchased my first spool of Aurifil thread!  That is pretty exciting.  I haven't used it yet, but soon...soon.  I also have a couple of quick flannel baby quilts I need to have done before next week.  I am doing simple strips and they are going to be so cozy!

Gotta love the chain piecing!

Oh yuck, I need to add a new ironing board cover to my to-do list.  
I made my first hanging sleeve last week.  If I am doing a wall hanging I usually just do the corners. I don't know why I was so intimidated by this.  It turned out nice I think.  I sure hope it is up to the standards of the magazine. This whole being published thing is very nerve racking. What if my work isn't good enough?  Oh, I would be so devastated.  It is exhilarating though.  I don't know how I will wait until it is on the shelves in October.

The binding all ready to go for my quilt.  I think Kona Oasis is my new favorite color.  It is gorgeous, don't you think?

I have a couple of other things coming up this summer.  Some new patterns, tutorials, etc.  I will do my very best to stay on top of the blog and not disappear again.
I'll be linking up with my usual blogs on the sidebar.

Happy Quilting!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Star Blossom by Dave & Tish + A Giveaway!

Awhile back I was given the opportunity to test a new pattern for some quilty friends.  Dave @ Dave the Quilt Engineer and Tish @ Tish's Adventures in Wonderland have released their first quilt pattern today and I have to say I was honored to be asked to test it.  Both of them have such great taste and amazing talent.

As soon as I started pulling fabrics for the quilt, I knew my version was going to give an entirely different perspective on the same pattern.  Star Blossom is a great design that suits all fabric choices.  I can personally envision it in at least 10 different color schemes.  Black and White, Fun Florals, Loud Color Explosions, I could go on and on.  You can make the design read calm and delicate or sharp and vibrant just by choosing a different fabric. I decided to make mine into a candy shop.
Yup, candy shop.  Think cotton candy and taffy and lollipops.  So, without further ado, here is my quilt top (I have yet to decide how to quilt this one, sorry).

Quilts with feet!  :)

Isn't it just a fabulous design?  Tish and Dave are even giving a special deal to those who want to purchase the pattern before Sunday, June 11th.  You can get all the details and see other versions of the quilt at Tish's Adventures in Wonderland.

But wait...there's more!  They are giving away a few digital copies of their pattern.  One of them right from this site.  All you have to do is comment on this post.  Let me know what color scheme you would use for Star Blossom.

Happy Quilting Everyone! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quilt Retreat Series Part 2.1: What to pack for a retreat - Sewing Gear

Packing for a quilt retreat is serious business, folks.  So many things to consider.  How much room in my car/luggage?  Will I be sharing a room/bathroom?  Will there be food?  How long will I stay? Can we drink wine? And perhaps the most important question of all:  Are there fabric stores nearby?

You can find my thoughts on different kinds of retreats in Part 1 of the Quilt Retreat Series.

I would not call myself a seasoned retreater, but I have been to a couple and as I prepare to head off to a new venue in July I find myself revisiting all the packing questions.

This overview, by all means, does not cover everything.  And each person will have different priorities.  These views are my own, and are the thoughts that go through my head as I prepare.

First off, it is the end of May and I have known about my mid-July retreat for a couple of weeks now and have already started a list so I don't forget anything.  I am a planner, what can I say.

I separate my list into a few categories:

  • Sewing gear
  • Personal items (clothing, toiletries, etc)
  • Food/Snacks/Drinks
  • Other
Before we start adding things to the list though, we have a couple of questions to answer.
  • What is my method of transportation?  Flying, driving?  Sharing a vehicle?
  • What is available at the retreat?  Linens? Meals? 
Once you have your answers and your retreat is booked, you can start packing. Because I have always had to drive to retreats, I have never been TOO restricted on what I can bring.  As long as it fits in the back of the car, I am good to go.  

Sewing Gear
(no affiliation or compensation for products mentioned and linked)
Packing your gear and projects can be a bit difficult, especially when you are used to having everything in its own place in your sewing room.  Start with the essentials and cut things where you can.  If you are going with friends, maybe you can split the load.  One can bring rulers and another can bring cutting supplies or however you want to divvy it up.  No need to bring multiples of things you will only use once or twice.  

I like to pack my gear & projects in a large plastic tote.  Something similar to this one I found at Walmart:

It can get very heavy, so I suggest getting one with wheels if that is possible.
Another option is the always useful IKEA bags:
Start by keeping a tally in your head of your Need, Might Need, and Optional items.  This list doesn't include the basics of travel like having decent pajamas, a supply of your medications, etc.

Need (most likely):
  • Sewing Machine - some places have rentals, but this varies.
  • Thread - might vary depending on your projects, but always bring an extra full spool of neutral. 
  • Extra - Bobbins, machine needles, rotary blades
  • Seam ripper, clippers, and scissors - I promise, if you don't think you will need it, you certainly will.
  • Machine Kit with cleaning tools and different feet
  • A project to work on (or a few) - you might have plans to buy something at a shop when you get there, but backup is always a good idea
  • Name badge - Especially if you are going to a retreat where there will be new people. Customize it and make your name memorable (oooo, that's a good idea for a tutorial). 
Might Need (highly recommended if space is not an issue):
  • Surge protector/extension cord - these are sometimes provided
  • Light/lamp - some venues have great lighting, some don't.
  • Rulers & rotary cutter/mat - these are on the might need list (as opposed to the need list) because some people prefer to have all their cutting done ahead of time and some retreats have community ones to share.  If you have any HST trimming or something similar I recommend a small mat for your own table so you don't have to hog the shared cutting table.
  • Cushion/chair - Many venues only supply folding chairs or hard conference style chairs, not the type you want to be sitting in for 8+ hours for 3 days.
  • Water bottle - Stay hydrated and keep the lid on your drink! 
  • Snacks - There is often a community snack table for the group.  Contribute your favorite.
  • Extra finished quilt/small fan - The temperature of the room may not be to your liking.
  • Sweatshirt/slippers - I don't think I am the only one that hates sewing in my shoes.  
  • Thread catcher/basket/lint roller - Remember, you are sharing a space and it is really impolite to just throw your threads on the floor like you do at home.  :)  (maybe this is just me)
  • Earplugs or CPAP machine - a good night's sleep is important to everyone
  • Mini iron & matt - Pressing stations are often supplied by the venue, but having to wait for one can be a pain
  • An extra FQ or a new little sewing trinket.  Many retreats have exchanges or games to participate in.  
  • Cards - If you have a blog, a shop, or just want to keep in touch with new friends it is handy to have a simple way to exchange information
  • Some hand sewing - You might want to sit and visit in a more relaxed space or sit in solitude outside for a bit.
  • Heat pad/Icepack/Ibuprofen - if you have aches and pains like I do, make sure you prepare.
  • Night light - to put in the bathroom of a shared room so a nighttime visit doesn't wake everyone
  • Cash - if your retreat is run by a shop, they may have some basic supplies on hand for  you to purchase in case you forget something

Goodness, that is a long list and I just know I forgot to add some things.  Let me know what you think needs to be added to the list.