Friday, December 6, 2013

My First Pieced Quilt

To the experienced quilter, you know what I mean when I say, "I did it!  Look at my first quilt!"  I saw this pattern almost two years ago (A Baker's Dozen, 13 quilts from Jelly Rolls, layer cakes, and more) and knew I had to try this.  I made a lot of changes to the printed instructions, but the results are just as good.

Planning the quilt:

Stage 1:  Insert texture into the quilt.  This allows my granddaughter, almost 2 by Christmas, to love on her quilt.  Test proved positive when I handed her a couple of blocks.  She loved rubbing her delicate cheeks against the fabric.

Stage 2: Pick fabric with her first words.  Zoe loves monkeys, chickens, dogs, shoes, eggs, rabbits, carrots.  She knows the words and the ASL signs.  These are also incorporated into the quilt.  She pointed out these as she "trashed my stash."

Any good quilter, honest quilter will agree that the finished project is not a one-man job.  It's like playing solitaire.  Someone is going to recommend a move at some point, whether it's moving a block, alternate fabric, or a technique.  She will voice her opinion.

Speaking of Solitaire.  My friend Dirk is a hunter.  He claims to carry a deck of cards with him on any hunting expedition.  Should he get lost, he'll sit and play a game of solitaire.  Someone will show up to tell him his next move.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears (of joy)

Since this was a jelly roll quilt, every fabric choice came from a bolt, so out came the handy-dandy rotary cutter and mat.  Scores later (oh, such a bad pun) it was time to build blocks.

  • Our neighbor Beth dropped by and while she was here, I put her artistic eye to work.  She was essential to the final block layout.
  • My dear friend Nancy showed me how to sew the blocks together.  She fussed and fussed how often I need to measure, remeasure, and re-remeasure after each seam.  Repeat after pressing the seams.  Annoying yes, but I loved the results.  (She lovingly chastised me for selecting an "on point" quilt for my first.)  She also helped with the pillow, actually did most of the work when I was ill that weekend.  
  • A HUGE thanks to the staff at Joann's in Sugar Land.  They had the fabric I needed (beyond my stash).  For the backing, I needed 5 1/4 yards.  I couldn't find the fabric locally, but they had exactly 5 1/3 yards in stock.  I came home a happy girl.
  • Cynthia, Lhonda, Laurel, and Pam were my cheerleaders.  They doled out the encouragement to keep me going.
  • April quilted the package.  She did an extraordinary job, down to the thread color.
  • Margie and Ina helped with the binding and finishing touches.
  • Mom is hiding the packages at her place until Christmas.
The worst part of this entire process is waiting until Christmas to give Zoe her new blanket.  I can hardly wait to see her face Christmas morning.

Here is the finished quilt.  Magic Man and I scuba dive, as does Zoe's parents.  Fish seemed a fitting theme.
Fish Quilt - DONE

Bubbles from the fish

"Cat" fish hiding in the coral

Sea Monkeys

Textures and colors

Tuna fish (center small), you know "chicken of the sea"

Friday, November 22, 2013

Catching Up: Quilt for Layla

Layla is a very young lady battling a form of cancer normally found in retirees.  She moved to Texas from a land far, far away, then moved out of the country.  She and her family fell in love with Texas and its western, laid back lifestyle.  She loves horses.

My friends L and M purchased Texas and western fabric last Christmas, well just because they are really nice people, and added it to my stash.  It was perfect for Layla's horse quilt.  

My second quilt from start to finish in 3 days, interspersed with work.

Quilt Finished

Fav Fabric 1

Fav Fabric 2
I hope Layla finds comfort with her horses.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Catching Up: On hold for an emergency

Good morning,

I know, I know, I promised there would be postings of my projects, but after lunch with friends we were informed that another friend's daughter has cancer.  This is a young girl, about 12, who has cancer.  She's lost part of her lung, and the cancer is throughout her chest area.  Please pray for this young girl.  Her dad and I worked together years ago.

It's back to the stash and sewing room to make a lap quilt just for her.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Catching Up: Quilts

Quilting is new to me.  Rag Edge quilts are not nearly as challenging, so those don't qualify for this post.

My first quilt was a t-shirt memorial quilt for my long time friend Jim, well that would be his wife and family.  Jim is responsible for my involvement with robotics.  This quilt was made of shirts donated by teams (quilt front) and volunteers (quilt back).  Needless to say, but the time we added the stabilizer for the front and back pieces and the batting, this quilt weighed about 35 pounds.   In addition to the quilt, we found Marine Corps fabric for a throw pillow.  

I wish I had better pictures available, but as a last minute project, I don't have any of my own.

A year later a second memorial quilt was in the making, this time with Gerald's shirts.  The front side of the quilt is the most decorative, the back side of the quilt is the other side of the shirt.  The widow requested her quilt by her husband's birthday.  I think she likes it.

Last but not least is my first attempt at a pieced quilt - and I decided to make this one on-point.  My quilting friends called me crazy.  What was I thinking?  Oh yes, I wasn't and the pattern was adorable.  How could I resist?  This quilt uses textured fabrics and the cotton motifs contain granddaughter's favorite things, such as monkeys, trees, chickens, etc. and colors.  And as scuba divers, we tried to capture some of the fish colors and markings.  

Today the top is at the quilter's, with a request to delay the quilting until Thanksgiving.  I'm too tempted to give the quilt and pillow to her before Christmas.
Quilt Top
Pillow front
Pillow back

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Catching Up: Toys for Tots

So!  I have been formally chastised for not posting pictures of my projects.  And not just the recent projects either.  Readers, I beg your support (and forgiveness), you know how it is - daily activities, family, and WIP often takes precedence over blogging.

Here goes Round 1...
Toys for Tots is one of my favorite Christmas charities, based on the fact that our US Marines sponsor this program.  They volunteer their lives for our freedoms and have a spare hand to help children at Christmas.  And - I love their commercial where the little girl asks the Marine if he's Santa, but haven't seen it in a couple of years.  It makes me tear-up thinking about it.

Purchasing a gift doesn't seem adequate, so I sew.  Normally I make rag edge quilts, one for a boy, one for a girl, but this year I ventured into something new:  Pillow Pets!  These little guys are so cute, so easy, so soft and cuddly.  The idea came from this site: with written and video instructions. 

I followed most of their instructions making a quick mod suggested by granddaughter.  We replaced the step to sew the head to the pillow cover by sewing Velcro (loop side) to the cover and (hook side) to the back of the head.  I used two strips about 4" long, spacing them 1" apart.  Granddaughter loves that she can yank off the head, cuddle with it at nap time and still use the pillow.  Two gifts for the price of one.  I love it because I can wash the pillow cover, dry it easily, AND the loops on the Velcro don't attach to other items in the dryer.  Multi-tasking?  OK, that's a stretch.

Sigh, life is good.


Pink Puppy - TFT

Cat - TFT

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Birthday to ME!! Gift #2 & 3

Gift #2
With the possum out of the way, it was time to move on to bigger and better things.  Hubby purchased a power sprayer to help clean the chicken coop.  Call me weird, but I am actually happy with it.  The second box was a little more interesting.

Gift #3
Magic Man and I met six years ago.  My friend Nancy likes Bruce and our relationship, we compliment each others creativity and humor.  Nancy is a gifted quilter, as you will see, wanted to capture that relationship in fabric.

She found fabric shortly after we married and was inspired to start a quilt for us.  The colors are the primary colors in the Magic Museum.  The quilt pattern is Card Trick.
Inspiration Fabric
Card Trick
 This project took a few years, revisions, consultations, and a whole lot of love to complete.

Quilt Front
There are 89 different fabrics in this quilt, gathered from all across the great USA.  Each one heart selected, based on Bruce and my professions, hobbies, passions, and faith.  She took the time to cut out the pattern in the fabric to piece into the quilt.  What kind of love is that?
The back is filled with applique bunnies, using the quilt fabric.
Nancy pushed creativity to the limit and appliqued rabbits on the back of the quilt, hopping around cards and more bunnies in the center of the quilt back.
Quilted pillows back
She took the time to quilt the backs of the pillows...
Quilted pillows front.
And honor Bruce's parents by printing photos of these rabbits they made and painted many years ago.  

The ensemble is beautiful.  BUT now we need a bigger bed.  :)
I wish I had words to express my joy and gratitude for this precious gift.  The time, expense, the love that went into this project cannot be measured.

All I can say is the God is so good to me for giving me the bestest of friends and family.

Happy Birthday to ME!! Gift Number 1

Normally, I like to keep my birthday quiet; slip past the desks at the office and celebrate with my family.  However, today is a little different.

It began last night.  After visitors most of the day, it was well past the Girls bedtime when the last one left.  I ventured into the darkness only a porch light to guide my way.  The girls were fed, watered, and locked in for the night.  Then I heard it.  A strange sound in the trees on the south fence.  There is was, staring at me, a possum perched on the fence, visible only by the beam of light from the porch.  I hissed and barked and the thing did not move.  

After walking away, I turned back one last time and the possum slipped into the darkness and the yard next door.

This morning I woke and realized this possum was a gift from Gerald, my dearest friend killed in a motorcycle accident last May.  The photo below is the only birthday card he sent me, and it's upside down on purpose.  Here's the story...
The year was 1980 and I accepted a job in AZ with the current contractor rather than the new contractor at Ft Hood. My apartment wanted a full month's rent for the last 2 weeks, but Gerald offered his couch in exchange for the materials and labor to build a deck. (That in itself is another story). I was sleeping on the couch, when a scratching sound from the kitchen awakened me. I opened my eyes and standing on the stove was the biggest rat I'd ever seen.

"Rat! Rat!" was all I could manage to scream. Gerald came running down the hall and started laughing. It was a 'possum. We painfully managed to remove the varmint from the premises.  
I poked at the possum with the fishing pole and Gerald waited for the possum to run out from the lit broiler.  Gerald was in shorts armed only with welding gloves.  The possum grabbed the fishing pole and tug-a-war began, along with a tad of panic while Gerald laughed at me.  The critter ran out at long last, Gerald grabbed it by the tail and it was hanging upside down as we took it out to dump it.  All the while, the possum was making growling, gurgling noises.  He returned twice more. On the third morning, Gerald hauled the possum several miles away.  That did the trick; he returned no more.
Gerald swears that when I hollered "Rat! Rat!" the possum was yelling back "Human! Human!" It was one of his favorite stories to tell on me. Last year, Gerald sent me this birthday card with a possum on the cover. Your call - coincidence or is Gerald still having a little more fun at my expense?
Birthday card, with instructions to view upside down.  Inside the words Rat Rat & Human Human were scrawled under the birthday wishes.
I am convinced the nocturnal visitor was a gift, a gag gift from Gerald.  After all, his sister found a brand new Black and Decker flashlight on her way to work for her birthday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Souped Up Coupe

This morning was "Modify the Coupe Day."  Magic Man decided we needed to enhance the "Coop de Ville," making it maintenance friendly.  Step 1, add a hatch system and Step 2, an improved feeding station.  For someone who groaned "Oh dear Lord!" when he first heard the coupe coop idea, he's taken quite a liking to the concept.

You may have seen the first posting of the Coop de Ville, in its early, but livable stage.  But here's what we did today.

Magic Man decided on a "hatch system" that 1) offers protection (we have raccoons, wild cats, and 'possums roaming about the 'hood) and 2) provides easy "open and close" access between the coop and run.  

The Hatch is two part system, one hatch attaches to the coop and another to the run.  The hatches can be coupled securing the living quarters together or quickly decoupled to ease cleaning and relocating the quarters in the yard.

Installing half of the Hatch System to the coop
Hatch closed

Hatch opened

Top view of the coupled hatch, now attached to the coop and the run.  The doors slip down closing either section.
The best part about this system is we can quickly close one or both sections, locking the girls in either half.

The next modification was the feeding system.  Every morning required cleaning the poopy feeder, sighing over wasted feed, and adding a fresh supply of feed.  We repeated this task each evening.

Then we found this feeding station on Pinterest.  We made a few tweaks, using 3" PVC and parts rather than the suggested 2" and we secured the feeders at the base instead of tying them to the walls.   Also, our feeders are 24" tall, purely a cosmetic choice, shorter than 4' tall feeders. 

Magic Man cut three holes in the trunk area, just large enough for the PVC tubing to slide through.  We attached the WYE and bases inside the coop and secured them to the floor.   And finally filled the feeders.  The material cost for three feeders was $30.  A fourth can be added for $7 for the extra WYE and Caps.  Not a bad deal, value-wise.  We can fill the feeders to capacity and the girls will be happy for a week.

Feeding Stations inside the Coupe

Feed Filling Tubes, easily accessed
Wow, what used to take us a good 30 minutes each morning, is now accomplished in about 10 minutes.
Finished Coupe, today

One problem we did not foresee.  What will granddaughter do?  She knows we carry feed to the chickens each morning and battle the chickens to move to greener patches.  She'll have to accept the fact she has more time to play in the morning before school.

Care to guess what the next addition will be?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chicken Coop, no Chicken Coupe

Magic Man is very talented.  Here in the Big City North, he has a magic shop, theater & party room, and a workshop normally used to build large cabinet-styled stage illusions.  But then he has this wife who, on occasion, makes special and strange requests.

You may recall that about 6 weeks ago we brought home some baby chicks.  They lived in a brooding house for a few weeks, but grew so quickly we needed to transition them to a chicken coop.  I worked on design after design, never quite satisfied with the final idea.  Then one night, it came to me in a dream.  My girls need a Chicken Coupe.

Magic Man shook his head when I approached him with the request.  He took my sketch and "disappeared" (ha! pun intended) into the workshop.  A few days later, he called me to the workshop, handed me a can of primer and a brush and instructed me to get busy, priming the coop inside and out. (I found out just how limber I am not).  I primed on day one and painted the next day.  Day three we added the almost finishing touches.  It was enough for the girls to move in.

So here is their new home, the Coop de Ville.  The nesting area is under the hood, feeding station in the trunk.  The girls can roost in the driver's seat and enter the run through the passenger door.  We can open both side doors or the hood and quickly clean the coop.  Functional and fun - I'm happy.

Coop de Ville

 The girls love sitting the in Driver's seat.  Oddly enough, that is Daisy on the passenger side.
Driving Miss Daisy
 It is difficult to see, but there is a chicken run, that ghost-like image in the photo below, for the girls.  It looks a bit like a submarine.  The run has a "conning tower" to roost and observe the surroundings.  Alas, Magic Man will NOT let me paint the run yellow.  All together now, let's sing "We all live in a yellow submarine..."
Chicken run
I'll be adding more sections to the run as the days grow warmer.  I hope the girls won't think they are gerbils.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two Weeks and Growing

Ooops!!  Someone forgot to hit the post button last week.  The Golden Girls are developing into haggard looking pullets.  This must be their awkward stage.  No, me thinks "awwk" is for parrots.

From last week...

It's nice we only have an occasional snow in the Big City North.  The Golden Girls spent happy hour outdoors these last few days.  

How quickly The Girls are growing!  Everyday they change; I sit and go through their names, making sure I can identify them.  Yes, they are changing that much.  Two weeks ago, all six fit in the feeder; today the feeder holds only two.  New feathers sprout by the hour, and fuzzy feathers are everywhere, or maybe it's the pollen from the trees.

The brooding house is 3 times as large as the day we brought them home.  The outdoor pen is twice the size of the new brooder.  They run every inch of the new space.

This my first experience with chickens.  They are fascinating to watch.  Here they are the day they came home.

The GG first day with us.  They were about 2 weeks old, I was told.
After one week, not much changed.  Still cute and fuzzy, but they were bigger and food consumption had not increased.

Two weeks and the girls are unrecognizable.  Not only are they sprouting feathers, their colors are pronounced and richer.  It is easier to tell them apart.  Annabelle is still the leader.  She flits and sits atop the cardboard box they call home-in-a-home.  She dares another to share her space.  Edie is the friendliest and most vocal.  She takes after her name sake.
Holy Cow.  Look at all those feathers!
The Girls love the outdoor pen.  Back to the brooder late afternoon, they sleep most of the night.  Tomorrow we're expecting rain, I'm expecting unhappy girls by evening.
The GG love the outdoor life.  
 Oh, and the appetites have increased, by 3 fold.  It's time for a bigger dish!

I learned a valuable lesson.  Keeping water clean is a challenge.  They've grown into Mr. Whiskers', the magic rabbit, water bowl.  We change it several times a day - and night.  Granddaughter and I love to sit and watch the girls and we noticed they love to jump on things, then sit.  So this was the test.  Elevate the water bowl on some bricks, and put additional bricks all around the water bowl.  The water was untainted for 36 hours.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Awards and "It Must be a Sign"

What a weekend...

     In case I failed to mention this tidbit, Magic Man and I moved from the Big City to the Big City North last summer. My job keeps me racing back 300 miles to the Big City every couple of weeks, but that's another story.
     This past weekend, my dear friend M and I headed south.  He did not know he was the recipient of the prestigious "Volunteer of the Year" award at the FRC Regional event.  Surprise!!  Neither of us could participate this year due to conflicts, but I had to get him there for this one day AND keep the award a secret.  It was good to show up, even for a few hours.  We missed the kids, the volunteers, the coaches - and they missed us (hurray!).  Good, good times.
M sharing the joy with another recipient
      Did I mention how much we enjoy the kids?  These students are great!  They are innovative, creative, and a lot of fun.  They ARE our hope for the future.  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) events are an inspiration to learn and apply learning.  They are, contrary to popular belief, not always the "smart kids."  They simply have a hands-on activity that gives them the desire to learn and to express themselves.

Teams create and design their uniforms and work clothing...
All-girl team sporting their work aprons
Team Shirt
... and are responsible to keep their machines running.
Quick maintenance between matches
     This year, each team made a shirt for the EmCee to sport during introductions.  This one is my favorite.  Can you find the shark?  Poor guy, he had over 50 shirts to wear over 2 days.

EmCee and the Shark Shirt

It was a fun day.  Lots of wonderful memories.

     On the way home, we detoured by Mom's out in the "Middle of Nowhere."  I love it there, so does M and his wife L.   A quick night's sleep, breakfast, and we were on the road again toward home (after raiding Mom's garden - shhhhh!).  But first, we stopped at the Tomato Stand, a little self serve place just off the FM road.  You don't see these places much anymore in these parts, so I frequent them as often as I can.

And more

     20 miles further up the road is the Egg Farm, another self serve spot off the road.   It's an understanding with the customers; no sign needed - and Mrs. B only sells eggs.
     Finally, there was a quick stop for lunch.  This sign made me laugh as is evident by the poor quality of the photo.  I couldn't take a better picture.
Take a Number Please

    It was good to get back home.  I missed Magic Man and the Golden Girls and Granddaughter..., oh and her parents.