Sunday, January 31, 2016

down but not out . . .

This past week wasn't nearly as productive as the week before, namely because I spent it battling off (unsuccessfully) a sinus infection. Bleh! Which is not to say I spent the week feeling terrible, I just didn't feel super-great.  Ya' know what I mean? Thursday I took a trip into the doc's office and came away with a super-duper antibiotic and sinus pain pills, which helped.  Anyway, I did have some very happy-and-bright spots during my week!  
Evey came for a visit on Monday! She loves to move the magnets from one desk to another. And we found that a single piece of tape could occupy her for nearly ten minutes.  LOL!

Then, coming home on Tuesday, I had a surprise squishy waiting for me!
Isn't that fun?!  What a sweet little tea print -- I adore Susan Branch's blog and wasn't even aware she'd had a fabric line!  Kris, of Lavender Quilts, has the uncanny knack for sending sweet little pick-me-ups at just the perfect time!

I also got to spend a little FaceTime with the Panter crew . . . though it's nearly impossible to get them all on the screen at the same time! I usually have to settle for a screen shot of just one at a time!
I'm missing my camp buddy, Sawyer -- we've had some good trail weather here lately, and he loved to ride the golf cart through the camp (and especially down to the creeks) with me! He's getting so tall . . . and for every inch he grows, I think he's losing a tooth!

Ellie came home with me Thursday night for a much needed sleepover  We went to dinner at "Chick-a-lay" and then came home to watch Christmas movies.  It's the evening she asked for -- who am I to deny her?!
She was totally bewildered when I woke up Friday morning with no voice. LOL! As of right now, it's still not returned.  Hopefully before work tomorrow morning I'll find it somewhere!

I did manage to get some handwork in. I finished up the faux-ruched flower piece. Well, it needs a sleeve and a label, but everything else is done.  
This piece was on my UFO list for the year, so it's really nice to have it finished. 

I've also made significant progress in quilting the antique rose topper.  Once I finish the leaves on that rose, I'll have two more roses to do, then I'll quilt a leafy border around the outside (similar to the one I've done on the inside).
This was another of my 2016 UFOs that will be a UFOnomo. Yay!! This will also satisfy my need for some slow stitching today.

My stash report just reflects the 1/2 yard of teapot goodness . . .
And that about wraps me up.  I'll be linking up with Patchwork Times and Kathy's Quilts today -- both blogs are definitely worth checking out; such fun linky parties!!

Have a blessing-filled Sunday . . . and first day of February, tomorrow (what? already?!)! 


Sunday, January 24, 2016

girls guild snow sew . . .

With emphasis on the sew!

I enjoyed another really productive week.  Really, really productive.  But before I get to that, I had some really cute helpers at work on Thursday . . .
Aren't they sweet in their matchy-matchy outfits?  They're both growing so quickly. They love to play with the magnets on the desk, which keeps them entertained so their mama and I can visit for a bit, too!  :)

Thursday evening was guild night, and I'd read on the Fabric Therapy blog that Teresa was considering driving into Huntsville to attend the meeting (she's just moved to Alabama in the past six months or so). I emailed her and suggested that I couldn't make the meeting, but I was having dinner with my Stitcher's group beforehand, and she was welcome to join us and meet a few gals beforehand.
She took me up on the offer, so I got to meet another quilter-blogger-sister! It was fun! If you haven't ever visited her blog, you should do so . . . she's very talented and among other things, she creates the most darling applique blocks!!

I took opportunities to stitch all week long . . . which is a little tough, as cold as it's been, because it takes a while to warm the Nook up to comfortable temps! But I've been determined and it's paid off nicely. Not only did I finish my two January ornaments, but finished an additional two, as well!
I found another 'kit' for a mini yo-yo Christmas tree, but I haven't put it together yet.  Next month I'll definitely try the gingerbread man ornaments.

I also finished two sets of the swap blocks this week . . .
(Just showing one set.) Only fourteen more sets to go! I'm using "The Method" for piecing these nine patches.  It's simple, quick, and easy, and I end up with two perfect blocks -- a negative and a positive -- with each pairing. I can see where this method would be particularly nice when piecing up smaller blocks!

Friday afternoon it started snowing. It was a pretty decent little snowfall, considering we're in the Heart of Dixie!
I had to wear my boots to and from the Nook, so as not to track snow and 'muck' into my room!
Saturday I could leave them on the porch, but Friday evening I had to pull them inside and leave them over the trashcan. Otherwise they'd have been filled with snow when I went to put them back on!

I tackled two UFOs to a near finish.  My antique rose block (which remains unnamed) is in the process of being hand-quilted.
I finished it like I did the twisted Christmas Hexie topper.

And I finally got off my duff and did something with the HST, faux ruched flowers piece. It's unnamed, too. 
It's now back, quilted and in the process of having the binding stitched on! Between this and the other, I'll have my choice of hand-stitching for this afternoon's slow stitching.

I used a touch of stash; between backings and bindings, it was a solid three-quarters of a yard!  I'll nickel and dime that stash on down!
Progress is progress, right?

Linking up this morning with Patchwork Times and Kathy's Quilts.  Have a blessing-filled Sunday and stay warm!!


Monday, January 18, 2016

a review: bronner

Eight years ago, I ached and grieved along with hundreds and thousands of others for the Burgess family, as they mourned the death of their 2-1/2 year old son, Bronner.  Rick Burgess, his dad, is the the co-host of the syndicated Rick and Bubba radio show, a morning show I've listened to for years, along with tons of other people.  The show is particularly popular in the south, but carried all over the U.S.  Anyway, I was so touched by how this family handled themselves during this heart-breaking time in their lives. Rick preached the message, A Father's Heart for his son's funeral and laid out the Gospel in a way that brought many to Christ (and continues to do so).  Sherri, his wife, and Bronner's mom, poured out her thoughts and feelings in her blog -- a blog I know was helpful to my own daughter, when she lost her Everett. This very public family grieved in a manner that honored Christ, and when I learned that Sherri Burgess had written a book, Bronner: A Journey to Understand, I knew I would want to read it.

I was not disappointed.  This book is the outpouring of a mama's heart . . . the desperate desire to understand the crazy 'why' of the loss of a child.  And with beautiful transparency, Sherri walks through her experience.  From the set-up of their idyllic family and life, to the panic-filled moments surrounding Bronner's death, and through the grief, healing, and spiritual growth that's taken place in the years following.

But Bronner is more than just Sherri's story.  It's God's story. How He opened the collective eyes of the Burgess family; how He taught them to walk in faith and trust in a way they'd never had to before. How He burdened Rick and Sherri with the knowledge that there were so many lives that were destined for eternal death unless they came to a saving knowledge of Christ.  It's a story about God's grace and His mercy and His redemption.  It's hard story to read - I cried more times than I can count - but it's also a beautiful story to read. God's sovereignty and love for His people shine through.

Bronner: A Journey to Understand, releases today.  I highly recommend it -- it will change you.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from New Hope
Publishers, as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a
positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in 
accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: 
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

stitch in . . . stash out . . . stash in . . .

I love Saturday stitch-ins with my Stitchers, Etc. group! I hauled my yardage for our block swap over there today, ready to iron and cut. And so I did!
I got all ninety-six 4-1/2" squares cut for those pretty little 9-patch blocks. I have twenty-two weeks before we swap . . . if I do a modest four/five blocks per week, every week, I'll have 'em done with no problem!

Of course, the problem with a stitch-in is that there is apt to be someone who's brought fabric they no longer want/love. And if it's Christmas fabric, my knees go weak (not to mention my resolve).
So while I used 1.25 yards for the swap blocks, I gained 2.5 yards in Christmas prints. Aye yi yi!! There are some specific projects I have in mind for it though, so hopefully it won't hang around for too long! To that end, here's the Week #03 stash report:
Unfortunately I realized today that I bought way too much yardage for the swap blocks in the first place. I purchased 6.5 yards and I really could have managed with half that. *sigh* I won't complain, since I really love the prints (and I may still use it up for the quilt this swap is working toward), but I wish I'd done the math before hitting the shop. That'll learn me!

One of the gals in our group had an EZ3 hand quilting frame that she'd purchased, never used, and didn't want anymore.  She *gifted* it to me!  I was beyond thrilled . . . actually, I was stunned. It's a really beautiful and versatile frame.
I'll have no trouble using it either in the RV (especially since we now have that sweet living room space) or in the Nook . . . but I was a little concerned about storing it. I think I figured out the answer this afternoon:
Right?  What's the point of having pegboard walls if you can't make them do what you need them to do?! It may end up going a little higher up the wall (or on the back wall) . . . I needed to make sure it could do what I thought it could do, first. I have two quilt tops that need finishing . . . not sure which will end up being the first quilt I load into it!

I finished quilting my Twisted Christmas Hexie topper. I *love* it! After I finished all the stitching-in-the-ditches, I decided it needed a little pop.
So I grabbed some of my holographic Sulky thread and outline-stitched around the center poinsettia (in the focal hexie). But how could I do one and not do them all?? Haha! It was well worth it. It sparkles now!
And now that I've figured out how to finish it in a manner that's pleasing to me and doesn't degrade my hexie shapes, I'll do more of these. I love the look, shape and size of this piece, especially with the full hexie in the center of the half pieces.

I can NOT let this month pass by without getting my two ornaments completed. (It would be really pathetic to forgo my challenge/goal/whatever, within the first month).
So today I cut out my little snow fellow. He'll be my slow stitching for tomorrow afternoon! My sister shot me the idea of doing little gingerbread man ornies in wool . . . they were darling and I plan to give them a go next month!

Linking up on Sunday to Patchwork Times, Kathy's Quilts, and as a special bonus, sarah did it!  For sure check out Sarah's blog -- tomorrow is her monthly HeLP for Hexie-aholics linky party *and* it's her BIRTHDAY!  Party over there, for sure (which means, *giveaway*)! Make sure you stop by and sing Happy Birthday!!


Saturday, January 09, 2016

stitcher-rific . . .

I made up that word, "stitcher-rific" . . . it perfectly describes my week!  I was able to take what I started last Sunday and finish it up on Monday . . .
That's a stack of houses!

Then Tuesday, I was able to meet up with my Stitcher's Etc. group for a fun evening of stitching:
This is such a great group of gals!  I so appreciate the camaraderie we share! That night I worked on sorting and grouping all the 'birthday chrysanthemums' I'd received last year.

Thursday I did some more quiet stitching.  Friday I spend getting ready for our first ever Camp MACOBA Special Recognition Banquet.  It was well attended and went well -- I was very pleased and proud of my sweet husband, too!

This morning, we headed over to Casa Merkel to celebrate FOUR YEARS with our sweet little Ellie!
I can hardly believe she is four (or will be tomorrow, the tenth).  Where have the last four years gone?  Joc, as usual, did a great job with the theme (pancakes and pj's) and pulling everything together.  Check out this cake:
Isn't it just darling??!  And it was absolutely delicious, too!  Todd and I grabbed a quick shot with the b-day girl herself . . .
Love that Ellie Pearl!!

Then, this afternoon, I came home and headed into the Nook, where I killed not one, not two, but THREE birds with one stone.  Rather, knocked out three goals with one quilt project!  I've been wracking my brains trying to figure out how to finish this Christmas Hexie UFO.  I liked the idea of finishing it like this hexagon mat, *but* I didn't like how putting it together that way distorted the outside hexie pieces -- by a 1/4".  But I finally had the **BRILLIANT** idea to applique the hexie piece to a piece of muslin.  
Then I put right sides together with my backing (and the batting on the bottom) and stitched all around the edge of the applique, leaving a 3" opening to pull it all through. The result was this . . .
I'm very pleased!  After a trim job and working with my "purple thang" and the iron, it looks pretty durn good!
All that was left was a little bippity-boppity-stitchity . . .
That ladder stitch really is magic when it comes to closing gaps in the seam like that!

Now I'm all set up to do some hand-quilting on this piece and wrap it up . . . my slow Sunday stitching, if you will!
I'll just stitch around the hexie centers with a simple little stitch-in-the-ditch. Nothing elaborate.

Aaaaaand . . . it put a little 'usage' dent in my stash, too!!
Three birds goals! UFO, slow Sunday stitching and stash usage. Yay! That's one stitcher-rific project!

Linking up with Patchwork Times and Kathy's Quilts! Enjoy the weekend!


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

books galore . . .

Whenever there's a new month (rabbit, rabbit), a Bibliophile Files post is sure to turn up! Seeing as how the linky party over at sarah did it! is on the first Tuesday of every month, that is!
A New Year generally equals a new reading challenge, but I decided I didn't want to necessarily go there in 2016.  I'm going to go with the book flow and be all loosey-goosey!

That being said (there's always a caveat, isn't there?!), our church is reading through the Bible together in 2016, with a suggested reading plan, and I am taking *that* challenge! In addition to that, this month I've got the following reads on my 'book plate' . . .

Count It All Joy by Dr. David Jeremiah.  Rather appropriate, don't you think? I've been an admirer of Dr. Jeremiah's works for many years. Though this book is based on the book of Philippians, rather than the specific passage from James that admonishes us to, "count it all joy", I'm still positive that it will prove a worthy and challenging book. This read is for a review, so I'll be sharing my thoughts on it later this month. The title releases on February 1.

I shared that Todd had given me Victoria The Essential Tea Companion: Favorite Recipes for Tea Parties and Celebrations by Kim Waller for Christmas. I'll continue to page through it this month as we prepare for a BIG tea party event next month!

In keeping with the *tea* theme, I've got a new kindle read: Relaxing Over Afternoon Tea (Abbey Cooks Entertain) (Volume 3) by Pamela J. Foster of Downton Abbey Cooks (blog) fame! The book is filled with lovely tidbits and recipes and tea necessities! A great book for musing over a cup of tea!! Downton Abbey fans will love this book (and her blog, too).

And finally, for this month, I will faithfully pour over my January/February TeaTime Magazine. This is my all-time favorite magazine! This month features a story about Downton Abbey, a Valentine's tea party, the history of Bigelow tea (which was an interesting read) and many other fascinating items (as well as loads of beautiful tea ware and china pictures). Another afternoon read to pair with a cup of hot tea!

So, that's enough it for me!  What are you reading this month?  Any reading challenges for the New Year? Be sure to stop by Sarah's blog to see what she and everyone else are reading!!


Saturday, January 02, 2016

new thinking for a new year . . .

Happy New Year!!  A new year always feels so fresh and sparkly . . . a clean slate on which to start over (or press on) . . . a new opportunity to get it right!  But so much for a clean *stash* slate. Between spending time destashing and spending time shopping (and even spending some time stitching) my slate is already showing bigger overall numbers than it did for the whole of 2015!
Ha!!  How's that for a first report?! I really went through all my yardage with an attitude of, "Does it have a purpose . . . does it bring joy?"  If it couldn't be yes to one of those, in the to-go bag it went, to the tune of 48.5 yards. And I was on the lenient side. I think I'll give it a couple of months and then go through it all again. Since I ended the year with an accumulated total of better than 200 yards, it's obvious my stash needed some pruning!

I used up a half of a yard preparing all my EPP 'houses' for the Hexie Birthday Swap. It adds up pretty quickly, eh?  I have all of them (seventeen, including one for me and an extra one for Sarah) for the year cut and ready to be basted together (with the exception of several ladies who haven't made a color/fabric choice yet) . . .
And a lonely little Chrysanthemum for a late-comer to the club. Between those and this . . .
my poor, neglected POTC block, I should have enough to keep my stitching on a slow Sunday afternoon!

And then the purchase . . . I purchased more fabric in the space of one day at the New Year's Day sale at Patches & Stitches, than I purchased in the entire of 2015. CRAZY! But, to my credit, it's got a specific purpose! Our Stitcher's group is doing a block swap.  Six blocks (a 3.5" nine-patch) for sixteen ladies.  So 96 blocks (by June)! Here's the quilt the blocks are for . . . 
It's really lovely, but I'm not convinced I'll be using my blocks for that particular look. We're using all Civil War fabrics and a cream.  Here's what I picked up for my offerings:
Isn't that gorgeous??? Oh yeah, and those are some beads I picked up for 'snowflakes'! But back to that fabric.  I just loooooove it!!
Yup, it'll be fun playing with this stuff! The nice thing about going to the sale with a bunch of gals from the Stitcher's group . . . we didn't get the same fabrics -- lots of variety -- spice of life.  ;)

I've challenged myself in several quilty/crafty ways for 2016. For one thing, I've got way too many UFOs hanging around. Most are pieced and just need to be backed and quilted, but I've got an older one where the piecing needs to be finished. Anyway, I'm tired of them taking up space. So when I saw that All People Quilt was sponsoring a UFO Challenge, I jumped right on it! I printed and filled out my list of UFOs . . .
On January 1, I hopped over to the APQ webpage to see which number I'd be working on. Would you believe it?
Number 2! LOL! My Christmas Hexie Topper. I didn't realize how old this was.
Hmmmm.  The reason this is unfinished is because I've never determined exactly what I wanted to do with it! Any ideas?! Hahahaha! If this particular challenge is of interest to you, you can check it out HERE

My second goal is to complete a very modest two Christmas ornaments per month, for a total of 24 by the time next Christmas rolls around.  
I loved the wool snowman and the Christmas tree, so for January, I'll stick to one of each of them! This way, when I'm wanting to attach a little something handmade to a special gift, it's already crafted, and I don't feel the pressure of *having* to stitch into the wee hours to have something ready.

My third goal is to reduce my stash this year, in a significant way (hopefully a combination of use and gifting away anything I don't find appealing anymore) -- and not to purchase *anything* that doesn't have a specific purpose! 

And finally, I want to keep my Nook in better order! I spent the better part of a day cleaning/tidying/tossing so I could sit down and create. I am definitely one who needs order! And the Nook was rather chaotic (it's a small space -- it doesn't take much)!
So, what about you?  Any specific quilting/stitching/crafting goals for 2016?

I'll be linking up to Patchwork Times and Kathy's Quilts!  Enjoy the remainder of the weekend!!