Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yesterday in the Garden

I didn't get a picture of it all sliced up on the was gone too quickly!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'm always learning something

Whenever I make something--a sweater, a quilt, even dinner--I almost always learn something. Sometimes it's about the process (Use more pins, add less salt); and sometimes it's about myself.

I finished my stash-buster disappearing nine patch quilt today. And I learned a lot.
I learned that I need to use way more pins when I sandwich. Or I need to invest in a can of that spray-baste stuff.
I learned that I'm just going to have to get over the fact that my machine will not free-motion quilt. I reminded myself that I'm usually happiest with simple. And straight lines are simple. And simple can be beautiful.

Wrinkles happen. Whether they're on a quilt or on a face--they're only visible from way up close, and then only if you're really looking for them. When you stand back and take in the whole thing, it's quite lovely.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sew Connected: Catching up

June sped by so quickly, I never posted about Sew Connected! This was a fun one: Sarah didn't send any fabrics. Instead, she sent us straight to our scrap piles--not the stash, the already cut-up, just waiting for something scraps! Our mission: a wonky log cabin house. I ended up making two because I felt like I couldn't "see" the house on my first try (the one on the right). This was fun, and it had me coming up with all sorts of fun plans for all those scraps I have.

For July, Jacquie sent us solids. She posted her inspiration piece--a painting made by her son--and asked us to try our hand at producing something similar in fabric.
The brown strips are 1" cut, so they are 1/2" sewn. That was our only "requirement" for this month. She also asked for no diagonals. This was fun. My block ended at 10.5" square. I tell you, careful and meticulous measuring prior to sewing is not my thing--it if were, the block would have been 12.5". Anyway, this was another fun exercise and a chance to play with some pretty solids in a fun color combo. If you haven't been to Jacquie's blog before, go on over and be amazed at all the beautiful things she has done!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rosettes and ranunculi

If you follow Erin's blog, you've seen her spectacular ranunculus, and you know that she posted a tutorial sometime last week. I read over the tute, and a few days later it was time to make some birthday presents.

I had decided that instead of stitching along the outside of the fabric strip, I would cut it wider and fold it in half. I wanted a finished edge, because I worry about how my t-shirt gifts will hold up after laundering.

This one above was my first attempt. I'm calling them "rosettes" because I forgot to gather it--the "folds" are really from me bunching the fabric as I stitched. Cute, but not quite there.

Here is attempt number two:
It went much more smoothly after I put in the stitching on the unfinished end. I was able to gather the fabric and it pretty much curled itself up! I love sewing on the Moleskines. Something about punching the needle through the cardboard is so satisfying. And this was not as difficult to do on a small t-shirt as I had feared. It went a lot more quickly than my usual applique. Each girl also got a matching pencil case with some pencils and an eraser. Happy birthday, Danielle and Ava!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A day in the garden

I have been doing some crafty things. I'm almost done with my quilt, and I've been making birthday presents again, so I will have crafty things to show you soon. But today, I took the camera with me out to the "garden" (a.k.a. the back yard).

Here are some beautiful beefsteak tomatoes. I go check on the tomatoes almost twice a day to see how many there are and whether they're ever going to turn red! Tom Petty was right--the waiting is the hardest part. I'm trying to be patient. I'm reminding myself that I'll be drowning in tomatoes soon, and I'm looking up recipes in the meantime.
This morning, I captured some little Black-eyed Susans just waking up.And at dinnertime, here were some of their bigger sisters.

Today I bought seeds for lettuce and spinach. I'm going to try planting for a fall harvest. This is a first for us, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sweating my *ss Off

I totally set myself up for this one. We've been having awesome weather the last few weeks. Our power bill was at an all-time-low last month. And last night, I said out loud (fully aware that I was tempting the weather gods, but feeling reckless thanks to a chilled glass of Red Bicyclette), "I can't believe it's July 15th and we haven't turned on the air conditioner all month!"

Yeah. Now it's 82 inside and I just finished moving our huge sectional around...

I'm just not ready to turn the A/C back on--I wanted (foolishly hoped, more like it) to go the whole month without turning it on.

I don't think I'm gonna make it.

Edited to add: I broke down about 20 minutes after publishing this post! I'm much less cranky now that I'm not sweating!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Scenes from Summer

We are settling in nicely to a summer rhythm.
Going to outdoor concerts.

(Next time we'll pack a picnic dinner.)

Going berry picking.
And checking on the tomatoes every day. It won't be long!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Works in Progress

John is posting his WIPs today in hopes that it will spur him on to finish. I figured that was a good idea--plus I haven't had much crafty to show lately, and show and tell is always fun.

I haven't been sewing/knitting as much lately because I've been tearing through library books as fast as I can.
I'm hoping to finish the Inkheart trilogy before the end of summer--the movie is being shown in August at the free movies. I just have to persuade the kids to come with me. They were terrified by the preview. After I finish this, I'm going to read Peter and the Shadow Thieves. It's the second book in that series. Don't despair--I did read two novels by Jane Austen before starting Inkspell--it's not all kiddie lit around here! I tell you, that Mr. Darcy is something else...but I digress.

Here is an unexciting picture of the back of my disappearing nine patch quilt. I decided on straight lines again--my sewing machine does not like to free-motion quilt. I'm having a devil of a time, though. The thread keeps breaking. But when I loosen the tension, I get the loops on the back, and the thread keeps breaking! What kind of thread do you use for quilting? Do any of you have problems with the thread breaking?
I'm hoping to finish this quilt in the next week or so. I'd like it to be our picnic quilt, but it has an awful lot of white on the front--I'm not sure I want to be laundering it all the time...
And I'm finally knitting with normal sized yarn again! After abandoning my own lace shawl, I decided on a stash-buster blanket.
Now my hands will have something to do while we watch Season One of Mad Men.

Monday, July 6, 2009

And now...summer

Hi, all. Thanks so much for the encouraging comments to my last post. Staying positive is by far the way to go, but sometimes I have to vent a little. We're taking a deep breath before we keep on going.

Our weekend was great! Of course, I haven't uploaded any pictures, so you'll have to trust me when I say that we had the best location for viewing fireworks EVER! We were right on the water--we could see the barge where the fireworks were being ignited. And even better (and something we never knew before), we could see that the town of Rumson had the exact same show going on--timed to the music and everything--as Red Bank. It was like a picture-in-picture effect--Red Bank fireworks right on top of us, and down and to the right, Rumson fireworks in miniature!

We had a lovely visit with family. The cousins all stayed up way too late. My sister-in-law could win some prizes with her zucchini--it's going crazy! And we all watched my nephew play some baseball--he had about six games over the course of the weekend. His team finished second in the tournament after a late-inning rally. It was good times.

AND my brother and his special lady friend got engaged!

Employed or not, there is plenty to be happy about (there always has been). There is also lots of laundry to be done (always will be). I'll come back soon with some pictures.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This one hurts. And I knew that if it didn't work out, that it was going to be especially painful...

After weeks of nothing on the job front, Rob had an interview last week. For a position in New Jersey--not just in the state, but in the area where he grew up, where we had moved from four years ago. And the interview went really well. There was talk of salaries, mention of possible relocation packages.

And I knew not to get ahead of myself, not to count my chickens, etc. Yet a quick glance at revealed a house for sale (that looked good!) not a half-mile from his sisters. We are going over to NJ tomorrow, and in my mind, it was going to be a triumphant return. We'd make the big announcement, get his realtor sister looking into houses, spread the news...

And today the call came. They filled the position internally.

And just like I knew it would, this one really hurts.