Monday, December 31, 2012

The last few

With today being the end of 2012, I don't think I will make my challenge of 100 more quilts from the start of school to now.  These are 62 and 63.  I am going to try and get at least 2 more done today, but who knows what the day will bring.  It is so nice being a teacher and having time off, but I find my days are spent on the computer or piddling around not getting much done.  It is really nice having the time every day to get my walk in.  Hubby and I walk about an hour every day and go between 2.5 and 4 miles a day, depending on how cold it is outside and how my legs are feeling.  My left knee and ankle have been giving me troubles and i took a couple days off last week which really helped.

Tonight is Family Game Night, my 2nd daughter's favorite time of year.  She LOVES to play games with the family.  The rest of us oblige her a couple times a year. We always enjoy ourselves once we get started and stay up until midnight and then jump into the New Year off the couch.  Then we run outside and bang pots and pans and yell and scream and come back inside and go to bed :)  I know, crazy right?

Goals for the New Year

Wow, this year went fast!  I keep saying that and yet every year, can't believe another year has gone again.  But before this year is completely over, let me put into writing my goals for 2013

1.  Quilt at least 250 quilt tops
2. Sew together at least 25 tops, start to finish
3. Practice using my sit down machine and walking foot to quilt.  At least 12 quilts done on the sit down machine.  (one per month)
4. 6 Quilts of Valor quilts (to be sent to Alycia in Colorado) and 6 Quilts of Valor to be given locally to the returning wounded at Travis Air Force Base.

1. Make snowflakes for family members for Christmas next year.  Don't wait until December to get started!
2. Compile a list of Free Embroidery designs
3. Make at least one quilt with embroidery blocks
4. Learn to digitize my own embroidery designs using a Design software program. (still haven't picked one yet, but that will happen in the next couple of days)

1. Walk 1,000 miles (average 2.7 miles a day)
2. Enter at least 1 5K

1. Use up more fabric than I bring in the house.  This is harder than it sounds when I get a call at least once a month to take someone's whole stash.  Yes, I have a lot of fabric, but with good friends and a few sew days, I think this will be possible.
2. Make more sewn baby hats.  Have way too much knit fabric that isn't doing anyone any good in buckets in the shed.
3. Keep organizing the fabric and cutting it into kits.  I have lots of people wanting to help out, but not always having kits on hand slows things down a lot.

Sounds like a lot?  I have a whole year to get it all done!  It will be fun to come back next year and see what I've accomplished.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's snowing!

 Well, not real snow, but I finally got my embroidery machine to cooperate and let me make some snowflakes.  I wanted to make and send some to Sandy Hook Elementary, their PTA was asking for snowflakes to decorate the new school when the children return in January, but they have been so overwhelmed, they have asked everyone to please stop sending things.  Seems like they had a blizzard of paper, crochet, knit, embroidered and every other kind of snowflake you can imagine.  They had them come from many different countries and I know the kids will feel the love that went into making them all when they get back.

To make my snowflake, first I put Aqua Magic by inspira into my hoop and picked out a snowflake design.  I used double layer of the water soluble fusable webbing.  I got it at a sewing shop that is inside of JoAnn's.  They sell Viking sewing machines and embroidery machines and it was bout $10 for a 5 yard (12inch wide) roll.

Then, I picked out a design and let the machine do its magic.  I picked out two different snowflakes, a small one that took about 15 minutes and a big one that took about 45 minutes.

 After stitching, I cut the extra webbing off.  I hope to learn how to make these without using up so much and wasting. I will save the extra pieces for smaller projects.  Or, maybe I can overlap and sew the extra pieces together like you do with batting scraps.
 Drop the snowflake in a bowl of warm water and in just a couple of seconds, the fusable is gone!
 Pull it out and if it is too sticky, rinse it again, but you want a little of the starch to stay on the snowflake to keep it stiff for hanging on the tree.
 Here's the big one going into the warm water bath.

 Ready to come out?
I laid mine on a towel to dry.  Then, I will hang them either with fishing line or Christmas tree hangers.  I think I might make a blizzard and hang them all over the house.  Out here in Northern California, we rarely get snow.  Like 2 times in the 20 years I've lived here.  And it doesn't stick when it hits the ground :(  But we can drive an hour and get to the snow or the beach.  I like it!

real babies and quilts

I just LOVE to see when a real person is using one of the quilts my group makes. It lights a fire under me to get busy making more!  Out of the hundreds of quilts my group makes every year, we may see one or two of them being used.  I know the rest are, but what a sweet treat to see a cute baby and a cute quilt together in the same picture.

These twins are part of a program called Safe Families.  Our church participates and one day, when my kids are gone, I hope to be able to help out as well.  The way Safe Families works is when a parent or parents are unable to care for their children for a short amount of time (like going through drug rehab, having surgery, finding housing or a short jail stay) the kids go into a Safe Families home instead of the foster system.  No government money is used to care for these little guys and our whole church helps out with food, clothing, diapers and whatever else a child might need for the time they are with the family.  Bonds are made and a support system is formed between the struggling family and the Safe Family.

Here's a link in case you are interested in bringing Safe Families to your church.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

new toy learning curve

When I first got my quilting machine, I had days where I wanted to pull my hair out.  It was so frustrating because the thread kept breaking and shredding.  Then, I figured out the trouble and have't looked back since.  Now, when there is a problem, I can usually fix it in 5 minutes and I'm off again.  Most of the time there is a burr on the quilting foot and a quick change of that puts me back in business.

Well, I got my new to me Brother pe 770 embroidery machine and I feel like I'm back at square one.  Because I purchased it used from a private seller, there were no lessons and while I feel like I'm a pretty good do it myself kind of girl, I'm at the hair pulling stage again.

I can't get the snowflakes to work with just the water soluble stabilizer.  Supposedly you sew them, then wash away the stabilizer and have the free form lace to hang from the Christmas tree.  I've tried two different stabilizers and both of them just poked holes and made a tangled mess of thread.

I won't give up though because one day embroidery will be as easy as sewing, quilting, crocheting and knitting.  Maybe even as easy as walking and talking :)

Cutting borders

I'm probably unusual in that I have about 100 quilt tops waiting to be quilted.  Most were made by other people for Binky Patrol.  Seems the faster I quilt, the faster by little Binky Buddies make the tops and I don't think I will ever catch up :)  I'm definitely not complaining, there is always something to work on and a quilt top for every mood.

But, sometimes I get stuck.  I don't have a backing piece big enough, or one that matches, eventhough I have about 10 zillion yards of fabric.  Or, the quilt is just a little too small for the backing piece and I figure since I have the backing already, why not make the quilt a little bigger by adding a border?  But, then I have to dig through the fabric to find something to match and go cut it  and then sew it onto the quilt top and by then, I'm not really in the mood to quilt.

So what I've started doing is pulling fabrics which are too small for a backing, but are still nice fabrics and cutting them into 5 inch strips.  I try to pull from every color I have and try to get at least 6 strips out of each piece.  Sometimes I have to cut the borders smaller than 5 inches to get the 6 strips and that's ok too.  Then, I have the borders for many, many quilts cut and ready to go when the mood strikes.  Yesterday I sewed on 3 borders and quilted 2 quilts.  Much easier to do since the borders were already cut.

This morning I am working on cutting more borders while I wait to take my oldest to the airport.  She is off to another adventure, back to her 'home' for a day and then off to Florida to visit her boyfriend and his family.  I'm so jealous that she gets to go somewhere warm.  We live in California and it should be in the 60's this time of year, but the temps can't seem to make it out of the 40-50's.  It gets really cold when you are walking in those temps.  I know, all of you people in the snow are laughing, wishing you had it so good. :)

If I get my sewing room cleaned out, you can come over!  We could have a sew day instead of a snow day. But, cleaning out the sewing room may take a few years ;)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Family Photos 2012

 In order to get the good ones, you have to take a bunch.  With 4 kids, there is always someone blinking or making a funny face.  Usually it is one of the boys!

Green squares

My friend Rebecca made this one too.  These quilts finish about 58 inches square.  Big enough for a big kid (or adult) to cuddle under but not too big to fit on my quilting frame.  They quilt up really fast too.  I love Rebecca's eye for color.  I just give her a big box of pre cut squares and she picks out ones that go well together.

Big Red

I just LOVE this quilt.  My friend Rebecca sewed the top, I added the border and quilted it today.  Red is my favorite color and her use and placement of the scrappy squares just makes this quilt look so great!  I'm so glad to have friends who love to sew.  Rebecca is only 20 and I've already got her hooked on quilting :)

my old friend is back

Mr. Migraine came to visit today and is really sucking the life out of me :(  I guess it is good I haven't had one in almost 4 weeks since my husband and I have started walking.  I will take that as a victory.  My weight hasn't changed in a month of walking an hour a day, but I do believe cutting out sweets like cookies and cake (I only had two bites of chocolate cake on my birthday!) have really helped with the migraines.

I'm also hoping that with all of this walking some of the fat on my butt has dissolved and new muscle is growing.  I'm hoping that my pants will fit differently on Jan 7 when I have to go back to school.  I am NOT defined by the number on the scale.  I keep telling myself that and I think it is finally starting to sink in.

Yesterday my husband ,daughter and I went walking/hiking at a nearby walking trail.  There is a very steep uphill/downhill section and I am happy to say I made it up the hill without any help!  I was breathing really hard and thought I was going to die, but didn't.  I actually enjoy pushing myself to do harder things :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

BIG super scrappy quilt

Off this morninng to the Goodwill Outlet in Sacramento with my girls for some after Christmas thrifting.  I love digging through the clothes!  Call me crazy :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Finally here

My new to me embroidery machine got here today after a very long trip from Indiana.  I guess with Christmas mail and winter storms, that was to be expected.

I wanted an embroidery machine so I could make labels for my quilts and make patches for my husband's high school tennis team.  We spend $10 a patch and after playing with my machine, I know I will be able to make them much cheaper.  So many things to learn about this new hobby.  This is the first successful snowflake I made today.  I will get a small embroidery hoop and turn it into a Christmas tree ornament.

It takes a long time to stitch out and the thread broke about a dozen times.  I think I need different thread.  I remember when I first got my quilting machine and it kept shredding the thread until I finally found some threads it liked.

I know this is going to be a fun and addictive new hobby.  And the best part will be that I can start up the machine and do some sewing or quilting and then check on it when it beeps at me.  It is mesmerizing to watch though!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Love the scrappy ones

Another big scrappy quilt made by Indiana in San Francisco.  She amazes me at what she can do with a whole bunch of scraps.

yoga mat

I'm working on this yoga mat for my daughter #2.  The strips are 2 1/2, 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 inches.  The mat will finish 28 inches by 68 inches.  I'm going to get a no slip mat or two like you put under a rug for her to lay on the floor to keep the mat from slipping out from under her when she does her poses.  I love the quilting on it, just ripples, but enough to keep the mat thin.  I don't do yoga so I hope I got everything right.  She picked out the fabrics, so even if it doesn't work as a yoga mat, she can use it on the foot of her bed :)

I was doing so well

I thought I had my migraines under control.  I haven't had a major one in about 3 weeks.  But then, today happened.

Hubby and I went for a long walk after I went grocery shopping.  Then, came home and had some lunch and the migraine just got worse and worse.  Took a little nap and woke up feeling worse.

Oh, well, at least  had a few weeks of feeling better.  I hope that my vacation time isn't spent dealing with migraines.  I do seem to do better when I'm working.  I have no idea why that it.

But when I feel terrible, I do like to quilt.  Got two more done today.  Two more closer to goal.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vacation quilting

School's out and it is time to get busy quilting!  I don't think I will make my goal of 100 quilts, but I am hoping to get at least 15 quilts done while on vacation.  If only I had kept up and completed my goal, I would have a bit more room (for more quilt tops of course)

This is quilt number 850 since getting my Janome 1600DB P.  I think that was a pretty good choice 4 years ago.  The machine has served me well.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End is Here!

The end of school before break that is!  Since my birthday is tomorrow, I'm so glad not to have to work that day.  Been watching the news as much of the world has already entered 12/21/12 and I guess we must be safe.  No countries have disappeared, no power outages and no giant comets crashing into the earth.

My husband said he heard on the news that NASA will be so happy when the day is over.  They are receiving hundreds of thousands of calls every day to find out if 'this is it'.

This week at our staff meeting, I was awarded the Teacher of the Month for November.  There is a church that uses our school on Sundays and they sponsored the award.  The principal chose the winners.  My friend who teaches Drama got the other award.  Along with the award was a check for $100.  I have a really hard time spending money on myself, but today went to the shoe store (Fleet Feet) and got a new pair of running shoes.

A few days ago, my husband and I tried jog-walking.  We walked for about 5 minutes and then ran 30 seconds.  We did that for about 3 miles and at the end my knees hurt so very badly.  From then on, I could barely walk because of the pain in my knees and ankle.  My friends who run told me it was probably my shoes.  They looked fine to me, but the lady at the shoe store said they wear out after about a year.  The foam sole loses its springy-ness.

$110 later, I have new shoes and am hoping it helps with the knee pain.  We went for a 3 mile walk again today and so far, the knees feel the best they have felt in 4 days.  I guess you do need the proper tool for the job.

We plan to walk 1,000 miles next year and run a couple of 5K's.  If you asked me 2 months ago if I would ever do that, I would have told you that you are crazy.  But, my migraines are better since cutting back on sweets and since I started walking.  Now if only the weight would come off so I could wear my jeans again... :)

My oldest came home today and just made it through Chicago before the snow storm shut down the airport. So glad to have her home.  We plan on doing some more thrift shopping and I will be looking for running clothes.  Right now I'm walking in jeans :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finals week

Although I have a ton of grading to do, I have a bit more time this week since it is finals week.  I only have one class a day to monitor and hope to get some of my grading done while the kids work.  I'm always hopeful for that, but it rarely happens.

I get to go in late today and had some extra time to quilt and update the blog.  So looking forward to Thursday when my oldest comes home for a week!  I wish I could visit my parents as often as she visits me.  Too bad I can't pause my life for a week and just take a break.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

one more tonight

Long walk with hubby today, running my son everywhere and a trip to JoAnn's kept me busy today so I haven't had much time for myself, but managed to get one more quilted tonight before watching Survivor and heading to bed for my beauty rest.

I should be grading papers

But instead I'm quilting again.  I sent off 24 quilts yesterday for the families in Connecticut and have an empty bucket.  I called my binding friend yesterday and she came over right away to pick up about a dozen quilts that need binding.  It is so nice to have quilts on hand, ready to go when they are needed most.

I read on the internet that Project Linus is sending or has sent 700 blankets already.  There are 600-700 students at the school.  Binky Patrol is planning on around 300.  Every child that had to experience this tragedy will be covered by a tangible hug in the form of a quilt or blanket.  It is nice to be able to help out.  Love in action.

The papers will be there all week.  They don't demand as much attention as my quilting.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ready for Christmas

At least we finally have our tree.  Still needing to decorate it, wrap the presents and welcome my oldest home from Grad School, but I'm ready, oh, so ready.

One more week of school (finals) and then my birthday and Christmas.

I sent out two boxes of quilts today for the Connecticut tragedy victims.  I wish it wan't so expensive to ship them all the way across the country or I could send more.  The post office was crazy this morning so we went to the UPS store and sent them parcel post from there.  I know they tack on a little bit extra to the price (they have to make money too) but wow!  I may need to get a second job just to afford postage :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Extreme sports?

I think I might have a stress fracture in my thumb.  Could be I slept on it funny and twisted it backwards, or maybe it is from too much crocheting.  I was never one to do things in moderation.  I blew my shoulder out quilting last summer and now this?  I guess I should do a little of this and a little of that instead of overloading on just one hobby.

beautiful morning

too bad my phone camera doesn't take better pictures.  This morning's sunrise is so gorgeous!  Looking forward to a great day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Journey of 1,000 miles

The saying goes, a journey of one thousand miles begins with just one step.  As December comes to a close and another year is almost over, I begin to think about resolutions for the new year.  I've wanted to learn to applique for a while now and this year is the year I'm at least going to give it a try.  I mean, how hard can it be?  I have my Accuquilt Go cutter to cut the shapes and so many cute quilts that I'd love to make including a Sunbonnet Sue that my oldest got for me about 4 years ago.  The pieces sit patiently waiting for their turn.  I think they have aged long enough.

While I have done quite a bit of quilting this year, my goal each year is to do more.  I have been too tired and worn out lately to get much quilting done, but when I do get a chance, it makes me feel good.

My son's teacher adopted two senior citizens who live in a local rest home and who do not have family to visit them.  The kids made cards and I offered a couple of quilts.  It was nice having the quilts finished and ready to go when the need arose.  The teacher said the kids loved the quilts and she was impressed with my skills. :)  Nice to get a little kudos every once in a while.  Most of the time, the quilts are given and nothing is heard about who got them or if they liked them.  I just have to trust they made it to where they were needed most.

I also have a goal of walking 1,000 miles in 2013.  My husband and I have walked every day for the last week anywhere between 2.5 and 4 miles a day.  That's only 19.2 miles a week or 2.74 miles a day.  There will be a few days we can't walk, but once you make up your mind that exercise is good for you and you have a lot to talk about, the walking is pretty easy to do.  My back has been hurting lately, so I have to build in some rest days along the way but I think it is an achievable goal.  We will see how I feel in January when it is raining all the time or so cold you can see your breath :)

Another thing I'd like to do is make at least 500 baby hats.  I have yarn coming out of my ears and baby hats take little thinking powers.  I've found some really cute patterns on the internet and have a place to donate them when I finish.  That way I don't feel like I'm wasting time watching TV.  Plus, if the hands are busy, they can't be snacking.  That will help with the weight loss that will help me get back into the new jeans I bought over the summer :)

Have you started thinking about what your goals are for the coming year?  It is always good to set them high and even if I don't reach them all, I will be motivated to do something rather than just sit around.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I actually quilted something!

In my efforts to clean up the sewing room, I came across the blocks for this quilt and rather than put them away, decided to sew them together into a top.  Then, I figured as long as I had the top done, I might as well quilt it.  I even took it a step further and put the binding on it myself!  What is this world coming to?  Me?  Quilting again?

It will be sent out in the mail tomorrow.  It is going to a die-hard Dolphin's fan for Christmas.  Hope he likes it.

Dr Who fans?

My daughter asked me to make a Tardis scarf for her friend for her birthday.  Her birthday is on Christmas, so I had to get busy.  The scarf gives the hint of being the police box without screaming "I'm a Dr. Who Geek!"  I hope my daughter's friend likes it.  And of course, my little guy had to get in the picture :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Extra motivation

Over the Thanksgiving break my husband announced he had reached another weight loss goal.  He was so proud, until I said, "Hey, you weigh less than I do now!"

I started the new medication for my migraines and one of the many side effects is increased appetite and weight gain.  I asked my doctor about it a couple months ago and he said he thought that my body was just adjusting to the meds and to keep exercising.

Well, I have been walking and walking and my weight keeps going up.  So I cut out 99% of all sweets and my weight keeps going up.  I've gained 22 pounds since going on this medication over the summer.  I'd have to double check, but it is about a pound a week!  At this rate, I will gain more than 50 pounds in a year.

My husband keeps telling me that if I keep exercising and keep not eating sweets the weight will come off.  That's what he did and he has lost more than 22 pounds!  I asked him if from now on he could lose it somewhere that I couldn't find it please?

What do I do?  Stay on the medication and keep gaining weight but have fewer migraines (only 3 last week) or try something new, possibly lose the weight but possibly get the migraines back every day?

Overall, since gaining the weight, I now have the motivation to exercise, so in the long run, even if the weight doesn't come off, I will be healthier.  I guess that's what is most important.  I better start shopping for bigger pants!