Category Archives: Everyday Life

Let Me Introduce You To….

The Sowers of Jireh.  A friend of mine introduced me to the group a little while ago.  She brought in some of their amazing products and told the story of how they began and the work they are doing.

The Sowers of Jireh began October 2011 in San Vicente, El Salvador by a group of determined young Calgarians. It started with a dream of starting a sewing centre where women could come and learn a skill, or use one they already had. This in turn would help them support their families. Even more, it would give them hope, confidence and a chance at a better life.

Is Sowers a misprint? Nope. Just a play on words. Jesus tells a story about a sower in the Bible. As he sowed his seeds, some fell on rocks, some fell in the ditch, some among thorns and some in rich fertile soil. We, like the sower, are trying to plant and cultivate ideas, dreams and skills among some impoverished people in El Salvador so that they can grow and flourish.

They have some terrific products on their website like their quilts, bracelets, silk screen items and some fun coasters.  You can even design your own quilt.  They give you plenty of customization options with their products.  You can even design your own shirt to silk screen.

Please check them out.  They are making some great things and doing some amazing work.

 

 

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2013 in review

I can’t believe that the year is over and we are just beginning 2014. Honestly, where did the time go?

2013 seemed to be jammed packed this year.  It seems like it was only yesterday that I was ill with morning….all day sickness, that Nate helped supervise a junior high ski trip, that I somehow was getting bigger and bigger daily, we completed our nursery and got ready for our new arrival and taught my last day – for a while.

Then Ella came in June and everything changed.  It feels like our lives finally got interesting once she arrived and there has not been a dull moment since and makes us wonder what we did with our time before.  Her laugher, her smile, those cheeks, the sounds she makes, and her wiggles when she gets excited.  She has been a blessing to us.

I worked through out the year on only a few quilts and spent quite a bit of time hand stitching or my newest in front of the tv activity – crocheting.  Unfortunately, those projects aren’t finished yet so I don’t have anything to show you.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for visiting my little blog.  I love to read your comments and get excited when you “like” a post.  I am so grateful and humbled by those of you who follow me and thank you very much for that.

Every year WordPress.com puts out these stat reports and I must admit I enjoy reading them and seeing them because I am often floored by how many people visit and from all over the world.  Nigeria, Indonesia, Argentina?  Really?  Wow – thank you so much.

Again, all I can say is thank you so much.  For following me, for leaving your input, for your kind words, your likes and being part of my life.

Hope you all have a blessed new year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Crafting is a Sport

How many of you have heard something to the affect of, “Oh, you are JUST crafting, well I am ___________ (insert sport/athletic event/physical activity).”  Trying to make you feel as though you are doing something, well,  below what they are doing?  Well I have.  And I am here to set the record straight.

CRAFTING IS A SPORT. 

Myself, I am a quilter/sewist/a new crocheter.  I have dabbled in jewellery making, knitting and done some serious scrap booking, but I take my quilting/sewing and crocheting seriously right now so my examples will be based on them.

As I said CRAFTING is a SPORT.  According to the dictionary the definition of a sport is

“an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

Well come on people, crafting totally involves skill.  You’ve seen people’s quilts and think, “how did they get the points so perfect,” or “look at that free motion quilting,” or “really? that is hand quilted”.  Or people’s crocheted works – I still marvel after the crocheted Sheldon Cooper  I saw.  Those all takes skill.  What about  people who make beautiful jewellery?  Or scrapbook pages?  My friend Michelle and Paula are amazing knitters – AH.MAZE.ING.  Painting, clothing making, it all takes skill.

Ok, next part of the definition….competes against each other.  Every guild/club/studio has competitions, if it is viewer’s choice, or meeting a club challenge, or being entered into juried shows where there is a prize – even if it is just bragging rights.    I know ladies who stay up until 3-4am to make sure they have something to enter for the competitions.  There is competition.  And like sports you congratulated the winner and shake their hand, but in your own mind you are totally thinking how the victory should have been YOURS!

Physical exertion?  Have you ever hauled around a king sized quilt with about 1000 safety pins in a domestic sewing machine with only 6-7″ throat space between your needle and the machine?  Then you know all about physical exertion.  Aching shoulders, tired arms, tension across your neck for hours on end- physical exertion.   What about basting that king size quilt?  Huddled over it, feet getting sore, back aching, fingers past the point of no return then you have felt the burn.  Or the tension in your wrist from cutting out little paper flowers for scrap booking and all the glueing.

What about injuries?  They are totally in crafting as well.  There is blood from needles being stabbed in your fingers, or pins when it comes to basting.  There are scissor mishaps too.  I’ve seen people get attacked by their sewing machine needles when one breaks or when it runs over their finger.  There has also been those dreadful pictures of a misguided rotary cutter and fingers….oh I shudder just thinking about that and all those stitches.  And I’ll be honest with you, I think I just caused myself tennis elbow from all the crocheting and hand stitching I’ve been doing.  And what will I do to fix it?  Maybe a brace, a regiment of icing and physio?  Will I stop?  NO WAY!  Because if Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) can play through his injuries and still win – then so can I.

CRAFTING IS A SPORT, plain and simple!

 

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Quilt Retreat at Paula’s

This last week was the annual Fall quilt retreat in Sundre.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to go.  There was many reasons that made me lean towards not attending, but Ella was my biggest.  I just couldn’t leave her behind.  I couldn’t bear to not see her wake up in the morning or at night time or be near her.

I shared my fear with Nate and he suggested I stay home and have my own quilt retreat to give me a little break and relaxation but where I could still be close to Ella.  I shared my plan with my friend Paula who thought it was a great idea and decided that it should be at her house.  It was close to home, about 5 minutes away, and if there was a problem with Ella it would be easy for me to run home and quickly.

We met up on Friday afternoon, as my mom came over to spend some time with Ella, and got started.   Paula got right to cutting a fat quarter quilt in flannel and I went to work on my Trip Around the World project (sorry no pictures till June) and some Swoon blocks. We visited, and pieced/cut, ate some fab food, and stayed up really late – well really late for us.

We started early on Saturday too.  I finished my Swoon blocks, though it seems my staying up caused some problems  when assembling one of them.  When in the swing of things I can do one in about an hour – we timed it.

I also started a project that I’ve carried with me for 2 years now.  Windy Day was a Moda Bakeshop project that I loved. Though there were some complications that I didn’t anticipate. I’m not sure if it was me and the instructions or the instructions and me.  But I’m happy with the outcome.

I also finally got started on my birthday project, Tula Pink’s Anchors Aweigh.  Honestly I was saving that quilt for quilt retreat.  I was able to complete 5 rows.  Row 1-4 is shown below and I have row 8 complete as well.  It was a lot of work, each row has subsections in it that you assemble to complete the row.  It was a like a puzzle and I worked hard and making sure all my little squares lined up.

We had a wonderful time, a truly wonderful time.  We sipped tea, watched the snow fall, visited, laughed, ate lovely food, were cozy with the fire place going, listened to jazz, and shared time together.

I can’t wait till we go it again.

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Where did October go?

Seriously, where did October go?  My last post was in the middle of October and I haven’t been writing since.  Its not that I haven’t been doing things that I wanted to share, but I’ve been so busy doing those things that I haven’t had the time to write.

October was a touch busy.  In the guild that I belong to, The Flying Needles Quilt Guild, I was preparing for a demo that I had to present.  Reading and re-reading my demo notes and preparing my demo samples and trying to stay within my 20 minute time limit – self inflicted so I didn’t ramble on – it happens – look its happening right now.  Our theme for this year is Quilts Around the World and our big challenge for the year was to create a Trip around the world quilt using a minimum of 4 blocks, setting is up to you, block size is up to you.  I did a demo on the TATW block using that fab tube method.

Ella and I also went and watch Nate run his first 5k race with work.  I thought more people would have come out and cheered them on, but when the race is in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday it is a bit tricky.  But we were there and cheered as every runner and walker went by.

Nate Running

Don’t you think Nate looks too happy to be running a 5 k?  Though this photo was taken within the first 5 minutes of the run – so….

I also learned (again) to crochet.  I learned back when I was young and my Grandma taught me.  I remember making a maroon rug for my doll house.  Since trying it again I’ve crocheted an infinity scarf and two slouchy beanies.

We had Thanksgiving and friend visiting for Teacher’s Convention, a class on how to introduce solids to your baby, and of course Halloween.

Halloween was very fun….only because I got to dress Ella up in a fun ladybug suit and she didn’t mind it at all.

You may think that in this photo her legs are lifted in the air.  They are not, the suit is that puffy.

It was very fun to dress her up and take her around the mall with all the people fawning over her.  She was cute.  Can’t wait till next year – yes I have her costume already :)

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Inner Conflict: part 2

I shared with you the other day about this conflict that I’ve been having with trying to manage my “free time” also known as nap time.  I also shared this statement.

 If there was a project that people I knew were doing I wanted to do it too no matter what the skill level.  I joined every club, swap and group I could find, just to be apart of the group – to be included.

This is also starting to change for me.  I still have this longing to be included, to share the experience of trying to complete a project – the trials and tribulations but…how do I say this….some of the projects don’t quite interest me.  Harsh?  I know – I feel awful for saying it.  Before Ella, yep this again has to do with our new addition, I would participate no matter what.  And you know what?  I have quite a few tops that I think will remain tops only.  I don’t have any real desire right now to finish them, because honestly – where would I put them?  What would I do with them? And if I am being completely honest, I don’t like some of them – but I did them to be part of a group.

Now, I want to work on things that I want to do.  I’ve been hoarding projects for years now.  Ones that I’ve always wanted to do.  I have the pattern and even the fabric but just haven’t done them.  I’ve been working on gifts for other people and those group projects, but haven’t done a lot that are for us.  In fact I’ve been neglecting Nate’s quilt for  A LONG TIME NOW!  And I want to complete it – but those ‘deadlines’ for others seem to dictate the schedule.

I think I’m going to start doing the projects that I WANT TO DO.  I can still be part of a group, by physically being part of it and hearing about the woes and sharing suggestions (if they are needed), but I don’t think I need to work on the same project.

I’m discovering this because the time I have to quilt/sew is short and I would rather spend it doing a project that interests me rather than something that doesn’t really hold my attention and I don’t enjoy doing.

With this all being said – I wonder what I should start first?

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An Inner Conflict

When I started quilting and sewing over 4 years ago (hard to believe it has been this long) I dove in feet first without looking back.  In my spare time I read blogs about different techniques, different styles, designers, fabric lines and people’s adventures while quilting/sewing.  I was able to name a fabric line simply by seeing a small sample of fabric and I had grand plans about the projects I wanted to do.  If there was a project that people I knew were doing I wanted to do it too no matter what the skill level.  I joined every club, swap and group I could find, just to be apart of the group – to be included.

Things are different now.  I had rose colored glasses on when it came to the expectations of life once Ella was born.  I thought for sure I would be able to sew during nap times, in the evening once Nate got home, and on the weekends.  I know I can hear your laughter.  Reality has sure set in now that we have been parents for 4 months.

It is true I can sew during nap times – though that has been difficult as she is only napping for about 40 minutes on a good day.  You might say, “40 minutes that is a good chunk of time.”  You are correct, but that is also the time I have to shower, eat, get laundry started or finished, tidy the house, do the dishes, get ready if we are going out or do a little fitness.  Who cares about eating?  Some days that is the attitude I have.  So what about the housework/dishes/laundry?  True – so what….but how else will they get done?  Go out?  Put a ball cap on and yoga pants – I could, but that is my at home look, sometimes I need a change.  Shower?  Lets not go there.  I have found it rather difficult to squeeze in time.  I still want to quilt which is part of my problem, if I lost my desire as some said I would then this would be a non issue.

Perhaps I could sew while little miss is playing on her mat or jumping in the jolly jumper?  Yep, I could.  But there are two things stopping me.  Number 1: my sewing room is in the basement of our house and I can’t just leave her upstairs while I am down stairs and lugging ALL HER STUFF isn’t always what its cracked up to be.  Number 2: I enjoy watching her play and interacting with her while she plays – I could watch the jolly jumper all day, though I am starting to wonder if my headaches are caused by the motion.  Ever heard of motion sickness from a jolly jumper for a parent?  Me neither, but I might be the first.

I honestly am at a loss of what to do about it sometimes.  I don’t have the heart to give it up, but I don’t have the heart to not be with Ella or Nate either.  Oh the turmoil.

I’ve included a small video of little miss on the jolly jumper – just so you can see why watching her can pull you away from other things – it is just so funny.

PS.  She is much better at the Jolly Jumper now.  This was day 1.

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Thread Catchers

As you may know I enjoy hand stitching/embroidery.  I enjoy it while watching….strike that….listening to the tv (I can’t look up from the stitching yet.  Though I don’t know if anyone can), watching a movie or just chatting with Nate.  The problem with my hand work, embroidery, binding a quilt, or clipping the threads from the quilt is that the thread usually ends up on the floor.  Even though I stack it into a little pile – some how a couple of rouge pieces get free and stick to the carpet equaling another vacuuming job (yuck!).

I’ve been pinning some thread catchers for a while and just haven’t bitten the bullet to make one.  Until recently.  I was reading the latest Better Home and Garden “Quilts and More” magazine and saw that Rachel over at PS i Quilt had made some and by going over to allpeoplequilt.com you could obtain the pattern.  Finally it was my chance to solve the thread on the carpet problem.

It says that you are able to make 2 thread catchers with the 2 fat quarters plus a bit of scrap.  I actually made 3 using 3 fat quarters and there were scraps to spare.

It was a simple little project that really took no time at all.  In fact I did it during Ella’s morning nap so I felt pretty good that I actually finished them.

Now I can leave one at home and use it for my sofa sewing and put one in my sewing basket for when I travel.  And the last one I’m going to give to a friend who often complains about threads on her carpet too.  Hope she likes it.  I can’t wait to make more.  They would make great gifts for my sewing friends.

Here is a little song Nate made up about the thread catchers to the tune of “Three Blind Mice.”

“three little thread catchers, three little thread catchers, see how they stand, see how they stand.  They catch the thread like there is no tomorrow so it doesn’t get on the carpet anymore  Three little thread catchers.”

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Life is Beautiful – Complete!

I have finally completed my Life is Beautiful Quilt.  After 2 years in the making this quilt is finally complete and I couldn’t be happier.  It has been an up and down journey with this quilt (that you can read about here) and now that it is over I am a touch sad to see it go.

I enjoyed stitching these little blocks with their fun designs and their wonderful sayings.

This is BY FAR my favourite block.  It used back stitch, feather stitch, blanket stitch, cross stitch and french knots.  I also think that the stitching on this quilt is some of my very best.  I don’t know why at all.

As I mentioned before this was a BOM put on by my friend Valerie at Pastimes Online.  It is a different colour way than the original and a scheme that I would not normally use – though I really like the way it turned out in the end.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the three different colors of silk that was used as the stitching background.  The first blocks we got were in the cappuccino color and because I like structure and uniformity I just wasn’t sure.  I even contemplated purchasing extra cappuccino silk so I could keep it consistant.  But then I saw how the floss stood out on the white and thought it would work – lost a lot of sleep over nothing it seems (don’t comment Nate).

I enjoyed stitching on the silk and have done it many times after this originally started.  Though the darker the silk the harder it is to see through on a light box to trace.  I found myself retracing the shapes in a thick sharpie just to see them.  The other issue with the silk I found was the grain.  If I had the grain going left to right my silk stayed nice and flat.  If I had the grain go up and down, my stitching pulled the fabric and caused bunches.  Also the pen bleeds a touch – annoying to say the least.

Something else that I found frustrating about this quilt was the Quilt as you Go (QAYG) method that was used.

These were the 63 quilt blocks.  They have been pieced, basted and quilted and then joined together.  To do that you have to add strips to one side, front and back, then attach them to the other block and hand stitch the back.  Do you follow that at all?  I sure didn’t. I hunted around trying to find either a video or a picture tutorial on how to do it.  Luckily, Valerie made a video that was a life saver.  Once I started putting these blocks together I realized I  didn’t enjoy this type of QAYG at all – which slowed me down for sure.

Quilt Deets:

Pattern name: Life is Beautiful by Hugs N’ Kisses
Size: 58″ x 77″
Fabrics: Silk in Cappuccino, Butter and White.  Fabrics from the Lilac Parade Collection

This is a huge accomplishment for me and I am so excited to be done.  And UFO I can cross off the list – now onto the rest of them.

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Kalispell, Montana

Usually we go somewhere during the summer.  The last couple years we have gone to the wonderful islands of Hawaii.  However this summer, with the birth of our girl we decided that this year wasn’t our best year to go.

Instead, we thought that if we did want to go somewhere we would take a smaller trip – somewhere we could drive so we could take our time travelling.  Kalispell, Montana was our chosen destination.  I’ve wanted to travel there for quite a long time, the ladies in my guild often travel there with a tour company and say the quilt stores are terrific.

So off we went.  We left on a Saturday morning at about 9, after dropping off Molly at my friend Paula’s house (where she is spoiled with treats, food, play dates, walks galore and trips to the puppy park).  Our route took us via the Crowsnest Pass right through the Frank Slide site.  Neither of us has ever been so we stopped in and walked around the interpretive centre.  It is a terrific centre and well worth the price of admission.

After a brief stop for lunch in Fernie we were on our way to Kalispell.  It had been a long day travelling so when we finally arrived at our condo (we rented Element 54 on Vacation Rentals by Owner – it was perfect for us. More on that in a moment) we unpacked and relaxed there – Miss E had been in her car seat for a very long time.

The condo we stayed at, Element 54, was in a strange location.  It is tucked away in behind an Ashley Furniture and we nearly missed the turn into it.  Anyways, it has 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, laundry, an ensuite and full bathroom.  It had a nice seating room, and came with all dishes and linens.  It was great and in a location where everything was pretty close.

While we were there we shopped.  We looked for children’s clothes for Miss E, some hunting gear for Nate and some quilting stuff for me. Nate took me to some very interesting hunting/outdoor stores.  I’ve never quite seen anything like them – not in a bad way at all, just interesting and unique.  We also found some wonderful clothes for Miss E – things I haven’t been able to find here in Canada.

But lets get onto the quilt shops.  Our first stop was Jo-Ann’s.  We loaded up the truck and headed out, only to discover that it was a block away – boy did we feel silly.  It was like our Michael’s but with fabric.  They had some nice lines and their fat quarters were only $2.00.  A pretty good deal if you ask me.  I found some great solids in fat quarters – again something I can’t find here. I was hoping to find solid fabrics and for them to be in a fat quarter form – this was perfect.

I also found a couple magazines and those great micron pens that I like to use with my hand embroidery (another great deal – $4/pen, here they are anywhere from $7-12)

I enjoyed shopping there – though I was afraid to get fabric cut because I didn’t know how that whole thing worked.  I kept hearing them announce numbers and that they were ready to cut.

Our next stop was Quilt Gallery.  It was a lovely shop with lovely shop keepers.  I wandered through the rows a few times marvelling at the selection they had and admiring the sample quilts on the wall.  Their fabrics seem to be arranged in more of a color pattern – so if you are looking for red there is a whole section for it.  though they do separate the holiday fabric and solids.  They had some spectacular quilts on display and you were able to peruse through many more that were hanging on racks.  It seems to me that the Quilt Gallery specializes in the Ruth McDowell technique.  And boy is it a neat technique.  They offer classes on it too and some lovely ladies who were working on quilts shared with me how the process worked.  I ended up getting the books and a kit to try my hand at it.  I can’t wait.

The store also had quite a few patterns and books.  Especially if you are looking for Quiltworx – Judy Niemeyer patterns and kits.

We also went to Glacier Quilts.  It is located in Hutton Ranch Plaza.  It too is a lovely store and the shop keepers are also wonderful.  They even offered to watch Miss E while I shopped – but this time I didn’t need that, Nate was there with me.  Glacier Quilts has their fabric arranged in a color order as well.  But they have a separate section for batiks, flannel, children’s and Christmas fabric.  They had quilts hanging from the racks with the patterns close by and in some cases kits too.  I was able to find a book I had been looking for and a jelly roll.

Could I have come out with more?  Um…yes.  But I just couldn’t make up my mind in some instances so I left it.

It was a wonderful trip and we a nice time as a family going about.  If you are in Kalispell, check out the Glacier Quilts or Quilt Gallery – you won’t be disappointed.

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