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WIP Jacob’s Ladder

I’ve been working on the pieces for a Jacob’s Ladder quilt for about a month now here and there. I had just finished all of the scrappy four patches when germs distended on our home. First, the little man got the flu. He lovingly shared it with my mother-in-law and my hubby. I was fortunate to escape the bug. I thought that sanitizing the house and not sharing kisses protected me and while it did from the flu, I caught a nasty head cold that gave me a sinus infection. So for the past week and a half, progress on this top came to a screeching halt and all energy was spent on getting a the house healthy again.

I managed to sneak in a bit of time a few days ago to sew the half square triangles and today, I finally managed to get them pressed and trimmed. I pulled a lot of aqua and teal from my stash to make these. I even cut into a few of my top ten favorite fabrics!

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I was just going to call it a day there but I couldn’t wait to see some of the possible layouts. I don’t have a real design wall, just a cheap flannel backed table cloth that I hang from the open beams. It works for the time being. Making a design wall is pretty low on my priorities at the moment.

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I realized after I had changed the layout again that the bottom middle of this one wasn’t quite right but I hope it’s good enough that you see what I was going for.

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I’d love to hear from you about which layout you like the best. I’m struggling to decide myself and would love some feedback from you guys!

(Sorry if you got this post twice! I’m learning wordpress on my new kindle fire and had a hiccup with some of the pics not showing up!)

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Vortex Purse

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My other sister also received a purse for Christmas this year. I made the panels for this vortex like purse by digging through my strips and using anything that was in the color spectrum. I had very little utility cloth left, so I did some reverse math to make the pattern. Once I had the size decided, I layered the utility cloth with batting and started sewing pieces down. I decided not to free motion over the panel once it was to size because I was concerned that it would distract from the piecing.

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After the PDX Purse fiasco of assembling, I was much more confident in making this. It was still incredibly awkward sewing the top stitch and in some spots, you can really see where I got off track, but I’m happy to say that with each bag I make, it is getting easier and my skills are improving.

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I did a mishmash of two different fabrics for the lining and a solid dark green for the pocket. The purse is only 14″ by 11″ so I didn’t install a snap or a flap for closing it. I also didn’t use duck cloth for the bottom of the bag like I did for the PDX Purse and my Tinkertote. I’m sure it will hold up well for my sister without it, and if it starts to get too worn, it just gives me an excuse to make her another one, right?!

My “Studio”

I am very fortunate to have a space in my house where I’ve set up my sewing stuff. In the past, I’ve used a table in my in-laws basement and before that, I used my dining room table. Both worked at the time but nothing beats having a space in my own house that I don’t have to set up and tear down every night! My basement is unfinished so it lends a certain shall we say, charm to the space.

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Notice the books and bricks my tables are propped up on to make them taller so I don’t injure my back! Even then, they aren’t quite tall enough for cutting or ironing comfortable for long periods of time. A few years ago, I invested in this cart for cutting and ironing.

my cutting/ironing table!

my cutting/ironing table!

I love my ironing mat. I just move my cutting mat to one of the shelves underneath when I’m done with it and unfold the ironing mat! The cart is built for my height (really tall!) and is on wheels so I can move it when I need to. It is one of my favorite tools because cutting fabric isn’t painful anymore! Using it as an ironing table is just icing on the cake.

Fabric storage

Fabric storage or rather fabric and batting explosion

As you can see, my storage method for fabric lends to the messy and disorganized side. I’ll need to invest in some proper cupboards down the road as my stash slowly increases in size. Sometime soon, I also need to reorganize my scraps. I have a little, rolling, plastic bin thingy for smaller scraps. My ideal organization for this set up that I currently have is for anything over a half yard to be on the shelves and then anything smaller in the bins. I just need time to go through everything and refold it. If only we had an extra hour a day, right?!

Thread!

Threads and bobbins

My hubbie got me an amazing drop down sewing table over the summer that we found on craigslist that had this nifty thread storage system I love. My aurfil collection is very slowly growing beyond off white! I love aurifl thread and in the past have only bought it for piecing, but as I practice my free motion skills, I’ve been getting colors for certain projects!

My baby

The machine in all her old glory

And here is the machine behind the projects! She was given to me by my mother-in-law barely used. I haven’t named her yet, but I will in time. She is a great work horse of a machine. She also free motions like a champ! I wished that I had some newer features on her like needle down or an automatic thread cutter. Oh well, things to dream about for when I buy a new machine in the long off future! I can’t really complain too much because this is an amazing machine for my skills to grow on and I am so grateful to have been given it!

As you can see in these pictures there are some unusual items in the basement. A spare bee hive in case our hive swarms in the spring, patchy concrete walls and lots of extension cords. Just your typical unfinished basement turned quilting studio! I’d love to have a design wall, but the ceiling is pretty short, and I’m not sure if it is worth the hassle to figure out how to hang it on the foundation. I am dreading the day that we go full speed ahead on finishing the basement. Eventually we want our master bedroom and bathroom down there and my sewing studio in our current bedroom. I’ll have to move my sewing items to my in-laws house while that’s happening as there is no other space to set up in my very small house. Thankfully, we aren’t going to be starting that for a while and I can enjoy having my space in my own house. I’ll leave you today with an image that I see often while I am quilting, my son peeking through a hole in the ceiling, calling for me to come and say hi to him.

Hi Mom!

Hi Mom!

Have a great day everyone!

Pumpkin Pie!

My little man spied a sugar pumpkin at the grocery store this morning and sweetly asked me if we could make a pumpkin pie today. How can I resist? As we got the weeks groceries, I talked with him about how to roast a pumpkin and what we needed for the pie. Normally, I would make a crust from scratch, but I only have one day off this week with a crazy workload so I took pity on myself and bought one. We got home and once the food was put away, I sat my boy on the counter and used my clever to halve the pumpkin. He was really excited to see the seeds, so I saved them for roasting once the pie was done.
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I roasted my pumpkin for about 35 minutes. It was a small one, so if yours is bigger, you might need longer. Just stick a fork in it. When there is little resistance, it’s done. Cool it a bit on the counter so you can handle it, and scrap the flesh into a food processor. Your puree should be stiff, and silky. Water content can vary between the varieties. Do not worry if yours looks a little thinner or a bit watery, just put it in a fine mesh strainer or jelly bag and squeeze the water out until it looks stiff.

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At this point, my man lost interest and didn’t want to help mix the filling together. The fact that he is interested at all in baking is pretty exciting for me, so I let him play with his legos while I mixed it together. My pumpkin wasn’t as smooth as I thought it was, so I poured it through a fine strainer as I filled the pies.  Into the oven they go!

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Now the trick will be letting them cool with out small hands dipping into them! When I was a kid, I was notorious for sampling the pies before dinner! A little bit of streusel here, a swipe there. I thought I was so clever, but my mom always knew and would scold me. We’ll see if it’s genetic!

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While buying the crust rather than making it was a time/sanity saver, I never have liked the look of it. The stores supply of shells were all cracked in places. It didn’t look as bad as they turned out! Of well.

On a side note, my kitchen has TERRIBLE lighting. I have two windows at opposite ends and crappy overheads. You can practically see when there was sun and when it was raining. I hope you stick with me as I figure out how to overcome the challenges I face when photographing food!

Pumpkin Pie

16 ounces of fresh pumpkin puree (or one 15 ounce can, I won’t begrudge you)

1 cup sugar

2 ea eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ea 12 ounce can evaporated milk

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare your pie crust however you choose by either buying one, or making one. Preheat your oven 375 degrees. Whisk the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, spices and salt together until  smooth. Stir in the milk and vanilla. If your pumpkin isn’t totally smooth, you can pour it through a fine strainer then into your pans. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until it jiggles like jello. It is ok if the center looks a little wet. There is some carry over cooking that happens, but the middle must jiggle and not slosh!

Hope you enjoy!

 

Honey Harvest 2013!

015Despite all of the swarming we had in the spring, our hive was productive enough for us to harvest honey! We are very excited to have gotten any this year. In the spring, the population in the hive was incredibly small by the time all four swarms happened, then the queen that was left was very aggressive. We’d be in the backyard several feet away from the hive and have bees buzz our heads trying to get us to move even farther away. An extreme difference from the previous queen, where we could be less then a foot from the hive watching them with no problems. My son was terrified of them when they did this to him, he didn’t want outside at all. We decided that even though it would mean two additional weeks before we would have brood, that the current queen had to go. Amazingly, they pulled through and had enough by the end of September that we were comfortable taking some.

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Delicious honey! My husband is so excited! We set up in the garage because it’s a sticky process and it makes clean up easier for us. The way it works is once you have the frames sans bees, you take a hot capping knife ( a long serrated off set knife) and cut the wax capping off and into a bin. Then the frames go two at a time into a spinner. We rent ours from our bee supply store and got a hand cranked spinner. It uses centrifugal force to get the honey out without destroying the comb. Then when all the frames are empty, we strain it into a bucket and leave the honey supers for the bees to clean. They will get ALL the honey that might be left on the frame and clean it dry. The wax caps get strained through my jelly bag and into a pot so that we don’t waste any of the precious liquid gold. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the wax. Any ideas? The whole process is a lot of work, so we drafted our friend to help us in exchange for a pint.

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We got 1 3/4 gallon this year. Not bad from a hive that was struggling in the spring! The flavor has notes of floral, butter and oak. Last years harvest was more citrus and floral, amazing how it changes year to year!044

Last years is on the left and the new crop on the right. So happy to have a stock of honey again, and just in time for tea season. It’s been raining buckets here and my chamomile tea stash is being rapidly consumed.

Have a great day!

Tinker Tote Finish

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My friend Cat over at create, bought me a craftsy class of my choosing for my birthday back in July and much deliberating, I decided to take Quilt-As-You-Go Patchwork Bags. I had a great time making it! Tara does a great job teaching bag construction which is something I have struggled with in the past. This is the first time I was able to wrap my head around making something 3D. The zippered pocket lesson in the class blew my mind and I’m pretty happy with my first attempt at one!

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When I make this again (and I will!) I am going to make the pocket a couple inches longer and deeper. I have a standard sized wallet and it almost doesn’t fit in it.

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The Prescription for Chicken Soup fabric patches are my favorite parts of the whole bag! I love that fabric and am so glad that I bought a yard of it when I normally only buy half yards if I don’t have an immediate plan for it.

Have a great day!

Where I’ve been

When I started this blog, I had a personal goal of posting at least every two weeks. I knew that months would be more difficult then others, but life threw me a little hiccup. The end of summer is always busy for us. Work keeps us on our toes with lots of coworkers taking vacation and our spare time is spent making the most of summer with our little man before preschool starts again. Still I was hopeful. I have three current WIPs that I was working on after bedtime. Two of them are Christmas gifts for family members and the third is a Tinker Tote I started after I bought the Craftsy class. Progress an all three were being made and I was mentally getting ready for a WIP post when the hiccup came.

I threw out my back late at night by taking off my shoes. Man I am getting old. Pretty pathetic that something so small can land me out of commission for as long as this has. I’ve been to a chiropractor 4 times already and the recovery is slow going. I locked 3 joints and slipped a disc in my spine. The first day I needed to hold onto the walls and any surface available or I would have fallen over with muscle spasms. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, it is so incredibly painful. Each day has progressively gotten better with stretching, ice and adjustments, but I have not been able to sew because the muscles in my back are seizing. It is incredibly frustrating because I have a lot I would like to accomplish and the holidays always sneak up on me so quickly. I remind myself to be patient and not push myself in fear of lengthening my recovery.

Last night was the first night that I felt ready to do more then lay down and watch movies or read. I ventured down stairs to grab my hand sewing kit and some batting to cover the backs of metal buttons on a couple pair of pants I bought before I hurt my back. See, I am highly allergic to nickel and any metal touching my skin will cause a breakout that takes a topical steroid to heal. Most pants have rivets as well so I have to be careful when buying them to make sure they are metal free. To make matters worse, I am VERY tall and finding pants long enough with no metal is about impossible. I had the thought that maybe hand sewing batting over the button would be enough material between my skin to not cause a reaction. So I bought a pair of cheap jeans from Bi-Mart and a pair of on sale capris to test it out. Normally, a single pair of slacks with no metal runs me $60, I got both of these for under $30. So I settled down on my couch with an ice pack and needle and thread, turned on some Doctor Who and used and invisible hem stitch around the batting.

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I hope these hold up in the wash otherwise this might be a weekly project. If anyone has any other ideas for how to cover the backs, I’d love to hear suggestions. I might try sewing more of the Tinker Tote tonight or tomorrow while the mister is at school. I’m missing my creative time, if it’s too much, I just might start making more hexies just to have something to do with my hands!

In other news, my husband has decided it is time to start a salt water aquarium again. Before the mister was born, we had a 55 gallon tank. After he came, my hubbie didn’t have the time to maintain it and over a few short months it was over run with algae and an invasive plant so we sold the coral and fish and kept the equipment. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when he asked me permission to buy a 28 gallon Nano tank. I had missed having one, they are very peaceful and pretty, so did a family outing to the aquarium store and got it. We’re waiting for the water levels to be right before we add anything to it. It’s looking good and by tomorrow we should be able to take another outing to the store to get crabs and shrimp. Next will be corals and maybe a Nemo fish (clown fish) as the boy calls them!

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Hopefully I’ll get downstairs soon to work more on those WIPs! Look for a post about those soon!

Have a great day everyone!