Simon Francis has arrived!

Remember last week, when I told you about my crazy sister, off running while 9 months pregnant?! Well, yesterday at 3:00 in the afternoon, 23 hours after checking into the hospital and 70 hours since her last good (if you can have that while 9 months pregnant) night’s sleep, my wonderful sister gave birth to Simon!  He’s absolutely precious (I think — I’m about to meet him on Skype in a couple of minutes).

9 lbs, 1 oz, Simon seems to be just as stubborn as his aunt!  He’ll decide when to join us and has his own timeline!  I’ll share more later, but wanted to proclaim to the world his arrival!

Today has been full of getting baby presents prepared and a gift package ready to send to the growing family.  And, now I get to meet him!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Table Top Quilt is Finished!

Last month, my mom and I were spending quite a bit of time together.  I was in between jobs and spent a good 10 days at home with the parents.  We spent time quilting, cooking, and enjoying one another’s company, which most of the time worked out pretty good.  We traversed Southern Minnesota and started preparations for the arrival of the Weebe.

One day we traveled to Firefly Quilt Shop in Mankato, Minnesota.  I’ve gotten into Charm Packs since returning to quilting and my mom started to enjoy them a bit, too.  Firefly has a great Charm Pack quilt-along class going on once a month and I was able to join in one Monday afternoon and embrace the quilt along.  I love classes where I can go once and finish (or almost finish) a project in one visit.  I think I would have finished my project, if it hadn’t been for the fact I spent far too much time ripping out all of my stitches because I wasn’t paying attention and the tension wasn’t right.  I hate those moments.  I like to think my tension will be perfect, but this was one of those situations where it wasn’t.  So, I had to rip everything out and re-sew things together.  Oh well.

Back to the item at hand.  The classes have been based on the Country Threads Goes to Charm School book.  My mom has done a few of those classes and had fun with them.  It was great for a few reasons.  1. The women who were taking the class brought some fabulous show and tell

2. The project at hand was one of the projects I’d been eyeing.

3. I learned some important lessons about charm packing.

I wish I had taken pictures of the show and tell the women brought to class. I was absolutely blown away by the work they had done.  Highly impressive.  One was working on a quilt for her kid’s room and then was sharing about the other things that will go into the room and I wish I could see the finished project!

The project we did specifically was called: Eat Soup with the Side of Your Spoon

I love the ways the project doesn’t need to match up on the corners.  It’s so fun.  And, the photo from the book is so colorful.  They used a great line from Moda for the pattern.

I had a hard time choosing which fabric I wanted to use when it came time to pick one out.  I kept thinking of a few of the charm packs I had waiting for me in my scrap buckets and the Moda charm packs they had in stock were not calling my name.  So, instead I decided to use the other color way which seems to be calling my name every day lately.  Olive green.  Have I ever shared how all of my best and favorite quilts have included an olive green in them?  More on that another time.

Instead of the Moda charm pack, I ended up using two Studio E charm packs.  When using two charm packs instead of one, there isn’t as much variety.  As a result, my table runner ended up being a lot more gold than I had originally intended it to be, but I think it will go nicely with the yellow walls and be a great spring and summer table runner in my kitchen.

The pattern is great.  The fabric would be fabulous for anything where you weren’t looking for what I was looking for in this, which was an eye-catcher.  With so many small pieces, I think higher contrast and more variety would have been preferable.  But, I’m still happy with the results overall!

Canning Jam

A few years ago I moved into a house with roommates.  It had been years since I had lived with roommates.  Having been an RA in college, it was hit or miss on the years when I had a roommate and the years I didn’t.  Then, in grad school and my first few years as a professional, I stayed away from the roommate possibility.

But, when the opportunity came to live with my friend Krista and her friend and former roommate, I decided to take it on.  They are two of the most driven, brilliant, and genuinely nice people I have ever met.

I am constantly amazed by the ways in which Krista cares for others, demonstrates her passion for justice, and lives life fully each day.  Krista’s ability to fully embrace each person around her and suggest connections I would not even have begun to think of confounds me.  I had the pleasure of both living with her and working with her, and waking up at 2:30 in the morning to help a student out when necessary never led to a single complaint from her.

Kelly is such the Renaissance Woman.  She bakes extravagant dishes (and has even been known to have a dessert cook-off on occasion).  She writes poetry.  She is an amazing fundraiser for non-profit organizations.  She runs.  She’s a theologian and has insight into scripture and church teaching I wish I could begin to understand.

It was really a blessing to live with these two women.

We did, however, have a few goals in our living together which didn’t quite pan out.  We had tried (kind of) to grow a garden.  This didn’t completely fulfill itself, but I like to think this was largely due to the fact that we didn’t live there a full summer, so we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to do so.

In relation to gardening, we had discussed canning.  Kelly has canning down to a process, I think.  I have wanted to try canning for awhile.  Not only for the ability to eat locally all year long, but also because I think it would add to what some friends lovingly refer to as my future farm wife skills.

So, after picking up some blueberries and strawberries, stealing some thyme from my parents, and getting some jalapenos at the local farmer’s market, I decided to make two type of jam.  I made Strawberry Balsamic Thyme Jam and Blueberry Lemon and Chile Jam.  I didn’t modify either recipe much, so I am going to leave the links.  Here you can see photos of my successes.  I will note that I wish I had prepped one extra jar for both recipes.  I’m unsure whether I’m scared to overfill the jars or if my measuring was just so lackadaisical, but I have a Tupperware with both kinds of jam in my fridge, in addition to the jars I have for preserving.  And, do you notice the salt coating the outside of the jars? Apparently my new hometown has saltier water than I had realized!

If my 9 month pregnant sister can run, so can I…

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Weebe.  Depending on how we try to think about it, the baby is due now.  (It’s one of three days and I honestly can’t remember if it’s the 26/27/28—so much for being a good aunt. I’m trying to set the standard).  Anyhoo, the BIL (brother-in-law, not named Bill, but who I call BIL on the phone), sent a photo last week at 39 weeks.  The baby had clearly dropped.  Come join us in the world.

But, until the baby decides to do so, she’s going on with her every day world.  My friend Melissa has started training for the Des Moines half marathon, and though I know I’m not going to make that feat, I can at least start getting my run on more regularly and attempt to at least be related to her.

In addition, my friend Becky’s husband is in Afghanistan.  The women and men who were left behind in his unit are gathering their family and friends to walk the number of miles it would be to walk to Afghanistan, and I’ve got to start contributing further!  So, that’s the plan. Don’t be surprised when you see random updates from me about the mileage I’m putting in.  I’m just trying to contribute to the greater good!

Let’s get going!

Wonky Log Cabin

I have more quilts that I’ve started and not finished than I care to admit.  I start a project, get distracted, and end up working on something else that seems more timely, comes together faster, or is more interesting for a number of different reasons.  As I started preparing for the move, I started thinking about the fabric I had, the things I wanted to do and I have an ongoing list of a multitude of things I’m planning to do at some point in the future.  But, I also have a few things which I’m prioritizing, so as to not have so many unfinished projects out there.  Plus, I want to start working on my free motion quilting skills more frequently!

As I think about the ways I can reduce the number of boxes which have quilt stuff in them and the ways in which I can make the apartment look more and more my style.  The apartment I moved into is great, in a lot of ways.  The floor plan works (for the most part) and it has two bedrooms, its own entrance, and the necessary supplies.  All this being said, there are a few things I would do to improve it.  There are a few nail holes/poor patching jobs which need to be redone.  Masking tape, duct tape, or other types of tape cover gaps in the floor and such.  The walls could use some paint.  But, someday it will all get taken care of.

I have lots of sewing projects to do to enhance the beauty of the place in some ways.  But, to start with, I need to finish a few things I’ve started.  One of the first projects I’m tackling in an intentional way is the Wonky Log Cabin quilt I started a few years ago.  Using Quilt Dad’s tutorial, I put together my first few blocks and I have a box of the fabric all cut apart and ready to be made into quilt blocks.  But, I haven’t touched it in almost two years.  Seriously, there is something completely wrong with that.  Two years is way too long to take a break on a quilting project.

So, now, back with a vengeance, I’m hoping to finish at least two blocks a week.  There are a lot of great quilt-alongs going on out there right now.  I’m especially inspired by the Farmer’s Wife Quiltalong, the Garden Fence Quiltalong that looks to be starting, but I know that before I can do one of those, I need to finish up my other projects.

Here’s the first five blocks I’ve made.  I will post a few of these along the way as I keep going.  Have you used Quilt Dad’s tutorial before? What did your final product look like?

Whirlygig is off to the Quilter!

As you may recall, I’ve been working on a Whirlygig quilt for my queen size bed. Part of it was quite planned out and other parts of it were improvisational. I thought I’d share about my process and knowing that the Whirlygig pattern is written for a lap size quilt, I assume folks are wondering how to adjust it into a bigger quilt.

I’ll start by acknowledging I have tons of fabric left over. The pattern calls for charm packs, but I was inspired by fabric while looking through the clearance section of a quilt shop about a year ago. I was wanting to be inspired for a quilt for my own bed and until now had been distracted by other quilts and projects. But, now that I’m in a new place and a new job, going back to school, I figured it was time to have a new quilt as well J So, I’ve been gathering fabric. It started with about five fabrics which complemented one another. I did a little searching through my stash and found a couple more fabrics. I waited for Crafts Direct to have their Kona solids on sale, which they do a couple times a year, and purchased my brown fabric. Every once in awhile, I have gone to a new quilt shop and wanted to buy something, so I’ve bought a third of a yard of a fabric here and there which might work with this all.

I was not sure how many blocks to make, so I started by doubling the number of blocks called for in the lap quilt. I cut them out and sewed blocks, which I shared on a previous post. I followed the instructions for each part of the quilt and once I had the blocks sewn together, I laid them out on top of my bed, so that I knew how it looked overall.

After sewing the rows together (9 squares x 10 squares), I laid it on top of the bed again to see how long I needed my borders to be to make it the length I wanted it overall.

I decided on about 13 inches of border all around. I did a 4 ½ inch border with one of my green prints, a 3 ½ inch with the brown solid and a 6 ½ inch border with the blue print.

Because I had all of the leftover fabric and didn’t want to purchase more fabric, I decided to piece some of the larger fabrics together to create the backing. So, I just spread them out and then sewed together a 3×2 large scale block. I’ll use other leftovers to create pillows and other accessories for the room.

I took the quilt to the same folks who have my Woodstock quilt to machine quilt it. One of these days I’ll be brave enough to assume the role of the machine quilter again, but I want to do it on a smaller quilt or a scrap quilt so I can better experiment!  Have you done a Whirlygig quilt before? How did it turn out? Did you follow the standard size or step out of the box?

Kitchen Curtains

I’ve been living in Iowa for three and a half week snow. My parents were here the weekend after I moved in and after one more weekend, I was in Colorado, working on the PhD for nearly two weeks. When my mom and dad were here, they noticed my kitchen didn’t have curtains. Truth be told, I’ve only lived in one other location where I’ve needed to provide the curtains and chose to do so only in my bedroom. I’ve been blessed with great rentals for the most part (and Minnesota rental laws, which require those renting spaces out to provide at least blinds for the windows).

While I had some curtains for my bedroom windows and was provided blinds for the living room, I hadn’t much focused on the kitchen. But, this was of great concern to my parents upon their arrival. I will note there is a big tree in my front yard, mostly blocking my kitchen, but will also acknowledge that across the street (ish) is the parking lot for the town grocery store. So, curtains were probably a good idea. Did I mention it’s been super hot and humid lately? See the condensation on the windows at 8:30 Sunday morning?! Crazy weather!

We did some measurement of the windows and then I searched the internet for some of my favorite fabrics, kitchen style. It’s the first of the minor improvements (and inexpensive/I can take with me improvements) I decided to do for the apartment. I sent my mom three or four suggestions for fabric. After stopping by three or four fabric stores, she didn’t find any of them. She had recently made some curtains for the shop and was willing to make them for me. We were ready to place an order, but I knew I had seen one of them (or something close) at a quilt shop in the Amana Colonies. I found this fabric, “farmdale orchard” by Alexander Henry:

So, after work on Friday I  ran out to the colonies and picked up 3.5 yards of the fabric. And, on Sunday morning before heading to church, I threw some curtains together. They add some nice décor and make the room brighter (and remind me to eat more apples)! So, the kitchen is slowly coming together. I love it!