Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quilt-Along Progress - Blocks 4 and 5

I know it's been awhile since I last posted but I took some time off to spend time with my grandchildren who came to visit grandma and grandpa for a few weeks.

We learned how to ride our bike without training wheels... We're still working on watching where we're going instead of watching our feet.
We climbed our favorite tree with grandpa.

We swung and twirled on the tree swings grandpa put up.


 Grandpa taught Chuck how to operate the lawn tractor for the first time.
We helped grandpa make a couple of bird feeders.
We loved our time with them, but sadly, they had to go back home to get ready for school.
So, after a week for getting the house back in order and rest, I am back in my sewing room working on my Quilt-Along, hosted by Michele Foster with Quilting Gallery.
This is block number 4. I actually started on this block before the grandchildren arrived, but because I was struggling in my fabric selection, I didn't start cutting or sewing on it until after the kids left. I'm glad I took the time to choose the right fabric because I didn't want to lose the design.

This is block 5 of the Quilt-Along.  I love the floral on white background print. It has a whimsy to it.

Here is my mock-up thus far with the blocks I've completed. I like it and hope I can continue to select the right prints to connect all the blocks, since they're all different.
I still have a couple of blocks to complete before I'm caught up with the rest of the group who are on block 8 this week.
What's been happening with you?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quilt-Along Progress - Block 3

I started working on block 3 of the quilt-along Sunday and had a portion of it assembled before I put it aside because of the heat. It is so hard for me to work when my hands are sticking to the ruler, causing it to shift every time I make a cut. I began working on my block again on Monday, early enough that the heat wouldn't create a problem.
The block consists of four pinwheel blocks separated by a narrow sashing. I've worked with half-square triangles many times before with minimal problems. But for some reason, I had issues with these pinwheels. I frog stitched. I restitched the seams. And I still had problems with the points on a couple of the pinwheel blocks. I began to feel like one of Kaye Wood's pointless people!
Generally, I don't pin my seams as I've found greater success in matching seams using just my hands. However, at this point I was willing to try anything. Failure. 
So, I frog stitched and restitched the seams and here is block 3 of the quilt-along:
My mother-in-law once told me I was the only one who saw my imperfections. Words of wisdom... She was right. We can be so hard on ourselves, unnecessarily at times.
This is my progress so far.  I think it will be a beautiful quilt once I'm finished. Next I will work on block 4 and if I finish it today, I'll be caught up with the group.
What's on your mind today?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quilt-Along Progress

After finally making my way into town I was able to select a print to use as my background/contrast fabric in the quilt-along I'm participating in and I have been busy working on my blocks.


Here are the fabrics I selected from my resources for the blocks, but I didn't have a print with enough yardage that I could use for the background/contrast.

I knew I wanted to use black as the background/contrast fabric since I was using brights, but I didn't want a solid black, I wanted one with a subtle tone on tone design. As soon as I found this print, I knew it was the perfect one to highlight the all those bright colors.
I always prewash my fabrics to remove any sizing or chemicals from the factory before I begin working with them. After prewashing, I liberally applied spray starch to each print and allowed the fabric to dry before cutting. I use Best Press, unscented, because it doesn't flake or cause scorching like other starches do. By allowing the fabric to dry after applying the starch I have more body which gives me more control when I'm cutting my pieces and my iron doesn't gum up from the starch.
Because I had to go into town to purchase the background/contrast fabric, I wasn't able to begin working on the quilt-along when it began a couple of weeks ago. The group is on block four, so I have some catching up to do!
I cut the all of the pieces I needed from the background/contrast print, placed the pieces in baggies and labeled the baggies so I know at a glance what the contents are.
This is the first block in the quilt-along. I love how the star print adds movement to the block and I think the contrast between the three prints makes the pinwheel pop.
Here is my version of the second block. I LOVE the way the four prints work in this block. The whimsical floral print really adds a playfulness, I think.
I'm working on block three and hope to have it completed today. If I can complete block four, I'll have caught up with everyone else.
What have you been working on?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm Back in the Saddle Again

Now that the 4th of July holiday has passed, I'm ready to get back to my routine. Amazing how one day can cause so much disruption to a schedule.
Prior to the holiday, I did manage to finish making all those bias binding strips I've been working on.

Nine different prints of bias binding. Unfortunately, someone changed my camera settings so the picture isn't very good and doesn't highlight the different prints. I used one yard of fabric for each print.

Each yard of fabric provided eleven yards of binding. Isn't that quite the collection? Bias binding is so forgiving and easy to do and if you'd like to learn some of my tips, I wrote a tutorial for making bias binding back in October 2009 you can reference: Bias Binding Tutorial
In an earlier post I mentioned I signed up to participate in a Quilt-Along hosted by Quilting Gallery with the focus of aiming for accuracy. Although I'm an experienced quilter I thought it would be fun to participate and I think it's good to review the basics because sometimes, in our rush to finish a project I think we sometimes forget these basics in an effort to save time. So I've been working on selecting fabrics for this Quilt-Along, this is what I've selected so far:
Above is my first section of fabrics, but I wasn't happy with my selection and modified my choices with these:
The pattern requires 24 fat quarters and one background fabric. My goal was to use only what is in my fabric resources, but I' hit a snag. For the background fabric, I need 3.5 yards and I discovered I have a lot of prints but nothing that reads as a solid in this yardage which means I'll have to purchase it. What I'm thinking is to find a tone on tone print in either black, red, or green for a good contrast. I'm leaning towards black though because it will work with any of the prints I've selected above.
And so, today I leave you with a picture I took of a sunset I watched the other day. Isn't it spectacular? I'm so fortunate to live in such a beautiful community, surrounded by mountains and water. I'm truly spoiled!
So what's going on in your world?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Things That Go Bump In The Night

I have what most people consider to be an odd schedule. I'm generally awake before 4:00 am and in bed by 8:00 pm, whether I have to get up early or not. It's my internal clock and it refuses to allow me to sleep in. For me, sleeping in is 4:30 am - 5:00 am.
So, last night I'm enjoying my sleep when I'm awakened by a noise at a little before midnight. It was a scratching sound. And it was in my bedroom. We have a visitor but not a visitor you invite for tea and cookies...
We live in a rural area and it is not unusual for critters to find their way inside but we have things in place to prevent them from visiting. I'm not a fan of field mice and one of the first things I do each morning is to conduct a visual inspection for signs of visitors. If there's a sign, my husband has work to do.
Several years ago, I was sitting in a chair at our desk in the family room while putting my shoes on when I heard a rustling sound coming from the wastebasket beside me. I peered into the wastebasket and what do I see? A critter peering back at me. My husband looked at me oddly as I ran past him in the hallway to our bedroom where I immediately slammed the door shut. As if that would keep the critter from getting in. I've digressed... Back to last night.
I'm laying in bed listening to the critter with my husband's snoring in the background... All I'm really focusing on is the critter. I hate it when I'm awakened during the night because rarely am I able to fall back asleep and this disturbance really gets my mind racing so that I can't go back to sleep. And then it hits me... My body is telling me I have to use the bathroom. Well, I am not putting my bare feet on the bedroom floor, in the dark, to go to the bathroom, while we have a visitor. It'll just have to wait. I don't care how loud my body is screaming it has to go.
I did finally fall back to sleep sometime after 3:30 am. When I woke back up at 4:30 am I promptly woke up my husband and announced he had work to do.
So, what are you doing today? 

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Good morning! It has been quite some time since I last posted to my blog. Not because I didn't have anything to share, but because I've been busy and just couldn't find the time or energy to write a post, something I want to change.
Seems as though my life revolves around schedules.

I'm drowning in meetings, reports, and deadlines that I have no time for me. I have not read a book in... Well, I don't remember when. And although I have gone into my sewing room a couple of times in the last couple of weeks, it hasn't been as much as I would have liked. So I thought, maybe the remedy to my problem is to schedule my ME time in my daily schedule.

So, what have I been up to the last couple of years?

First, we had to load this onto a trailer using a Cometto lifting device. Looks like something out of a Transformer movie, doesn't it? 

Once it was loaded to a Cometto 6-line trailer to transport to our site, the men decided they had to have a parade in case something happened...

Houston, we have a problem. This is what happens when 96 tons shift forward. I asked the 'men' what they thought they could do if the weight shifted... They all just stared at me with their hands on their hips. I'm glad I was not the driver when this happened. Just to give you an idea of the area, the access road is about 14' wide and the other side is a straight drop into the river. That's why I'm Project Controls and not someone who actually builds something.

Here is the Stator as it is being set into place. All 96 tons of it.

This is the second part of the Generator, called a Rotor. Luckily it didn't weigh as much as the Stator. If I remember correctly, this only weighed about 60 tons.

Two and a half years later... It's a hydroelectric powerhouse.

This is the project management team. We took this picture on a team building exercise where we drove 4-wheelers and trail bikes up a mountain to about the 3,800-foot level. We were there in June/July but there was still snow on the ground at this elevation. We had a great time riding the trails and feasting on BBQ.
Back to the present...
I've started reading a book titled City of Women, written by David R. Gillham. The story takes place during World War II in Berlin. I've set aside 30 minutes of reading time each day and hope to finish the book in a couple of weeks.
On the quilting side of things, I started a binding party a couple of weeks ago... OK, maybe it's been four or five weeks ago. I've made yards of binding in five different prints and have a couple more to do before I'm finished. I'll post pictures once these have been completed.
I also have come across a quilt-a-long that I want to participate in:
It's hosted by Michele Foster of Quilting Gallery and she has setup a group on Facebook where everyone can share their progress and ask questions if needed. My only problem is I want to do a scrappy version of the finished quilt and I'm not a scrappy person. I've structured and I'm having a heck of a time deciding what fabrics I want to use in my quilt. I'd love to hear some tips from you if you do scrappy quilts.
What have you been working on?  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hiding Fabric

While I was going through some old magazines and organizing articles I had marked for future projects, I came across an article on hiding your fabric. This particular article had a progression of hiding fabric which I found quite amusing and thought I'd share.

The article is titled 50 Ways To Hide Your Fabric and is written by Cindy L. Weyers, published in the May/June 2004 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting. 
  1. Leave fabric in your car. You are probably the only one who cleans it out anyway.
  2. When you no longer have room for passengers, move fabric to trunk.
  3. When trunk no longer closes, bring fabric into the house, but be sure all bags are sealed. Never bring in a bag with a quilt shop logo. It's a dead giveaway.
  4. Get a fabric cupboard with doors that lock. Store fabric inside.
  5. When fabric cupboard is full, pack more in, have a friend lean on the door, then lock. Open cautiously to avoid a fabric explosion.
  6. Hide fabric in closet behind and in shoes. Men never look at women's shoes unless shapely legs are in them.
  7. Hide fabric behind clothes on closet shelves.
  8. Use fabric as shelf liner in closets. He won't notice.
  9. Put false bottoms in clothes hampers. No one digs deeply in them except you!
  10. Lay fabric on dryer as folded clothing.
  11. Store it in rubber tub. Mark as women's clothes.
  12. Store in plain sight, possibly as a dresser scarf. Say it's a new style.
  13. Hang as a shower curtain. He won't know the difference.
  14. Use as a curtain for a window on the shady side of the house.
  15. Place between sheet and comforter on the bed for extra warmth.
  16. Repeat with teenager's beds, but fabric may need to be washed frequently.
  17. Layer under cushion on sofa. Explain it's needed because some remote control-punching, chip-munching, sweating couch potato is squishing the cushions. His mind will turn to processing these comments, and he won't remember the fabric is even there.
  18. Use as a tablecloth.
  19. Use smaller pieces as place mats.
  20. Put in closed box under sink marked "Cleaning Supplies." That should keep him out.
  21. Fill another box and mark as "Feminine Supplies." For men, worse than cleaning supplies.
  22. Fill your cedar chest.
  23. Store in bottom half of the china cupboard.
  24. Use a divider between plates in china cupboard.
  25. Use as a drawer liner.
Do any of these sound familiar? For me, I have a large wardrobe closet that I use for storing fabric. It works great because it can hold A LOT of fabric. Another good place for me is to hang yardages of fabric on a hanger and hang it in the hallway coat closet. My husband never goes in there as he prefers to just toss his coat wherever it lands. 

I'll share more of these in another post. In the meantime, where do you hide your fabric?

Monday, October 31, 2011


One of my friends' church is sponsoring a young woman who is homeless and pregnant. I don't know her story on how she got to where she is today, but do know she needs all the support she can get to learn how to cope with her current situation and the strength to make the necessary changes to bring herself to a better place... and Hope.

A group of women in the church put on a baby shower for her and I was asked if I wanted to contribute anything. So, I began working as I had one week before the shower.

I think the heirloom stitched footprints are perfect for a baby gift. Don't you?

I just love the pink and brown color combination. I'm going to have to buy more of these prints as I'm sure there will be another request for a baby gift.

Although I know there are many people who give of themselves for others, I believe those who knit, sew, and quilt are some of the most generous and thoughtful people I've ever met. 

Do you have a favorite charity you contribute to?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Birthday Swap Block - Blackford's Beauty

I have another Birthday Swap block to share today.

This block is called Blackford's Beauty and is for my friend Mary. Mary's request was for any 12" block in a purple and green palette which are two of her favorite colors. This is such a fun color combination. Above is my version of the block. I really like how this one turned out and think I'm going to be making more of this block. For me, this is a more challenging block because there are a lot of pieces requiring a lot of seams to be matched.

This block was found at the Quilters Cache site. Are you familiar with Marcia Hohn's site? It is a great site with tons of free block patterns as well as reference tools. If you haven't browsed her site, please click on the link and scroll to the bottom of the page where there are several useful links to choose from.

So tell me, what have you done lately?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homemade Granola

I love granola but I have to be careful because most granola contains coconut and I'm allergic to coconut. So I make my own, which is probably better for me since I can control the amount of fat and sugar I add to it.

Dena's Granola

4 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups raw nuts (I use a combination of almonds, pecans, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds)
1/2 Tbsp wheat germ
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup honey (I use local flavored honey)
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (found in the natural health food section at the store)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups dried fruit (I like cranberries, apricots, raisins, and figs)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Spray two baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. I line my baking sheets with parchment paper because it is easier to scoop the granola into a container after it bakes and has cooled down.

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, oil, honey, brown rice syrup, and brown sugar. Stir well to dissolve brown sugar. Combine liquids with dry ingredients and stir well making sure the dry ingredients are well coated.

Divide the granola evenly onto the two baking sheets and bake for about 35 - 40 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your granola. I like mine a light golden brown because I find it is too crunchy after it cools.  I stir mine about every 10 minutes to ensure it browns evenly.

Remove the granola from the oven and place onto cooling racks. Using my hands, I stir the granola periodically as it cools to keep it from sticking. Once it is cooled, place into an air tight container (I use ziploc bags) and store in the refrigerator. Mine doesn't last very long, but it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

A note about brown rice syrup... This has a mild sweetness and is an excellent substitute for sugar because it it doesn't cause your blood sugar level to spike and it is allergen free.

We use ours in yogurt, as a topping on ice cream, and as a breakfast cereal. Hope you like my version of Granola.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birthday Swap - Twist Block

I thought I'd share another one of the blocks I made for the Birthday Swap I participated in last year.

This block was made from my friend Diane who chose the Twist Block featured on the Delaware Quilts site. This is a great site which features several free BOM patterns. The Twist Block was an easy block to assemble and I like the color palette of red, white, and blue which Diane selected for her block. I finished this block about a year ago and I'm disappointed I have not yet delivered it to my friend. Although I could mail it to her, I would rather deliver it in person since I haven't seen her for so long.

So what have you been working on?