Sunday, January 31, 2010

First finishes - 2010

I finished two quilts this weekend! Yay! I can cross them off the list. The first one was a mystery quilt project from the Stashbusters quilt list. Sandra Wucher designed it.

There's supposed to be a secondary pattern and my fabric choices didn't accomplish that, but that's the challenge of a mystery quilt. Mom did the quilting as a practice piece for another project. It is definitely a cheery quilt.

The next quilt I finished will go up for sale in my Etsy shop when I finished getting it configured.
This quilt is a rail fence type pattern with the blocks set on point. It is shades of turquoise, teal, brown, tan and green. I started with a set of 2.5" strips and just started sewing. This one I quilted myself and it turned out quite nicely.

There's a pillow that goes with it, too, because I wanted to use up every last bit of the fabric. I'll let you know when it's available and where to go.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cobblestones and Bricks

Here's another of my niece/nephew quilts. Number 4 of 8. This one has actually been done for awhile so I can't really call it a completion for 2009, though I did just get the label on it. Sorry for the lackluster photo. The quilt is black and pink at all. It's an issue with the camera flash and poor lighting. The pattern came from There are lots of free patterns available there. The whole thing is made with 2 1/2" strips so it would be very jelly roll friendly. I had a lot of fun picking out fabrics for this. There are probably 30 or 40 different fabrics in it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The world's ugliest baby quilt

Have you ever made a quilt that you just hated everything about it? This is one of those for me. I made it to order for a client who wanted pink, brown and purple. I had a devil of a time finding fabrics that go together. Most of the pinks that go with brown are of a slightly orangier tone like the reproduction fabrics. Baby pinks are truer pinks. Plus, because I was on a budget I was limited to the selections at my JoAnn's. Now the pink and brown prints go pretty well together, and the pink and purple prints work too. When you mixed them's not my favorite quilt ever (Sorry, P.).

I cut the squares using my Accuquilt GO! which took a couple of hours at the most. The pattern is a Disappearing Nine Patch which went together quickly. I tried machine quilting three large flowers like the one print, then did a loose stipple around them. I think my machine hated the quilt too, because I fought with the bobbins the entire time. I picked out dozens of rats' nests. I fully anticipate that the quilting will all come out after it's been washed three times.

The only good thing about this quilt is that I finished it on time. I was so glad to see it go I didn't even insure it when I shipped it.

The Behemoth

So, I mentioned yesterday we were shopping for an exercise machine. Yesterday was shopping trip number two. We chose the Schwinn 420 elliptical machine, now affectionately called, the Behemoth.

The folks at the store helped us get it in the car, but we had to unload it at this end. The Behemoth weighs 160 lbs. in the box. We managed to slide it up the stairs with Mr. Belfry pushing and me pulling. That was a workout right there. There's a reason we need exercise equipment. I'm still sore today.
Oh, did I mention we had to assemble it too? I think the best test for how strong your marriage is, is to assemble a complicated piece of furniture or machinery. We did quite well I thought. The sales guy said it takes their staff a little over an hour to assemble it. It took us about three. We got to the end of the directions and had two screws and one part left over. Never a good sign. The screws, we discovered, went to an accessory we didn't have. whew! The extra part, however, was supposed to be put on in step three. sigh. Alright, off come the arms, disconnect the peddles, take off the console, unhook 5 screws for the stem....and we couldn't get the electronics disconnected. I think the two parts snap together permanently. The extra piece is a plastic cover, probably to keep dust or debris out of the wheel mechanism, so we cut it apart and wrapped it around the stem. Problem more or less solved. I do need to figure out a way to close up the cut though.

Then it was time to move it. Once you got it out of the box and assembled, the weight was only reduced by like 2 pounds. The Behemoth is also about 5 feet long. We discovered that we wouldn't be able to make the last corner to put it in the back bedroom. So for now, it's living in our bedroom, which doesn't make me very happy, but it is the next best choice. The machine also looked a lot smaller in the store compared to the treadmills, recumbent bikes, and larger ellipticals.

I'll let you know how it goes, but I think for now I'm going to have another cup of coffee.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

2010 Goals


I break my goals down into monthly segments. I won't bore you with a list of those, though I'm sure you're all losing sleep over the state of my coat closet. I do have quilty goals though. My list for January includes three:
  • Finish cutting out the next nephew's quilt. - DONE! This is the last picture I'll be putting up of the nephew quilt, by the way, at least until it's finished and gifted.

  • Complete Step 2 of Carolina Christmas. - DONE! Look at those points! Aren't they sweet!

  • Finish Le Jardin Block 1. - getting there. I still have another week to finish that one.
I've never been a Trimmer, the kind of person who trims up blocks at each step, but I do want to move my piecing to a higher level. Plus I've been truly inspired by Nicole over at Sister's Choice Quilts ( Look through her blog. It's just full of eye candy. Her piecing is so precise. She's also a Trimmer. I thought it was time to dip my tool in that pool and give it a try, and I'll be danged if it didn't make a difference. I trimmed the half square triangles (the green one with the white one in the lower right hand corner of the block). Last night I sewed the large green triangles on, and I didn't lop off a single point on the small green triangle. Not. A. Single. One. /pats back. Now I noticed when I was ironing that I sewed about three of the large triangles on reversed, but I'm not going to rip them out. /smirk My perfectionism has limits. I'm more of a good-enough-ist.

I'm going to trim them again this afternoon when we get back from errands. We're getting an exercise machine. I hope to locate the quilt shop in that area too, so it will be worthwhile.

more tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010 Finally!

I've been reading a lot of blogs where people are expressing great relief at 2009 being done. Me too! The Year of Suck is over! We pause now for the marching band to play a celebratory toon. Whew!

So, Resolutions? Anyone out there make them? I don't. Resolutions always seem wishy-washy to me. "Achieve world peace. Save the chipmunks. Lose weight." I set goals and create habits. Goals are concrete, something you can sink your teeth into. Habits are ways of changing your behavior. To start with, I am working on three habits for the year:
  • Do something creative everyday.
  • Try a new recipe every week.
  • Deal with the mail and 4 additional pieces of paper everyday.
I want to be in the habit of doing something artistic or creative everyday. This could be working on a project, sketching ideas, researching a technique, or just picking up a piece of fabric and making a plan for it. My tendency has been to leave all my creativity til I have a free weekend, then sewing for 10 hours straight. While it is fun to do that, it means I create in fits and starts and only after everything else is finished. I want creativity to be a priority in my life. Then there's also the day I spent 10 hours ironing blocks. I spent the next day with an ice pack or heating pad on my frozen up shoulder. Not fun. By doing something everyday, I avoid damaging parts from over-use.

Habit 2 is to try a new recipe every week. Mr. Belfry and I want to try to eat healthier and try new foods. We also want to use all the cookbooks and cooking magazines we have. So far we've made a couple of really good soups. As we try them, I write the recipe on the calendar, so we'll have a record at the end of the year.

I tried something like this five or six years ago. I wanted to bake a new type of cookie every week. It went really well for about 6 weeks. I found lots of great recipes. The drawback is that most cookie recipes make at least 2 dozen, if not more, cookies. I can't eat a dozen cookies....well...ok...I can eat a dozen cookies in a week. I need to not eat them for my health.

The last habit is to try to tame the paper tiger. I don't know about you all, but I swear the stuff breeds when I'm not looking. I have worked to reduce the amount of crap coming into the house, and it is paying off. I sort the mail as soon as I bring it into the house, usually standing over the recycling bin. Then I go to the shredder if needed. Bills go in their place. After that I look for 4 pieces of paper lying around. This could be anything, a magazine, a torn out article, an old bill, a printout. I pick up and deal with 4 additional items. You would not believe how fast that will improve your home. That's 28 items in a week. Right now, I will admit, a lot of it is getting dumped in the "to file" bin, so I'll have to handle it again, but at least it isn't strewn about the house. My plan is to start scanning stuff into the computer and getting rid of the paper entirely. I'm tired of moving it, we're out of room to store it, and 90% of it we'll never need again.

The pic above is in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. You can just see a tinge of purple where the wildflowers are blooming. This is from the summer of 2008.

That's all for today. Time to go pick a new recipe!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Holiday we spent shoveling

This year we travelled to Iowa for the holidays. You might have heard already that they got some snow. We got three white christmases worth of snow or about 25" not counting the freezing rain that also fell. I had my fingers crossed the whole time that we wouldn't lose power. Thankfully we didn't, but it flickered really badly when the wind came up. Auntie and Uncle did lose power, and then their generator went out. They had several really miserable days in a row. We did put Christmas off til the Sunday after, and that worked out well.

This time of year is hard on the cows as well as the farmers. They had to shovel out all the feed bunks before they could feed the cattle. Imagine if you had to shovel 300-400 feet of sidewalk every morning by hand. That's what they have to do. After they get all that done, they then have to check all the water and make sure it's open so the cattle can drink. This is all assuming that the tractor will start in the first place. You also have to plow the driveways while your doing all of this too. I really feel for everyone who works outdoors this time of year. All that snow is pretty to look at, but the temperatures are so hard on people.

Candy bar quilts

Greetings! When my sister and I were little and allowed to go to the grocery store with Mom, when we got to the checkout line we always asked for a treat. If we were good, or less obnoxious than usual, we could pick out one item from the candy display. It was always such a hard choice. The candy bar to eat on the way home? Or the pack of gum that might last a few days? Or if it was hot, we sometimes split a soda from the machine out front. Real soda. That cost 50 cents and came in a glass bottle. We had to agree on whether we wanted grape or orange.

I've carried this concept of treats into adulthood. When I go to the grocery store, I usually pick out my treat first to satisfy my inner child. That way I can talk her out of things by reminding her that there's a donut or other treat waiting, so maybe you should put the pop tarts and ice cream back.

I also like candy bar quilts. Tiny, inexpensive kits that you can make up in an afternoon or evening. When I go to the big quilt shows....or the small ones for that matter, I'm always on the lookout for these little instant gratification projects. The flag quilt above is from Country Threads ( They have some of the best little quilt kits available. I've made three of their kits. For some reason however, I can't find one of them. Sigh. Time to do some more sorting. :)

Anyway, this little flag is 10x12". The darkest color is navy. I quilted the light stripes and around the star. It was quick and easy and I finished it in a couple of hours. Sometimes I like having a quick, almost instant finish, especially when I'm up to my eyeballs in more involved projects that seem to go on forever. It's a good way to keep your quilt mojo humming.