Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing everyone in Blogland a very . . .

Weight loss journey - 2008 review

Last week our Weight Watchers meeting was cancelled due to the snow, it had been two weeks since my last weigh-in. Since I wasn't a very good girl during the holidays, and my weight had been increasing a little the two weeks before that, I figured the scale would not be nice to me this morning. What a happy surprise to find I'd lost 1.4 pounds, and now weight the least I've weighed it four or five years! I guess walking those three miles through the snow to Starbucks five times in the last 10 days really made a difference.

So - since July 2nd I've lost 26 pounds. Though I wanted to be closer to goal by the end of the year I am happy with what I've achieved.

This morning I resolved to really get back on track and continue the new trend during weigh-ins. Here are my 2009 goals:

1. Achieve my weight loss goal and lifetime Weight Watcher membership. I have between 18 and 20 more pounds to lose.

2. Focus more on eating healthy, with lots more fruits and vegetables included every day.

3. Drink my daily allowance of WATER - coffee counts for WW now but I'd rather it be water.

4. Move more - aiming for 10,000 steps per day. I bought a WW pedometer at the meeting this morning - I'll have Fred measure my stride this afternoon so I can program it to my specifics. I'll start wearing it tomorrow.

5. Do better when it comes to planning meals, choosing at least three or four new recipes out of my many WW cookbooks to try each week.

Since this is my health, these goals are more important than the quilting goals - if I could find a place outside my sewing room to put my ironing board permanently I bet I could increase that daily step total much more easily! At least longarming should help the numbers!

Dates have been added

I thought it would be interesting to add the dates I started each project to my sidebar lists. Take a look if you are interested. The oldest top waiting to be quilted was started in 1989. The oldest unfinished top is a long-term applique project started in 2003.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goals for 2009

I've actually been thinking about next year's quilting goals for several weeks. Many different ideas have been marching through my brain, and it's hard to know which to choose and which should be discarded for another year. I want to challenge myself, but I also want to be realistic so I don't set myself up for failure.

Setting yearly goals has worked well, but having monthly goals worked well also. So I've decided to give both a try. I'll start with a list of things I want to accomplish in the next 12 months, followed by what I'll focus on in January. I figure if I take smaller bites it will be easier to finish the whole by this time next year. Worth a try, anyway - don't you think? So here's the list I've come up with:

1. Complete a minimum of at least two quilts per month, including quilting, binding and labeling. (The pictures in this post are some of my finished tops waiting to become true quilts.) I will strive for three, but will be happy with two.

2. Make steady progress on my long-term projects. I like the way Judy has listed hers on her sidebar with a bar graph to show the her progress on each one. I'm hoping I can figure out how to do this as I love the graphic, pictorial quality of the progress charts.

3. Use more fabric than I purchase so there is a decrease in the size of my stash - even if it's just a small decrease. I've given up fabric diets - they just don't work for me. I get too much pleasure and joy from bringing new fabric into the house now and then. I've started a weekly fabric journal, and hope to keep better track of yardage bought and used this coming year.

4. Use enough strips, strings, squares, triangles, and bricks from my scrap drawers and boxes so they are no longer stuffed to overflowing. I'll be happy with five or six quilts finished quilts from scraps by the end of the year - though I'll strive for more.

5. Now that I've successfully conquered the major part of my UFO problem, I will start working on the HSY's listed on my sidebar - pronounced "hussies". Almost all my hussies are "brazen" - meaning they are over a year old. I will strive to complete a minimum of 6 quilts in the coming year from this list - though I'd like it to be even more.

6. I will teach myself how to do invisible machine applique, and complete at least three small or one large project using this technique.

7. Learn to use new tools for my longarm - specifically my Circle Lord.

What are your quilting goals for this next year? Please either leave me a comment with the answer or answer on your own blog. If you've never set goals I encourage you to try it this next year - I promise you will accomplish more of you do.

Photo tutorials

I've added a new link to my "Photo Tutorials" website. This tutorial has actually been around for several months - I just now remembered to put in a link! It's really not a tutorial exactly, but between the photos and the text you should be able to make these blocks and/or the quilt is you should want to. This is the quilt I did for my "two color challenge" that Nicole proposed in May of this year.

It has been requested several times that I do a "tutorial" on how I fold my fabric so it stays so neatly on the shelves. Stay tuned - I hope to do that by the end of the week.

2008 accomplishments

I know I've said it many times before - I can't believe how fast this year flew by! I think it must be my age - I know time never passed this quickly when I was younger. And it never passed this quickly when I was working either LOL!

Since the new year is less than 48 hours away I figured this is a good time to look back to see what I accomplished this year quilt-wise. I've been calling each year of the last 6 years "the year of the UFO", but by the end of each year I never seemed to have fewer UFO's than I started with. Granted, the list was different because I'd finish some, but I always seemed to start as many new quilts as I finished. I guess retiring was the key, because I'm really happy with what I accomplished this year.

In terms of my goals:

1. To use more fabric than I purchased - well, I didn't do so good with this one. My shelves and baskets are emptier, which was really my goal - well done there. But I bought several bolts of fabric - 60 yards alone of Kona cotton - a red, a cheddar, and a bone. Plus a 15 yard bolt to use for sashings on my Civil War Diaries and Love Letters quilts. Plus a 50 yard bolt of background for my mid-Century album and Civil War applique quilts. Plus a couple others that escape me, and since I'm at Joseph's house I can't check. So even though my shelves are emptier the bolts sitting on top of them are bigger and more numerous that at the beginning of the year. I must do better with this goal this next year!

2. To have less than 10 unfinished tops on my list by the end of the year - I'm very happy with the results of this goal. I started the year with close to 30 unfinished tops. This has been reduced to nine long-term projects, 4 of which were started this year. Only one unfinished top (other than long-term projects ) remains from the beginning of the year - the project I showed in yesterday's post.

3. Make at least three quilts from my scrap bins - I completed 5! Unfortunately the bins are fuller than ever!

4. Reduce the number of unquilted flimsies to less than 20. As you can see I didn't do that but that's OK. When I wrote this goal I forgot that all the finished tops that were unfinished tops at the beginning of the year would be added to the list! I did reduce the list by a total of 28 quilts - that's more than two finished quilts per month. I'm very happy with that result! Several I thought would be finished aren't, but several others that I thought I wouldn't complete are completed. That makes me a happy quilted.

5. Finish organizing all of my scraps - Done! Everything is stripped, squared, triangled, bricked or otherwise cut into usable sizes and shapes and sorted into the appropriate plastic drawers and boxes. I gave out when I had a small number of scraps left, so I sent them off to another blogger who put them to good use making charity quilts. I was also crumbed out, so I tossed the rest of my crumbs. This set off such a flurry of comments objecting, so I've since found a happy recipient of all the crumbs I produce.

In addition to the above I started and finished one quilt during the year - Lily Abigail's baby quilt. I also turned two VERY old stitchery projects into finished pillows. Lastly, I pieced a backing for every finished top, pressed them all, and hung each top and backing together in my longarm room closet - all ready to be quilted.

I hope everyone else reviews their accomplishments for the year - I find these posts very interesting. Tomorrow, as 2008 winds down into history, I hope to post goals for 2009. If not tomorrow then Thursday at the latest.

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve celebration everyone!


1. My love of fabric and sewing, plus the skills I've developed over the years, that have enriched my life so very much.

2. All the wonderful people I've met through quilting over the years, both near and far.

3. My wonderful Tangled Thread friends - I love you all!

4. My kind, patient, and understanding husband, who has put up with my fabric and quilt obsession for many, many years even though he doesn't understand it at all.

5. My marvelous kids, their spouses, and grandkids, who are always happy to receive another quilt!

Monday, December 29, 2008

One final finished flimsy for 2008

The double four-patch top is now finished. As it turned out I wasn't able to piece the backing tonight so that must wait for Wednesday. I like how this turned out. Normally I would have made the borders wider, but it was already a little bigger than the requested size for a hotel hope quilt so I didn't want to make it much bigger. I hope to get this quilt and the two postage stamp quilts quilted by the end of this coming weekend, and bound if possible. Greeting the new year with three finished quilts in the first week would be great.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My first quilty goal for 2009

Remember these round robin blocks? I posted about them during my second month of blogging. I loved the blocks, but needed to figure out a way to tie the blue block in the upper left corner to the other blocks. I read everyone's suggestions and pondered all the ideas. I finally tucked it away into a drawer. It resurfaced several times this year when one of my goals was for as many of my unfinished tops to become finished flimsies as possible. I achieved that goal, with the exception of several long-term applique projects. Except for this set of blocks. The last time I got it out I took out the basting stitches in order to remove the blocks from the round robin grid, and took the two bear paw blocks apart. I played around with them a bit and then put them away in a drawer once again.

My design wall looked too bare after the double four patch was removed - I needed to fill it with something. So I removed these from the drawer and started playing. Suddenly I think I may be getting somewhere. This is the first time I've found an arrangement that's started to please me. I always knew I'd have to add some filler strips and a few more blocks. I decided the blue block would make a marvelous label for the back, on which I can list who made which blocks. I'm starting to get inspired.
So . . . my first quilty goal for 2009 is to make this into a finished top by the end of January and a finished quilt by the end of March. Doable? I think so!

Sunday Stash Report

This week was a "you use some, you buy some" sort of week. I did OK, considering that I didn't sew all week until yesterday. The package I ordered the week before arrived, however, so if I'd not sewn yesterday I would have moved considerably backwards - not the way I want to go!

I finished sewing the fabrics shown in this post into "new fabric" for quilt backs. When finished I wound it onto an empty bolt core, then counted the folds - two folds are approximately one yard. So this bolt of backing - now stored on top of one of the cabinets, used approximately 24 yards. Even though it's not yet made into a quilt I'm calling it busted because it is off the shelves and ready to become quilt backs in no time at all. By the end of the day today I'm hoping the double four patch top will be finished and I'll have constructed a backing for it from this bolt. If you have large pieces of fabric that you don't want to use for anything else, and you don't mind scrappy backs, then I suggest you do this also. Sure clears off the shelves quickly!

Once that was done I shifted the fabric left on that one shelf to other shelves, leaving me an entire empty shelf. I've not seen an empty shelf for a LONG time, so I know I'm using more fabric that I am purchasing - hooray! I was very happy to shift all the fabrics from these two baskets onto the shelf, thus freeing up space on my floor so I could move the string tub out of the closet. These are all the fabrics that Eileen Trestain OK'd for my mid-19th century album quilt, and since that's one of my longterm projects I need to keep them separate. There is more room on that shelf, so I need to take her book in hand to find other reproduction fabrics in my stash that also fit into that era. I feel so much better about the room now - one basket emptied, another basket holding the two quilts that are waiting for binding to be finished, with the string tub in it's proper place at the end of the island with the second basket on top. And I still see empty spaces on my stash shelves that weren't there before!

Good thing, however, as 22 yards of new fabric came at the beginning of the week. Thanks to Kathie I learned that Tara at Sew Unique Creations has many reproduction fabrics at $5 per yard, including an entire line I'd not seen before. There was just nothing to do but order half-yard pieces of the entire collection, plus two yard pieces of a great black, cheddar, and double pink. These will go with me to class on Tuesday - hopefully Eileen will OK all of them for my Civil War Quilt quilts.

So - net stashbusting effort for this week is another two yards used. Net stashbusting efforts for the year - I don't have any numbers, but my shelves and baskets are emptier than they were at the beginning of the year so I'm guessing I may have actually accomplished some stash busting after all. It may be that most of that fabric is hanging in the closet with the 30 flimsies waiting to be quilted - I made a back for every quilt needing to be quilted. I still consider that fabric busted even if the quilt is finished - after all, it's in use, right?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sewing at last! Plus a little blog reading thrown in

I'm sure on a crazy sleep schedule - not sure why. I got up about 3:45 to go to the bathroom, and couldn't go back to sleep. I finally gave up about 4:20 and got out of bed. I needed to be quiet so Fred could sleep so I parked myself on the couch and read blogs on the laptop. Fred got up a little before six so we had some doughy cinnamon rolls (see Disaster! post) for breakfast and then really got going for the day. I made a pot of coffee and retired to the sewing room, where I spent most of the day constructing "new fabric" for quilt backs. More on that tomorrow when I post my stash report.

Once the quilt back "fabric" was finished I did a bit of rearranging in the sewing room. Hooray - things are better! More about that in tomorrow's post also. I heated a multitude of leftovers for our dinner - sure helped make room in the refrigerator! - and then moved on to the next project.

Remember these double four patches that I started at Quilt Camp in early November and finished a few days later? I'd found a stack of 4 1/2" squares cut from 19th century reproductions that I decided needed to be four patches. When I got home from camp I turned all the 4 1/2" squares from their plastic shoebox into four patches also. Then I robbed all the lights from the box of 4" squares and added a few more trimmed down from the drawer of 5" squares. When I was done I had 108 blocks total - exactly the number needed for a Hotel Hope quilt. (Of course - when I put them on the wall today I found three blocks with four patches turned the wrong direction LOL!)

I think these blocks have aged long enough. They need to be made into a finished quilt top if for no other reason so I can deduct the fabric from my stash count. I decided it would be easier to arrange the blocks if I moved the big board into the hall so I could use the entire design wall. Does the room ever feel bigger without that board in there! Sure wish I could keep it elsewhere for good, but somehow I don't think it would be a good idea to block the hall closet and partially block the door to the computer room for any length of time. At least we've got enough space to get into the room, but we'd better not need any towels, wash cloths, paper towels, toilet paper, spare light bulbs or anything else in that closet until this top is done - hopefully by tomorrow night!

The day after

I didn't kid myself about yesterday - I knew I still had stuff to do and wouldn't be able to get back to quilting. I was right. The day was spent running a couple errands, making gravy from turkey drippings (Fred and I are the only gravy eaters, so I didn't bother to make it on Christmas), and making turkey soup from the leftovers. There was lots of straightening up to do around the house - nothing major, just returning lots of things to the places they belonged.

Now that the stockings were down I returned the quilt to the table - I really missed having it there! That left a very bare wall under the quilt rack in the entry so I went looking for something to fill it. Surprise! I completely forgot about several of the quilts I finished this year. This one fits perfectly - I wonder how the stockings would have looked in front of this quilt? I also found the Thimbleberries "Winter Dazzle" that I finished this summer. It was to go on top of the treadle machine. Whoops! I guess there is always next year.

By last evening I was caught up - finally! I spend the last 30 minutes before bed doing a bit of straightening in the sewing room. I intend to spend most of the day there today. I don't even need to cook, thanks to a refrigerator of leftovers!

1. The aroma of a pot of freshly brewed coffee
2. A wonderful day with all our kids and kidlets
3. The calm after a storm
4. An entire day to sew!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy White Christmas!

Wishing each and every one of you - no matter what your faith or nationality - a wonderful, happy holiday season. Thank you so much for visiting my blog - I appreciate each and every one of you.

(And especially those of you who leave a comment now and then!)

One Participant Needed

I have my third participant. Thank you to the others for your interest. Maybe next time!

I posted a "Pay It Forward" back in the fall. One person has had to drop out so I have space for one more participant. So please leave me a comment if you would like to receive something handmade by me in the new year.

For any reader who doesn't know how it works, here goes -

I am one of the three people who committed that I'd participate in a "Pay It Forward" last fall. This meant that the person to whom I committed Julie will send me a hand made gift sometime in the next 6-12 months (or sooner if she can). She sent me a beautiful fabric basket, which I posted about shortly after it came.

In turn I promise to send a hand made gift sometime in the next 6-12 months to the first three people who comment and commit themselves to playing. Note - just to make sure there is no misunderstanding - I already have two - I just need one more. In order to play you must post the "Pay It Forward" message to your own blog, and promise to send handmade gifts to the first three people who leave you a comment committing themselves to playing along.

(I sure hope that makes sense - if it doesn't and you're not sure how this works just ask me.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Disaster strikes!

The cinnamon rolls had been in the oven about 5 minutes - at my best guess. They'd had their "oven spring" where they jump in size as they get hot, but hadn't cooked enough for the "spring" to be baked in.

Suddenly the power went out. Then it came back on. Then it went out again. It came back on again. It went out. This time it didn't come back on. Called the kids to see if I could finish baking them there. We were running around getting ready to head out the door when the power came back on.

I put them back in the oven to finish baking but the damage was done. They've shrunk to half the height they should be - one to two inches instead of 3 to 4 inches. Fred and I just did a taste test - no way are these going to be given as gifts. (If you click on the picture you can see how badly they shrunk in height. Maybe this is a hidden good thing - I'm now much less likely to eat them and screw up my diet!)

I guess our friends at Applebee's will have to wait another week for their Christmas present - and I guess it will be New Year's rolls!

Yum yum! Part 2

The dough has risen twice so I've punched it down and rolled it out. If you want BIG rolls then make the rectangle narrower in width.
I melt a whole cube of butter - these are NOT diet rolls - to spread on the dough.

Add lots of granulated sugar. Does anyone else still have ancient Tupperware like mine - or any avocado colored kitchen utensils LOL?

Sprinkle lots of good quality cinnamon over the butter and sugar.

Sometimes I add raisins - dark or golden - or currents. This time I'm trying pecans - I've not done that before. Sure wish I'd chopped the pecans BEFORE I put the pastry cloth and dough on the breadboard!

Carefully roll up the dough.

Slice and put the slices in the pan. If you want bigger rolls (see above) make your slices much fatter. My pans were made many years ago by my father - a very skilled sheet metal mechanic - for my mother. Thirty-two slices fit exactly so I shape and cut the dough accordingly. When all are sliced and in the pan they are ready now for one last rising. A warm place is needed for that. At our house I've found the best place is on the counter in the bathroom - just turn the heat up to 80 and close the door. Fred hates that I use more electricity to do this but he likes the rolls too much to complain.

My hero!

Fred's not normally the wuss - he works out diligently 3-4 days a week and I sit on my butt - but he's stayed inside since the snow began, other than a couple trips to the mailbox and I'm the one that's traipsing around and having a ball. So I was surprised when he said he was going out to shovel snow. And we don't even have a proper snow shovel. He wanted to be sure UPS or the mail carrier could get to the door with packages. (How did he know I have fabric coming today or tomorrow? He doesn't know I went a bit nuts ordering but it will probably be hard to hide it when it arrives since he's out of school LOL!) He came in for awhile - I thought he was finished - but he's back out there again. I've been whining about running out of toilet paper but he's working on the walk to the front door - that's not going to help us get to the Costco!

I talked to Rick this morning and he said he made it to Fred Meyer successfully yesterday, and that the CRV drove beautifully in this stuff. Good to hear as we need to venture the mile and a half to Costco very soon - we have only 6 rolls left! I can make do if we run out of many things but not that!

Tangled Threads is supposed to meet today at Kathi's, but she emailed all of us this morning and said we east town girls shouldn't try coming over to their side of town. She and Ted drove around their neighborhood and slid even with 4-wheel drive and slow speed.
Only two more sleeps until Christmas!