Friday, April 27, 2012

The Swarm

Most people I know have never had to deal with a swarm of bees. This week, I had to deal with my third swarm. The first swarm we had was back in Missouri, when we lived in a little town, and one of neighbors knew a bee keeper and he came and got the honey bees out of our tree. He was happy to have a new hive filled, and we were thrilled to get rid of the bees.

The second swarm we dealt with was here in Arizona, a couple of years ago. A swarm landed in a bush out front, and they found a way into the house. DH was in Ecuador on a medical missions trip at the time, so the kids and I killed the dozens in the house. Thankfully, the bees moved on the next day.

Monday, a swarm came and landed in the same bush in the front yard. I was babysitting, so there were 4 kids two and younger in the house, and several bees got into the house. These were not nice little honey bees, these were killer bees. We had plugged the hole the last swarm of bees used to get into the house, but this swarm found a new hole, and got up under the siding. They were setting up a new hive, under our siding, right next to the front door. Not a good plan. I was definitely NOT in favor of this plan.

It was an interesting day, watching clouds of bees outside my front door, killing the ones that got into the house. One of the twins tried to catch a bee, his Mama caught the baby first, and I killed the bee. This would not do at all. The bees had settled for the night by the time my two charges got picked up, so it was fairly safe to go out the front door. I prayed the bees would leave the next morning like the last swarm had, but I had a feeling they wouldn't. We could hear buzzing in the walls where the bees were setting up shop.

Tuesday morning, bees everywhere! Yeah, they weren't leaving. Buzzing in the walls was REALLY loud now! They were all over that bush out front, and flying everywhere. I had to babysit again, so I had the dad pull around to the back of the house so I could bring the kids in the back door. It was definitely not safe to use the front. DH was home, and started calling bee guys. We didn't want to kill the bees, bees are very important to the environment. The only way to capture the bees alive was to tear down the walls they were in, doing thousands of dollars worth of damage. OK, I am not that much of an environmentalist. We paid the $150 and had them exterminated.

Wednesday, still a few misc. bees around, not too bad. DH chops down the bee attracting bush, fills hole bees entered. None of us want to see or talk about bees. No one even wants honey in their tea. I hope we are done with bees now, isn't three swarms in a lifetime enough? We had wasps nests in Missouri too, but this last swarm was the scariest. Killer bees can be very aggressive, not the "just stay still and they'll leave you alone" types.

So, have I done any sewing this week? I quilted three baby quilts, none of them are bound yet. I planned out I Spy quilts for the twins, for when they move into twin sized beds. You know, I've made five I Spy quilts, and they've all been for boys. I'll need to cut some girly squares for Miss S.

On the first baby quilt I quilted, I was going to do a spiral type thing. I wasn't thinking, and started in the middle, when I should have started with a big circle first. Instead of ripping, I decided to turn it into a meander, but my brain wasn't thinking that way yet, and what I did looked kind of like a flower. I went with it, and quilted flowers all over the quilt. It is pretty cute, but took quite a while. I just want to get these baby quilts finished, so I just meandered on the next two. I picked the next quilt to be quilted, but I have other stuff to do too, so not quite sure what I'll work on next. My roll of batting came today, so I have plenty to keep me busy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Basting Spree

Before I can go on a quilting spree, I needed to get some quilts pin-basted. I bought more pins recently, and I have a lot of pins, so I managed to get 12 baby quilts pin-basted before I ran out of pins! I don't baste baby quilts as heavily as large quilts, because they don't get as squished when quilting them, it's just easier to keep them flat. On a large quilt, I put pins about every 2-3 inches, on a baby quilt I'll go 4 inches between pins. So far it's worked fine for me.

I just did a quick count, and unless I have quilt tops hiding somewhere (entirely possible) I have 11 more that aren't basted. Only two of those are baby quilts, the rest are throw sized or larger. I definitely won't be basting 12 quilts next basting spree, I'll run out of pins much sooner. I have two quilts in assembly stage now, so by the time I have my next basting spree, I will likely have 13 quilt tops in the queue.

Almost all of the quilt tops I just basted were made last year. This year most of my piecing has just been Orca Bay and the pink/black beast, and those two quilts had a LOT of piecing, easily over 10,000 pieces between them. I did piece the rally quilt, and a baby quilt this year, along with assembling a couple quilt tops that I had made the blocks for last year, but mostly, I worked on Orca Bay and the P/B beast.

The Juki I quilt on, is all ready to go for the quilting spree, and when I move the basted quilts off of my Bernina cabinet I can use it too. I will likely go between projects as I please. I have some garments to make, so having both machines available and set up for different types of sewing is great! I am so thankful I have a sewing room and I'm not stuck sewing on the kitchen table anymore. Having a dedicated sewing space was key for me to get more sewing done.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Pink/Black Beast is a Top!

Here is the pink/black beast quilt top. I'm sending it out for quilting, hopefully I will do that tomorrow. This monster is 110" square, (I'm sure it will be a little smaller after quilting) so DS the Elder and DDIL will hopefully have plenty of covers to spare. I know DH and I fight over covers no matter how big the quilt is ;-)

The backing is the same as the border fabric, which is kind of funny since I did the same thing on Orca Bay. I don't normally match up backings with borders, but I guess it will make it easy for the LAQ since I'm sending both at once.

Now to decide which project is my main one. I have two quilts in assembly stage, and that huge pile of quilt tops to be quilted (including the 3 baby quilts I need quickly), and I want to make the twins a couple outfits. I think I'll work on pinbasting the baby quilts this evening, and tomorrow I can decide from there.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My First 2012 Finish!

Last year my first finish of the year was the rally quilt. This year my first finish of the year is the rally quilt. Last year I finished the rally quilt in March, and this year it's April, but finished is finished.
I don't think this pic looks much different than the one of the quilt top, but now you can see I used red binding.

I kind of went crazy on the center applique panel. I added a road outlined with rocks, added multiple types of cactus and grasses. I tried taking a photo from the front, and it just doesn't show up, so here is my barrel cactus from the backside of the quilt. I don't know that my free motion quilting skills are up to what I attempted, but I was feeling daring and just went for it. I quilted the center panel yesterday.

I opted for an allover pattern on the rest of the quilt, so I wouldn't have to mark it. I did spirals, or as Patsy Thompson calls them, innies and outies. It is a really fun design to quilt, and goes pretty quickly. I was surprised I got the quilting finished today, I thought I would finish tomorrow. It was still light out when I finished quilting, so I hurried and got the binding on. I am sooooo happy to have this finished!

I have the pink/black beast blocks on my sewing cabinet, ready to start assembling it tomorrow. I plan on assembling it in quarters, instead of rows like I normally do. I took some time last week to assemble the backings for the pink/black beast and Orca Bay. I contacted my LAQ, and she will quilt and bind both of them. I need to mail them to her, so as soon as the pink/black beast top is together, I can send those off, and they will come back finished. That will give me time to finish up some of my smaller quilts, including the three baby quilts I need ASAP.

As I was quilting today, I was thinking about how much I have changed as a quilter. I used to dread the quilting, and today I found it fun. I never disliked pin-basting, but now I find it downright relaxing. I still have to psych myself up for applique prep, but overall, I am just enjoying the process more and more. I still love piecing best, and I doubt that will change, but I am appreciating the steps more.

I kept debating what to do about my batting problem. I really like Warm and Natural, and I still have most of a roll of it, but it is so expensive to replace with the rising cotton prices, that I hate to use it up just because I was out of polyester batting. I did some online shopping and I found the Microsafe batting traditional loft, which is what I just used the last of, for $60.20 for a 20 yard roll at . The last time I bought that batting I got a 25 yard roll, but I figured the 20 yard roll would take up just a little less space, which is good, but still will last a while. When that gets here I can choose which batting I want to use for each quilt, and since I have over 20 quilt tops that need to be quilted, I will be using lots of batting. I tend to use polyester batting for donation quilts, just so I can make more quilts, since it is less expensive. I also use polyester if I want a lightweight quilt. If I am going to keep a quilt, I usually use cotton batting.

I am set on fabric, thread, and batting for a while. I think my next quilty purchase will be more Patsy Thompson DVD's. I have three of her DVD's now, and I'd like to eventually get all of them. I think my freemotion quilting is getting better, I am at least getting more comfortable with it. I still can't loop de loop to save my life, I keep trying it on paper, and I just can't do it. There are several quilting designs on the second Fast and Free DVD I am anxious to try. I've heard you should try to become proficient at a design before you go on to another one, but I am skipping around. If I didn't I'd still feel like a complete failure because I always back myself into a corner with the loop de loops. I have been skipping around and I feel pretty comfortable with several other designs, and that just makes me happy :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hand Me the Envelope, Please.

...and the Leibster blog winner is my blog! At least as determined by Katie M :-) from Katie and Kwilts

Thank you Katie for the honor! I'm really glad you enjoy my blog :-)

For anyone who doesn't know about Liebster blog awards, this is how they work.

The Liebster is given to blogs that deserve to be recognized, but have less than 200 followers. And, of course, the Award comes with just a few "rules", which are:

1) Post about your win on your blog.

2) Link back to the blogger who presented you with the award.

3) Copy and Paste the award to your blog.

4) Present the award to 5 blogs that have less than 200 followers that you think deserve to be recognized.

5) Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, now I get to give the Liebster blog award to five blogs. This is really hard. There are a lot of great blogs out there. When you add in that they must have less than 200 followers, it gets even harder. Since this is a quilting blog, I think I will keep it quilty in my awards.

My first award goes to Stephanie Newman . She is an amazingly talented quilter and has won many awards. She teaches classes and she also has been published in more than one quilting magazine. I am proud to call her a friend.

My second award goes to Theresa . She makes some gorgeous quilts, and she has a great conversational style.

My third award goes to Bonnie . She is on the Scrap Squad for Quiltmaker magazine, and she does lots of quilting! She also has an adorable granddaughter just a little older than my oldest granddaughter.

Fourth award goes to Deborah . She has some great patterns out there, and I just LOVE the Trinity knot one she designed. I've made one of those, and may make another someday.

My fifth and final award goes to Nann . She has all kinds of fun quilts on her blog!

I said I would limit it to quilt blogs and I did, but DH has a website for his scooter club, and he does a wonderful job with it. I will give him Honorable Mention for Sky Island Riders If you are ever traveling in Southern AZ, check out his Riding Southern Arizona series, no matter what vehicle you are driving in. He gives all kinds of ideas of places to see.

If I did all the links correctly, you can just click on the highlighted names to go to their blogs, and you may find a new favorite too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rally Quilt Top

The rally quilt top is done, the backing is pieced, and it's layered and spread out waiting for pin-basting in the morning! My Juki cabinet is cleaned off, the machine is freshly oiled, and it's threaded with the white thread I plan on using for quilting.

I'm hoping for good results after quilting. This quilt is not my flattest :-( I decided to use polyester batting for the higher loft, and this quilt took the last of my roll of batting (another :-( here). I have some poly batting scraps I can piece together and probably do a couple baby quilts with, but that's it. I am down to just cotton batting in large pieces. Overall I prefer cotton batting, and I'm not out of that, so that's good, but I like to keep both on hand. Batting storage is an issue in the new sewing room (no closet), so I really can't store a full roll of polyester batting until I use up some of my cotton batting. I guess that quilting spree will have to be soon ;-)

Tomorrow DH and I have a date planned, so I may not do more than pin-baste the rally quilt. I am really looking forward to a date. We are both so busy at rally at rally time, that it is good to make time for us. I think it will be an afternoon movie and dinner, followed by the obligatory grocery store run.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Working on the Rally Quilt

I admit it, applique is not my favorite quilty thing to do. It's not too bad once I get started, but oh, the struggle I have getting myself to start! I have a chronic pain issue, and today my pain levels were completely out of control. I felt nauseated because of it, so between the pain and feeling sick, it wasn't a great day to stitch detail work. I had finished all the fusing yesterday, so all the prep work was done, if that hadn't been done, I don't think I would have attempted it today. With frequent breaks, this is what I got done.

The covered wagon is all stitched. The rear tire looks flat! I think some of the fusible came off when I took off the paper, and that section kept moving as I was stitching. I might add some more thread tomorrow to make it look round, or I may just leave it and tell everyone the wagon hit a rock ;-) I am really feeling the time restraints at this point on this quilt, and I just need it finished. Finished is better than perfect, finished is better than perfect, finished is better than perfect!

There are four scooters pulling the wagon. These are the two Lambrettas, which are vintage scooters. I think these came out pretty well.

Tomorrow I need to stitch the other two scooters which are modern. Once those are stitched, I can assemble the quilt. I plan on just using the quilting to connect the scooters to the wagon. I don't want to add visible ropes or anything.

I went to Hancock fabrics today, and picked up some Wonder Woman fabric. DD#3 and DDIL both love Wonder Woman, so when I noticed online that Hancock's had Wonder Woman fabric, I had to get some. I was pretty good while I was there, I picked up a few remnants, I figure remnants are always fair game, and I bought some border fabric for the rally quilt. I was going to use some stash fabric for the outer border, but the closer I get to assembling this quilt, the less I liked what I was going to use. I am much happier with what I picked up today. I also got two other fabrics, some duckie fabric to make Miss S a dress, she loves rubber ducks, and the video Elmo's ducks on Youtube, and she goes around quacking all the time, she's so cute. The other piece of fabric is going to be the background for one of my next quilts. I wanted a constant background for that one, and the stuff I had on hand was either too large scale or I didn't have enough of it.

So, in total I bought four pieces of cut yardage, all of which have imminent uses. The remnants were a luxury purchase of sorts, I do have plans for two of those already. I love it that Hancock Fabrics marks their remnants down to $2 a yard. It's hard to resist that if I really like the remnant. I got a solid red that there is almost 2 yards of fabric, and I think it will be enough to make Bonnie Hunter's Nine Patch Split. That pattern is here

Tomorrow I'll be stitching all the detail on the last two scooters and hopefully assembling at least part of the top. Oh, while my machine is set up for applique, I put eyes on my penguins for a baby quilt, and tomorrow I will applique the one block that needed something added to it on my sampler quilt. My Bernina Aurora came with a foot I didn't have for my old Bernina 1080. It is an open toe embroidery foot #20. It makes doing all the detail stitching SO much easier. I can actually see what I am doing. My detail stitching is far from perfect, but as long as it's getting better, it's all good, right?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Happy Easter!

We had a lovely low-key Easter. Only 11 for dinner which is a small holiday around here. I'm just now having time to post, though I've been thinking all day of wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

The twins ended up with two Easter baskets a piece, one each from us, one each from their other grandmother. A bit spoiled I think ;-) We put a few plastic eggs in plain sight for them to "find" and Mr. L was really good at it. Miss S did spot one from across the room though, and we thought that was impressive too.

I thought the series of photos DH took of the twins was pretty funny, so here are a couple.

^Here was the first photo of them in their Easter outfits. Miss S likes getting her photo taken most of the time, so a big smile from her. Not so much from Mr. L

This one really cracked me up. Brother was lifting up her dress and she was complaining!

Finally a smile from Mr. L. He doesn't usually like getting his photo taken.

We had a fun day. My sisters and BIL came down from Phoenix for dinner. I tried out a new recipe with one of my sisters in mind. She loves chocolate and this recipe made me think of her

DH said the recipe is a keeper. I am not much of a chocolate fan, so a half a brownie was a bit much for me, but all the chocolate lovers liked them. I had made lemon bars too which are one of my favorites, and I had seconds on those.

DH smoked pork and chickens for our meat, they both came out wonderfully. Since we had fewer people than I expected, I put some of the meat into the freezer already. I also made some chicken broth from the smoked chicken carcasses. It makes amazing soup.

I kept the menu pretty simple. I made homemade rolls (white and wheat) and the desserts yesterday. Today I just had to make the sides since DH was handling the meat for me.

Oh, one of the sides I often make for holidays is a great recipe to pass on.

I make a couple of changes to the recipe though. I half the white sugar, and use 2% milk instead of the cream. I also normally make a double batch, and use one butternut squash and four or five sweet potatoes. Even today, when I only needed one batch, I made a double batch and froze the second batch before baking. I've done that several times, and it works just fine. I often make too much of something and freeze part of it for a later meal, it's especially helpful to have ready made meals when quilting all day!

I hope you all had a wonderful day.

He is Risen!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Black Blocks

Gee, was I supposed to be working on applique today? I didn't. I did get the black blocks together for the pink/black beast. I also worked on that pieced border for the rally quilt.

This is four stacks of blocks, not just one block. Can you tell which quilt my heart is in right now? I keep saying I'll put the pink/black beast aside, but I haven't. Now if I can just get the 100 blocks assembled, cut the outer borders and add them, and piece the backing, then it can get sent off to the LAQ. When will that be? Who knows? ;-)

I ordered a few quilty things today. I found some WOW fabrics on sale, and I had a 20% off coupon to use on top of that, and since I have used all the WOW fabrics from my stash, now was a good time to buy. I also bought another Ott Lite. I had a floor lamp in my sewing room a while ago, but DS the Younger needed a lamp so he ended up with it. I have an Ott desk lamp on my sewing cabinet, but it keeps getting in my way. We are turning the small room next to my sewing room into a home office for now, and DH could use a desk lamp. I had an AHA! moment, and ordered the Ott floor lamp for the sewing room, and I will give DH the desk lamp. The best part? The Ott lamps were on sale for half price and my 20% off coupon worked for it too! Yes, I spent some money, but I got some amazing deals, and I will use everything I bought. I can never keep WOW or creams in my stash very long. For that matter, I'm using a lot of black lately too, it's those neutral background colors you can never have too much of.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Robot Baby

Here the robot baby quilt top I've been working on in between other things. It went together so fast! This is every bit of the rocket ship fabric I had, and all of the sashing fabric too. I even had to piece part of the sashing.

I need three baby quilts ASAP, and now all three tops are done. After the rally quilt is finished, I will quilt the baby quilts and get them sent on their way.

I was also working on piecing one of the borders for the rally quilt, and I've started putting blocks together for the pink/black beast. I have as much of the rally quilt center together as I can do without having the appliqued panel done, so tomorrow I plan on starting that. I'll be happy if I can even get half the fusible parts done tomorrow, there is quite a bit to do, and I haven't even chosen fabrics yet. When I need a break from messing with all the applique, I will continue piecing the pink/black beast blocks and the pieced border for the rally quilt.

Tomorrow is my last sewing day until after Easter. I'll get done what I can, and not worry about any of it while I celebrate the fact that He is risen!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Blocks

I sewed quite a bit today, and got a lot done.

I have all of the blocks for my great-nephew's quilt, but here^ are one of each so you can see them. Isn't that robot adorable? I was trying for a gear type look with the other block. It is a Broken Wheel block with the colors switched around a bit. I have the sashing, cornerstones, and border cut and ready to go. I'm hoping to get it assembled while working on the rally quilt.

I also finished the sub-block A blocks for the pink/black beast. I kept working on them, because I had a leftover piece when making one of the logs, and I wasn't sure if I had one log too few, or if I had miscounted and grabbed one piece too many. I'm glad I stuck with making the sub-blocks, because I had one log too few, but since my extra pieces were still out and sorted, I easily made up the missing log. Now I can trim the extra pieces to 1 1/2" squares and dump any other pieces in with my crumbs. I get my containers back, and clean off some of my sewing cabinet, it's a win/win. I haven't decided if I am going to assemble the blocks now, or wait until after the rally quilt is finished. I'll decide tomorrow.

I got two of the rows assembled for the rally quilt. I have two more rows ready to go, and they'll be quick. I am planning on assembling the pieced inner border tomorrow, and then I will need to work on the appliqued center panel before I can do anything else on that quilt. The applique will have to wait until next week, I have lots of non-quilt related things to do for Easter. I'm hoping the applique goes quickly, I always dread doing it, even though it's not bad once I get started. The quilt will go together quickly once the applique is finished.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Some Fast Blocks

Wow! After starting the pink/black beast right after I finished the Orca Bay Mystery, I had almost forgotten that some blocks are quick to make!

I got all of these blocks finished today! (and I added another log on to the pink/black beast sub-blocks.....shhh, don't tell DH) Some of these blocks I have 20 of, some as few as four, depending on how many I needed for the project. It is easy to feel like you are making progress when working on big blocks like these.

In case you are wondering what in the world I am doing with colors, rest easy, these blocks are for four different quilts. I really did work on the rally quilt, the cowboy boot blocks (there are four of them) are for the rally quilt.

Did you see that several of the blocks have similar colors? Those are for a baby quilt. It's really funny, I am a firm believer that turquoise and red do NOT match. The designer of my focus fabric, which I haven't shown yet, does not agree with me, so to match the focus fabric I am stuck using turquoise and red together. The color with the turquoise and red is really a butter yellow, but it never photographs well. I think once the quilt is together it will be really cute, but I am still shaking my head at the colors.

I cooked a turkey breast in the Crock Pot today. So easy and it came out nice and moist. I love my Crock Pot for big sewing days, or any other day I have lots to do. A lot of people tease me because I have so many Crock Pots (I have six), but when we entertain, I have been known to use all six at once. I don't have a clue how many people are coming for Easter yet, I think it will be a small holiday gathering by our standards, I'm thinking under 20, but you never know.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cut It Up Sunday

In one of my yahoo quilting groups, Stashbusters, Sunday is known as cut it up day. Today I took that advice, and cut things for several different projects. I have two quilts in the works, where I am using pieced cornerstones. Today, I cut out the cornerstones for both of those. I had realized I didn't cut enough sashing for the Quiltmaker 100 blocks sampler quilt. Today I cut more. I did work on the rally quilt, in that I cut out the cowboy boot blocks for it. I also finished cutting out a quilt for a great-nephew due to be born this summer!

I have a bunch of black and pink 1 1/2" squares left over from the pink/black beast. I decided to make a couple quilts with nine patches. I've been wanting to make a scrap quilt with 3" nine patches, so I designed one on EQ. I am going to use white squares in the corners and center, and the other four squares will be black. I will alternate the nine patches with 3" squares of every color except black and white. I'm putting it on point too, and I think it will be a really fun quilt. I need 506 nine patches. I will use up my extra black squares first, then strip piece the rest of the nine patches. I'm not going to worry about the 3" squares until all those nine patches are done, which will be a while.

I am also going to make nine patches with the pink squares, again with white, but with the pink in the corners and center. I haven't decided what I'll do with the pink nine patches yet. Since I decided to use white in both sets of nine patches, I needed to cut up some white to get started. I figured out for the black/white nine patches I needed 100 WOF strips! That's about 5 yards of fabric. I started looking at my white on white fabrics, and I don't have much more than that in my entire stash. I tend to use white on whites and cream on creams as soon as I buy them. I have more creams than whites, which is kind of funny because I use far more cream than white in my quilts. I really only want to use white on whites in the black/white nine patches, but I may look through my stash and find something else to use for the pink nine patches. If not, I'll be shopping for more white on whites. These nine patches will be my leader/ender project for a while.

The twins are feeling better today. They both have runny noses and Mr. L has a cough, but compared to last week, they are doing much better. We do have a humidifier in their room, and that helps. We put some Vick's Vapor Rub on them as well. Miss S was drinking well and eating today, so that is a great improvement for her. They got to go visit their other grandmother today, the house was strangely quiet without them.

Oh, I managed to rearrange a room today too! DH and I talked about it, and he needs a quiet place to blog and do computer stuff. Somehow working in the living room with the twins crawling on him wasn't working for him ;-) He has been wanting a laptop computer (I have a laptop, but he has always had a desktop), so he went and bought a laptop today, while I rearranged the small room next to my sewing room, and made room for a table for him to put his computer on. Right now there is a twin sized bed in that room, but when the twins move into beds that will be moved up their room, and then I will work in earnest to make that small room into a home office for DH. I still have some of my sewing stuff stored in there, but when I finish all the projects I am working on with due dates, I should be able to get most of that put away in my sewing room. It was a busy day!