right now

right now

Apr 1, 2011

2 posts in one day? I couldn't resist....

 I can sure tell when hubby is off work, it smells fantastic in this house...

I let him have a few leaves off the basil seedlings still under the lights.

Pizza before going into the oven...

One of the red sauce pizzas...

This one's mine!  My favorite is white pizza... with some home brewed ale of course!

So here's what Marley was up to while I was in the other room... she's claimed it, I think!

Quilt is done!

My 1st full size quilt!

I finished yesterday morning but it was all day before I got around to washing it and getting it on the bed, but here it is:


I still think it turned out looking very "teenage girl", but I do like it!  It was done totally from stash fabric and I had just enough scrap left over for a couple of pillows.

Major hurdles and lessons learned from this project:

(some of you no doubt already have this stuff down!)

When ironing miles of binding, wrap it around a ruler to keep things neat!

As you are sewing the binding, wear it like a bracelet and just take off as much as you need, again, keeps things neat and untangled.

Below is a huge accomplishment for me, the binding process!  I finally got it down this time, and it is no longer the scary part :)

Below... the last few stitches upon completion!  My other bindings and mitered corners are so bad I will never show you :)

To sum up, I'm finding I'm pretty decent at all the piecing, the binding's okay, but my machine quilting is horrific!  Looks like Amy Winehouse got ahold of it and tried her best to make straight lines, HA!  I think that eventually when I make the "end all - be all" favorite quilt for myself I will pay the money to take it to a long-arm quilter.  This one, although the lines are all over the place will be loved however.  Mama Pea said the first big quilt is an accomplishment and so I think it will hold some sentimentality for me and will eventually become the dog eared canoe quilt - you know the kind, gets thrown in the canoe for a picnic, laid upon for 4th of July fireworks, etc... wonky stitching and all :)

One last thing... the bread is getting better slowly, hopefully I'll get it down soon so I can at least know one recipe without looking it up and getting consistent results.

My weekly "Living Small" redux will be late this week with good reason, hubby is going to build me a headboard to go with my new mid-century look bedroom, all done either from thrift stores or DIY.  Now he just needs time, a very precious commodity these days.  Luckily, after working 9 days straight of 14 hrs a day, he is home today - so tonight will be pizza night - his dough has been doing it's thing since this morning so it should be good and bubbly thin in a few hours, mmmmm.....

Speaking of bread... if you haven't seen Thomas' latest creation, get over there right now - it's almost unbelievable, except for the fact that we are talking about Thomas, bread baker extraordinaire!  Simply amazing...

Mar 30, 2011

All kinds of random...

I didn't get much of anything done yesterday, the weather has me down and I should have been working on the quilt, but instead spent the morning at my favorite locale for work avoidance...

When I got home I made some bran muffins with apple chunks in them and told the kids they were cupcakes... it worked!

Then, trying to get inspired to get back to quilting, I flipped on the tv to see if I could find a sewing or crafting show on one of the PBS channels...

What in the world????

this is what I found, apparently I'm supposed to cook dressed in a strapless gown with a rhinestone belt... maybe this is why my bread sucks?!  I obviously don't watch enough daytime television - basic cooking 101 has changed tremendously LOL...anyone know who this chick is?  I turned it off before I found out, it was depressing me :)

Hubby actually had a few free minutes before heading off to work so I put him to work in the garden - he's planting my potatoes!  This is huge because he really doesn't plant anything - don't get me wrong, he's the go-to guy for building my raised beds, fences, trellises, etc but planting and harvesting?  Nope, just the eating part of the deal.  Seeing as how I was so busy (in shock) watching the gown girl cook, when he asked me how to do it I told him "just go fork all that straw and stuff out of the bin, loosen up the bottom, throw them in cut sides down, dig some compost out of the bottom of that bin and throw a few inches on top".  I would normally watch this operation like a hawk but I left him to his own devices, when I went out to check later in the afternoon, he had left my dinner plate out there, but it looked fantastic!

See him?

This is normally all I see of him... he's always heading off to work!  This is his preferred mode of transportation, but I admit with him coming home in the middle of the night lately it has me worried, especially when he's riding home at 3 am on Friday and Saturday nights with all the bar hoppers on the road, but he insists.

We had the sun peek through for a couple of hours, so I "walked the estate" to see what was going on out there:

My creeping plants are creeping all over the place

the trays left outside for Mother Nature to sprout aren't doing anything yet


direct seeded spinach is up and growing finally

Peas are going strong finally

I was so worried about my 8 artichoke plants outside in these 20-30º nighttime temps, but they are fine.  They like to be transplanted early when it's still cool, but I had been very afraid for them the past few nights.  Last year I waited until mid-late April to plant them out and they all died.

Candytuft (snowdrift), named for it's early blooms

 Below, darn raspberries popping up into my raised beds!  Time to get out the flame thrower.

more lettuces...

Below, this one is for my mom... this is a "walking foot" (she reads the blog but not so good about checking her email!)

Again... can you believe it? This one just south of us, that's twice in 3 days...

You can read the full story about the whale here.

No more randomness today, cold and rainy again and I'm going to go quilt right..... now!  Well, maybe after I catch up on blogs, figure out what's for dinner, do some laundry, but then for sure LOL!

Mar 29, 2011


of this...

You would think with the end in sight, I'd be all over this.  I was, for one whole day and evening, then yesterday when I realized I was only halfway through the quilting and my back was killing me from sitting there, I paced around the house looking for any way possible to avoid the last half of the machine quilting!

Temps are insane here for our location.  It was in the 80's last week - this week?  The 30's!  This morning I woke up to a pretty good freeze out there for the 2nd morning in a row, temp was 28º.  I feel badly for my broccoli and peas, but I think they can handle it, my artichokes, not so sure.  They like to be transplanted when it's still cool out, and they were hardened off in upper 40's temps, but I am anxious about checking on them out there.  At least they are in the relatively insulated ground, keeping my fingers crossed until I head out to check.

So what did I do to avoid the quilt yesterday?

After watching my neighbor try and push start his Honda Fit for about 10 minutes all by himself, I woke up hubby to go help him out.  It was kind of amusing, and he probably could have done it easily if there was a hill, but it's level.  If there's any car that would be really easy to push start, this is it.  He would push it up this tiny incline in the business across the street, run to the back, push again and then run alongside and jump in, but it just wouldn't roll fast enough, LOL

After that entertainment, I made Jane's Gr@pe Nuts!  For those that follow her, you are already aware of the awesome kitchen projects and yummies she cranks out of her kitchen all while cooking and baking from her well stocked and healthy pantry, but if you haven't checked her out, head over to Jane's Hard Work Homestead and get your apron on because there will be flour flying!

My personal tweaks were the following:  I don't have fresh ground flour so I tried to get as healthy as I could within the confines of my store bought pantry flour.  I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 cup soy flour, and 1/2 cup wheat bran to substitute for the 3.5 cups of fresh ground stuff.  I decreased the sugar amount as her and Mama Pea suggested since I too, don't like sugary sweet cereals.  I used 3/4 cup of brown sugar with just a bit of raw sugar sprinkled over the top as the crumbles were finishing their baking.  Once I can get some local honey, I may use that since the kids love honey.

My food processor is all but kaput since I seem hell bent on using it for things like grating soap bars into flakes for detergent (poor machine), so my crumbles are varied in size from tiny to large instead of a nice uniform size, but it makes a good amount, well more than a 'Family Size Box' of the store bought stuff as you can see...

And, for the ultimate endorsement...

The kids and I loved it!  Of course we all love Grape Nuts to begin with, so this was a huge improvement over eating store bought.  Bonus, for those with kids, this is a very kid-friendly recipe, they will love breaking up the chunks as it bakes and stirring and checking on it.

After sewing ONE row on the quilt, I walked away again and started a batch of White Chicken Chili in the crockpot and decided to attempt bread yet again.  This time I turned out 2 loaves of French bread that were actually quite good.

Lots of crockpot meals in our future, I think.  Hubby's new schedule isn't really a schedule at all.  For the past 10 days (funny how that coincides with the Libyan involvement, huh?) he has been working at least 14 hour days, and he is working nights.  The kids haven't seen him in several days, since he is working every day, weekends too.  He gets home at about 3 am, is sleeping when I'm getting them off to school, and then he leaves at 2 pm or so to head back to work, so he's gone when the kids get home from school and it's the middle of the night again when he comes home.  Poor Finn was asking me why daddy didn't tell them he was going on deployment again.  I had to explain that he isn't on deployment, but these are his normal hours now, and he is indeed, still across the street at the hangar working!  This is the stuff that is far worse than deployment, since he's here, we just don't see him.  We get into a "daddy's gone" groove on deployment when everything runs smoothly, but when he's back, the kids expect to be able to do things with him at least on the weekends.  And there's the whole "at least when he's deployed he makes extra money"!  So until further notice, dinner kind of has to be ready for him to take to work by 2 p.m., which means crock pot!  I will have to expand my horizons when it comes to crock pot cooking.

In other local news, here is the view Virginia Beach woke up to yesterday morning...

Sadly, this seems to be happening more and more often in past years, I think we had 2 or 3 last year.  Whether it's a ship accident or a migration thrown off course, it's sad and concerning.  We have a Marine Mammal Stranding Team here in our city and they said it looks to be a ship injury, but due to the size of the whale, they had to bury it deeply last night at the beach instead of towing it out to sea, now that's a big hole to dig in the sand.

Okay, no more procrastinating - I'm finishing that quilt today, and hope to have a photo of it actually on the bed by tomorrow evening, wish me luck, I'm goin' in....

Mar 27, 2011

My first bed-size quilt

This project is all about working with what I already had on hand.  I had to get a bit creative in the block size and backing due to the amounts of fabric I had on hand, but it can be done!

I used the pattern "Modern Maze" from the book 'Modern Basics' by Amy Ellis.  I ended up shortening the squares down to 12" from 12.5 and adding a border to create the exact size I needed for the bed, while working with the varied amounts of fabric I had.

Long story short, here's what I've been up to the past few days:

Thursday, I picked out these 3 fabrics that I really love and always keep different shades of in my stash.  I then paired them with the orange you see in the upper left corner.  They blend well in the quilt, although I'll be honest and say that if I were going to actually purchase the final color for the quilt, I would have used another gray, it's my favorite color and has a more modern look that matches the house.  While nice, this quilt will end up being a bit more "happy" and springy, not as "mod" as I had hoped.  But, I like it still...

After getting all the cutting done on Thursday, i was able to get all the piecing done on Friday.  Lest you think I am really energetic, I want you to see my new setup for pinning the squares into rows....

Kids in bed, movie on Netflix, wine glass on the right and a felted board on my lap for pinning, see? - I'm not really as ambitious as I seem sometimes :)

I think I'll call this quilt "By the skin of my teeth" - look at how little fabric was left after trimming 35 12" squares... not much room for error, eh?  If you don't sew or quilt, just know that this is NOT good, I'm actually very, very lucky this time.

Saturday I finished sewing all the rows and columns together, pressing all the seams on the back of the quilt top flat

Here is the pattern before quilting the top

Lacking the massive amount of backing fabric needed (5-6 yards), I chose this bedsheet instead!  It has the same colors but different pattern totally, but the content was right at a low thread count (quilting fabric is NOT high thread count and needles have a hard time punching through those nice soft bedsheets). Due to that low thread count it wasn't being used as a sheet, so voila! - improvisational quilt backing.  Bonus is that it will essentially be a reversible quilt when I'm done.

Saturday night was time to sandwich the quilt.  A must is to start with a swiffer, since this evolution is done on the floor due to the size of the quilt.

Backing fabric (sheet) taped to the floor

Batting goes on top of that, then the quilt top - then the whole sandwich is basted together to avoid shifting during the actual quilting process.  For newbies, a quilt isn't actually "a quilt" until it is sandwiched and all layers are stitched together in a pattern of sorts - the top is called "patchwork".

And yes, I use pins for basting instead of needle and thread...it's much easier for me

Above is the quilt sandwich on the floor, covered in basting pins, this process took about 2 hours Saturday night as I was also having to shoo children away and take care of laundry as well.

And chasing dogs away...

They seemed to think it was their new bed, and didn't seem to mind laying on a bunch of pins

Today's job is the actual quilting, this involves a plain grid stitch for me, it's "easy" but extremely long, boring, back aching work - but when this part is finished is when it really starts to look like a quilt and not just a starchy flat piece of fabric!

Here is where I'll be the rest of the day today, tonight, and probably tomorrow.  After this part all that is left is the binding, and that is the hardest part for me, I'm hoping someday I'll "get it" without the book in front of me and I'll start to look forward to this finishing step as I gain more experience.

Luckily, I'm not missing a thing outside, it's cold and blustery - weather report called for snow today but it is 36º outside so we are getting sleet all day, brrrrrr!  Hard to imagine now that it was 82º this time last week!