Did I just see a spider???

Anyone that knows me knows that I am COMPLETELY arachnophobic. Even the thought of a spider, or a photo of one makes my skin crawl. Now I’ll take a hop skip and a jump to another topic, but you’ll quickly see how they’re related…

As quilters, we become accustomed to a certain level of dust and debris. It is inevitable that dust accumulates more quickly in our work areas because of the constant cutting, sewing and shuffling of fabrics. Seriously, how many times have you been told you have thread sticking to your butt? (if not many, they’re just not telling you, but it’s been there…)

This requires near constant upkeep with the vacuum and dust cloth, both of which I deplore and avoid as much as possible. Hence the random strings, lint and tiny bits of fabric that end up on the floor. That appear to be spiders.

Case in point:

OMG is that a spider????

OMG is that a spider????

Nope, it’s a little blue something from cutting fabric. See, there’s a little yellow corner next to it.

ooooooohhhhhh, nope, just some shrapnel on the floor

ooooooohhhhhh, nope, just some shrapnel on the floor

Now, sometimes it looks like something else… just a generic little bug..

a little bug maybe?

a little bug maybe?

But again, just a shard of fabric.

Hey what’s this??

how did that worm get in here?

how did that worm get in here?

Nope, not a worm. a little strip of trimmed fabric. A.k.a. immeasurable joy and unending plaything for the cat.

WAIT WHAT WAS THAT?

WHAT WAS THAT??

WHAT WAS THAT??

As my head jerks back three times and my eyes start doing circles, thinking I saw bugs, by now I’m realizing I am just completely paranoid. It’s lint.

And this one…

I was convinced this was a praying mantis

I was convinced this was a praying mantis

Tell me I’m wrong. Does this NOT look like a praying mantis? I thought maybe one of the cats brought it in as a treasure for mommy. Nope, another example of my ability to make a mess and not know it (this wasn’t even near the cutting board).

So there you have it – my tale of woe. My sad obsession with little uninvited creatures within my safe zone. Hopefully on this one, I am alone.

Happy quilting my friends, may your fabric (and sewing rooms) be pest free!

 

 

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Fun Little Project!

Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukah or Seasons Greetings, take your pick. Personally I celebrate Christmas, so that’s always my first thought this time of year.

Well, I still have December’s monthly block quilt to create, but I do have it planned out. I didn’t bring it with me, so that will have to come together when I get back to my sewing machine!

But when I finally finished my customer quilts with a Christmas due date, I had a bit of time to do something FUN.

Blueberry Pie Hot Pad

Blueberry Pie Hot Pad

My friend at the quilt shop the weekend before had shown me a photo of a fruit pie potholder she was going to make for some gifts (sorry, I’m sharing this a little late for that, probably). I immediately fell in love with the idea and had to take it on as well. I bought the rick rack and berry fabric and when I had that bit of time I went to it.

The photo shared with me had a pie tin (silver fabric) along the outside, creating a circle edge. I didn’t love the look of that, so I did it my own way. I took a pie tin and cut out a circle of the berry fabric and cut a 9″ square of batting and Insulbright. I used a scrap piece of tan fabric for the back that was large enough to put up on my long arm machine (because that’s how I roll yo).

I had these scraps of marble fabric in a gold color, which matched the rick rack (too light and the pie would have looked unbaked). I trimmed them to as large as I could, and sewed them wrong sides together to make a long tube. I ironed the seam open so it was on the bottom side and then cut the tube and made lattice on the top of the pie. I then wove the lattice and set it in positions I thought it looked tasty.

And then I pinned it. I hate pinning. I put it on the long arm and did a little wavy line within each piece of crust on the lattice on each side of the lattice to keep it down.

Then I trimmed my pie and (ugh) pinned again so the binding was folded over from back to front, twice so the raw edge was hidden completely. Sewed that down.

Then I had to pin (GRRRRRR) the rick rack on top and I zig zag stitched that down, and then straight stitched the inner edge of it down too. I stitched over the raw edge of it where the rick rack came together and BOOM done.

That’s it!

I’m so addicted to this cuteness that I bought THREE yards of this plum fabric to make more!

Plum fabric

Plum fabric

I can get my hands on cranberries, raspberries and I found mixed berry fabric online. It’s harder than you’d think to find fruit fabric without stems, peels or background print! I’ll be making more of these for some craft shows and you will DEFINITELY see them in my Etsy store sometime soon!

My stash is consuming me

Honestly, I don’t know what else to call this post. I mean seriously, I have SO MUCH fabric, and yet I seem to have to buy more for projects, backings, borders, customers, various other excuses… uh I mean REASONS. Legit reasons!

So anyway, here’s the problem (I think): I see the amazing and vast potential of every fabric I find, and I see what it could ultimately become. But I don’t have the time to actually execute the idea I have about the fabric.

I make it a point to go on as many retreats as possible. I made it to only one last year (very busy year), and have made it to three this year, so far, and have two more planned. Wait, make that four already – forgot about the one I was invited to last minute in AZ.

Anyway, I have been to some retreats that were not well, um…. well appointed. I.e. one ironing station for 12 people, two cutting stations for 20. See what I mean? So I prep before going to a retreat so WHEN I GO TO THE RETREAT, I sit and sew and sew and sew. I don’t have to stop production waiting for the iron or cutting table. I precut most of what I can to be prepared to just GO.

Which means I complete A LOT. I usually finish 4-8 tops (mostly not bordered tho) at a weekend retreat.

Which brings me to this (quilts needing borders):

need borders

need borders

Then there is the stack of quilts that HAVE borders attached.

have borders

have borders

And these are probably getting these borders…

maybe borders

maybe borders

Then the quilts that are ready, WITH backing prepared for them.

quilt tops with backing

quilt tops with backing

And then the quilts that I somehow actually got quilted, that now just need to be bound.

need binding

need binding

Never mind the two rag quilts awaiting their turn…

So when I went through all this I brought home about 15 yards of solids from the quilt shop and found all my other large pieces and measured and tagged them. These are potential backs:

backings

backings

First count I had about 8 needing borders, 5 needing backs, 15 needing quilting and 4 needing binding. I got 2 quilted, 5 bound and 3 with borders attached. Which leaves me with 5 needing borders, still 5 needing backs (because I matched a few more up), 17? needing quilting and one still needing to be bound.

Honestly the problem is that I am a long arm quilter by trade, so everyone else’s quilt gets top priority over mine (including any charity for the guild or QOV). So I just rarely quilt my own projects!

And to think, I’m heading to retreat Friday morning to create more tops! OI VEY!

WINTER IS HERE – PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY!

In light of colder weather approaching, I feel it my responsibility to repost this everytime temperatures hit the freezing mark. My children and I were probably lucky to survive, and of course, we never even thought it could happen to us… Original incident circa 2007.

I decided to post this because I saw a story on the news last night about a small local church that had a CO leak and 4 people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. I have had this experience personally, and it is terribly scary to realize how easily my entire family could have perished. Especially when you consider how simple it is to avoid this type of tragedy.

It happened about 4 years ago. I had been suffering from migraines already, and of course flu and allergies cause their share of illness. One night in particular, I awoke around 2a and felt nauseous. I went to the bathroom and threw up, then went back to bed. Two hours later I awoke and did it again. And again. I called in sick to work and slept for a good part of the day, thinking it was a strange, 24 hour flu.

About a week later it happened again, all night long. That weekend was my daughter’s birthday party, and by the time that afternoon came round I had to call a friend to come help because I felt so weak and ill I couldn’t stay awake and upright to host her party. I knew something was wrong at that point.

I really felt just terribly weak, with a headache and nausea, but it wasn’t constant. It was sporadic. My concern was really raised when my daughters slept with me one night and it happened again. My older daughter woke me up during the night and told me she felt like she was going to vomit. This memory haunts me still. I told her to get up and go throw up then. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even think of getting up to help her. That is so far out of my character I knew something was really wrong.

I told a friend of mine about what was happening and he suggested that it might be carbon monoxide poisoning. I realized that we had just begun turning on the heater, so that could account for the sporadic nature of the issue. I immediately called someone out to check the heating units.

The unit over the bedroom had a leak. The technician warned me not to turn on that unit and that he had to call someone in for a second opinion (I had a homeowners appliance insurance policy of some sort, so they required the 2nd opinion to cover the costs). The second tech came out two days later. By then we were pretty cold, sleeping each night in a huddle in front of the gas fireplace to keep warm. This tech checked for leaks without turning on the heat, after telling me his tester didn’t seem to be working properly. Then my home insurance people told me there was no problem because the second tech found no issue.

I was livid. Momma bear came out and I let them have it over the phone, insisting with reps and managers that I required another tech to come out and do a proper check with proper equipment. The first tech came back out with more sophisticated intruments, turned on the heat and tested for CO. And still found a leak.

A few days later the unit was replaced and we could safely heat the house again.

Since that event, I purchased 2 CO detection units. These models, with the LED readout cost about $30 each. You can find them more or less expensive at almost any local store (Target, Walmart, Lowe’s). AND THEY ARE WORTH IT! More worth it (in my opinion) than smoke detectors.

CO cannot be smelled. It cannot be seen. You come down with flu-like symptoms and headaches, and then if you are not as lucky as my family was, you die. I thank God for the fact that my daughters were both sleeping with me that night, as Amy usually slept on her top bunk and may not have made it through the night if she had been up there.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider getting one of these units. It’s a small one-time cost that truly could save your life! It doesn’t just happen to other people, it could happen to you, or someone you love!

my garden!

I just love to garden. When I was young, I helped my grandpa with his garden. He had me thin out the seedlings, weed the big garden and harvest the crops. I believe this is the basis for my love of growing produce for my family.

He grew everything. Beans, tomatoes and squash are what I remember most.

The first time I tried to garden was in containers when I lived in Bremerton WA. I didn’t have full sun really anywhere, but the back patio was the closest I could get. Didn’t have tons of luck with that. The next year I tried a small garden plot, but there wasn’t enough sun there for great results. Plus the slugs tried to eat everything. I did get one or two kohlrabi to grow.

Years later, we moved to Olympia WA to a house that had a garden already set. It was AMAZING! There was a huge compost pile in the side yard, and a chicken coop that I could use to replenish the compost pile when I cleaned it.

This backyard had pear and apple trees, a crab apple tree, horseradish, gooseberries, raspberries and blackberries. In two of the raised beds were asparagus and rhubarb. The rest were empty and ready for me to get busy. I was in heaven.

By the end of the three years I lived there, I had added blueberry bushes, and experienced bumper crops of peas, corn, squash, tomatoes, potatoes and beans. I struggled with brussels sprouts, melons and pumpkins, got a few onions and just couldn’t get carrots to grow. But I learned a TON about growing crops of many types. Trial and error baby.

I retained my gardening books, so when I moved to TX I again felt the need to garden. With the immense amount of information available, I have come to trust what I can buy at the store less and less, so gardening to feed my family has become ever more important to me.

Over the past few years I have had various success: none with peas, some with lettuce, mixed results with tomatoes, good with asparagus and okra and squash and melons. Turns out kale and spinach are pretty easy, as are potatoes. I wasn’t sure they would be with the heat here, but spring and fall they all grow really well.

This year I ordered all seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange. They carry organic heirloom seeds, so I know everything I plant has started even from the seed as organic and there has been no tampering with genetic makeup of what I’m eventually going to eat.

We’re having a pretty cool summer, so I think that’s helping my tomatoes do well. I also have carrots maturing, and had a great spring with my asparagus and radishes.

Here are some photos of my big green mess 🙂

something ate my tomato plants :(

something ate my tomato plants 😦

Fortunately I had plenty more tomato plants in the garden bed!

tomato plants in garden

tomato plants in garden

Can you see my visitor hanging out on a tomato branch? I found another one in the squash!

a resident in my garden

a resident in my garden

And my first tomato! It’s either a black cherry or a yellow pear. Guess I’ll find out when it ripens.

my first tomato

my first tomato

My asparagus is fronding out for the rest of the summer. This will feed the corms and make them stronger for the following year. Looks pretty crazy, so I should have a bumper crop next year!

asparagus fronding

asparagus fronding

a rogue sunflower

a rogue sunflower

beans

beans

corn!

carrots

carrots

I think I let my lettuce bolt, so it might be bitter. I’ll have to test it and if it is, I will leave it to flower and reseed itself.

lettuce

lettuce

I forgot to plant the other varieties of squash until about a week ago… so here is my straight or crookneck coming up:

squash seedling

squash seedling

That is adjacent to my pattypan squash, which has grown profusely!

pattypan squash

pattypan squash

Now this I’m a little perplexed about. It looks like tomatillos, but I’ve never planted those before, so I’m not sure how it got here. Regardless I’m going to let it do it’s thing!

tomatillos?

tomatillos?

This here is Jenny Lind Melon vines. I didn’t plant them this year, but I think I let some melon rot in the garden or something because it reseeded itself! Yay!

melons

melons

My okra did the same thing and it’s everywhere – even between the beds AND on the side of the house. Doesn’t look super healthy, but funny enough it looks the same on the side of the house where I don’t water it AT ALL as in the garden where I water it regularly. If it survives until we get some hot weather (it did this last year too, and blossomed when it got really hot), then I will be making TONS of pickled okra!

okra everywhere!

okra everywhere!

Come the cooler weather of fall, I’ll replant kale, spinach and maybe some red potatoes.

I think I need to convince hubby to help me put in some more garden beds for next year. 🙂