Sunday, February 28, 2010

My month in review..February, and what I'm working on now.

Hi everyone, I can't believe we are at the end of the month already.  Its been a pretty good month here, I feel like I've been making real progress in quilting and life in general.  As far as quilting goes I have 2 finishes for the month, and made progress of a couple of other quilts.  I still have several to go before that BLCE list is even half way done, but I'm happy to have a few more crossed off the list.  I've also been having fun making the pin toppers. Thank you for the compliments on them. I'm still working on making smaller and more detailed toppers, but I am having a blast.  I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy working with clay. Heck, what can I say, I just love the artistic process in just about any form.  I've gotten 8 done, and 1 waiting to be fired once I get a couple more done.  Here is a picture of the second set of 4 I finished.
The little lady bug is going to my mom, and the piggy bank was inspired by a piggy bank my mouseling saves her coins in. The teapot I'm pretty pleased with, the tea cup however, could be a little better.  But overall I think they turned out nice...consdering they are all the size of a penny or smaller.  I have also been getting more consistant with my exercising.  I have been walking or running 4 to 5 days a week.  Once that becomes habit I want to start incorporating some floorwork or weights, but I am just taking it one step at a time.  Life in general has been going pretty smooth for the most part so I really can't complain. So bring on March, and hopefully some spring weather (!!!) I'm ready!

So what have I been working on today? Here ya go...

I've been machine quilting the star quilt along quilt.  I am doing a meander with lots of loopy goodness.  So far so good. I'm about 80% of the way done, and hope to have a finish in early March.  I think after this one I am going to concentrate on getting a couple of the smaller projects off the list.  I know I have 2 baby quilts as well as a couple wall hangings I could probably finish up relatively quickly.

So in off topic chatter, I have been thinking a lot lately (especially while walking) about life in general. How do you handle what life hands you? How do you handle when you are emotionally hurt? How do you move on? Its been topics I've thought about a lot since my divorce.  The emotional pain can be so incredibly deep. There are times I just want to cry, times I want to ask the hows and whys...and get answers, times I am so angry, times I just have questions about how I should handle it all.  I don't think there are any easy answers to any of it.  Some of the things I have learned, however, are you just take it day by day.  Don't let your anger consume you.  I think of a line in a Will Smith song where he says "Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too."  No truer words have ever been spoken, in my humble opinion. Negative emotions will just drag you down if you let them.  They are unavoidable, but the key (for me at least) is to try to acknowledge them, then step back and look at the situation (at which point I start to realize that they really don't do anyone any good) then let go.  Its not always easy, but I've found when I am able to do this I feel sooo much better.  Learn to find joy in the everyday. I have learned to really enjoy my time when I am walking or sewing or even doing chores around the house.  I know this sounds silly, but sometimes even when I'm just doing the dishes or laundry, I find myself thinking "I'm really doing this on my own. I really am strong and capeable. I know things will get better." I've also come to the realization that some of my questions may never get an answer.  I'm not going to go into details, but there are many things that have happened and that I have gone through that I just keep wondering "why". And even though I know I may never get an answer, I also believe that everything has happened for a reason. Again, I may not know what that reason is now, but I know that someday it will be revealed to me.  I try to focus on the positive and be thankful for what I do have and where I am, and have faith that things will get easier and better times are ahead :oD

Thank you all for letting me discuss a little of the non-quilty stuff thats been rattleing around inside my head for a while.  I think I'm going to head on over to my sewing machine now and see if maybe I just might be able to get the quilting finished up on that quilt along quilt.  If not today, hopefully sometime during my long "weekend".  And with any luck I'll have a finished quilt to show you all real soon.  I hope you all have a great day. Warmest country wishes!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday weekly work-out check in.....and pin cushion fun.

Once upon a time, I used to run marathons, and was a personal trainer. ACE certified and everything.(I was always athletic, played softball, basketball, volleyball, track and field, power lifting...the list goes on). Once I started a family I tried my best to stay in shape as best I could.  Then along came the big LCE and I really let myself go. I've been feeling just aweful.  One of the things I left behind after the divorce (that I wish I hadn't) was my treadmill. (Another thing that I think may have gotten left behind was a weight lifter Precious Moments figurine my mom and dad had bought for me years ago.  I'm afraid it is forever lost now, and that breaks my heart, but I digress....) After some considerable time saving, I was finally able to purchase a new treadmill. I'm very excited about it! I'm also very excited to try to get back in shape, and I'm going to try to check in with my progress once a week.  Hopefully it will keep me motivated, not bore you (since it will only be once a week) and all of you out there can feel free to help keep me motivated and on track as well if you wish. So here is my first weekly progress report. Not particularly impressive, but its a start...
Friday 2/ 19 - 1 mile run - plus walking to finish at 30 min. total aerobic time
Saturday 2 / 20 - 40 min. walk
Sunday 2 / 21 - 1 mile run - plus walking to finish at 30 min total aerobic time
Monday 2 / 22 - 30 min. walk
Tuesday 2 / 23 - Day Off
Wednesday 2 / 24 - 1 mile run - plus walking to finish at 25 min. total aerobic time

Now on to a little quilting related stuff. I remember seeing a picture of a decorated pin in a magazine. They called it "pin cushion bling". I thought it was the cutest thing. It was made of polymer clay, and I though "hey, maybe I'll give it a try. See what I can do."  I surfed around the internet a little bit and found some pictures of decorated pins. Now I am nowhere near as talented as this artist, (she is amazing!) but here is my try at making a few.
I couldn't resist trying to make a little mouse to perch on my pincusion. They are just cute and cheery, and something fun for my pin cushions. I think I'm going to go out and get some glaze to make them nice and shiny. It was fun to play with my polymer clay a little bit too.  The only sewing I can say I've gotten done is a second section for the postage stamp quilt :(  I'm debating how I'm going to quilt the quilt along stars. I'm tempted to do an all over meander, or maybe come up with a type of pantograph. All I know is I want to get the quilting started before the end of the month.

Not too much more going on around here, the same old same old, if you will. The snow just doesn't seem to want to go away, chores to do, work, school, the list goes on. Glad I can find some "me time" to sew, blog, craft, and just have a little fun. Hopefully you are all finding some "me time" too, to do the things that make you happy. Warmest country wishes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

strips, strips, and more strips :oD

Ok, one of the first quilts I ever saw was a postage stamp quilt. I thought it was about the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I wanted to take it home with me, but alas it belonged to someone else. Now with the help of Heidi and her tutorial, I am making one myself! YIPPEE. All those little squares look intimidating, but with a little effort you can go from these strips...
to this...

I've got several more sections to go, but the process is actually pretty simple. Please check out her blog by clicking on the button on my sidebar to get all the details.  So as you can see I've been taking a little break from the UFOs to play with lots and lots and lots of strips. I would love to know if you are joining in, and see your progress.  And as much as I would love to say this one will be mine, I think it is going to end up going to my son...he went crazy for it and only one section is done :cD  I also found a clever way to wrangle all those little stips. Check this out...

Any ideas what it is?  Well, I am horrible about throwing away the plastic packaging that things come from the store in. Especially when they have snaps or zippers. I figure I can find another use for them rather than chuck them in the trash. What my strips are in, believe it or not, is a plastic bag that undergarments came in! I bought what I needed from the store, couldn't part with the heavy plastic bag, then found out they are almost exactly 1 1/2 inches wide! Perfect for storing 1 1/2 inch strips for this project! Imagine that!!

On the UFO front, the star quilt along top is basted and ready for quilting. I am off tomorrow yet, so after getting another section or two done for the postage stamp quilt along done, I will be starting that. I have also pulled out the scrappy bargello to work on it some more. I am hand quilting that one, and I figure even if I just get a thread or two done a day, hey that's progress ;oD

Speaking of progress, I'm off again to try to make a little more. Hope you all have a great day, and find some time to make some progress on your projects too. Warmest country wishes!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Its done, its done, its finally done!!

Well, it was starting to feel like it was never going to happen, but I finally did get the behemoth finished. Got the last of the binding sewn down last night :cD
Its huge, its heavy, and its DONE!! I so love these types of quilts. I think its both because I love scrappy quilts, but also because I don't like to waste ANYTHING if I can help it. So although I don't think I'm going to make one this size again (famous last words...I'll probably make one just as big some other time now that I said that) I know I'll be making more of these when the strings bin starts to overflow. I also have to admit I'm pretty excited because now that this one is done, the biggest quilts on my UFO list are done.
Now I am going to get going on the quilt along quilt, its all basted now :cD and get ready for the postage stamp quilt along.  If you would like to join in on the postage stamp quilt along please click the button on my sidebar. Heidi already has all the "getting ready" info posted and will post the first installment for the first two sections on the 21st. My fabrics are cut and ready to go, and I am excited to get going on something new. With that I'm on my way to get things done before I have to go into work. Hope you all have a great Friday! Warmest country wishes!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow day, sewing and finding myself

I was woken up this morning by a knock on my door and a small voice.  "Mom, we don't have school today."  "Ok, honey, thanks" I replied.  Still a little groggy, I turned on my radio and lo and behold we did have a snow day today.  I can't believe the amount of snow that has fallen in the last few weeks.  I looked out my window this morning and took this shot (with the camera in my cell phone...sorry for the less than clear pictures, but I think you'll get the idea.)

Well, it snowed all day.  We had a great time just being inside, getting things cleaned up, watching movies, playing video games and sewing. I went out at night to take this picture, again not so great, but for anyone wondering, the fence in the picture is nearly waist high to me, and its almost not visable. Now granted its near the street and has had some snow plowed up next to it, but still....
They say we are probably going to set a record for snowfall in February. We were at 22 inches for the month BEFORE the snow started flying last night. The record is 25. I think we've probably beat that. I know I'm weird, but I still love the snow.
On to quilty news.  I spent part of the day sewing the binding down on the behemoth, my hands are finally letting me get some work done again.  I love it, but don't think I'll ever undertake a project that big and heavy again any time soon. I've rounded the third corner and gotten about 1/3 of the way done on that side so I'm getting oh so close to another finish. :oD  I also got some 1 1/2 inch strips cut for the postage stamp quilt along. I'm doing a bit of a controlled scrappy. I'm using a white on cream for the "background" and reds, browns, greens, blues and yellows for the rest. Here is what I have so far.
I know I have more than enough for the first part of the quilt along, but am going to keep cutting strips as I'm not sure how big I want this quilt to end up. I am excited, though, because the first quilt I ever remember seeing was a postage stamp quilt and I just thought it was the most beautiful thing. I soooo wanted it, and now I am going to make one myself. I also got to basting on the quilt along I did a while back on Amandajean's blog.
All the blues and greens were fat quarters I won from a give away she did. After I got it all together I realized I didn't have enough fabric to bind it and she was kind enough to send me a half yard of coordinating fabric so I even have the binding fabric ready to go.

Now to the "finding me" part of the post.  While I was basting I started thinking about all I've been through, where I'm at and where I want to be.  When I was younger I was so strong. Never backed down from a fight, was never afraid to voice my opinion, faced every new challenge with excitement.  I got married young, and never got the experiences others have had. Some I wish I would have. Like college, my ex got to go, graduated, even studied overseas. Every time I would mention how I felt I missed out on the college experience he would make a remark along the lines of "You really didn't miss out on much, trust me." Over the years I did get to do some of the things I wanted. Some of the things that made me "me", but especially the last few year of my marriage were not "me".  I can look back now and see where I would cave during arguements no matter how strongly I felt, I would put myself absolutely last, put up with things I never would have when I was younger. Even my family saw it and would ask all kinds of "why do you" questions and I would just dance around an answer. I would have panic attacks, my self esteem was terribly low, and even though I found the courage to leave that situation I still have bad days. Days where I question what I've done. Today, however, was not one of those days. Today was one of the days where I was able to look at myself and see the old me. I have more responsiblites now that I ever did in the past, but I face that challenge with strength and know that I can do it. I AM doing it. I feel emotionally better that I have in a long time. I haven't had a panic attack in over a year. I am still working on the self esteem issues, but I know I can't fix everything in just a short ammount of time. I am finding myself again. The one who isn't afraid, who knows she is strong and can do whatever it is she sets her mind to.  I'm not afraid of the future anymore. I can see the sunshine and the positive and it feels good! I know there are still tough times and situations ahead of me, but I know what it feels like to let myself get under my circumstances and I have to do what I can to make sure I don't let myself get there again. The old me...the real me...would never let herself do that. She would take those challenges by the horns and do what she needed to do to get her footing, deal with the problem and get moving foreward again. I'm glad I can see that me in the mirror again :oD
Well, I am off again.  It's getting late and I have a few more things I need to get done yet tonight. I hope everyone has a great day, is staying warm, and makes sure to make a little time for themselves. Warmest country wishes!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A quick hello from Country Mouse's house!

Hi everyone, yup, it's me...I'm posting in the evening, in my pajamas, sipping some coffee and enjoying the fact that I finally have internet at home!! WAAAHOOOO!! Especially considering that it is snowing like crazy here again.  I'm looking forward to just enjoying the evening with a fire roaring and surfing all over the place.  I'll be back tomorrow with some more interesting things for y'all, but just couldn't wait to post and share the news...from home! :oD  Hope you all have a great evening. Warmest country wishes.
Country Mouse

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What I've been doing durring the snow

Wow, did we get a lot of snow!  It seems that once a year we get a really good, heavy snowfall, and I think this was it. The kids had a snow day yesterday and we had lots of fun just hanging out, watching movies, and enjoying the fireplace. Had it been just a touch warmer, we may have had packing snow and we would have gone outside for snowman building, or a good old fashioned snowball fight ;o) It hasn't been a lot of fun to get around in (if not for impassabale roads, for inexperienced drivers that don't know how to handle the conditions and pose a hazzard) but it has given me reason to stay indoors a bit more than usual and get some work done. Unfortunately it also means limited internet access....for now.  I am all excited, though, because we are getting the internet hooked up at our house this comming week!! No more driving somewhere to find a connection, no more waiting to post or surf or e-mail. YAHOO!!

     Now, you all know that I am on a mission this year to get my UFOs done, and I have been working away on the hunter green/maroon/brown quilt top.  This is the setting I've chosen, now I'm trying to decide what border to put on.  At first I was thinking of not adding one, but then it would feel horribly unfinished to me. So now I'm deciding ok, what color, solid or peiced, thin or wide?  I'm sure it will come to me, but I am also willing to hear some ideas, I always seem to do so many similar things, I would love to try something different.
Oh my, looking at that picture really makes me want to get a new digital camera!! :oS  Also, while getting my machine ready to work on my G/M/B top the other day, I found this curious little note...

Dear Country Mouse,
We have been feeling rather neglected as of late. Although we admire your perserverence and resolve to complete your list of UFOs, we are afraid you have forgotten about us in the process. We respectfully ask that you take a little time out of your busy schedule to visit us, look us over, touch us and maybe, just maybe, let us out to play in a new project. Please, please, please do not forget we are here, and we miss you.
Respectfully yours,
The fabrics of your stash and scrap boxes

It got me thinking...not that I need a new project, but I am getting a bit tired of looking at the same projects. Maybe a new project wouldn't be so bad? I have finished 3 UFOs and have one more very close and several well on their way. Sooooo....when I was visiting Paula's blog she had a link to this postage stamp quilt along! I love it! Its perfect for using up scraps and those fat quarters I've bought with no particular purpose in mind, and I've already got a start on cutting 1 1/2 inch strips because when I've been sorting my scraps that is one of the sizes I've been cutting anyway. It looks like fun, so I'm excited to give it a go. Please feel free to join in the fun too :oD

Well, Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and I am going to try to get a little something special done today for the mouselings to hand out to their classes, so I am going to be getting on my way. Hope you all have a wonderful day! Warmest country wishes!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My weekend in pictures...mostly

Got lots of 12 inches overnight!
Stayed inside and made this to stay warm :)

Treated myself to one of these. Done at home, but still just as nice.

Worked on this a little, and got to ALMOST the half way point on finishing the binding.

I DID get this one girl is gonna be sooo excited!

Pulled out these blocks and bought fabric for the sashing and such so I can do some machine work and give my poor hands a break. 

Bought the backing and batting so I can get this one basted and be on my way toward finishing another UFO.

We also enjoyed the fact that we have a wood burning fireplace.  I love the smell of the fire and the heat it gives off. (Didn't get a picture of that one though :o( ) They have done a really good job of clearing the roads around here, and since I have the day off, and to myself, I think I am going to try and get out there and enjoy every second ;o) Got another busy week ahead of us. Hope you all have a great weekend! Warmest country wishes!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I think I have a new favorite block...

I remember when I was little, seeing all kinds of granny square afgans.  At the time I just thought "what a pretty blanket with lots of colors", now I love them for their nostalgic feeling.  I think just about everyone has seen or had one at one time or another.  I remember my mom making granny squares out of little bits of (what I now realize was) left over yarn, and trying to teach me how to crochet them.  She made it look sooooo easy, alas I could never get the hang of it. To this day I still don't know how to knit or crochet...both skills I would love to learn.  And knowing now that that is how those who work with yarn use up their scraps, they are even cooler. When I had to take my son to the library to choose a book for his first research project, I couldn't help but wander over to the quilting books.  Marsha McCloskey's Block Party caught my eye, and I went ahead and borrowed it. Glancing through the pages and remembering all my scraps, I thought about a 9" block scrappy sampler (which is still very much a project I plan to do), then I came across a block which is probably traditional, but was new to me.  I believe its called Grandmother's Favorite. Anyway, I looked at it, let out an excited giggle and made a couple...tell me what you see :)
do you see it?

Yup, to me it looks like a quilter's version of a granny square!  I am in love and thinking this is the perfect project for some of those scraps.  I think I am going to flip-flop the lights and darks and make them more scrappy by using more than the "light dark light dark" color layout here.  I'm thinking about just having fun and in the end, having a quilt that reminds me of the granny square afgans that make me think of when I was little and the world was all happy and good.  mmmmmm....I get warm fuzzies just thinking of it ;)

Oh, if only we could return to those days, or maybe just the mind set. Unfortunately life doesn't work that way, and things have been tough.  It always amazes me how life balences itsself out.  Things are going so well, then can crash and burn, then just when everything looks bleak and ominous the sun breaks through and life gets easier. Right now I'm in a bit of a valley and slowly but surely trying hike to make my way out of it. I guess my biggest thing right now is trying to understand why people do and act the way they do. Why some feel it is their place to be in control of everyone and everything and use the tactic of fear or condecention to get what they want. I'm sure its something I'll never fully understand, but continue to cope with and do my best to make the best of what I do have, and try to not let it get me too far down in that valley. Life, if nothing else, will always move foreward. I need to keep looking that way too.

Ok, sorry for that little side jaunt there, and I don't want to leave on a "down" note so I wanted to share just a couple more pictures with you. I did get another block done for the sampler besides the "granny square" one. I think its called Spinning Star.  Its another one with a partial seam. I'm getting better at them, but still have room for improvement.

I was also able to get the tesselating cats quilt all quilted and the binding is ready to attatch.  I think I see lots of binding in my future.  I am still working on hand sewing the binding to the behemoth and my carpal tunel has made the whole process slow going.  I am happy, though, to know that I have TWO quilts so close to finished.  Finally, I have heard it said keep your eyes open for quilt inspiration everywhere.  Well the other day I noticed this...

This is a coaster I've had for a while, made of small peices of inlaid wood and never noticed the pattern its self.  I think it would make a nice quilt...a wall hanging maybe? Possibly different colors?  I'm still thinking on this one (lots of other projects to be working on right now) but it goes to show there is inspiration everywhere :)
Well, that's about all that's exciting from this end of the world, so I am off again to enjoy a day off and get some sewing done in between all the other "need to dos" of the day.  Hope you all have a great one. Warmest country wishes.
Country Mouse
p.s. I apologize for any misspellings, spelling is NOT my strong suit.  Does anyone out there know if they got rid of the spell checker on the post tool bar, or tell me where it is?  ( Yes my computer illiteracy is nice and strong today )Thanks!