Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Check-In - Week 8

That was the week that was. (Some of you will "get" that!!)

OK so how did the week go? Swell, thanks!  Another quilt done, 2 more pounds gone (catching me up!!), and some more things off the do-list.  No new recipe this week.  In fact, I didn't cook much at all! I let Fresh Market do all the heavy lifting this week.

Here is the quilt, with a close-up:

I didn't start from "zero" on this quilt. I had pieces of it already done.  This came from a quilt-sale-room purchase a couple of years ago at the Honeybee Retreat (thanks, Debbie Puckett!). It finally aged enough to become a quilt :-).  

I still didn't get the sweater parts put together, but many other things gone done during the week. All in all it was a great week, full of successes.  Now if only I could beat KT at Words!!!!  She's definitely been kicking my butt lately!!

All this stuff made it's way into my house this week:

Dots and stripes and yellows play significant roles in my stash! The b&ws will be some of the backgrounds for our Christmas tree block swap.  Heaven forbid I should use only what's in the stash!! I also gorged on books and magazines yesterday. Gosh I do love books!!!!

I'm not making any extra commitments this week - I've still got the sweater lurking....waiting...hoping to become complete.  But let's face it - it's tough to get sweater-motivated when it's 97 degrees out!

Soooooo .... how's your summer going?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Check-In - Week 7

I'm playing with the set-up of the blog. More changes coming shortly, but so far I like it.

Wow! My 13 week challenge is more than half-over!

Status for the week: Quilt? Yep. Recipe? Yep. Pound? Sad trombone sound (dang!!) But I did finish the sweater I mentioned in last week's post.  Now wouldn't you think all of that walking and sweating last week would've helped me lose that pound? Oh well ... I'll catch up!

Here's this week's quilt:

No pics of the sweater yet. I'll get one posted later.  I'm not really happy with the results, but at least it graduated from UFO to FO!!  One more thing off "the list".  

Recipes this week: beer bread, which tasted yummy but something in the recipe is not quite right.  Not enough liquid, I think. I'll try it again, though, tweaking it a bit because it was really good!  I also made grilled chicken and vegies (yellow squash, red pepper, purple onions) with chimichurri sauce.  I'll definitely be making that again!!  Remember last week's fennel trial? Well I grilled a steak on the George (Forman grill), then tossed a handful of the fennel/onion on said grill after I cooked the steak.  Wow, that was yummy!!

So I'm caught up on recipes, still even on quilts, but need to make up the pound!  This week's "extra credit" project is to sew the seams on another sweater (that I started when I was in CA) so I can add the edgings and collar.  We'll see if I get there!

I'm off to see the final Harry Potter movie!!!!  I'm happy about seeing the movie, but so sad to see it end. It's been so fun!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I love fabric

Oh duh, what a surprise.

No really. This morning I woke up thinking about fabric. I DO love it. I love collecting it, looking at it, cutting it up & sewing it back together again with some other fabric pals (although it can be terrifying to cut up some fabrics!!) (<--- quilty friends "get' this!!).

I have massive amounts of fabric! I collect it. I love it! Many times I would be shopping for fabric and was asked "what are you going to do with that?" Do? DO? You mean I can't just have it? I mean - what does one DO with a collection of, say ... Matchbook lures...chintz china? Can't I just HAVE my fabric? I finally developed my standard answer to the frequently asked "what are you going to make with that": I'd reply "a stack of fabric - and I'm almost done!!"

When I was still working, every time I bought fabric I would say that I was saving for my retirement (my stash is known as my 401Quilt). How true this has turned out to be! Now that the price of cotton is skyrocketing, it turns out that my fabric buying was quite the good investment! Now that I'm not working, I can play with my fabric. And I certainly have been playing!

I love complex, involved quilts but I also love simple quilts that are fast to make yet show off a wonderful fabric line or group of fabrics. My "13 weeks" project is the perfect setting for making such quilts. How fun it has been to pull from my stash and make a quick quilt where it's the fabric (not the design) that's the star of the show!!

I've been known to binge on cutting fabric, as well. At my annual beach vacation this year, I cut fabric for 10 quilts. For the last two days I've been happily cutting fabrics for 4 quilts. I put these in their own project bag, label them with what they're going to be when they grow up, and plunk them into a project box. Then when I want to sew but not think, I can just grab a bag out of the bin and I'm ready to go.

I'm always sad when I read articles on "how to trim down your stash" that never even mention actually using the stuff! I mean - we bought it because we liked it, right?? (And even though my tastes have certainly changed, I still love all the stuff in my stash.) There are a zillion patterns out there - many of them free - that would be the perfect opportunity to actually use your stash. How about whipping up a few quilts for donation? Even if you just make the top, I bet your guild has some kind of charity/donation project. Not in a guild? Contact one of the locals & donate your tops to them. You'll thin out your stash (allowing room for more!!), hone your sewing skills, and make someone happy in the process. How awesome is that?

What do I do with my simple quilts that I don't donate? A couple of years ago (on Christmas), I put a bunch (I mean a BUNCH) of them in my car and when I arrived at our Christmas gathering, I had everyone go take the one they wanted. Everybody was happy! I thinned out my quilt cabinet and everyone got to take a quilt home.

Quilts don't have to have a purpose to be made. Just make them! They'll find their place in the universe. And you'll use up some of your stash in the process.

I love fabric!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

13 Weeks Wednesday Check-in - Week 6

The week was good to me! Another quilt done, another pound gone, and two new recipes (now I'm only one recipe behind!)

I made the twin to week-2's quilt. Both of these will be leaving to go to their respective cancer-survivor recipients. I'd had this fabric in my stash for quite a long time. It's the Lorelei cancer-ladies fabric. I kind of hoped I'd never have to use it but now two of my friends are living with breast cancer. One of the ladies is SOOOOO "not pink" but I think she will still appreciate the humor of the fabrics. Hopefully I will not "have" to make any more pink quilts. Wouldn't it be nice to beat breast cancer for good?

My recipes this week were both from Cooking Light magazine. Pan-seared scallops in orange sauce with fennel and red onion, and pan "fried" halibut with cornichon tartar sauce. The scallops were good. Interesting served with oranges - so very "Florida"! (As a kid, I would dive for scallops when we visited cousins on Escambia Bay, and of course nothing says "FLORIDA" like oranges!!) I'd never had fennel before and find I still wonder what it tastes like. There was a LOT of it (two bulbs!) so you'd think I would've noticed a flavor but I did not. I can put the temporary blame on my malfunctioning taster. The med I'm on right now (hopefully for only one more month - woohoo!) has screwed up my taste buds so I'm not really sure I can give up on fennel just yet.

The halibut ... it was superb! Man-o-man it was good! Simply done. Flour, fresh lemon rind, thyme, a little pepper. Dredge the filets, pan "fry" using cooking spray (I used regular ol' olive oil - just a smidge is needed). Both recipes were fast-fast-fast! Less than 30 minutes from getting the stuff out of the fridge to on my plate. (I confess I am not nuts about the tarter sauce, though. But isn't that why we try recipes? Some win, some lose. The halibut was too good to cover with sauce anyway.)

Extras this week: I finished the bee sox - yay! They've been sitting around just waiting for the last few rows for longer than I care to admit.

(HAHA! This camera angle makes them look the feet are giant and the ankles are small! They are really "normal" proportioned socks!)

I also finished this knitted felted bag. All it needed was to attach the "strap". Now it's a completed project. Woo hoo!

Working through projects in various stages of UFOness is (at the moment) very satisfying to me. This week I'm going to finally put together the pieces of a sweater that has (have?) been knitted for I'm-not-admitting-how-long so it can exit UFO land as well.

Have you noticed a rather odd trend - sox, scarves, sweaters?? Where do I live? Oh yes ... FLORIDA!!! Yes these knitted items will be useful here. I'll just pile them all on my body on our one cold day next winter. HA! Who cares? It's fun!

The morning walks are brutal now (and still I knit!!). Despite the fact that I get out around 7:15, it's still so very hot and humid that I think "oh I won't walk 5 miles today". But usually I can endure. I get home with (literally) sweat dripping from the rim of my terry-covered visor. I never knew the tops of my hands could sweat. Lordy it's hot and sticky out there! I listen to audio books or podcasts while I walk. Currently I'm listening to Prey (Michael Crichton) and The Confession (John Grisham). Both are good walking/sewing books.

Well ... off to start week 7 (can you believe it already??). Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

13 Weeks - check-in for (really) week 5

It was a good week. The quilt got done, the pound got lost, the scarf got finished .... but nothing new got cooked (ah well - I'll catch up before the end!!) I suppose if something gets kicked aside while doing other things, cooking isn't a bad one to loose. Although I love puttering around in the kitchen, I confess that I'd rather be playing with fibers.

Here are the pics from this week.

The quilt. This is the same pattern as last week's quilt. That top border piece has black polka dots - you just can't see them in the pic. I'm always amazed at how different things look through the camera lens!
The scarves (they don't show well laying flat but you get the general idea). These scarves are from hand-painted yarns with hand-painted silk scarves as the drawstring. They can be worn loosely hanging, or scrunched up in all kinds of interesting ways. Of course this is Florida, so the chance that they'll both get worn in one winter is slim, at best! (But another trip to CA is in the confirmed-and-planning stage!!)
See more on drawstring scarves on Melody Johnson's blog Fibermania.

And the tray I finally finished! This is a fiber collage; I'm going to make some ATCs with the remains. I found a blog for ATC trades where you only have to send one ATC. THAT I can handle! (If you're interested in ATCs, see Lisa Liza Lou's blog here.)

I've mentioned this before, but working within a deadline is really working for me. Even more than that, though, is being accountable here on the blog. I think we push ourselves a little more - have more discipline - if we've told the Universe we're going to do something. Also, succeeding where you said you would is a big brain boost! It makes me want to do even more. Success feeds upon itself, I guess. (I definitely need to start doing some bindings, though! They're piling up!)

Although I will have to live to be 960 to explore all I want to explore, I am enjoying the extra hours that retirement provides. I don't think I'll ever get bored.

Oh by the way, Susan Brubaker Knapp has a great blog post today - full of photography tips. Find her here. (Photography is definitely not my strong suit - but I'm going to learn!!)

This week I think I'll also finish those Bee socks I've been working on ......

All comments welcome! I love getting comments! Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wednes... er .... Saturday check-in Week 5

Wow, how did those days get away from me? Well, here's the status even though I'm in the midst of week 5 already.

Quilt & pound - check. New recipe and scarf? Sad trombone sound (alas!!) Here's the quilt:

This is from one of the many free patterns you can download for use with pre-cuts. This pattern called for charm squares and layer cakes, but then you trim the 10x10s. I didn't like that, so sketched out the cutting from fat quarters and was able to get 2 quilts - this big one and a small one I'll donate - from the FQs.

Working with simple patterns (I call it "drone quilting" - no need to think) is having a happy side effect; I wake up each morning with zillions of ideas bursting out into my sketchbook. I guess my mind is wandering so much as I'm sewing that the creative part of me is able to be in full-tilt-boogie mode. I'm going to keep doing drone quilts for the remainder of the 13 weeks and hopefully my sketchbook will be spilling over with ideas that I can start putting into fabric.

The recipe was going to be grilled peaches (how easy was that??) so I'll probably get to that this week. I made lots of progress on the scarf but have another few inches to go before I can call it "complete". There was a trip to the yarn shop this week too for sweater inspiration. I almost made it out with no new yarn but on my way to the check-out counter I caved. Oh well - it's very yummy stuff!! I don't know what it's going to be when it grows up, but it'll be wonderful!

So onward with the rest of week 5. Happy Independence Day to all!

Here's the starters for this week's quilt:

Thanks for stopping by.