Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summertime Mother Load Tote

Occassionally I feel a desperate need to shop. I don't know if its what little money I've got burning a hole in my pocket or just the need to avoid a morning of cartoons and housework, but about once a week I like to get out. Most of the time I just take care of my shopping needs at Walmart or the grocery store and feel satisfied treating myself to a cute magazine or new kind of tortillas (our local Kroger makes scrumptious Cinnamon tortillas). Sometimes I feel the need for a little more adventure than Walmart though.

This past Tuesday morning I felt the urge to go out and do a little bargain hunting. I loaded the kiddos in the mini van and we headed out to do a little shopping. I love hitting the cheap retail stores like Ross and Tuesday Morning. And since it was Tuesday morning, that's where we headed.

I've been really inspired by all the totes and purses that I've seen in blog world so when I saw some cute watermelon kitchen towels, I snatched them up and decided to get crafty. The fabric is almost canvas like and seems to be really sturdy so I thought they'd be great as a tote bag.

Its hard to tell from this picture but the finished tote is about 20x20 inches. I wanted it to be big enough to carry beach towels, snacks, sunscreen and whatever else we need for summer time excursions. I'm so happy with how my first bag ever turned out. I think I'm hooked and need to make some more!

I'm sure no one will want to copy these instructions because I was just making this up as I went. But in case you are interested, here's what I did.

Basically I unpicked the hem on the 2 towels so I could gain a little more fabric to work with. Then I ironed them, stacked them on my cutting board and sliced into them. I cut two big squares that were roughly 20x18 inches. Then, forgetting that I had stacked my fabric, I goofed and cut four strips for handles instead of two. Oh well.

I put the two large pieces together (right sides together) and sewed around the sides and bottom. Then I folded the bottom corners with the bottom and side seams together and sewed diagonally. I didn't think the handles were going to be quite long enough so I started doing crazy stuff. I placed the handles about where I wanted them and then used a plate as a guide to cut out a little more in the armhole opening. Once I had that curve cut, I started realizing that I couldn't just do a simple rolled hem anymore. (or could I? I needed to clip the curves. ) Anywho, I got out some muslin and played with it to figure out how to make some facing for the curved area. And then I didn't want to have the raw edge of the facing showing so I got some matching ribbon and sewed it down over my zigzaged raw edge. I like how it looks, but was a little unsure about what I was doing there for awhile. Then I finished the top edges of the tote with a simple rolled hem. Last of all, I finished the handles with a rolled hem on both sides and anchored them down with a secure X within a box. Can you see that?

Now, I realize that this is a very juvenile attempt at bag making compared to all the beautiful totes, bags and purses I've seen on others blogs. But its my first try and I'm quite proud of it.

And that's about it. I call it the Summertime Mother Load Tote.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Aw, Shucks

I'm so honored to have been awarded this Arte y Pico Award for Blog Excellence.

Thanks so much to Joanne (from The Carter Clan). She has a wonderful blog dedicated to her family, home, thrifting and crafts. I've enjoyed reading her blog ever since I started this blog addiction of mine. She's a sweetie and leaves such nice comments on my blog. Thanks, Joanne!

So here are the Arte y Pico rules. (By the way, I'm not sure what language Arte y Pico is or exactly what it means. But it sure sounds good.)

1.You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4.The award winner and one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y Pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

I'm happy to pass this award along to other bloggers who are deserving of recognition! I did have a hard time limiting myself to just 5 people though! I am primarily a quilting blogger but I'm interested in home decor, thrifting, kids stuff, cooking, crafting and gardening, so I tried to pick blogs from several different interests.

1. The Sky is Pink. I've just recently found this blog but was immediately hooked. Lera has tons and tons of great ideas for recycling, crafting, sewing, thrifting, decorating.... etc! Amazingly, she is a mom of 6 kids and yet still has time and energy to do so many cool things and blog about it! I think she's a superblogger.
2. Nanette and Company from Freda's Hive. I've gushed about this favorite blog of mine before on here. So of course, I have to pass this award on to them. So much quilty fun. And knitting too. I love Nanette's taste and style and love everything she does so I'm always excited to see new posts on this blog.
3. Purple and Paisley. Here's another fun quilt related blog. This gal turns out beautiful work but best of all, she is perhaps the sweetest, friendliest blogger I've run across out here in blog land. What an absolute sweet heart.
4. The Cottage Nest. I love looking at this blog full of gardening and home decor ideas. I love all Jen's creative ideas and thoughts on enjoying the simple things in life. Beautiful blog.
5. Creative Little Daisy. Autum's blog is also full of creative ideas. She has great links to other's tutorials and then a big long list of her own tutorials. I love tutorials. She's a quilter, crafter, mom, new grandma, home decorator, garden designer and creative person extraordinaire.
So congrats, ladies, on having a Arte y Pico worthy blog! Keep it up. You make the blog world a better place. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beachy Bathroom

I completed this shell shadowbox for the kids bathroom this morning. I'm really excited about how this, along with my happy starfish look in the bathroom.

Hot glue is great stuff! This was a fun project because I gathered the shells (free) when we were at the beach at Galveston,TX over Memorial Day Weekend.

Making the Blackberry Pie

Here's an update on the Blackberry Pie quilt.

I've been making strips galore. I don't really enjoy strip piecing. It beats the alternative though, so I do it anyway. Why don't I like it? Well, look at those curvy strips. I don't have enough patience to get the grain perfectly straight as I cut a gazillion strips so they are almost always curvy. And even though I'm a far cry from being a perfectionist, it sort of drives me crazy.

For this quilt, I'm cutting them down into very short pieces so this curve won't really matter, though. And I've started assembling them into small blocks. Um... 2 down. Approximately 300 to go.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Places to Visit

I've mentioned several times how much I love and am inspired by this great thing I call blogworld. Its so helpful and fun!
Poor Blondie over at Blondie Speaks has lost all her bookmarked favorite links. She is asking that all of us other bloggers help her find her lost favorites and help her find some fun new ones. And she's having a giveaway as incentive to help. Head over and see if you can help. And maybe you'll discover a few fun new links too!

And also, there is a very generous giveaway going on over at Canton Village Quilt Works. Jackie is going to give away some free machine quilting. That's huge. I hate to pass the word along for fear that someone who hears it from me will win. But that would be selfish of me. So go ahead and go check it out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ode to Homemaking

If you have never visited Sugar City Journal, today is the day to head over there. What a great blog post about the sweet, simple joys found in hanging clothes out to dry. I think I might print it out and post it in my laundry room. Its just that sweet.

A "simple act of womanly duty."
There are lots of "womanly duties" that I often find myself grumbling about; the endless piles of laundry, the overflowing sink of dirty dishes, the always hungry family that is ready for something else to snack on before I can take two bites of my own meal, the kitchen floor that is always crumby and the dust and clutter that is everywhere.
But the often monotonous tasks that are required to keep my home and family running do have value. My own negative attitude towards my "womanly duties" don't let me appreciate them as I probably should.

Being a stay at home mom and homemaker is my chosen profession. I wouldn't have it any other way. There are simple joys that come from creating a happy home and raising beautiful children that you can't find anywhere else.

I loved how she said this one simple chore connected her with her own mother, how through its process she felt a sense of peace and order, how this 'pleasant labor' allowed her to escape from her often chaotic life. I can appreciate this as my own life has gotten more chaotic. With two loud and imaginative little kiddos ruling my life I find myself more often feeling the need to escape into some orderly housework.

During the two seconds when the kitchen is clean, I feel a real sense of pride in looking over my domain.
I love the happy, yummy sounds that come from my kids as they devour my freshly baked cookies.
When I faintly hear the hum of both the clothes washer and dish washer over the alternating shrieks and giggles of my little ones either throwing fits on the floor or using me as a jungle gym, I can inwardly smile and congratulate myself on mutitasking.
When I sit at the sewing machine trying to make something for our home or for a child to wear, I don't feel any sense of drudgery whatsoever. Instead I remember sitting on the floor near my mother's sewing machine as a child, playing with her pins, buttons or zippers.
When I go out and work in the yard I am again reminded of happy days spent outside with my family.
When I watch my son dig in the dirt or my daughter play with my fabric stash I smile, thinking of the simple joys they will have in creating homes for themselves someday.

Now, I am definitely not one to brag about my clean house or perfect organization. I'm more for creating a happy home than an immaculate home. But even so, I find that there is a great deal of housework involved in maintaining a happy home environment.

I am grateful for the 'pleasant labors' that I must perform. Everything worth having is worth working for. A happy home, a happy wife, a happy mommy is busy with many pleasant chores. :)

****Edited a few hours later: A little time has passed and I'm realizing how this makes me sound like some sort of clean freak or super homemaker or something like that. And those of you who have ever visited my home know that is far from the truth. What really happens is about once a week I get in a cleaning mood and have a burst of excited cleaning energy. The rest of the week we survive on the just the barest of essential 'womanly duties.' Just thought I should be really honest.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer Stash Challenge

I've signed myself up for another Summer quilt challenge. This time its the Summer Stash Challenge hosted by Eileen. Click on the link on my sidebar to read the rules. Basically we've just got to finish a quilt by sometime in August using ONLY SCRAPS. Since I'm a scrap quilter at heart I knew I had to join.

I actually heard about this fun event through Nanette's post on Freda's Hive. Her thoughts on quilting, specifically scrap quilting, are very similar to my own. Except she's much more eloquent than I am.

Since I started the Mosaic Squares quilt at the beginning of June I thought I'd do that one for the challenge. I have only used stuff from my stash and my sister's stash so far so it qualifies.

This quilt is so addicting. I think scrap quilting in general is addicting. Its so exciting to take what you already had and put it together in a new way to create something interesting and beautiful. As soon as I get one block put together I want to start another one because its so fun to play with the colors and patterns and see all the new ways they can go together. Since I'm having so much fun I've been making good progress on this quilt.

Oh, and I wanted to make sure I answered the question of how big these squares are. They are 2 inches finished.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That little color quiz I took the other day really got me thinking about color. I wasn't surprised to learn that I love greens and blues and colors from lush nature scenes.

Blue has long been my decided favorite. I wear it almost everyday. (wow, that sounds pretty dull.) I have a blue and green and yellow and white kitchen. Here is a little teeny scene from the big blue hutch that sits in our kitchen. Sorry I can't show the whole thing. The rest is full of cookbooks, quilt stuff, kids drawings and other unsightly clutter. This picture sure does look like I have a nice clean house, though, huh?
Green is probably the color I use most in quilting. I've made three quilts with green sashing. Hmm.. make that atleast five where I've used green as the sashing or background or main color. I just love the way green works with other colors and can feel either mellow or vibrant. Here is one of those green background quilts. These house blocks were from an exchange a few years ago.
But the quiz results also that said I like Pop Art colors: orange, aqua, bright pink. Think: parrots, cartoons and jelly beans. I was a little surprised by that. I never think of decorating like that. I don't generally dress like that.

So then I started thinking about how I like different colors in different settings. I like my home peaceful and serene, and I like to dress in a conservative manner: blues and greens.

But I like my garden to be a little more vibrant. I generally pick bright flowers in red, purple, orange and yellow to add to my landscape.
And those pop art colors? Hmm... well, I guess I have found a place for them in my life. My little girlie (seen here rearranging my cupboards) has strawberry blond hair and looks beautiful in orange, aqua and pink.

And I'm in the midst of trying to add to some color to the kids bathroom. This starfish display came to be this week after a trip to Hobby Lobby. This set me back about $14 (on sale) for the shadowbox, $.50 for the paper and $1.75 ish (with coupon) for the starfish. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the aqua paper in the background against the orange starfish. Soon I will add another shadowbox filled with small shells we found along the Galveston Island, TX beach and some new bright, sherbert colored towels.

Last but not least, here's a picture of one of my most favoritey-est quilts. This might in fact be my one, true favorite, to date. I love the colors. I love the crisp white. I love the whirly gigs. This is probaly more Pop Art than Nature inspired, huh?

So, in the end, I'm realizing that I have lots of favorite colors. It just depends on where I use them. I may lean more towards lush, green, serene landscapes. But I'd like to have a bright, clean, crisp quilt strewn over my lap while I look at that landscape.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Here's a fun quiz to find out what your colors are according to your tastes and personality.

I found this link on Stephanie's blog, Loft Creations.

I'm Al Fresco and surprisingly Pop Art. I'm not at all surprised by Al Fresco but I would not have picked Pop Art for myself.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I made four more mosaics yesterday. I especially like the one on the top right. The icy blue polka dot is leftover from my snowflake quilt and I love it.

I thought that since I'm making a mosaic quilt I should try to post pictures of the blocks in a mosaic. Unfortunately, I am photoshop challenged. Its a crying shame. I've got this great program and don't have a clue how to use it. This is the best I could do.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Proof of Progress

Here are the first two blocks for my Mosaic Quilt. I'm loving it already. I love primary colors.
*********Edited to answer a question that a few people had in the comments. The squares are 2 inches finished. ***********

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Quilting with ADHD

I think I may have quilters OCD or maybe ADD or ADHD or some other sort of Disorder. I just can't seem to stay with one project and get it done in any sort of timely manner. Every other week I get excited about a new project. I feel like I haven't been able to buckle down and really make progress on anything lately because all I want to do is look at fabric, look at patterns, drool over other people's quilts, and dream about the quilts I could make. But settle down and get serious about making them, one by one? Well, that's harder to do. That involves time, concentration, energy and maybe a babysitter.

And so what do I do? I went and started another project yesterday. I think that makes three official quilts that I've either started or need to start or am planning to start or something like that in the past few weeks.
First, I've got to get going on the Two Color Challenge quilt! That one has a deadline of August 1, and I originally thought that wasn't going to be a big deal. But now, a month later, I haven't cut anything yet. Shh! Don't tell the other two color quilters or Nicole! (If you haven't checked out her blog- Sister's Choice Quilts, head over there now. She's got style. And I'm not just saying that so she won't kick me out of the Two Color Challenge!) What's my hold up? Well, I'm trying to exercise a little frugality. I need to buy 6 1/2 yards of cream, and I'm holding out for a sale of some sort. Lame. I know.

Second, I've just barely mentioned that I'm also participating in a non-blog exchange with some girls up in Utah. We all lived in the same neighborhood in Saratoga Springs for about 5 years and started quilting together as we were having our first babies, making our first homes and basically just starting out in life. I love this group of girls and am thrilled that they are letting me participate long distance now that I live down here in Houston. This block exchange will be in September. I decided on my block and bought my fabric for this last week. I'll post more about this later.

And now, I've gone and started another quilt with my sister. I was so inspired by Nanette's Mosiac Squares that she posted about almost two months ago. My sister came over, soon after, I showed it to her, and we both drooled and pledged to make that quilt (similar to my reaction last Tuesday to the Carpenter Stars quilt in the Quilt Sampler Magazine). Yesterday, as our children ran around, destroying her home by means of hotwheels, legos, and whatever else they could get their hands on, she and I started cutting into our scraps. This picture is the original quilt from McCalls Quilting Vintage Quilts Spring 2004. Have I ever mentioned how much I love scrap quilts? I know I have. But I'm saying it again.
Here's my start.