Tuesday, November 25, 2014

lint and stones


Earlier this morning,
when I switched laundry from the dryer to the couch, 
and the washer to the dryer,
I rolled the lint off the lint screen and set it on the dryer.

~

The kids are going in and out the front door today at a greater rate than normal,
and all of them are carrying a bag or basket of some sort.
Full of rocks.
Oh. sorry they are stones, not rocks.

Apparently they are playing a game.
with rocks stones. 

~

Lexi was finishing up her math when I moved another load of laundry
to the couch.
(and another to the dryer. I am all caught up for maybe a half hour or so)
I had some new dishcloths in the load, 
so the lint was especially voluminous .
"Lex'," I called, "There's a lot of lint. 
You want me to pull it out, or you want to get it yourself?"
(I don't know why my children are so easily distracted from their work...)

She quickly hopped up.

"Oh, I saved you some teal lint this morning," I told her.
I'd pre-washed the first of my LA fabrics 
(I have fabric from LA!! Yay!  :-)
You can't tell it yet - but this is a shirt, skirt, and sweater.



Her eyes, only slightly lighter than the lint, lit up,
"Oh, Momma, Thank-you!"

After pulling the new lint from the dryer screen, she ran off,
soft, aqua/teal lint in one hand,
and a huge wad of pinky-white lint in the other,
"Lily! Look!
Our favorite colors!
And look how fluffy my lint is!"

Then out the door and on an adventure they went.
With their stones.
And dryer lint.



The math will be finished soon enough...

~
I sure love you, my creative children.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

all kinds of works in progress



As mentioned, I finished my Super Secret Commissioned Project the other day
(I'd really love for you to weigh in on that post!)
and then I went on to do a small project - jus' for fun.



It was going to be a zipper pouch, but quickly morphed into a small tote bag,
because sometimes, I just don't know when to quit.





I haven't been spending much time on my EPP project,
because, as you'll see, I've got other hand-sewing projects taking up my sitting & stitching time,
but I do work a bit on it here and there.

I've got 11 hexagon's complete.


No. Make that 12.
This little baby was sewn on over the course of 3 weeks,
and even went to California with me.

the star's fabric is from Lexi's quilt, the mottled orange surrounds, from Brandon's.


Counting the 12 that have been turned into hexagons, I've got 102 stars completed,
so I only need 8 more!

Of those completed,
I've got 2 dozen paired up with their hexagon diamonds.



and a whole slew patiently waiting for their partners.



I've hit a snag with my papers - a friend has been very sweetly using her cricut to cut them for me out of cardstock.
Something happened along the way, and she gave me a huge batch that were cattywampus,
and had a little chunk out of a corner.
I was so sad to tell her that they wouldn't work!
Then she cut some more for me (but just a few this time) and they are much better,
but still not quite perfect.
I have been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance yet to test them to see if they'll work anyways.
I need to get on that!

~
I'm not the only one sewing these days;
the girls, especially Lil', continue to crank out creations, too.






~
I'm slowly quilting AnyWhich Way, in Red with a mix of machine and hand-quilting,
although my machine quilting is not what I'd originally planned.

I thought I wanted to quilt each block with the same motif, for unity,
but I ended up deciding that I'd rather highlight the 30 different block designs by outlining the white pieces.


Here's where my confession comes in.
And on the same quilt!



Yeah.
About that.
Guess what I spent hours doing on this quilt.



That's right, Ladies, I've been stitching in the ditch.
Around all that sashing...

(and yes, I bound it before I quilted it. Backwards, I know,
but I knew I wouldn't have any knots that'd need hiding under it,
and I was concerned about the essex linen fraying.)
(I also sewed the binding onto the back by machine. 
I much prefer the look of a hand-sewn binding,
and I enjoy hand-sewing the binding,
but this was wicked fast, comparatively.
You'll be happy to know I improved my technique quite a bit on my next one)

~

Also taking up my hand-sewing time (and crowding out my other projects, quite honestly)
is this.
A simple (but not quick!) whole cloth crib quilt.


I've got to make another crib quilt to go along with it,
and I'm thinking a machine pieced and quilted Irish chain would do nicely.
I'm also thinking I may go ahead and machine quilt my horizontal lines on this one...
(which also went to California with me :-)


~
Hopefully, somewhere in the near future,
I'll be able to sew up some of the fifty pounds of garment fabric I bought in LA, too!


Linking up with lot's of creative folks over at Lee's

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

some thoughts on pricing


I finished my Super Secret Commissioned project
(I'm very pleased with it, and will share it here next year)
and while I was writing up a receipt
(I use that word about as loosely as I use the word 'recipe' ;-)
I thought I'd take a few minutes and talk about how I price my work
('cause you know - I've been doing it soo long. eyeball roll.)

I'll be the very first to admit that when I typed in $175 for my pigeon quilt,
 I cringed.
I would never, ever pay that much for a baby quilt.
But here's the thing:
it is worth it
(if I didn't believe that, I couldn't sell it.)
and I'll tell you why.

For starters, the materials alone in that quilt cost $56.
Now, when I say the materials cost $56,
you need to know that if you, or anyone else wanted to make that exact quilt,
you would have to spend a lot more than $56,
just like I did.

See - I had to buy 1/2 yard cuts of my fabrics, even though I didn't need that much.
Yes, I still have fabrics left for another quilt,
but my up front cost was considerably higher than the $56 material fee
included in the $175 pricetag.
I also lost a few inches to trimming, and I'll just eat  those costs,
because I only charged for fabric used.
And don't forget,
I was able to purchase most of the fabrics on sale,....

I pay less for my batting than most people do, because I buy it by the roll.

I completely forgot to add in the cost of  the 1/3 of a can of basting spray that I used - so that ended up being a freebie ;-)
Again, I buy my basting spray in bulk, so I get better pricing and save on shipping,
but still, I paid $14 a can.

Okay, materials costs are covered, now let's talk about the other $119

Here's the thing,
 not everyone can sew.
And not everyone that can sew,
sews, shall we say, meticulously.

I am, I think, a reasonably skilled seamstress.
There is a lot for me to learn,
but what I do know how to do, I think I do fairly well
and with increasing precision.
(though not perfection)
Therefore,
I think that $10 per hour of skilled labor is quite reasonable.



I recorded 15 hr and 8 minutes of time spent on Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.
I say 'recorded', because I actually spent more time than that:
I only charged for 2 hours to make the pigeon appliques, because I felt like that was a fair price,
but in reality, I spent more than 3.
I'd spent an hour marking the quilt for quilting
when I discovered that somehow, I'd gotten off on my lines, so I started over.
Because that time didn't really go into the quilt, since I messed up,
I of course, didn't 'bill' (or record) it.

You'll notice that the price didn't include even all of the recorded labor,
because if it had, the quilt would have been priced at $207.30.

Because it is totally not necessary, but I like to add some hand-stitching,
I decided to throw that hour and 45 minutes in for free.
I hand-sewed the binding down, when I could have sewn it down by machine,
so I charged for what it would have taken me to sew it by machine.

Then I just reduced the total a little for a nice even $175.

That 'nice, even, $175' very nearly made me choke.
Could I actually sell something (and a small something at that) that I made for that much?!?
Maybe I should sell it for less, I thought; I'm an unknown nobody in the blogosphere, after all...
But you know what? My work is good.
It's even better than some of the big bloggers out there
who are selling smaller quilts for the same amount.
And more importantly, my time is worth it.
I have a kazillion things (and almost as many people ;-) clamoring for my attention.
As you well know, the choice to do 'X',
means you can't do 'Y'.
So if I'm going to be 'sewing for pay', even if I'm gifting that pay,
especially if I'm gifting that pay,
it needs to be fair wages.


I am so, so blessed to be able to stay home,
to not have to go out and get a job,
or even earn money from home to support our family.
We aren't rolling in dough, but Tyler's job provides for all of our needs
and plenty of our wants.
I have the luxury of using my earnings to help women rescued from slavery,
and they are worth it.

So.
That's what's rolling around in my head.
I kinda feel like I have to defend my prices,
because
some people think quilting is just sewing a few pieces of fabric together,
but there's a heck of a lot more to it than that.

If you are a maker and seller, I would love to hear your thoughts!
(If you are not a maker and seller, but you're a buyer - I'd like to hear your thoughts, too :-)




Monday, November 17, 2014

ignore this post

   

Pinterest won't let me pin the above photo, 
even when I opened the image in a new tab, because it 'may lead to inappropriate content'. 
So, I'm posting it here, so I can pin it.   
because I am sneaky like that :-)
 And I really like this jacket...


Thursday, November 13, 2014

the nerdiest nerd

Tyler and I thought he was a little too cute and stud-muffinly to be nerdy, 
but his teachers* thought otherwise and picked him as the best nerd.      





Nerd or not, we sure love this one :-)


*Brandon takes 2 classes at Grace Academy twice a week.
(Except for the dress-up days, he pretty much hates it. Which makes me sad.)


to Cali and back


I'm home again,
just in time for freezing weather.

I cannot express how good it was to see my boy.
And Kacy, too, of course,
but especially Tony.


My flights were all great,
and I met such nice people in the airports.

Oh my goodness - I have to tell you about something crazy!

In a bathroom 
at the Dallas airport, 
I met a gal who reads my blog!

She recognized my 'dress'!!

What's more,
and shared it at Lee's Work in Progress Wednesday.
I'd commented on it, and she'd e-mailed me
(neither of us knowing a thing about the other. because bloggers are just nice like that :-)
and
I had emailed her back that very morning!
What's even more - she lived in Germany, and was in the process of moving back to the States with her soldier husband and 3 kids.

I mean, really! What are the chances?!?


Okay. Back to California.
(I went to California!!! :-)
We didn't do a ton of 'going', which was just fine by me,
but we did fit in a few important things,
like In and Out Burger,
going to the beach :-)
and fabric shopping in LA :-)
and of course, we had to have a snacky dinner on Sunday.


I tried Sushi for the first time


and we went to the movies
(saw St Vincent, which was good, but has some language, and would be just as good (or better) on a tele as opposed to the big screen)
The theater gives a huge discount on Tuesdays to Military - I always appreciate businesses who recognize and support our troops!

We skyped the family back home and celebrated Tony's birthday together.

We met up with Tyler's oldest sister and her family
and it was great to get to visit a bit.
I came home with a quilt top that her mom had made using scraps from clothing she'd made the girls.
I told Laurie I'd be honored to finish the quilt for her.
And I am.
But I'm also worried that I may not do it justice....
Fortunately, I also told her it'd probably take me a few years to complete,
so I've got time to further increase my skills.

I helped Kacy learn to sew :-)

her very first stitches :-)

Why, yes, her first project had a zipper!
This is Anna's open wide pouch. Thanks, Kathy, for the suggestion :-)
She's a natural!
(and I'm looking forward to seeing her progress. hint hint ;-)

The one thing that really surprised me
was that pretty much everyone was so friendly.
I was expecting big city / rude people,
but honestly, I didn't have a single experience with rudeness, and only once, in LA, did I run across a semi-grouchbutt.
I figure it's all that beautiful sunshine.


All in all it was a great trip,
and I am soooo grateful I got to go.
It was so good to see Tony and Kac' in person and know that they are fine.

Thanks, Love!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

another black belt!!

WoooHooo!!

                                                      


Video of Josiah's board breaks is here.
And Brandon's 3rd midterm board breaks video is right here
Jeremiah didn't pass his first midterm, 
but that didn't keep him from being super excited for his brothers.

Lily earned a yellow belt, and Lex' earned her orange belt.

Way to go, Gang!! Great job doing your best!!
Momma loves you all so much :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lexi loves

school.


She will even ask siblings to do her "readin' lesson" with her if I'm not available at precisely the moment she wants to do it.


This is good, 
because once upon a time,


(I love that beautiful face!)

what's up


I made make-up a couple of weeks ago.
Make-up!
It's crazy inexpensive compared to $20 for 1/4 of an ounce of Bare Minerals foundation, which is what I usually used to buy.
I still need to work on my formula a bit,
my color isn't quite right (although I'm rapidly losing my tan, so maybe I ought to just leave the color alone) 
and I'd prefer a little more coverage.
Necessary tweaks aside, I'm thrilled with it.

~

I'm nearly positive there's something wrong with my camera.
I haven't been happy with my pictures for quite some time, and I've just assumed it's my lack of skill,
but I think there is something wrong with the focusing.
When Melissa took pictures of the girls' baptisms Sunday (Thank-you!!! :-) she agreed that it seemed off.
Pooh.

~

I finally started letting my chickens out again.
I hate keeping them locked in the coop.
What's the point??

We've lost 2 already.
Of course, I cried,
and told Tyler I'm done.



But of course, I'm not really done. 

~

I leave for California the day after tomorrow.
I can hardly wait!!!!
I'm mostly packed already.
I still haven't figured out what to take as my 'personal bag'
and I also haven't settled on my sewing project.
My EPP would be a logical choice, since it's so small, 
but my fingers/hands can handle more quilting than EPP sewing.
I had decided I would take Any Which Way
(Oh goodness, I have a confession to make on that one - but it'll have to wait)
but it's awfully big for an airplane.
So - I don't know...


I've been ordering birthday presents. 
(Ton's birthday was in September, but he was in the field and couldn't get mail,
so we were going to send gifts when he got home, so Kacy wouldn't have to trip over them for a month. 
Then we decided I'd just bring a party when I went :-)
I've also been ordering 'Momma's coming to visit for the first time' presents :-)
I've had everything shipped there
and have given (repeated ;-) strict instructions for No Peeking!

It's all very exciting.

~

The kids have TKD testing Saturday.
Fortunately, my flight isn't until 2:30
so I'll get to watch them before I go.
Josiah will be testing (again) for his black belt,
so there's some anxiousness surrounding testing, to be sure!
TJ is going to come down to watch,
and Josiah has already requested that he be a board-holder.
Maybe having two of his big bubs right there with him will help?
The boy has skill, I can tell you that.

~

I found this when I was just finishing up paying the bills:


Thanks, Jeremiah ~ You make Momma smile!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

creamy bacon and mushroom chicken


A few weeks ago,
I made Man Pleasing Chicken for dinner.
(I'd link to it, but I don't actually make it like the recipe. Shocking, I know.)
The kids wondered why it was called that and were suggesting alternative names.
One of them asked me if I'd made up the recipe
and Brandon said, "If Mom made it up, it wouldn't have a name."
~
I was feeling particularly uninspired when it was time to cook this evening,
but I put on my big girl panties,
 turned on some music,
and dug around in the fridge.
(Tyler went to Aldi's for me yesterday, so we have veggies again :-)
When I spotted the mushrooms, inspiration struck
and I knew it was going to be a good dinner after all.

I set my medium-sized frying pan over med-high heat
and dropped a stick of butter in it.
While it melted,
I cut up the 1/2 lb of mushrooms and tossed them in the pan
with a generous amount of garlic powder
and a more reasonable amount of onion powder, season-all,  black pepper,
and a little bit of salt.

When the mushrooms were cooked and the butter was bubbling,
I turned the heat down a bit and
added 8 oz of cream cheese,
and about a half a cup each of cream and parmesan cheese.

While the cheeses were melting,
I cut 4 large (raw) chicken breasts in half (in retrospect, it could really have been cut into bite size pieces, since we served it on rice)
and placed them in a casserole dish that I dug out of the recesses of the cabinet.
(I went from uninspired to downright fancy!)
Then I sprinkled a few TBS of bacon bits on the chicken,
then poured the (now melty and fully mixed up) sauce over the chicken & bits.

Cooked it, uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours,
then let it sit out just a bit before serving.


When Tyler picked at it tasted it he said, "What is this?!"
I gave my usual reply,
"Dinner."
"You have to give it a name," he demanded, 
"so I'll know what to ask for when I want you to make it again."

So I did.
'Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Chicken'.
Tyler thinks there should be more sauce, though
and that it should be called Crack Chicken - do with that what you will....)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

in which I run (a little) again


Once upon a time,
for a short season,
Tyler and I used to walk in the evening.
(He actually wrote about it way back when he kept a blog. I'm fairly certain I've mentioned it as well.)
Highlight of my days, those walks were.

We haven't taken a walk in years
(can you believe its been 3 years since I hurt my heel/achilles trying to 'run for God'?!)
and even though I exercise regularly now,
up until the hike last weekend, I haven't done any walking or running 
beyond what is necessary for regular household/kid management.
(oh - that's not entirely true - I sometimes run out to the chicken coop, just to prove I can)
I even try to spread out my grocery procurement enough that I don't have to do marathon shopping.

I've been thinking lately though,
about moving my exercise outside for a bit.
And so, today, I did.

I turned on my interval timer app (I actually have a couple)
to the 35 second high intensity, 
1 minute 20 second low intensity
workout,
did a pull-up in the hallway,
and set off down the drive.

yes. I pretty much always have fabric fuzz and/or threads stuck to me. Fortunately, Tyler thinks its cute :-)

I walked briskly through the warm-up,
and when it buzzed for my first HI interval, I ran full speed ahead.
I ran until the timer beeped,
then fast-walked 'til it was time to run again.

At round 4, I thought,
Man! I'm doing super!

Round 6 - I am awesome!!

Round 8
I thought,
I am killing this!
So when it was time to cool down,
I jogged.

I had 4 seconds left on my cool down timer when the pain started.
But it wasn't pain in my heel, or my knee :-)
just a bit of discomfort in my hip flexors.

Maybe I overdid it a wee smidge...

I felt a little sheepish (as I walked) the rest of the way home,
and I may end up having a little epsom salt bath this evening,
but it did feel good to be out there,
and I hope Tyler and I can squeeze in some walks before the weather turns too cold
  

Monday, October 13, 2014

whirlwind


It's my fault;
I did complain about lame weekends, after all,
but my goodness, this weekend was full!
Maybe a happy medium next weekend??

The game.
It wasn't quite as bad as I anticipated.
(which is often the case - so my method of totally dreading things really works in my favor 
and shouldn't be called 'pessimistic' ;-)

It did rain,
but it wasn't freezing, and with my plastic bag with a hood, I stayed somewhat dry.
Plus, I got a sweet white jacket out of the deal.
(Apparently, they sometimes tell you what color to wear based on where you are sitting.)
Now, I don't ordinarily wear white,
and told Tyler I'd never wear the jacket again,
but he seems to think it looks pretty great on me :-)
so I may have to change my mind about that.

Sunday,
I was pretty worn out from being gone from home over 10 hours
and hanging around 70,000 screaming people for several hours,
(half of them drunk...)
watching a game that I can not for the life of me understand
(yet another reason basketball is a better sport)
and seriously considered staying home from church
when my hair was still wet
at the time I normally would already have it completely fixed.
I sent Tyler a text that it wasn't looking too good...
But I remembered that I thought maybe Braxton was preaching,
and I really wanted to hear him, since I somehow have missed half of his sermons,
so I rallied,
and settled on smoothing my hair into a high ponytail after mostly blowing it dry,
and made it out the door *just* in time.

Right before walking out the door, I remembered that it was the final day of the Parade of Homes,
which we really needed to go to this year
to help with some window decisions,
so grabbed a pair of boots that were more comfortable for walking hours in than the ones I was wearing.

Before we could go anywhere, we had to stop at the mall and buy Lexi a pair of shoes
because the pair she was wearing had worn to church but could no longer wear was hurting her toes.
We also bought Lily a few pairs 
as most of her shoes are to small,
and looked for jeans for the boys.

Since we used our eating lunch time
shopping,
we just stopped in at the Neighborhood Market
and grabbed a few things to make a picnic lunch
and ate in the van by the waterfall behind the shopping center.

Then we spent a few hours touring houses.
Apparently the big thing this year is using as many materials in your kitchen as possible.
That,
and tiny brightly colored glass tiles.
We suspect that those houses are going to look dated soon.
And of course, every.single.house. had the 'hand-scraped' flooring, 
which I really am not a fan of.
It just looks so mechanically-made, to me.
Imagine that.
;-)

There was a 'singing' at church at 5:30 that Tyler wanted to go to,
so we ended up just spending the whole afternoon (and evening) in town.
We had a popcorn dinner with Psych
and then Tyler and Brandon and I watched an episode of Royal Pains
and the whirlwind weekend
was over.




Friday, October 10, 2014

quilt show


I suppose technically you could count the time, 5+ years ago at the Spinach Festival
when we paid a buck, 
and popped into a small shop to look at a dozen or so quilts
as my first quilt show,
but this one seemed much more show-like,
so I'm calling it
my first real quilt show.

I enjoyed it,
even though I was most definitely the youngest person there
and most of the quilts weren't really my style.
Or if I liked the style,
I wasn't crazy about fabric choices...
(Those ladies are real fond of their batiks and blenders!)

I recognized several patterns, so I think it means I really am a quilter :-)
(just in case we weren't entirely sure...)

Forgive my fabulous cell-phone shots.
I'd planned on buying some goodies,
(plus it was raining - ugh!)
and I didn't want to lug around a camera, too.
Turns out I only bought 1/2 yard of fabric, so I could've handled it. ah well.
No need to be proud of me for showing restraint, though - that's really all that called to me.

I was hoping to see a Farmer's Wife, but no dice.
pooh.
This was a Dear Jane, which is sorta similar.
The lady who made it worked 15 years on this baby!
It was entirely hand-quilted - not sure about the piecing.



The blocks finish at 4"
so that little star in the center of this block is like, an inch!
That's a bit fiddly for my blood...
(but quite impressive)



I'm not a fan of square quilts, 
or medallion quilts,
I think she'd be tickled to know some quilter in Arkansas won a blue ribbon with her pattern.

This was one of the few quilts that was quilted by a domestic machine 
(at least that is my guess - I suppose it could have been long-armed?)


This next quilt is from the book Nearly Insane,
again,
similar to  a Farmer's Wife.


The blocks on it are a bit bigger than the Dear Jane's, maybe 5 1/2 inches finished?
And it looks like, on average,
there are more pieces per block.
This one had 96!
Dang!


This was hand-quilted in the ditch.
I must admit - I don't understand the whole quilt in the ditch thing,
especially when going to all the work of hand quilting.

I want all my stitches to show! ;-)

I kinda liked this border - I've not seen this block before, not sure what it's called. (anybody know?)
With the exception of the corner blocks, which are squares,
the border is made of rectangle blocks that alternate directions to form the zig zag.



This next one is really not my style at all,
but you've got to appreciate all the time that went into it!
It's needle turn appliqued,
and hand quilted in a 1 " cross hatch pattern around, but not across the applique.




The quilter who made it had at least 3 quilts similar to this in the show.
She came up while I was looking at it.
I congratulated her and asked how many hours a day she spends sewing.
She said, "Oh maybe 4. Or 5 or 6..."

Which I totally understand - when you love what you do, it's easy to lose track of time.

My favorite quilt, I didn't take a picture of.
It was a queen size hand-quilted white whole cloth quilt.

Maybe someday....