Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Spirit

I didn't have much. I was feeling downright grinch-like, to be honest. At this time last year, we were hoping the new year would bring some relief to our woes, but the year started off telling us otherwise, with my sewing machine breaking down and our water heater dying in the first two days of the year.

And so it went, one thing after another, fighting fires, taking care of the most pressing matters as we were able, letting the other slide until money was available.

As we headed into December, I knew it would be another year where we wondered where the Christmas money was coming from. As late as mid-month, we were wondering if there would be any at all. I planned well with my groceries and was able to plan our Christmas feast and cookie making without adding too much extra to my grocery bill, for that I was really thankful. One of the highlights of Christmas for my kids is dinner.

Last Tuesday, I got the surprise of my life. Noah's mom called to ask me if I was free for dinner when she picked him up. Amazingly I was, my kids are usually busy most evenings and I don't often have someone available to watch the younger kids. Her mom met us at Panera (her mom is our pastor's wife and a good friend) and we enjoyed a nice meal together. I was then told they had additional plans. They wanted to take me shopping. I guess each year they pick someone to surprise with something special and this year it was me. Citing the fact that moms are always the last to get what they need, they wanted to spruce up my wardrobe.

Anyone watch What Not To Wear? It felt like that, without all the criticism. I didn't even know where to begin, but they got a feel for what I might like and they started pulling things off the racks and I went to the dressing room and tried on all different things. There was the "doesn't fit and/or we don't really like it" pile and the pile of things that we all liked. I went out to show them everything that fit at their request.

Now initially, I was horribly uncomfortable. I didn't feel deserving of it and wondered how in the world I choose when someone else's money is being spent. I need not have worried, they had a plan. They took the pile of things we liked and, while I danced Noah around the store (it was getting late and he was getting tired) they picked out what they wanted to buy.

The bottoms are basics. Nicely fitting jeans, a pair of black slacks, and a black tulip skirt, just below the knee with a little flare at the bottom.

These are the jackets. Each very different, each usable with all 3 bottoms.

These are the casual shirts. Again, each a different style and each one usable with all 3 bottoms.

And the dressy shirts. The one on the left has a metallic gold accent running through it and the one on the right has little sequins.

Finally, the accessories. We were finished with the clothing and I was about to begin walking around with Noah when I heard "shoes!" and we headed to the shoe department. The necklace was a little added surprise in the bags.

It was a mind boggling night. I had forgotten what it was like to really get dressed and not just throw on a pair of jeans and a big shirt in the morning. It was also a little bittersweet. I had just been given a marvelous Christmas when I was wondering how to provide Christmas for our kids.

Sometimes I feel like God's most unfaithful child. While we had less than usual to spend, we did have some money by Friday and I worked on my Christmas list to make the most of it. Monday was to be the big shopping day. I needed to take Jonathan to shop for his siblings, bring him home and then take Lucas to shop. I would then leave to do mine, needing to be home by 6:00 so Rachel could babysit and the boys could leave for a planned outing.

But Sunday night Joshua's car wouldn't start, which means he needed Rachel's car, which meant I didn't have a car to use until my husband was home between jobs. I could then take him to work and get started...at 2:00 in the afternoon! Sunday was also bitterly cold and windy and Monday was expected to be the same. It was daunting to think of doing so many errands on such a day, and trying to fit them in so little time seemed impossible.

Rebekah and her boyfriend have been sharing her vehicle as his wasn't working. He got his fixed, though, and she showed up at home Sunday night with her truck. I didn't know until Monday morning, but an early start was again possible.

I left at 9:30 in the morning with Jonathan, brought him home and picked up Lucas, finished with him and picked up Rebekah, who helped me with grocery shopping and picking out a few things for Rachel. I dropped her off at home and picked up Rachel, who also had an errand she needed to run, then she helped me pick out some things. I brought her home and headed back out for the few things she couldn't be with me while I bought. I finally arrived home for the night at 9:00pm. Rachel's babysitting was canceled and the boys opted to stay home which allowed me to shop until I finished.

EVERYTHING was done. The Christmas shopping, the grocery shopping, every bit of it. I found so many good sales that I felt like the boy with the loaves and fishes, the money we had seemed to go so much farther than I expected it would. I had assumed I'd have to go back out today, but when the car issues cropped up I knew it would be best if I got everything finished.

So today, I should be able to get everything finished that I thought I'd have to cram into today (around shopping trips) and tomorrow morning. The wrapping is already finished as I woke very early with aching legs and feet and couldn't get back to sleep. I figured I might as well get up and get started! I have laundry to do, laundry soap to make, two pans of cookie bars plus bread to bake, and I still have to do the homemade marshmallows. As time permits, there is also picking up and vacuuming and bathrooms to be cleaned.

My husband told me to try to lay down for a while, even if I can't sleep, but there likely won't be time for that. If I get it all done today, though, tomorrow can be spent relaxing!

So my Christmas spirit, while a long time in coming, is here in full force and I'm so very thankful for that. I also figured out the nice thing about shopping so late...I don't have so long to wait to see them open their gifts!

I hope this Christmas season find you all happy, healthy and rejoicing that God sent His son.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Making Progress

I had a busy and productive weekend. My hunters were at it again, leaving my days quite free, but my evenings more hectic and full of clutter as the hunting gear was piled in my sewing area before dinner and on the dining table after since it was needed very early each morning.

I was able to piece, mark and baste the two sets of four placemats. I still have a sewing mat to make and a set of six placemats, but am feeling more confident that I will be able to finish them all.

I had given myself until the end of this week to get the first set finished and was hoping to finish a bit earlier so I could start on the next ones and keep a good pace. Much to my surprise, the first set quilted up much more quickly than I anticipated and I just finished binding them a few minutes ago.

There are two of each color combination to make up the set. I'm so glad to have these done already and will move on to the Christmas set as soon as I'm finished here.

Rebekah and I sat and visited on Thursday, opening day for hunting, and were thrilled to get text messages shortly after lunchtime that both Joshua and RACHEL had each gotten a deer. It was Rachel's first year hunting and she's one of the only girls hunting here through the conservation district, so everyone was quite excited when she had to check it in at the checkpoint. Joshua got a second one on Saturday, making 11 for him in 8 years. He's becoming quite the prolific hunter and my freezer thanks him!

Ruthie has seen just about everyone in the house hold up quilts for me as I've taken pictures, so she decided it was her turn. She took Noah's off of the table and was holding it, we quickly figured out she wanted to hold it for a picture.

Ruthie is still heavily into writing and remarkably rarely will write on something she shouldn't. She holds a pencil perfectly (most of the time) and draws a "kercle" (circle) pretty well. She writes more and more strokes that look like beginning writing strokes, so now when she hands over the pencil and it's my turn, I draw stick figures and write her name, etc, hoping to start to see some of that come from her pencil.

We have a big box of old computer paper with the "tractor" holes on the side, so Ruthie has all the paper she needs for a while. We actually pull off the holes and use it in our printer, she knows to go take a sheet or two out when she wants to write.

With much more quilting to do, and some dishes waiting to be wiped I need to run or I'll sit here until I'm too tired to do anything else!
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Plan B...

is both stressful and exciting. It figures, just yesterday I wrote that I had little Christmas sewing and while laying awake at 5am, unable to go back to sleep, I realized I really did need to do a few things.

I have a small quilting bee once a month with two very dear friends. They are both older than I, having children around my age. We mostly talk, we sew a bit and have a treat. We meet the last Friday of the month, but our November meeting nearly always falls the day after Thanksgiving so we move it to the first week of December, go out for lunch and exchange small gifts.

Gifts. Usually I make something, but didn't even know what to do this time. I was going to buy something, but really there isn't money for that and there is nothing small that I could buy for them that I know they would really like and would be useful. I was in denial. As I lay awake in bed this morning, the worries came flooding in. I hate that! Somehow things that don't seem quite as daunting in the light of day seem so ominous in those wee hours of the morning.

As I ticked through all the things that we need money for in the next month, I knew that careful planning would be of the essence. I have to squeeze every bit I can out of what money will be available for Christmas. The better I've planned it, the less stressful it will be. The listmaking will likely begin today.

One thing I can do something about right away is these gifts. I remembered a pattern set I bought long ago, it had paper piecing patterns for 6 different placemats, enough to make 6 of each. I'm wimping out and making the two easiest ones in the package, the flying geese (upper right) and single braid (lower right.) I think that my two friends will each get 4 the same and my inlaws will get two of each. I thought of giving them each two of each one, but don't want my friends' gifts to be exactly the same.

I finally gave up trying to sleep at about 6:30 and tried to get myself going for the day. It took a couple of jump starts, I felt too tired a couple of times and laid back down only to realize that I wasn't going to fall back to sleep. I got my cup of coffee and started to look for the pattern, which thankfully was right where I expected it to be. I've pulled the pattern pieces and will be pulling fabric when I'm done here.

The magnitude of this last minute project is hitting me, I have two weeks to finish the 12 placemats. One set needs to be in the mail next week (which if I'm on target to finish should be no problem.)

What is the problem is Lucas got what I had and I think Ruthie is next. Lucas has been a trooper and really just wants to just lay on the couch and rest and watch TV, but if Ruthie gets it, too, I don't really know what to expect. If she needs lots of lap time, that will mean some very late nights for me and I'm still coughing quite a lot, too. My husband, two older sons, and middle daughter are all hunting again this weekend. Should they be successful (and we REALLY hope they are) that means processing deer in my dining room for several days after the hunt. Most of the work is done by my husband and oldest son, but I am "on call" for if they need anything or are ready to package up meat.

Still, I feel more optimistic than I was feeling at 5am. One way or another things always seem to work themselves out and I'm sure they will again. With that, I'm going to run, I have work to do! Hopefully Miss Ruthie will be as happy as she is in this picture so Mom can get some work done!
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quilting and Recovering

I still have a horrible cough. I feel good, mostly have energy but, at times, feel like I'll cough out a lung! Today seems better, not as much coughing and not as hard, so I think it's finally on it's way out. Unfortunately Lucas has now come down with it and Ruthie is coughing a bit, though, as usual, she seems to have escaped the worst of it. God truly watches over our little angel, she is supposed to have a propensity for ear and respiratory infections and not only has not had either, but is, so far, the healthiest of our children.

Our Thanksgiving was wonderful, just us minus one daughter, plus one boyfriend. I ended up not quite as busy as I expected for the weekend, which means more quilting time than I anticipated so Noah's quilt is DONE! I put the last stitch in the binding last night.

I'm now back to quilting on the joyful quilt, feeling like I want to finish this one before moving on to the ring quilt. Aside from a few small sewing projects, I have nothing else to sew for Christmas which means working on whatever I'd like through the holidays. This is the first year since I've started quilting, I think, that I didn't have a Christmas crunch of sewing projects.

I'm nearly done with block number 9 out of 20, and hoping that two weeks at the most and this one will be finished, also. I think I have enough batting here to baste another small quilt and I may do that while my table is still relatively clear so I still have a couple of smaller things to work on. The ring quilt will be fun, but tedious and large. There are times I don't feel like wrestling with a big quilt.

We have another hunting weekend coming up, this one here in Illinois, so there should be some good sewing time this weekend as well. My four hunters will be gone during the day Thursday through Sunday, home for the evening, but hopefully processing deer and then early to bed for early rise the next day.

I'm still a little shocked that Christmas is now less than a month away and am in serious denial. Thankfully I only have to shop for my kids and husband, with a little something for the boyfriends. I will likely be shopping at the last minute, not ideal as that is when I normally bake. Somehow it will all get done and even though it will be busy, it will likely not be nearly as stressful without a bunch of sewing to finish!
Ruthie loves the computer. She can't do much on it, yet, but loves looking at "babies" which is what she says when she wants to see HER file of pictures. This includes any pictures I take with people she knows in them. She knows which keys to push to change the picture if they aren't going fast enough for her.

She loves pretending to type. We also have a game that she thinks she's playing, and she can click around with the mouse. I'm working on getting her to realize that the mouse controls the cursor and then the sky will be the limit and we'll be finding some age appropriate learning (and just fun) games for her to play.

In the meantime, these little activites on the computer can keep her quite happy while I'm trying to get a few things done!

Now, off to quilting. I worked on "Joyful" for a nice little chunk of time this morning, have now done a few chores, made a few lunches and got dishes in to soak so I can relax and sew for a while before cleaning off the dishes and doing a few more quick chores. I hope to spend my evening in a comfortable chair quilting and watching some favorite shows.

I hope the same for you, a relaxing evening and time with needle and thread!
Sue and Ruthie

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hunting Weekend Wrap Up

I'm combining days 4 and 5 since there isn't so much to say about those days. I heard from the hunters, they are on their way home. Their group of 9 or 10 hunters pretty much got skunked. They only got one deer so I don't think they'll be coming home with any meat. They "party hunt" so share the yield among them, but since we have four in our family hunting again here in Illinois in two weeks, my husband may have declined any of the meat. I'll find out about that when they get home.

Yesterday, I machine quilted the bag and assembled it. All that remains on this is folding over the tabs on top to make the handles and making a fabric covered cardboard stabilizer for the bottom. Wooden dowels are inserted from strap to strap to carry it. I really enjoyed quilting on this, having found just the right setting so as not to get tucks and puckers as I quilt. I'm going to pull fabric to make one of these for me, too.

I also hand quilted on Noah's quilt, which is coming along nicely. This is for Christmas, so I have plenty of time. At the moment I have nothing else on my agenda as far as Christmas quilting, though once I start examining my list I may come up with a few small things. I should have plenty of time.

This weekend was all I'd hoped for and more. I always have big plans for how much I expect to accomplish and high hopes for how the kids will behave, and usually the weekends are very good. This one really couldn't have been much better. I worked long and hard on Friday and Saturday, yesterday and today were a decidedly more relaxed pace. While I look forward to the other half of my family arriving home, from the time they arrive until next Monday will be quite chaotic.

With my husband's van (died the day they left) and my son's car (died the night before they left) out of commission, getting everyone where they need to go tomorrow may be a challenge. If possible I may do my grocery shopping tomorrow, leaving me Wednesday to bake for Thanksgiving. If I can't go tomorrow, the shopping AND baking will need to be done Wednesday and the shopping will have to be worked around having a car.

Thursday, of course, I'll be cooking all day. Friday we may get together with friends and my son's friends decided they all had to try the turkey soup my son bragged about, so I'll be making that on Saturday and hosting a bunch of young men for dinner.

Once Sunday dinner is made and cleaned up, I should be able to relax, but there won't likely be much time before then. I'll be able to squeeze in a bit of quilting time, but it will be spent going over details in my head so that nothing falls through the cracks for the remainder of the week.

For now, it's time to take adavantage of the few hours of relative peace and quiet I have left. I'll put my feet up and hand quilt, make a simple dinner and squeeze in a bit more quilting before my sewing area is bombarded by duffel bags and gun cases. Just thinking about it makes me smile.
Happy Quilting!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hunting Weekend Update - Day 3

I decided to write my day 3 update as I finish things so if it seems disjointed, that's why. I've been doing them in the morning, but Sunday morning we have church and Rebekah and Brian will be coming for dinner after church. I may not go as I still have a hefty cough that will be quite disruptive if I can't keep it at bay for the hour, but want to be able to post tonight in case I'm able to go.

11:30am First item checked off my list is marking the border of a table runner. I tested this for Tyanne some time ago. The quilting on this will be mostly outlining except for the border. It's very long, so I can't get a picture of the whole thing without it being distorted, but you get the gist!

12:55pm I've just finished a bunch of prepwork. These are things that I hoped to have finished before this weekend even started, but I was thwarted by the flu. The backs are now ready for nearly all the things that I want to baste. I have one more piece to mark (a piece of fabric that will be made into a bag, so will be marked with 1 1/2 to 2 inch cross hatching) and then I can start the basting process.

2:35pm The bag fabric is marked with 1 1/2 inch diamond shaped cross hatching. Now the basting can begin. I needed the table to be cleared off for marking, so I'm ready to go. This is the part I've both been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. I know that my back will ache and my fingers will be sore by the time it's all finished, but in the end I will have a pile of quilts ready for hand quilting.

3:40pm Noah's quilt is basted. Yay! That went a lot faster than I expected. I do pin baste a lot of the time these days, mostly for the time aspect. As I move the hoop, the pins within that area are removed, so once I finish the pins are out. Since this is for Christmas, the Joyful quilt will be put aside for now and I'll work on this one.

4:40pm The bag has been pinned and is ready for machine quilting.

5:00pm I just finished basting the table runner.

Now for the biggest project of the day, basting the ring flower quilt. This one will need to be thread basted, because I don't have enough pins, LOL, and it will likely be a longer term quilting project. I don't like to have pins in something for a long time, so will thread baste if I know I won't be doing something right away. This one is big, 92 x 92, so it will take a while. Hopefully I'll be able to get everything aligned properly the first time. Lately large quilts have been giving me fits when it comes to basting and I end up pulling basting and re-aligning at least once. I'm really hoping that doesn't happen this time!

It's 12:43am and I'm not quite ( but almost) finished basting the ring quilt. It's not been without it's problems. I very carefully laid everything out and basted a big middle section only to find that I'd mismeasured the backing and it was short on two sides. Ugh. I added a strip to each side and went along my merry way. I was nearly finished when I realized that somehow I ended up with a big tuck in the back so I've had to pull some threads and readjust, but I think I can now finish up.

Once finished, I may just sit for a bit and then go to bed. If I get a second wind, I'm going to set my machine up and do a bit of machine quilting on the bag or do some hand quilting on Noah's quilt.

Ruthie and Lucas have been great, hanging out with me and doing some of their own thing, allowing me to get so much done.
With just a few more lines to baste, I'm just about finished and am so glad. My back is protesting all the hours spent basting today, my bed is sounding better and better!
Happy Quilting (or sleeping!)

Hunting Weekend Update - Day 2

The day was all I'd hoped for. Lucas and Ruthie were great. I took a break from sewing at 5:00 and took them to McDonald's for dinner. I promised Lucas we would go there. I finished Noah's quilt top and was really happy with the end result.

This is on the list to baste today.

My list of things I accomplished yesterday is small, only two things, and I was so surprised to figure that out as I kept pretty busy the whole day. The other thing I did was put a new border on the ring quilt. This one has been bothering me since I put it on. I didn't like it the day I did it and pulled it out several times hoping that it grew on me, but it just didn't. The older border is on the left.

It can barely be seen in the picture, but the outer border is a deep rose color. It looks even more "off" in the picture than in person. I pulled that one off and left the floral border. I added just a white border and kept the rose colored binding I made as I like darker colors for binding. If that doesn't look right once I'm done, I'll make new, but I think it will be ok. Here is the corner of the quilt with the new border. I also marked this border (and the inner, floral border) last night, which took longer than I expected it to. I like it this way much better and am glad that I changed it.

I have a long list of things that I hope to get done today, including a bit of baking, so I'd better get to it. I slept later than I expected, so already feel a bit behind. I was tired yesterday so felt like I was a little slow at getting things done, we'll see how the day goes today!
Happy Quilting!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hunting Weekend Update - Day 1

It was a long haul getting here. Right after my last post I got hit with a bout of the flu like I've never had. It started with a tightness in my chest, a horrible cough, a fever and bodyaches and I'm really just feeling myself again.

As the Mom, there are still things that need to be done. It was Ruthie's birthday on Sunday, so no hiding in bed that day.

All that got done last weekend was what was absolutely necessary. I had a whole list of things that I wanted to have ready for me to work on this weekend, so each day that ticked away without me making any progress made me a little sad.

Finally Wednesday I was feeling well enough to get some work done. I did the cutting for Noah's quilt. He's the little boy I babysit for and I've decided to make him a quilt for Christmas. I also unsewed the border on the quilt that I want to baste so it's ready for a new border.

The Posy and Celtic quilt will not be put together this weekend as the blocks aren't done. That was my biggest disappointment from being sick all week, as I had planned to have them done by the time everyone left.

They finally got on their way about 3:20, nearly an hour late because my husband's work van broke down on the way to the job we do together. The transmission went out and we can't afford to fix it...and even if we had enough it's not worth dumping that much money into a beater van. So again, I'm carless as he'll need my van for work until we come up with something else. We may fix our mini-van, but I'm sure that won't happen until after the holidays if that's the route we go. If we do that, he'll still be using our full sized van as he has equipment to carry along and I'd be driving the minivan (which I love.)

I spent all day Wednesday making food for them to take along, Thursday I made a big batch of this for nibblers for us. Meals will be quite easy this weekend, except for a bit nicer meal Sunday, so I can make the most of sewing time. For our first day I bought fried chicken from the Meijer deli (so good!)

I'm keeping a nice crystal bowl of my nibblers nearby, unless I start to gorge on them. So far, a piece here and there is all it took to keep me satisfied and I'm so focused on my sewing that I'm having to remind myself to eat. Keeping my portions reasonable has been quite easy, what with being sick and now being busy. I'm hoping to move into the holidays with some good habits in place.

As for the sewing, I started the day with all the pieces cut for Noah's quilt and ended it (at 2am) like this. The last two seams to sew to finish up the blocks are being worked on right now, while I wait for pictures to load. My machine is acting up, though, so I'm having to make some adjustments before I can move on. I'm hoping to be rolling along again soon. I have a huge list of things I hope to get done today and tomorrow and I feel like I have an extra day. All day yesterday felt like Friday, so it's Friday again!
Off I go. I'm hoping to update at the end of each night or first thing the following morning. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It's coming :) Now only 9 days away with all the pieces falling into place. We make easy meals, watch lots of movies, I stay up as late as I can and I sew as much as possible. I have quite a list of things I hope to work on while they are all gone.

Hunting weekend is as close as I get to a vacation a lot of years and I use it like a quilting retreat. Since I have to sing at church on Sunday this time, it does thwart my plan a bit as this means getting up early both Saturday and Sunday, as Saturday we practice and Sunday we arrive early to make sure all is in order.

They were debating on whether to leave Thursday afternoon (preferred by them and me) or early Friday morning, but a few things have happened that make leaving Thursday much more doable. My husband was momentarily put out with me when I told him I was hoping they leave on Thursday, LOL.

I knew that them leaving Friday meant that Thursday would be much more difficult for me. It meant cooking a big dinner Thursday instead of an easy meal. It meant the hunting gear piling up in the main area of the house...including my sewing area...and also meant that I'd have to really focus to get any sewing done on Thursday night as it would be completely chaotic in here until everyone went to bed and by the time I settled and focused there wouldn't be much time.

With them leaving on Thursday afternoon, I get an extra evening out of the deal. While I babysit until 5:30, if they are gone mid-afternoon that means an easy meal and getting my focus together while my little charge is here. I can begin to lay out my projects for the evening and be ready to roll when he is picked up. It also means staying up late without the worry of disturbing the sleeping hunters and no concern of being woke up early in the morning while they prepare to leave, which would have hampered my sewing later in the day.

Hunting weekend is like my last hurrah before the busy-ness of the holidays starts. I promised Lucas McDonald's for dinner one night. Our tight budget doesn't allow for meals out very often so it's been ages since we've been there.

Rebekah and her boyfriend will be here for dinner one of the days, but she'll help and we're doing a fairly easy and definitely fun meal.

Lucas is looking forward to "fun" food....he's helping to pick out the meals. I'm looking forward to major sewing time.

Usually I have something big in mind for that weekend, often some kind of marathon project having to do with Christmas or something new that I know I need to concentrate on with as few interruptions as possible.

This year, I have a whole list of things I hope to get to. The main thing is basting a couple of big tops. I pulled out 3 tops to baste, but will probably only have batting for two. One, I've decided, is going to need a different outer border. The border on it is what is keeping me from wanting to quilt on it so I'm going to have to pull it off and see what I can figure out. I may just go with white and a nice feathered quilting design and use the dark pink that is there now for the binding.
I was also hoping to put together the Posies and Celtic top, but I'm not sure if I'll have the blocks done in time. Once the top is together there is a lot of celtic applique work to be done, so this is a huge, ongoing project at this point. I do still have time, I'm just not sure if I can get the joyful quilt quilted in time to also get the posy blocks done.

If I'm careful with my time, I may be able to get both the "Joyful" quilt quilted AND the posy blocks done before next Thursday, which would be really wonderful. I'm a little afraid of splitting my time too much and having neither done. I guess when I think about it, the posy blocks should probably be the priority since finishing them means being able to move on. I can always quilt on the "Joyful" quilt whenever I need a few minutes to sit with my feet up.

Also on the list for that weekend is some work on the next strip block quilt. I have one seam sewing, so the large "background" triangle and one strip are on the paper foundation. There is considerably less piecing to do on these blocks as compared to the strip quilt I just finished. I could realistically make quite a dent in these.

Another thing I really need to get finished that weekend is the top for a quilt for the little one I babysit for. I'd like to give him this for Christmas so it's important for me to get it ready for quilting as soon as possible. I haven't even started this one, yet, but perhaps in the next few days when my fingers are too sore to sew or I'm too tired to sew any more I will pull out some books and fabric to see what I can come up with.

Just writing about it all really is getting me excited. In light of all the positive things going on here lately, I'm particularly looking forward to this (hopefully) relaxing weekend! I don't know that I ever get quite as relaxed as my daughter!

Speaking of that, it will be interesting to see how I sleep this time. Generally, I enjoy the few nights of having the bed to myself, stretching out, not having someone else pulling on the blankets, and just leaving the TV on if it's helping me to sleep.

I usually don't sleep all that well when he's gone, though. Lately, I've needed more sleep than I used to. I was hoping to be one of those people that needs less sleep as they age, but I think my years of losing sleep in the night over kidlets has caught up to me!

If I can't sleep, but can be productive, all the better for me. If I can't sleep but am too tired to get anything done, I will be disappointed. It won't be long now until I find out which way it will go.

And now, if I'd like to make any progress on anything today, it's time to scoot. I was babysitting but he just got picked up, and otherwise it's a fairly quiet day here which should mean some nice quilting time. It's cold and rainy and just perfect for curling up under a quilt with some handwork and a hot beverage. I'll do just that!
Happy Quilting to all,

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Lied

I said my next post was going to be about hunting weekend, but there have been a couple of posts since then and here is another. There has been so much going on all of a sudden that I haven't gotten to that one, but it will come in the next day or so as I'm finally starting to focus on it.

The strip quilt is done and has moved on to it's new home. I gave it to my daughter to bring to her boyfriend's house for a couch quilt.

I'm REALLY liking these. They are great scrap users, are really heavy and warm, in part because of so many seams, and they are so easy to make and quilt. I love the back of this one. The strips are 3/4 inches wide and I quilted just next to the seam so the quilting lines are 3/4 inch apart.

I'm hoping to spend a good part of the next couple of days quilting so that I can finish the "joyful" quilt I'm working on by hunting weekend. It's not very big, so this is doable if I spend my usual quilting time.

I have an old project pulled out to quilt on as soon as the current one is finished. The hanger full of binding has been taunting me, it's time to finish up some of those older projects!

I've also pulled out 3 tops that I'd like to baste. I'll probably only have batting for two of them, but we'll see how that goes. With two of them basted, I'll have my winter quilting cut out for me, and there are also a few other smaller things that are already basted and can be quilted, things like placemats and small wallhangings.

I'll finish up with some Ruthie pictures. She asked to have her picture taken in this hat.

And a couple of sleeping pictures. Lucas has one of those backrest things on his bed and she loves that spot during the day if she's watching movies. If it's mid to late afternoon when she works her way up there, I can be pretty sure she'll fall asleep. Usually I know if she's fallen asleep just because of the length of time she's quiet, but other times she'll take a short cat nap. That is usually followed by her coming out of her room, sleepy-eyed and smiling, saying "eep" (sleep) to tell me she'd just taken a nap.

She was completely out of it for this nap!

I'm finally feeling like the cloud is being lifted. We still have work to do around here and things that need to be taken care of, but the return of the van, the fixing of our furnace (I was relighting the pilot during the night all last winter, by the end of the winter I was having trouble lighting it at all) and a few other positive things, I'm cautiously optimistic that things are on the upswing, after 8 or so long years of difficulty. Time will tell! In the meantime, I have quilts calling my name and the next couple of days should afford me a fair amount of quilting time. Time to get to it!
Sue and Ruthie

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Giveaway Gift

I was so excited to receive my October Giveaway package in the mail! Sunny pulled my name in her giveaway and this was my awesome prize. The little fabric basket is where I keep my handquilting supplies, the fabrics will be used in my next strip quilt and the book is chock full of templates and even includes a few quilting stencils. The little notebook is in my purse, perfect for keeping track of what quilting supplies I need or what fun little things I find while I'm out and want to remember. Thanks so much, Sunny!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Our van is home. I'm writing this at 12:43am because at 11:45 our oldest daughter walked in and announced "the van is here" as casually as if she was saying it's chilly outside. "The van is here?" I repeated, as if trying to decipher unfamiliar words. She nodded, smiling.

"OUR van is here?" I asked again. She laughed and said she'd driven it home.

My husband was really hoping it would be here for hunting weekend, I was beginning to doubt it was fixable at all and most certainly not in the next couple of weeks. I can't sleep and may not be able to unless I go out there to have a look. I peer out my window only to see a vaguely familiar shape in our driveway.

I'm afraid to drive it. I can't wait to drive it. The kids don't even know it's here, yet. Somehow I have to sleep tonight.

Seriously, though, I thank everyone who prays for us. It's appreciated more than you know and right now I feel like the van in my driveway is a promise and a tangible answer to prayer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The End is in Sight!

Yesterday was a roller coaster day. As I moved the quilt along, I thought that I had less to finish but found a spot where there was more blocks left than I anticipated.

A little dejected, but not daunted, I continued on only to find that there was only one small spot where there was extra blocks, and when I moved beyond it there were actually fewer blocks left to do than I thought.

As of last night, I'm on the edge blocks. I'm on the second one of them and plan to pound away until this one is finished.

I have a couple of smaller quilts that are basted and partially quilted, so I will pull out those and work on them when this one is finished. While digging for them in my large storage totes, I'll also choose the next several tops to be quilted and put them where they are accessible for marking and basting as I have the supplies to do so.

I've begun a list of projects to be worked on over the next few months. Mostly because I have a few things that need to be finished by the end of November/beginning of December and I want to have a nice list ready to choose from for the big hunting weekend, now only 3 short weeks away.

I LOVE hunting weekend, my next post will likely be all about it.

On my list for today are several chores. I have laundry going and dishes soaking, some picking up to do and some cleaning up in our bedroom. I hope to also squeeze in quite a bit of quilting. The binding is made for this quilt (as it is for all my tops) so as soon as the quilting is done I can bind it and send it to it's new home.

Ruthie's words are coming quickly now, though many still take some work to decipher, especially when they are new. She loves to "dwaw" (draw) and will spend quite a bit of time scribbling on paper. At first the movements were big and random, but now they've become smaller and more deliberate. With her birthday next month and Christmas the month after, we're scoping out different writing toys and tools as she not only enjoys them, but they are so good for her fine motor development.

If I expect to get anything done today, I'd better run. It's chilly in here as we're trying to keep our heat on low so a couple of quick chores and then a warm quilt in my lap for quilting is just the ticket.
Happy quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Little Update and a Link

First, the link. Barb over at Ocean Waves Quilts is doing a giveaway with a wonderful prize! You have until October 22nd to sign up, so check it out and throw your name in the hat, she would love to hear from you!

Things have been busy here, our kids' youth group had their annual pumpkin launch so we spent the last week or so on final details, which means me being available at a moments notice to supervise flag making, power tool use and helping to solve little problems along the way. A wonderful time was had by all. Joshua's giant slingshot threw a pumpkin 460 feet, clearing the field they were shooting in, crossing the road (still pretty high in the air) and landing in the trees across the way.

Jonathan made a trebuchet with his friend, they are both 14. They did all of the work themselves, Jonathan even asked how to use the sewing machine and sewed his flags himself. Unfortunately the practice launches bent the axle holding the weight box and they were unable to do the official competition launches. After a few minutes of intense disappointment he was looking toward next year and what they could do to make the machine stronger to try again.

What quilting time I've had has been spent on the strip quilt, which is coming along nicely. I'm really hoping to have this one finished in the next week or so. I have a couple smaller quilts basted and partially quilted so I think I'll pull those out and finish them. The posy quilt will also get more attention once this one is finished.

It's a chilly, rainy day here, perfect for quilting. I went grocery shopping this morning and have a few quick chores to do and then I should be able to relax and quilt for a good part of what is left of the day.

The house smells like cinnamon, a friend brought me a starter for Amish Friendship Bread and I baked it today. I don't have anyone who wants them, so I'm going to keep it going here and make different versions of the loaf cake style recipe and will also use some to make sourdough bread. Ruthie is in a snuggly mood today and was walking around with this quilt wrapped around her.
Any length of time without Ruthie chatter will probably result in the picture on the right. If she's tired she has no problem settling in somewhere comfy (or not so comfy!) and taking a little snooze.
While I'd love to take a nap today, I know doing so will mean having trouble sleeping tonight. I'm going to get those chores done and hopefully moving around will renew my energy a bit so I can quilt without it putting me to sleep!
Until next time,
Happy Quilting!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not Much New

There isn't much new around here. The quilting is rolling along, with 3 more posy blocks done and quite a bit of hand quilting on the strip quilt. When that one is finished, I have a stained glass style quilt that I started to quilt on a while back that I will pick up and finish.

Our oldest bought her first car, a truck actually, and that eased up our driving difficulties until our son's old truck broke down a few days later. After two weeks of trying to fix it, I think they are giving up and he's going to look for a new old truck to buy, LOL. So getting everyone where they need to be is complicated again until then.

Our van may be beyond hope, which is NOT good news at all. The boys haven't given up, yet, but don't really have any idea where to go from here.

I'm enjoying the cooler weather and doing more hand quilting. I'm cold in the evenings so a big quilt on my lap while I had quilt is just the ticket. Tonight the baseball playoffs resume, so that means a few more baseball games (good hand quilting time) over the next few days.

In thinking of the posy quilt this morning, it sunk in that I only have a few more leaves and then the next block is done and there are only 3 more blocks left after that. I haven't worked on these since last week, and now the thought of being able to put the blocks together and test out my celtic idea is making me want to get going on them in spite of really wanting the strip quilt finished.

Hunting season is only a few weeks away now and our 16 year old daughter will be accompanying my husband and two older sons this year. Hunting weekend is the weekend before Thanksgiving and they leave on Thursday afternoon and come back Monday night.

Over the years, hunting weekend has meant different things to me. Ruthie was born the week before hunting weekend one year so only our oldest went. We spent hunting weekend going back and forth to the hospital, and bringing her home on Sunday. We painted the girls room once on hunting weekend, and the boys room another year. Mostly, though, it's a sewing weekend for me. We make easy food, watch movies, and do as little work as possible. It's like a mini-retreat, because I have fewer people to feed, fewer people in and out, and fewer people around to make messes.

I haven't decided, yet, what I'll be working on that weekend. I might try to get some batting and backing to mark and baste as many quilts as I can afford to so my winter quilting is ready to roll. The more I think of that idea, the more I like it. I'll also likely do bits and pieces of other projects when I need a break. With nearly 5 days to sew and very little in the way of committments, I should be able to get quite a bit done...unless I spend too much time on the computer!

And, of course, the Ruthie picture. She's big into pencils and paper these days and almost holds a pencil quite well. I found her this morning with the crayon box, busily scribbling away.
And now, several hours after starting this post, I'll be off. My quilt is calling. I'm babysitting this afternoon and trying to get a few chores done so I can park myself and sew tonight during the baseball game.
As always, Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Monday, September 22, 2008

Done and Moving On

Yay! The baby quilt is done with plenty of time to spare.

The binding gave me a few fits, of my own doing, as I tried to cheat and use some that I had already made. I couldn't think of what project it was for so thought it was leftover from something else. Wrong. As I finished sewing it on I realized what top it belonged to (I make the binding for my quilts when I made the tops so I don't accidentally use the fabric for something else.) I sat for a while trying to figure out what to do. I could leave it on, but then have trouble finding fabric for binding for the other quilt. I poked around my stash trying to find something else to use but was having trouble finding anything that looked nice. I did have another piece of binding made that could be used for the other project, allowing me to leave this binding on, but I knew that I did have something else that piece might work for so was reluctant to use it.

I took off the binding and went back to my stash in hopes of finding something that would work. I found a piece of fabrc that looked similar in color to what I just pulled off....hmmm...it was the SAME fabric. UGH. I could have left that on after all!

So I cut and made binding from the new piece of fabric and sewed it on, happy to be done with that project and learning my lesson about using binding I have already made!

I'm babysitting 4 afternoons this week, so will have to use my time wisely. I pulled out the posy project and have nearly finished another block. My scraps are overrunning me again so I started cutting some into strips and putting them in a box for the next strip quilt. I want to be sure to gt some time in hand quilting as well, seeing my hanger full of made binding makes me realize how many tops I still need to quilt and I plan to finish at least a few of those over the winter months.

Jonathan (14) and a friend are building a trebuchet. The youth group at our church is having it's 3rd annual pumpkin launch on Columbus day. Our older son is a youth leader and has a team making a giant sling shot, last year they threw pumpkins over 300 feet with something similar. This year they are going with a bigger, more heavy duty version in hopes of throwing even farther.

The trebuchet is being built at our house and Ruthie decided that it would be a good place to perch and watch the boys while she had a snack.

While I made Sunday dinner yesterday, Rebekah set up shop in the kitchen and colored her sister's hair. She had highlights but wanted it all put back to her natural color, so that's what they did. She also gave Ruthie a nice haircut and cut Rachel's boyfriend's hair.
Ruthie's hair was cut straight from a ponytail so isn't sitting the best in this picture, but I'm sure there will plenty more pictures! I'm hoping she'll start to let me play with the blow dryer and curling iron soon, so we can find some pretty hairdos with her stylish new cut.
Today, I plan to finish the posy block, cut some more strips, and maybe do a bit of hand quilting if it doesn't get too warm. I may start the next posy block, too, as I really would love to get that top put together so I can work on the celtic applique. I'd better get to it!
Happy Quilting!