Friday, August 29, 2008

Oven Woes...and Moving Right Along

I have a double oven. About a year ago, the lower (larger) oven stopped working. Since I use my oven nearly every day at least once, sometimes for a good part of the day, this was very difficult. We couldn't afford to fix it, though, and I consoled myself with having the upper oven, small though it is. Last week, our oldest got home from work and put a frozen pizza in the oven, 15 minutes later he went to check it for doneness and it was still frozen. Darn. Oven number two is gone, also.

I was pretty sure I knew what was wrong with the bottom oven, and the same thing appeared to be wrong with the top one. While I had hoped that we could get a repairman out, since working with electricity and gas is not usual for me, I was having a really hard time knowing it would cost such a large amount of money for something I might be able to fix myself. I poked around online and found the needed part, and read the comments from others who bought it. I was encouraged and, with a quick check with my husband about the budget, placed the order.

Imagine my surprise when it arrived the next day! Of course, that meant I had to take the plunge and make the fix! Since both ovens needed the same part and the bottom oven was more useful, that's the one I chose to fix first. I read the directions, turned off the circuit breaker and disassembled the bottom of my oven. It took a few minutes to figure out which wires were for the igniter and where exactly they needed to be cut (re-reading the comments helped me figure it out, the directions that it came with were rather lacking) and cut them I did. I spliced in the new part and put the oven back together. A flip of the circuit breaker and turn of the oven knob and a minute later we heard the gas hissing. I cautiously opened the oven door and it was already warming nicely. I had fixed it!

Sometime in the next couple of weeks or so we're going to order the 2nd part and soon I'll have both ovens in working order again. I'm feeling pretty spoiled now just having the bigger one back!

On to quilting!

Block number 3 of my new Posies and Celtic quilt is nearly done, but not finished so no picture, yet. I did get the purple flower quilt done, though. I promised myself I would not start quilting on the strip quilt until the purple quilt was finished and, had I known how quickly it would go once I got rolling on it, I would have finished it sooner!

I got the first needle full into the strip quilt and it's fun to quilt on so I anticipate that one not taking too terribly long unless I get taken over by the Posies and Celtic quilt. I've decided the strip quilt will go with Rebekah to her boyfriend's house, giving me a reason to make another (or two.) I LOVE how that one came out and now I know what to do with scraps too small to save, but too big to toss...they will get cut into 1 1/2 inch strips for strip quilts. These will be great for down in our family room, which tends to get cold in the winter. While I have a few quilts down there, I don't keep the "fancier" ones there as I want the kids to be able to use them without worrying about something happening to them.

It's going to be rather warm this weekend, so I'm not sure how much hand quilting I'll be able to do. I'll get some paper ready for strip blocks and cut some strips if I get tired of applique. I can also cut and mark the last 8 background pieces for the Posies and Celtic quilt or baste some posie or leaf pieces so those are ready to go. My husband has a bunch of things he wants to get done around the house, which should leave me quite a bit of time for quilting.

I made homemade pizza for dinner, we've eaten, and, since we're a small group tonight, cleanup will be quite easy. My posie block is calling me and I have an evening stretching ahead that can be devoted to quilting if I just get to it.

Ruthie hasn't napped today, hopefully that means a good night ahead. She sometimes ends up falling asleep around dinner time and that means she's up late...or if she goes to bed on time it means waking up in the night having difficulty going back to sleep. She's outside right now and Jonathan is having a friend over so she's likely to stay awake late enough to make for a "normal" night. Which means ample rest for me and, hopefully, abundant energy tomorrow!

Happy Quilting!

Sue and Ruthie

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic Challenge Wrap-Up

I really had no specific goals in mind with this. Mostly I knew I wanted to watch as much of the Olympics as I could, but didn't want to just sit and vegetate in front of the television for two weeks.

I looked through my ongoing projects and made a list of things in progress and what the next step was for each. I also came up with a couple of new projects I could potentially plan out and start.

I had no idea what I'd really end up doing. I had high hopes for accomplishing a lot on some UFOs, but didn't really spend as much time as I planned on them because of my new project.

What I did do was finish the strip pieced top and get it basted. It's ready for quilting now, but I'm really wanting to finish the purple flower quilt before starting this one.

I got one side of the border and a little more done on the purple flower quilt and talking about it plus knowing the strip quilt is basted is getting me motivated. It's on the cool side today, so a good day for some hand quilting.

The only other project I did much on was the new one. On that one I did a lot. The bias is all made, the pieces are all cut and about half of them are basted. I've cut and marked half of the background pieces and two of the blocks are completely finished. I'm anxious to get to the celtic applique, so this one is getting a lot of attention right now. Here are the two finished blocks. The leaves and vines are all made of the same fabric and the posies are different in each block.

I also want to make a quilted shade for our bedroom. I keep thinking that I know what pattern I want to use, but the fact that I'm not sitting down to figure it all out tells me perhaps I don't have the right one, yet. I'll have to mull that one over while I applique on this one. We have a nice sized window in our bedroom, but it still won't be nearly as big as most quilts that I make so should work up fairly quickly.

Looking back, I probably should have spent most of my time working on UFO's, but the fact is, I had a ball. I spent most of this year working on the toppers and quilt for my parents, and while those projects were quite enjoyable, the looming deadline took just a bit of fun out of the task.

With school starting, the days should be quieter around here and there will be lots of time for quilting. I used to be really good at working on many projects at once, but as I've gotten older I don't seem to be quite as good at that. I do usually have 2-3 that I'm actively working on, and as each catches my fancy, or gets near the end of a stage, it will get more attention.

Today, I think I'll do some hand quilting and will probably start the next posie block. I also still have some basting to do and backgrounds to cut and mark, so I may spend some time at those as well.

I seem to be out of things to say, so I'll head off, my quilting is calling me and I'm still tired from staying up too late during the Olympics while still getting up early to walk. I have movies going in the DVD player and am puttering around with the cleaning and the laundry. The end of the day should find the kitchen cleaned, the laundry caught up, and some progress made on at least one project.

That, to me, is a great day!

Happy Quilting!


Monday, August 18, 2008

New Project Enthusiasm

Or how I've spent my last two days.

I love starting new projects. Thankfully I also like finishing projects, LOL. Once I figured out what I wanted to do for the "posies and celtic" quilt, I really wanted to get it started. In my last post, I mentioned cutting all my freezer paper pieces. Yesterday I laid out all the fabrics and adhered the freezer paper to the fabrics I wanted. Each block will be a different combination of colors (I hope, I just picked and stacked and figured with the colors I had that repeating the same combination twice was unlikely...time will tell on that!) and I'm ready to start basting the edges on those. I enjoy these extra steps and I like the end result the extra prepwork gives me so it's all good. Here is the stack of posie pieces and leaves. The leaves are trimmed and ready to baste, the posies haven't been done, yet. The squares for the yo-yos are also cut.
The bigger part of the job was making the celtic bias for applique. I LOVE doing this. Step one is cutting one inch strips on the bias. They then get sewn together end to end. The whole thing is pressed in half, then sewn 1/4 inch from the folded edge. That's where it is in this picture. I then have to go back and trim next to the seam to make pressing easier.

Once the seam allowance is trimmed, a bias bar is slid through, one bar length at a time and the seam allowance is rolled to the middle of the bar and pressed. I then wind it onto a card to keep it tangle free and to keep the folds pressed. The first few yards of this will be used as the vine for the applique blocks, the rest will be appliqued down in a braided design in the sashing and some other undetermined design in the outer border.

Yesterday I made a trip to JoAnn's for a much needed bolt of bleached muslin. I'm still hoping to baste a quilt this week, I just haven't yet decided which one I want to quilt next. I prefer muslin for my backs, truth be told in part because it reduces cost. I also really like the "whole cloth" look on the back of my quilts when I use muslin. I also like it for the backgrounds of some of my quilts, especially when I plan to have a lot of quilting on them.
Tomorrow I'll be cutting background for the new quilt and possibly starting the first block, once I decide for sure what I want to use as the background.

And no post is complete without a current Ruthie picture. This one is from our family reunion. She really surprised me during the reunion week, with 3 big parties and a week full of new faces and activites she did quite well. Here she is enjoying some chips and dip at one of the parties. I'm not sure which one of her siblings (or their boyfriends) are causing the twinkle in her eye in this picture, but I love this one.

So that's it for now, time for more Olympics and a bit of hand sewing after a long day of cutting and pressing.
Happy Quilting!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Quilting Madness

To be honest, I'd be getting a lot more done if I wasn't so drawn by this computer, LOL, but in spite of some time spent each day checking email and a couple of bulletin boards that I like, I've actually spent a fair amount of time quilting.

The strip blocks are in sets of four and I may start piecing them together tonight. I'd love to start quilting on this one, but I don't think I have backing here for it, though I may poke around some and see if I can piece some together. This won't have sashing or even a border, I think it will be complete on it's own with the binding being a suitable "ending" to the quilt. I won't know for sure until I get it put together and try out a few pieces for borders, just in case. The nice thing about this one is no marking required, which means I can get right to the basting and can quilt even if the lighting is less than ideal.

I pieced together the sashing for the leaf block quilt and have one of the blocks appliqued. So far this one is not thrilling me, so I'm having trouble working on it, but will continue on as often I find these "so so" quilts are gems when they are finished. I feel like the sashing is overpowering (though this is one of the lighter blocks) yet my eye still bounces back and forth between the block and the sashing so it might work out in the end. For now, I'll likely spend more time on other projects, but seeing the picture does renew my motivation on this one.

One of the perks of my husband working in the high school are the many cast offs that come our way. We've gotten bookshelves, chairs, and various other items that would otherwise be thrown out. When he called the other night, he said he had a music player. Not a cd player, he said, but you hook it to the computer somehow. It turned out to be similar to an MP3 player. There was a box full of them, brand new, still in the packages, earmarked for the garbage. The custodial staff split them up, and we got 2 of them. I had thought about suggesting an MP3 player for my birthday, but wasn't sure how much I'd really use one so nixed the idea. Here is my chance to find out how much I'll use it. The downside is it only holds one CD, but I think that will be fine for me as the most I'd be using it at a time is an hour or two. The upside is (aside from being FREE, lol) is that it's quite easy to change what music is on it. I like to walk to the store, and used to always have someone wanting to walk with me, but lately everyone is pretty busy around here. I don't really like to walk alone, but needed to walk to the store yesterday, the music player made the walk much more enjoyable.

Now for the real madness. I've planned a new project. As if 16 of the topper blocks weren't enough, I'm making 16 more for a quilt. The green will be consistent throughout the blocks, each block will be a different combination of colors. Of course, the blocks weren't enough of a project, the sashing between them will have a braid appliqued on, celtic style. The outer border will likely have some combination of appliqued celtic bias and flowers, but I may wait to decide until I see what the top "needs" to make it complete.

I spent yesterday tracing and cutting the freezer paper pieces for this quilt. I haven't decided if I'll do all the prepwork before starting to applique or not, I'll just have to see as I go along what I feel like doing. In the bag are 48 posie pieces in 3 different sizes (16 each) and 320 leaf pieces. I'm figuring I'll need to make about 180 yards of bias for the stems and appliqued sashing/border motifs. That in itself is a daunting task, but one that is quite enjoyable when I'm in the mood to do it. As this is a "no deadline" project, I can wait until I'm in the mood!

While cleaning out the garage a few days ago, Jonathan found my old table top ironing board. The cover was ripped, which I'm sure is why it was put aside, so while pictures were loading (we have dialup...loading pictures is slow!) I pulled out some batting and fabric to recover it and started pinning rows for the strip block quilt. With those two things waiting and my quilting updates complete, I'm ready to vacate this seat and get some work done. A full evening of Olympic coverage will entertain me while I work.
Of course, I can't take my leave without a Ruthie picture. She's taken to putting herself to bed many nights. She will come and give hugs and kisses and head off to her room. Sometimes she comes back out again, and other times it remains quiet, leading me to investigate to be sure she's sleeping and not into mischief. This is what I found one night, I can't imagine falling asleep in that position!
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Monday, August 11, 2008

And Now, I Quilt!

After all the planning and anticipation, our family reunion week is over. It went exceedingly well, better than I ever could have hoped for and I was truly sorry to see everyone go.

Here is a picture of the lot of us, our color for the reunion was purple. My husband's father was one of 15 children, 4 became nuns, one died at birth (we just found out about this one at the reunion) so each family was given a color to wear. It was a really fun way to keep track of our own family, and to identify the other families.

Lucas, 8, was thrilled. There was something going on every day and he was able to participate in all of it. Even Ruthie got into the swing of it pretty quickly and wasn't too overwhelmed by so many new faces and so much activity for the week.

If it wasn't for the Olympics and my quilting list, I probably would be mildly depressed for a few days, but we've been looking forward to the Olympic games all year. Rebekah, Rachel and I had so much fun during the winter Olympics in 2006 that we've hardly been able to wait for these to begin. We made things as easy as possible for the two weeks and parked ourselves in front of the TV until we could sit no more. I, of course, hand sewed through it all, LOL.

This time is much the same, though we all have some committments that will tear us away from home. And this time I have a TV in my sewing area, so I'm able to do both hand and machine work without missing a thing.

I made a daunting list of things to work on during this two weeks, most of them old projects that I want to progress on. I also have a couple of new projects that I want to plan out and perhaps start.

The strip blocks will be completely finished and ready to begin sewing together today, I don't know if I'll start doing that or not. Right now the plan is to sew them into sets of four, then I may sash them so there will be some playing around with them before I actually finish the top.

I'm going to run, my blocks are calling me and I have a few chores on my list for the day (those will be squeezed in during breaks in the action, commercials, etc. I know, I'm pathetic! LOL)

I had to include this picture of Ruthie, taken by my Dad at their party last week.
Happy Olympics!
Sue and Ruthie

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Unexpected Freedom

What a weekend! My parents' anniversary party went off without a hitch, and a good time was had by all. It was a LONG day, we picked up tables and chairs at 9am, took them to my sister's house and set them up, came home to shower and get ready for the party and went back to her house, tore it all down when it was over, took the tables and chairs (8 tables, 64 chairs) back to the church and unloaded and then went to our older kids' softball game. We finally arrived home again around 10pm.

Sunday wasn't much different, we went to church, came home and packed up for a party at my brother-in-law's brother in law's house, we were there until 8 or so and then packed up for the hour or so ride home.

Yesterday was our planning meeting for the week. My husband's family is in town until Sunday. Once we made our list of "want to do" things and the actual schedule of meals and activities most of the group headed to the movies. I stayed here with Rebekah and Ruthie and started heating up food when they were on the way home. We had leftovers from the day before so dinner was easy. After dinner and visiting for a while, everyone left around 9pm.

Our oldest niece and her husband just moved into the area a couple of weeks ago, but they live 2 hours or so from here. Since today's activity is the Field Museum, she opted to stay here for the night. Here are the remnants of her bed. They all left at 8:15 this morning and aren't expected back until 4:00 or so, when we will converge here again for a barbeque. My house is showing signs of company, LOL, mostly in the form of coolers and cases of beverages in my kitchen (and the chairs all being scattered around the dining and sewing tables.) My husband's family is quite good at making sure anyone hosting is not left with a mess, which means at the end of the week my house will likely be even cleaner than it started. I keep telling them to leave the mess, that they are on vacation and I'm glad to clean up what few dishes, etc, we're using, but they say I'm on vacation too. I told them mine starts next week, which got a chuckle from my sister-in-law and mother-in-law.

The only ones who didn't go to the museum are Ruthie and I and our oldest son, who has to work until noon. I have to babysit this afternoon, which is the reason I gave for staying behind (and IS a big part of the reason) but part of the reason is I'm not good at running around every day and neither is Ruthie. She's handled all of this quite well so far, considering she has spent a good part of the last few days with people she hasn't seen in about a year and probably doesn't remember.

So today, I get to sew :) Setting up and taking down my machine is no big deal these days, I store it in the rolling case I bought for it a couple of years ago. When I know I'm going to be using it often, I just leave it up, but with company here for the week it was put away. A whole day to sew was worth pulling it out for and I've been pinning while waiting for things to load. I can quickly take it all down again as the cars start rolling in later this afternoon.

Tomorrow I'll be free until mid-afternoon, when I'll make an early supper and we'll pack up to go to a minor league baseball game. The whole group is going to this and it should be a lot of fun. With fireworks after the game and an hour ride home, it will be a bit on the late side but well worth it.

As an aside, Rebekah took her state boards for her cosmetology license and passed with a 93% score. She calls today to find out about a job she interviewed for last week. They told her to call back when she passes her test and she feels pretty confident they will offer her the job. Her interview included bringing a friend to do a haircut and partial highlights on and they said her highlights and cut were fantastic. I think they will be lucky to get her!

Today, I get to hang out with my sleepy girl and sew. And perhaps bake cookies. The sun is shining after thunderstorms off and on all day and night. For all the craziness going on this week, I hardly have to cook at all which does make it feel like a vacation even if our house is the gathering place. Life is good!
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie