Saturday, January 14, 2017

I Love a Plan!

I love participating in the quarterly Finish-A-Long challenges each year!  I don't always (um, make that never) finish all my projects, but it really helps keep me focused on the ones that need my attention.  Like many of my fellow quilters, I'm a card-carrying squirrel-chaser and distraction is my middle name.  Whenever I begin to feel like I've wandered off and fallen down the rabbit hole, I can always turn to my planning wall to see what is next on my Finish-A-Long list :*)

This list obviously wasn't quite finished LOL!!!

Don't get me wrong - I love chasing squirrels with happy abandon!  Some of my favorite quilts have come from that instinctive latching onto the shiny new thing.  And sometimes it's a really fun surprise to find a project long forgotten at the bottom of a pile - often it just needs enough love to finish the borders or a binding.  It's good to sometimes step back from a current project and just work on something mindless and fun.  I find that I usually come back to it re-energized and stoked with new ideas.

But I am by nature a methodical girl.  I love a Plan!  And the only thing I love more than a Plan is working the Plan :*)  The more organized something is, the better chance it has of actually getting done in my universe.

Procrastination is my nemesis, and lack of focus my deadly enemy!  Preparation is the key for me to be successful in getting my quilts to the finish line, and the quarterly Finish-A-Long challenges fit into my planning goals perfectly.

What I love most about the Finish-A-Long is that it works in quarters, so I can plan my projects more long term than right now, or this week, or this month.  Even though I may be hot and heavy into En Provence or I Believe right now, with the Q1 list in front of me, I am also planning for the next couple of months.  I know to be looking for more blue and orange fabrics to go with the ones I have pulled for Hudson's Dreaming of Planes quilt the next time I'm in a fabric shop.  One quick glance reminds me to get the back stitched together for Soul Searching so that will be ready when my friend Joanne has a day open to let me come quilt it on her longarm.  And when I finish a project, I never have to ask myself "what's next?" - I just go to the next one on the list!

So without further ado - here's a list of my projects for the Q1 Finish-A-Long challenge this year, in no particular order.  Can you spot them in the collage at the top of the post?

Dreaming of Planes - this is a cuddle quilt for grandson Hudson.  I've made him a couple of small baby quilts, but he has informed me that now he is FIVE, his "baby" quilt is no longer long enough to cover his toes.  Can you tell that his favorite color is ORANGE?  Yes, the brighter and bolder the better, just like him.  The white polka dot orange in the background is a Minkee for a cuddly, snugly backing :*)

I Believe Sampler - this is my Christmas UFO for January and I've posted several times about it recently.  You can click on the name to see these posts.

En Provence - this is self-explanatory of course!  Bonnie's quilt is a beauty this year and we are seeing pictures of it all over the Blogaverse.  I'm making the small version with the hope of finishing it quickly.  All of my pieces are made and I'm assembling blocks now :*)

Bind Amish Beauties, Strip Stax, and Happy - these are long finished quilts that have languished on the Binding shelf!  It's time for me to get 'em done!!!

Cool Diehl - this quilt is my homage quilt to Kim Diehl.  I love her quilts and, even though I am not a fan of reproduction fabrics, her fabrics are definitely the exception.  I love the light and joy in her fabrics and this quilt has been a joy to do!  It's a small one - only 28 inches square :*)

Soul Searching - one of my favorite Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilts from a few years ago.  It's number has come up on my guild's UFO Challenge, so it will be quilted and bound this month.

Talkin' Turkey - one of Bonnie Hunter's patterns that I've been making with friends.  Working on the pieced borders!

Christmas Tree Mugrugs - I have three to finish - two are ready to quilt!  Pattern is from Kevin the Quilter if you want to make a few yourself :*)

Sassy Circles - my improv circle project from a class taken with Jane Sassaman last summer

Rami Kim Bag - a bag project from a class taken with Rami Kim last year at Quiltfest.  She will be there again this year, so I'd love to have this done to show her :*)

I would absolutely love to finish all of these in the next 3 months!!!  It would be a miracle of course LOL :*)  But I am shooting for at least half of them, and I think I can get more than that done.  Wish me luck!

There are several sites you can choose to go to enjoy the Q1 Finish-A-Long projects being shared this year - it is now global!!!  I'm sharing at Leanne's at She Can Quilt - hope you will join me there!

Hugs & Blessings!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Road to En Provence!

I have a completed En Provence block!

I am tickled pink to have this much to show today :*)  I know there are a few of my fellow quilters who were able to keep up better with the clues and have their tops complete.  But I had to let mine sit for a couple of weeks, and then cut/stitched like a maniac this weekend to play catch-up.

First I had to cut lots of quarter-square triangles for both clues .....

We were finally able to cut into our greens for these clues!  I chose to keep my greens very dark, and then used light yellowy-greens instead of the yellow Bonnie called for.  I'm not usually fond of yellow in a quilt (unless it is a yellow quilt !)  Here are the fabrics I used...

I set up a little production line, using Block #7 I Believe Sampler pieces as my leaders/enders....

My plan was to at least get all of my Clue #6 units made - and I did!

Once these #6 units were done, I had all I needed to put a full block together, which of course I shared at the beginning of the post ;*).  And then I got the #7 units halfway sewn as well .....

I couldn't resist stitching a couple of these together to see how the finished units looked...Pretty!!!

Then of course I had to piece at least one sashing section too!

Oooo - I love that touch of magenta in there!  I think I'm going to really like this quilt.  I will have to go back and make a few more of each clue to give me 9 blocks total, but it feels really great to have almost all of the pieces assembled, ready for making the blocks.  I'll keep you posted!!!

Linking up with Bonnie's Linky Party today where you'll find lots of gorgeous En Provence quilt blocks and quilt tops to enjoy - come on over!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

Friday, January 6, 2017

January Goals

Baby, It's COLD outside!!!!

Some of you will remember my little Bertie's Year January wall quilt which I did several years ago.  I made all 12 of them and change them out each month.  Thank you Bonnie Sullivan for such wonderful designs :*)  Poor little Bertie will go to any lengths to make friends, even with a snowman in the depths of winter!  Unlike Bertie, I am staying inside!  My grandson asked if I made a snowman out of the snowfall we got this morning, and I told him I never even stuck the tip of my nose out the door.  He laughed at that :*)

In these frigid temps, I think it is in our DNA to be thoughtful about survival and eating well to stay healthy.  One of my goals for 2017 is to learn to cook more healthy meals.  (Well, basically, to learn how to cook period LOL!!!). We are both at the age where many foods bother us for one reason or another.  My Guy especially suffers reactions to MSG, and there are few packaged or processed food items that don't contain it.  We've found it in foods we would never have suspected!  Most gravies of course, and anything with flavorings, extracts, enzymes, etc.  Even crackers, bread and last week a bag of shredded Parmesan cheese!  For New Year's Day, I challenged myself to try one of the recipes I've been collecting - Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie....

It was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!

Now that's what I call "comfort food"!!!!  And it didn't take a village to put it together either.  I diced some celery and onions, as well as the turkey, and then all I had to do was gather the other ingredients and have them ready to add when needed.  One of my favorite things about this dish is that it cooks in my cast iron skillet!

I used the leftover turkey I had frozen from Thanksgiving.  Although it was really, really good, the dark parts of the turkey kept it from being a perfect meal.  Next time I will use fresh chicken breasts instead.  We loved it and will definitely be making it again!  You can get the recipe HERE if you are interested in trying it out yourself :*)

This first week brought my first finish of 2017!

This is a Kismet Trinket Box, a Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness) design, and although it was not an easy sew, it wasn't too terribly difficult either.  Anyone with at least intermediate bag sewing skills should be able to make one.  There are six sizes/shapes in the pattern - this one is the Large Square box.

I made this as a birthday gift for my friend Susie who is a real-live artist, so I had to chose fabric worthy of her, right?  Jane Sassaman fabrics can always be counted on to give that extra "wow" factor!  These are two that I picked up when Jane came to our guild last September.  I have to say, there are few things that make me happier than working with beautiful fabrics like these!!!  You can be sure that I plan to follow this one up with one of my own!  Here is a quick peek at the back as well ....

Today I cut all the pieces for Block #6 of the I Believe Sampler UFO project and they are ready to be pieced as soon as I hit the "Send" button here!  First I had to repair my "oops" from yesterday on Block #5 - I'm sure you'll all be relieved to know that the bottom left unit is now correctly oriented :*)

Getting this top pieced together and ready for quilting will be my One Monthly Goal project for January.  You can see lots of other UFO's in various stages of construction HERE at the amazing Elm Street Quilts!

And Bonnie Hunter revealed her En Provence mystery quilt on January 1!!!!!!

©Bonnie Hunter - En Provence

I'm looking forward to getting back to this project!  I was caught up through Clue #5....

But then it had to sit for the past week.  I've begun cutting the pieces for #6, and hope to have them sewn by the end of the weekend.  If I'm really diligent I should have Clue #7 cut and started as well.

I've only made half the number of units called for in Bonnie's clues - mainly because I wanted to be sure I liked the quilt enough to work that hard on it - Bonnie never designs easy quilts!  Now that I know I like the design enough to finish making the quilt, I have to make a decision about the size I want it to be.  I really don't need more large quilts, so I'll stick with my original intention of just making a large throw.  I'm only going to have enough units to make 8 blocks, so my plan is to make one more block and lay them out 3x3 for a 70"-ish square throw.  I think that'll work!!!

Rocky is pretty much worn to a frazzle with all the extra workload lately.  He's demanding extra naps and treats. With good help so hard to find, I'm pretty much caving in to his demands.  I just hope he doesn't ask for a raise because he already gets top dollar!

My guild UFO number was #11, which is for me to quilt my Soul Searching top.

I finished the top in September 2014 at Runaway Quilters Retreat.  I suppose it's about time to get 'er done!!!

PS - for some reason my email account stopped allowing me to send out replies to your comments yesterday!  I apologize for not letting you know in person how much I love hearing from you, and I promise to have My Guy working on it first thing tomorrow!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

How I said Goodbye to 2016 .....

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  

We had a lovely Christmas and, as is our habit, a nice, quiet New Year's.  Although we have no family near us, we are surrounded by good friends and fun things to do during the holidays.  I was especially happy to have a few days filled with nothing but puttering in my studio - it was heaven!!!  I managed to finish out the year by cranking out a few little Christmas projects and even a couple of finishes.

My favorite finish is Hello Mr. Moon - I made two of these!  One was a gift for my sister and the other I am keeping for us. =^..^=

This adorable little quilt is designed by Teri Henderson Tope, and you can find the free pattern at Bernina's We All Sew site.  I loved the freedom of the "messy" outlining she calls for around the cat and moon, and it was great fun learning how to do the swirly quilting design in the background.

I also made these Christmas Tree mug rugs for my Quiltfest group, using my buddy Kevin the Quilter's tutorial but eliminating the bottom row of the tree so they would be small enough to fit.  Thanks Kevin!!! 

The blue one is for Belinda who shares my love for all things BLUE!!!  (Yes, I have a blue one cut out for me too!)  And Joanne is my bird-loving friend, so hers has a beautiful seasonal bird fabric on the back.

This was a really fun project, challenging myself to use only my crumb scraps for the pieces.

I even pulled from my brown crumb jar for the tree trunks... who knew there could be so many colors of brown?????

One more of my Folk Art Album blocks is finished....

This is the 10th Folk Art Album block completed!  I have enjoyed this hand Applique project, especially finding ways to make it a little bit special...

Can you tell that I used metallic thread for the red buds?  I also added those french knot clusters in the center of the three-leaf section that looked a little boring to me before.  I have to admit, I'm ready to be done with this project.  Only 2 more - this one is next up for stitching.  Don't you just adore that hummingbird???

I shared my January Christmas UFO project, I Believe, with you in THIS previous post.  Since then I have finished two more blocks ....

I Believe Block #4
I Believe Block #5 - Yikes!!!!

Of course, as soon as I pulled this photo into Blogger, I saw the mistake!!!  That will have to get fixed first thing tomorrow morning :*)

In order to finish this top assembly in January (from start to finish!), I've committed to making a block per day on the days I am at home.  This week has been impossible - I've had activities every day!  Starting this weekend, this project and my En Provence blocks will be getting lots of love :*)  I'll share more about my thoughts on EP in my next post.

En Provence Clue #5 complete

Some friends are coming over to sew tomorrow, so I need to go get things set up.  As I type, it has begun to snow, so hopefully we won't get "snowed" out!  Actually, we're not expecting anything more than perhaps an inch at the most.  I'll be back this weekend to share my January goals with you.

Hugs & Blessings!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waiting for Santa!

Santa will be here before we know it and in the wink of an eye it will be 2017!  

Happy to see these stockings hanging that I made last year for our son Josh and his family!

Christmas really snuck up on me this year.  Actually, winter snuck up on me to be more accurate.  Wasn't it just October?  Where in the world did Autumn go?  All I know is my husband put up our tree after we got back home from our Thanksgiving trip to see the kids and grands in NC, and when he asked where the tree skirt was I realized I STILL had not quilted the one I made!!!

It's been sitting on the To Be Quilted shelf for much longer than I am willing to admit to here on the blog for God and all of you to hear LOL!!!   Well, when I was telling a friend about it she said, "Just put it down anyway".... so I did!!!

It looks really nice even as a top, so I know we are going to love it when it is quilted.  If I ever manage to get it quilted that is :*)

Which brings me to the point of my post today.  I actually did an inventory to see how many Christmas projects I have in some stage of being constructed... and if I count the projects that could be considered "winter" rather than just Christmas, there are more than a dozen!  Some of them long-time UFO's that are just crying out to be finished!

 As you know if you are a regular reader of my blog, my Music City Quilt Guild hosts a UFO Challenge each year, which has been tremendously helpful in getting some of my UFO's off the shelf and decorating our lives as FO's.  The next two photos are Christmas projects that I finished this year because of that UFO challenge....

So I've decided to make my own secondary Christmas UFO challenge where I will also work on one Christmas UFO each month, hopefully to completion.

For January, I plan to get an entire top pieced from start to finish, so I decided to get a head start and began several days ago!  It starts with the blocks from this panel....

It is from a fabric line called I Believe in Santa designed by Nancy Halvorsen somewhere circa 2012-ish.  The local quilt shops in our area offered a Shop Hop where each store offered a kit with instructions and fabric strips to make one sampler block for $6, and most of them had the accompanying panel and fabrics available for purchase as well.  If you visited each store on the Hop, you would end up with 12 blocks, enough to make your own sampler quilt.  Each store displayed their sampler quilt finished a different way and you could purchase their finishing kit if you liked, or just buy enough fabric to do it your own way.  Or, you could just keep the cute little kits in a bag together forever and ever and never do anything with them - which is apparently what I decided to do LOL!!!

Miraculously, I still have the panel and all twelve of the kits, and a good deal of the additional fabrics as well, although a few have been used in other projects over the years - those stockings in the first picture for example!

In order to take this from nothing to completed in a month, I will have to be pretty aggressive in how I attack it!  I've decided that I need to do one sampler block every day that I don't have anything scheduled outside the house.  If I'm at home, I make a block - period - no exceptions!  These are now done ....

Block #1 -- Finished!!!
Block #2 -- Finished!!!

Block #3 -- Finished!!!

These are not terribly difficult blocks.  One of the reasons they've sat undone for so long is that they were kitted up to use Thangles for the half-square triangles - and I HATE Thangles!!!  Yes, I know "hate" is a strong word - my grandson calls it a dirty word - but it's the only word that fits!

I can still remember the day at Guild that my friend Lavana shared with me that I could use the Easy Angle ruler to cut those half-square triangles and bypass the Thangles altogether - WIN!!!  I've used this ruler ever since and have loved it.  

Our Scrap Swap Bee group at Guild has been using these Star Singles to ensure that all their swapped blocks by different quilters are all the right size, and they swear by them.  So I decided to pick up some at a good price during one of the Black Friday sales and I hope to try them out soon.  It's always fun to be reminded that this old dog can learn new tricks LOL!!!  I'll let you know how they work out for me.

It has been easier than I thought it would be to get these 3 blocks done, and another one is sitting on my sewing table now, cut and ready to stitch up.  Even though tomorrow is Christmas, I'm holding to my commitment and will stitch it up before the day is done.  It feels good to have a plan and feel comfortable that it can be worked without too much difficulty.  In the past, whenever I found myself not accomplishing much, it was usually because I didn't have a plan in place or goals set.  I have no doubt that there will be a month or two when I don't meet that goal.  I mean, life happens to us all, right?  But I will still end up with more finishes than I would have without a goal at all.  And of course I'm counting on all of you to be here, encouraging me along!  If anyone would like to join me in my Challenge, drop me a note to let me know and I might consider doing a linky party :*)

Rocky has been a great help, but I'm a little worried that he won't be as available to Snoopervise this year.  He heard that Rudolph is retiring next year, so he has been very busy training for his audition with Santa to become Chief Sleigh Guide starting next year...

there's just no limit to this cat's talents!!!

Merry Christmas, my friends!!!
I value each and every one of you and
look forward to making beautiful quilts together in 2017!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

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