Friday, April 29, 2011

It's About Time I Cleaned My Sewing Room

At some point the messiness gets in the way of being creative. I think it's time to straighten up my sewing room.

But not today -- leaving  to meet friends for dinner and then see the movie "Water for Elephants". Tomorrow I'm heading to Idaho with my parents for clean-up day at my grandparents' homestead/farm. Tomorrow night I'm taking my mom to a Yanni concert. On Sunday I teach the adult Sunday School class. So, my sewing room won't get cleaned until Monday (hopefully).

(See my new toy -- an Accuquilt Go! Baby cutter. Haven't done much with it yet, but will be cutting charm squares with it for a pinwheel baby quilt I need to make.)
BTW, did you see any of the royal wedding? I loved this picture of the "royal kiss" -- but not the kiss itself. Check out the little flower girl who looks totally perturbed with everything. Too funny.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Double the Stress-busting Benefits of Tube Time

Turns out that the combination of busy hands (fine-motor activity and handiwork) with TV watching triggers a light meditative state that soothes anxiety (according to a supposed reknowned psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal). I don't know how much his study cost, but I could have told him that myself! I rarely watch TV without multi-tasking -- but I'm able to totally de-stress when watching TV while sewing or cross-stitching. (Of course, adding chocolate helps even more!) So, you can justify whatever guilty pleasure you watch on TV (royal wedding? Dancing with the stars? shopping or cooking channels?)

Here's progress on a couple of my de-stressing projects (yes, they were all done with the TV on):

This quilt is totally scrappy. I didn't make any effort to match setting blocks with the chunky churn dash blocks. I kind of matched the appliqued arcs within a single setting block -- but that was it. I love randomy, scrappy quilts like this.

Chunky Churn Dash swap blocks + appliqued setting blocks
Close-up showing machine applique (the Kim Diehl way)
I'm loving this Carriage House Crossing project -- all with one color floss (albeit hand-dyed for the value variation).

Bye for now.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Photos from my visit to Jerusalem last November -- appropriate for Easter:

Sign marking the path that tradition says Jesus walked while carrying the cross.

Golgotha ("the skull") -- the hill where Christ was cruicified.
The Garden Tomb
Sign on the door when you walk out of the tomb: the true message of Easter.
I hope you have a wonderful Easter Sunday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today's Non-stitchy/Non-quilty Projects

Spent a lot of time in the kitchen today.

First up -- pressure-canned some kidney beans. A quick and easy (and inexpensive) alternative to buying canned beans. I usually just add water and salt, but this time I added bacon and onion for more flavor. Chopped up about 1/2 pound of bacon and slowly crisped it up while rendering the fat. Then sauteed a couple chopped onions in the bacon grease and pureed the bacon and onions in the food processor. Added a couple tablespoons of the mixture to each pint. To each pint I added 1/2 cup dried beans, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and enough boiling water to fill the jar. Then just pressure-canned for 75 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Voila! Canned beans for about 1/4 the price of cans from the grocery store.

Next, I decided to start some alfalfa sprouts in a new sprouter that I've had for several months. They should be ready in a few days.

And, lastly, I made cookies for our next family get-together -- "Soft Oreos".

2 Devil's Food cake mixes
4 Eggs
3/4 cup oil
-- Frosting --
1 8-ounce cream cheese, room temperature
2 2/3 cups Powdered sugar

Instructions: Mix cake mix, eggs and oil. Roll into quarter-size balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 350 for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool completely.

Meanwhile, make frosting by combining cream cheese and powdered sugar. (Although it didn't call for it, I added about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.) Put between two cookies. Recipe made 3 dozen sandwich cookies.

Oh yeah, also did laundry (no photos necessary)!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Schedule Has Suddenly Opened Up

I spent most of last week in Florida for work. Lots of meetings. Got home Thursday. Attended the West Ridge Academy spring gala / fund raiser on Friday night. Met a new great-nephew (not sure why he isn't my "grand" nephew, but oh well.)

Benson Lee Allen was born on April 7th and was a big little guy -- one more ounce and he would have been a 9-pounder! He was 8 days old in this picture -- and I think he looks older than that! (Ignore the hairy leg in the background -- I couldn't get a good angle to snap his picture!)

Taught the adult Sunday School class on Sunday. Worked on Monday and Tuesday as usual. And then everything came to a screeching halt! My boss called me yesterday (Wednesday a.m.) to let me know that our business unit was being re-organized and that I no longer had a job. And that Wednesday would be my last day. Within a couple hours FedEx had delivered my final paycheck, vacation payout, and all of the paperwork I had to sign. Three of my direct reports also were let go. It all happened so fast that I'm still digesting what happened.

So amid bidding co-workers farewell via e-mail and phone, I had to switch my cell phone from the corporate plan to one in my name; cash out all of my vested stock options; and then pack up all of the company's computer equipment, etc. and get it ready to take to FedEx today.

I'll always remember the day I was laid off (after more than 21 years!) because another great nephew was born. Please meet Tysen Mitch Hansen when he was only a few hours old.

So, I'm very quickly behind by 2 baby quilts (not that I didn't have plenty of notice to work on them!)

Today I applied for unemployment -- could do it all online which made it a snap. I updated my resume. And will begin sending out my resume probably tomorrow or Monday. (I think I do deserve some chill time to mentally prepare for what's ahead.) One of the competitors to the product line I was responsible for product and industry marketing is based about 50 miles from where I live. I checked their website and they have 3 openings that I am qualified for. I kind of wanted to have a couple months to decide what my future would be, but I doubt I would find anything so perfectly aligned with my background, that I feel I need to apply for them immediately. Of course, I'm not counting my chickens....

I received 6 months severance which I can probably stretch to up to a year (provided I don't spend it on fabric and quilting services). Add to that whatever unemployment I qualify for, and I'm not worried about day-to-day living. (Thank goodness my house and car are both paid for!) The biggest bite will be paying for COBRA insurance in the meantime.

I'm in house-cleaning/organizing mode. My home office has been transformed after removing all of the work-related stuff. I also decided to make bread since I needed bread and didn't want to risk a trip to the grocery store where I might buy unnecessary stuff.

I have wheat in a food storage supply, so I ground the wheat into flour using my trusty wheat grinder.

I  used this tried-and-true whole wheat bread recipe from Deals to Meals. It really is the best whole wheat bread recipe. I make mine from winter white wheat which is lighter in flavor and color than red wheat. I always get compliments on this recipe when I make it.

And this is the result. (My house is smelling so wonderful right now as the bread cools enough for me to dig in!)

I haven't been in my sewing room for a couple weeks -- but I plan to remedy that this afternoon! I have made more progress stitching my family history sampler. I don't think I'll have it done by our next family reunion in July, but I hope to have about half of the blocks completed.

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Catching Up

A quick catch-up post before I head to Orlando for the better part of the week.

This is the Carriage House Samplings project I've been stitching.  I'll work on it to/from Florida (and during a long layover in Atlanta when returning home). I've been upgraded to first class both directions and will be by the window, so should have good light to stitch by! I'm using Belle Soie hand-dyed silk, color is called "Mudpies". I am loving the way this looks. And, of course, I think Belle Soie is my favorite silk to stitch with. It is so luscious to the touch.

I did make some progress on my family history sampler. It's been about a year since I finished designing it -- but I have been very slow to stitch. I must have perfect conditions to stitch on that darker 40-count fabric -- good light, mageyes, etc.

I picked up Jenny and Chad's wedding quilt from the quilter yesterday. I was hoping to get the binding sewn on before I head to the airport, so my mom could finish the hand-stitching of the binding. But alas, it's not going to happen. I haven't packed yet and have a family event this evening.

I gave in to quilt-blogger peer pressure and bought a Twister template to make a twister quilt. Or rather, I made a large block that will become a pillow. It's a fun technique. Basically sew together a bunch of squares and then use the tool to cut 4-patch blocks that, when sewn back together, form the twisted pinwheel design.

For the twisted pinwheel, I used scraps from this quilt.  The top is finished, but I haven't had it quilted since I haven't decided who will be the lucky recipient.

I put my mom to work basting hexagons. She did a great job.  I think she has finished about 300 -- but since I haven't figured out how I'm going to set them, I haven't given her any more to work on. The fabric is "Bliss" by Bonnie and Camille. These were all done from a strip set, but I have a fat quarter bundle of all the fabrics -- so there's the potential of a lot more hexies!

Lastly, I've been remiss with my stash accountability. Luckily I haven't been buying a boatload of fabric -- and I did drop off another quilt to be quilted which helped, but not enough to put in a stash deficit position.

Since February 9th (yes, 2 months ago):
In: 22 yards
Out: 11-1/4 yards
Net: 10-3/4 increase to my stash

Year to date:
In: 54-1/2 yards
Out: 47 yards
Net: 7-1/2 yards increase to my stash

But I have made good progress towards getting quilts DONE! 4 totally done; 1 ready to bind; and 1 at the quilter. So, that will make 6 in 2011. I'm planning to drop off a quilt top each time I pick one up for the rest of the year -- about  one per month. And with a new baby born this week awaiting his quilt, and one due in a couple weeks, I've got to get busy!

I hope you all have a great week. It snowed (again!) in Utah. I'm looking forward to better weather in Orlando.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Back From the PX Ranch

We had a great weekend at my brother’s ranch.

One new calf and momma:

Two of three lambs:

Some of the 12 piglets from one sow:

A quilt my sister-in-law made for a grandson who will most likely be born this week. The baby’s father is a huge University of Michigan fan. The quilt will be a great surprise for him too:

Pheasant hunting on Saturday (after my brother let a dozen or so pheasant loose on his property):

Three generations of wanna-be ranchers:

Also I was able to do some good stitching, but will photograph the project later this week.

I hope everyone has a great week!


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