Sunday, April 29, 2012

Alternate Sewing Summit Gurus

Sewing Summit is coming fast around the corner and we want you all to be prepared. So, starting today, Katy, Laura and I will be hosting Sewing Summit Sundays with the ASS Gurus (that's Alternate Sewing Summit, people! Not a comment on our rear ends!) Questions should be ridiculous, and if they aren't, please note that the answers will be. If you don't know us, we are sarcastic and witty so expect our guru answers to reflect that! If you have a question you would like the ASS Gurus to answer, leave it in the comment section of any of our three blogs on Sewing Summit Sundays.

Here is the official unofficial Sewing Summit Advice Panel.

The first letter comes from Food Worried. 

Dear Alternate SS Guru,
I am coming to Sewing Summit from overseas, but I am a bit worried about being understood in American restaurants as I don't speak American. What the heck does "over easy" mean, why is "creamer" called creamer when it bears no relation to cream, and how do I order a white coffee in American?
Food worried

Being the only local, I took this one.

Dear Food Worried,

Over easy is a term lazy cooks use to trick customers into thinking they've cooked their egg in a fancy way, meant only for the most sophisticated of diners, when in reality, they've only moderately cooked the bottom of the egg while the top is still oozing of chicken placenta. And creamer, well that's thicker, sugary milk usually artificially flavored to imitate a cinnamon roll or other pastry. They come in jugs marked "Fat Free" and "Now with 1/3 less sugar" to lure their potential customers, usually dieting Americans, into thinking they can have the great taste of cinnamon roll with no caloric intake. My recommendation: If you don't like our creamer or warped psychology, grow up and drink your coffee black.

Lucky for you non-Americans, we like to accommodate those who don't speak "American" and have placed photos of our restaurant items throughout the menu for your consideration. Point and say "that one". This is how well seasoned Americans order food. And while your food will not come out looking like the menu item, you may end up with a plate with MOST of the pictured ingredients, which is kind of the same, don't you think?

Good luck in America,
Alternate SS Advice Guru


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Coming Soon: ASS Gurus

You read that right.

ASS (Alternate Sewing Summit) Gurus.

Don't know what I mean? Laura lines out the details here.

See you Sunday!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Peacock Elephant Quilt

I actually got a lot of sewing in this past weekend.

We were supposed to go to California to spend the weekend at my in-laws' condo. Instead Clara got sick. Then I got sick. Then Brent. Then his dad.

This weekend was doomed from the start.

But, it ended up being a blessing disguised as a vomit inducing flu bug. I not only got a three day stay-cation, I got a free weekend. FREE! One I thought would be spent lounging in the cool Oceanside air. Spent reading on the porch watching the waves against the pier. One away from home where I would ignore the pending laundry and sewing and errands that would inevitably cause me stress on the ride home.

I got all that finished and more.

I even HAND STITCHED binding on Miss Maze's Peacock Elephant Quilt. For those of you who don't know me well, binding is my arch nemesis. I hate it. With a passion. I'm pretty sure it hates me back. It's a mutual hatred.

Anyway, my sister stopped by, so I had someone to hold it up for pictures:


Peacock Elephant Quilt

We can count this as finish number two for the year! Woot! Woot!

The white area is FMQ with swirls and the Lark is quilted with organic waves. I quilted just off the seams for the rest of the quilt.

I am going to link this up at my friend Nancy's blog, Owen's Olivia. She recently completed her very first quilt EVER and is holding a linky party for people to share some of their favorite quilts. Personally, I think she's just nosey :) but if you've completed a quilt ever (which I know most of you have) please link up! She would love the support and it won't take much time!


Friday, April 20, 2012



It's my word of the year.

A word to define how this year will play out. My goals. My dreams.

At the beginning of this year, I was asked by many bloggy friends, both personally and in blog posts, which word would best describe how I envisioned this year going; my "word of the year", if you will. But I couldn't think of a word. Not a single word. I kept telling myself, "Just come up with ONE word, Danny! You don't have to be sophisticated about it. Sophisticated?? Could that be your word... yeah. Probably not." My mind was completely blank.

Fast forward three months and the word came to me: Rejuvenation.

I've talked with Brent a lot about this. Not that we're especially philosophical people, but we agreed: this is OUR word. This is OUR goal. This year, 2012, is going to be a year of health; of wealth; of energy; of rejuvenation.

As you know, I am a SAHM now-a-days, and as I'm sure you can understand, that means I don't get a paycheck anymore. While I was working, things were great. We bought what we wanted, when we wanted. We ate at the best restaurants and I bought expensive clothes. I got my hair done regularly and Brent bought every new video game he could get his hands on. Life was good, but we weren't saving and we used credit cards. Stupid, I know. Now, here we are, 10 months after I quit my job, and we want to clean up our finances. I guess I should make it clear that we aren't extravagant consumers, and because of that, we aren't in an extravagant amount of debt. I used cash for my purchases because my income was "extra" and we, like many other credit card users, fell for the old "put everything on your card and pay your card off at the end of the month to earn our piddly rewards points" adage. The bank conned us. So we're going to get them back.

We are going to pay off our debt. The credit cards. The HELOC. The car. All of it. Then... we're getting a new house.

None of this would be possible if it weren't for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a video series we have been watching for a couple months now. His principles are easy and just. make. sense. Using his techniques, we have paved the way to becoming better stewards of our money. Financial Peace. That's going to be us.

No more worrying about making payments or affording a new house where we can raise more children. Where I can have a sewing space that's actually large enough to house my stash AND me at the same time. Where we can have room for bikes and soccer balls and sidewalk chalk. Where our future children will one day have their own rooms. Where we can throw a ball in the yard and not have to worry about it landing in the next door neighbor's yard... or the yard past theirs.


I'm also learning to say "no" and to let go of things I cannot handle. I thought coming into Blog World I would be able to do so much more with my time. I was being unrealistic. I didn't know the time it would take to care for a baby. I factored in poop, food, and bath, but I forgot the most important moments would be those in between. The moments you can't plan for. The moments that sneak up on you and pull you away from that sewing project with the month-end deadline or the dishes... I hate doing the dishes, so it's not too hard to pull me away from that one, but you get the idea. Sadly, I've had to leave Beejeebers, one of the bees I joined this year. I felt terrible about it. I'm not one to give up on a commitment, but it had to happen, along with other schedule changes. And despite the fact that I will miss the skills learned with each new block and the relationships I've built with each member, I feel this was the right move for me. I'm clearing my planner; making time for me. My baby. My husband. My house.

I had gotten to the point where I passed off Clara the second Brent walked in the door from his 12 hour day so I could rush to sew. It wasn't fair to him. It wasn't fair to the people I was creating for, both in Blog Land and here in the real world. And I think most of all, it wasn't fair to me. I haven't sat down even ONCE and created something specifically for MY daughter. She doesn't have cute headbands or dresses or stuffies or any of the things I've made for other people and their kids. And it's not fair. I wanted to be a SAHM to be with and create things for Clara Mae, so I'm learning to say "no".

Another way this year is rejuvenating?? Physically. I'm just going to come right out and say it:


I do nothing. I walk a lot, but I'm not getting the regular exercise of my pre-baby days. I've heard all this junk about "Oh, just wait a little longer and Clara will be crawling/walking/running/flying and you will lose all the weight chasing her". Well, I'm calling bull crap. I'm not going to lose weight chasing my child around this tiny living room. I want HER to chase ME. I want to go to the park and teach her to play soccer and play tag and how to cross the monkey bars two at a time. I want to have the energy to do more than sit on the couch for the first hour or two of the day. I'm a young mom. I want more kids. And I want to be in shape when they come along too.

So I made a plan.

And I convinced the hubs, my mom, my dad, and my brother to join me.

We've started the P90 exercise routine, which I've done in the past. I've always loved it. I feel so alive and refreshed after each workout. I wake up in the morning feeling like a new woman. I'm not nearly as sore as I thought I would be (chalk it up to lugging a 20 pound baby around most of the day) and for that, I am grateful. It gives me the strength to keep going. And, I can't lie to you. I have some other motivation too:

Brent will buy me an Anthropologie dress and take me out on a nice date if I complete the 90 days without missing once.

The boy knows how to speak to me!

I'll still be walking and doing yoga, they will just be interspersed with my other workout routines, the first of which is this P90.

My goal is to be back in my pre-baby clothes by Sewing Summit. I want you all thinking I look fit! And hot! :)

So this part of the rejuvenation process will be the most embarrassing for me.

I have been inspired by Shelley of House of Smiths to take you along on my journey.

Here's where I started:

I am 5' 6". Size 14. 195 lbs.

My goal is to fit in my size 10 clothes by October. Two sizes. I can SO do that!

So as you can see, I have big plans for this year. Plans to be refreshed, renewed, and rejuvenated.

How about you? Anyone out there figure out their word a few months late?


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lennon's Beatles Quilt

I completed my first non-Hope quilt of the year last week. Go me! This one was a little gift for new little man: Lennon.

Beatles Quilt

As you can tell by his name, Lennon's parents are HUGE Beatles fans, so when I saw this fabric on Ebay, I just had to pick it up. I've always wanted to make a quilt using a jelly roll! Bonus!

Beatles Quilt

I wanted to use a design reminiscent of the bars my old stereo made while listening to music (and yes, The Beatles) so I staggered the print lengths. I held on to the left overs... maybe I'll make a Beatles quilt for Maze too one day! I really didn't want to use the grey, but it's what I had on hand and it was so soft; just perfect for a baby quilt.

Beatles Quilt

Beatles Quilt

I bound it with a pretty little psychedelic Betz White print and used the Zig Zag Binding Tutorial from Stitched in Color.

Beatles Quilt

And you probably want to see the baby, right? Oh course you do.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I'm going to make this short and sweet. My sister is over to visit and I want to spend as much time with her as I can before she moves off to Texas to live with her new husband.

New Projects: NONE! I'm standing strong!

Completed Projects:

-I made a yummy avocado/banana/cottage cheese/ formula food from the new book.

My new book

-finished the Beatles Quilt for baby Lennon.

Beatles Quilt


-Beejeebers Block. This month I will be making a semi truck.
-Stash Bee block, which is a variation on a Cathedral Window.
-Stitch Tease block.
-Square and bind two Hope Quilts.


-Bind Clara's little Peacock Lane play quilt.
-Quilt and bind the Martyn's wedding quilt.

Linking up!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


Monday, April 16, 2012

Mystery Charm Swap

Let's be honest. We all love a good charm swap. That's why today I'm bringing you a new kind of charm swap (at least one I'VE never seen before) hosted by Sunni at Love Affair with my Brother and Jenelle at Echinops and Aster.

This is a MYSTERY charm swap, where you, as the participant, will pay to receive a yard worth of charms chosen and cut by one of these lovely ladies. Each has chosen a different theme for their charm squares and is still accepting participants!!

Sunni will be hosting the Polka Dot Charm Swap.

Polka Dot Charm Swap

Jenelle will be hosting the Orange/Aqua/Grey Charm Swap.

Orange / Aqua / Grey Mystery Charm Swap

All fabrics will be purchased from the fine selection over at Pink Chalk Fabrics.

The prices are extremely reasonable:

USA $15
Canada $16
International $20

This is a limited swap, meaning there will only be 27 spots available on a first come, first served basis, so go check out their sites and sign up before all the slots are filled!


Friday, April 13, 2012

I'd like a heart attack with a side of eggs, please.

Early this morning Brent had a dental appointment and when he left, the baby began to stir. I waited for her to reposition with her blanket over her head, just the way she likes it, before I dozed back off. It was too early. I wasn't ready to greet the day.

And then... a nightmare come to life. The fire alarm started blaring! My eyes shot open as I took a millisecond to process what that terrible, shrill noise was. I jumped out of bed and flew through the dark to the door. All I could think of was Clara, alone in her crib across the house. What could I have left on? Did I turn the iron off after making that binding last night? Did Brent turn on the coffee machine before he left this morning??? My mind was racing. My legs were racing. My heart was racing even faster. I tore around the corner to the kitchen on my way to the baby's room, and this is what I saw:

Brent. Fanning the smoke alarm with a towel. Smoke billowing out of the oven.

What the heck?!?

Turns out, there wasn't a fire. And Clara never even woke up.

Brent got home from the dentist early and wanted to bring me breakfast in bed! For no reason.

I burst into laughter. I couldn't help it! I had been terrified and full of adrenaline not two full seconds earlier and the overwhelming joy I felt after seeing burning bacon had no where to go but out. My head was spinning and my heart was trying to put on the brakes, so I sat to give my body some help.

I have never run so fast in my life. And I played soccer!



Anyway, once I calmed down, I was able to eat some breakfast.

I think today's breakfast turned out to be more of a surprise than Brent had intended!

Anyone ever had something like this happen to you?


Thursday, April 12, 2012


Today is a day of celebration in my family. April 12th. Clara Faye's birthday.

My Clara Faye. My grandmother. My Grammar-Rock.

I had a special kind of relationship with my grandma, one that cannot easily be explained here. Typed words scrawled across the screen in Helvetica just seems so crude. Our bond was much more magical than that.

She taught me how to fly like Peter Pan. She taught me that the only appropriate way to eat Cheerios was covered in sugar. She taught me the importance of church, and taught me that it is okay to ditch if you get to the parking lot and realize you've forgotten to put on your skirt (which she did on more than one occasion!) She taught me to sing. To paint. To sew. She taught me two scoops are always better than one when it comes to pistachio ice cream and she taught me the value of black and white films. She was my favorite person in the whole wide world.

I remember when she taught me to sew. I was the lead in a school play and needed a costume. I hadn't ever really seen her sew before that moment. It was all so new to me and I'm sure I was much more of a hinderance than a help in those days. She was patient with me, showing me how to read a pattern and lay the fabric just right. She had me try on a newspaper mock-up of the costume and I threaded the needle for her failing eyes. She made me a few more costumes over the years and a few dresses that this tomboy hated to wear in public, but secretly adored. I remember I would put them on and twirl around my room, usually tripping over my soccer cleats and stinky locker room junk. I loved the novelty daisy print and gold rick rack trim, but I would never admit it! I was heart broken when I outgrew the dresses and my mom gave them away.

We didn't land on sewing for too long. My Grammar was an artist and she moved on quickly from one medium to the next. She decoupaged. She painted ceramics. She made porcelain dolls. And always she let me join her, instructing me on the appropriate way to hold my brush or how to get the perfect consistency of stain to fill into the cracks of the piece.

Christmas 2006

In December 2006, she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. She had a steady decline from there. She yellowed. She withered. My beautiful, strong Grammar was suddenly not. She moved in with my parents and I quit my job to take her to chemo and radiation treatments. She bought me a purple sequined hat and I wore it. Always. I didn't care what people thought of my outrageous get-up because it made her happy. We spent a lot of time together in those last days, which ended up being more than we thought we'd have. She died August 13, 2007, a whole 8 months after her first diagnosis. It was a wonderful gift to have her with us for so long, especially when fighting such a terrible, monster of a disease.

When Brent and I found out we were pregnant with a little girl, there was no question: Her name would be Clara. Clara Mae. My sweet little Clara Mae. Grammar would have loved to kiss her cheeks and make her popcorn and stay up tickling her back until she fell asleep, but Grammar was gone long before Miss Maze was even THOUGHT of.

I miss my Grammar immensely, but on April 12th, ever year, I like to remember how much fun she was; drudge up old memories of our times together lest they disappear.

I hope you don't mind that I shared.

After she died, I asked Brent to buy me a sewing machine. I struggled trying to remember how to thread the stupid thing, how to make it stop going SO FAST, how to keep my fingers out from underneath the little silver needle of death! My MIL helped me a lot in those early days as I relearned an old skill that I had never really taken the time to master. I began sewing with a goal in mind: Comfort Quilters. The group started up just after Grammar's death. I would have loved to make a quilt for her with words of encouragement scripted onto each block. Would have loved for her to have something special to keep her warm when those doctors shot the ice cold chemo through her veins, quite literally chilling her to the bone.

I hate cancer. It's a worthless, pointless, terrible monster. I know I can't cure it. I know I have the emotional depth of a goldfish so I know I'm not a good counselor. But I know I can sew, and while it's not much, it's my only tangible skill. So I sew. I quilt. I make blankets that keep all the beautiful, courageous people fighting cancer warm while they get infused with their superhuman strength serum! I let them know they are not alone in the only way I know how. I let them know they are loved.

This post has taken a very different turn from my original idea, but I kind of like where it ended up.

Thank you to everyone who has sent your positive vibes, kind thoughts and prayers to Caleb and Cooper. Thank you to everyone who has donated to Comfort Quilters. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and actually read all the way down to the end of this post written about someone you will never meet.

I love you all!

And, for those of you interested in what I do with Comfort Quilters, I will be sharing ways you can get involved and help within the next couple months, so keep an eye out.

Now, I'm off to enjoy this beautiful spring day with my Clara Mae. I hope you go outside and enjoy it too!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I have been crazy busy, but when am I not? When are ANY of us not crazy busy?! Right?! Right?! Can I get an "amen"?

Anyway, let's get to it.


AHHHHHHHH! This is the state of my office right now. I can't think in there. I've actually moved my sewing machine to the kitchen just so I don't have to look at this mess. How did this happen? I'm usually so organized!! I get heart palpitations just going in there to grab the ruler. Something's got to give, but I have so much sewing to do, organizing is just going to have to wait. I share this picture so you can all see that I get messy! My things are not ALWAYS tucked away in labeled bins or folded just so. That just happens to be the way I prefer it.

And then I do nut-so things, like add fabric to that mess!

Fabric stash

The left stack is from Pink Castle Fabrics. There was also some teal Hello Pilgrim Jewels, but I used them all for Caleb and Cooper's quilts the second it arrived! The right stack, well, that is a special little stack I got from Krista during the Stale Stash Swap. Mendocino!! OMG. I die.

But for reals, the softest fabric I have ever touched. No lie. I want more of it!

On to the WIPs.

New Projects: NONE!

Completed Projects: NONE! Just kidding... I've done a little work...

-Caleb and Cooper's quilts. This was a team effort with my CQ Ladies.

caleb's quilt

-Stitch Tease starter strip

Stitch Tease Strip

-This star which I have no idea what to do with. I figure it can hang around and be eye candy until I figure it out.



-Beejeebers Block. This month I will be making a semi truck.
-Stash Bee block, which is a variation on a Cathedral Window.
-Stitch Tease block.
-Square and bind two Hope Quilts.


-Bind Clara's little Peacock Lane play quilt.
-Quilt and bind the Martyn's wedding quilt.
-Square and bind my Beatles quilt.

Beatles WIP

-ANNNNNNDDDD, experiment with my new book.

My new book

I think Maze will be pleased!

Linking up!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter hodgepodge

So, first thing's first:


I feel like I've been MIA for much too long. As I mentioned Sunday, I have so much to share. I won't share all of it today for fear of running you all off with information overload, but I'll fill you in on the highlights.


See Katy?! I gave her an egg. It's not a real egg, but something to play with!

Clara-bug on Easter

Easter went well. Clara hung out in church service with us, which we normally don't let her do. She hollered during music, since I can't really consider her screams "singing", and later we went to my grandparents' house to eat and have a little Easter egg hunt. I was actually kind of disappointed. Usually SOMEONE makes Deviled Eggs out of the left over Easter eggs, but this year, no one made Easter eggs! Oh, yes. Maybe I should explain. The kids hunt plastic eggs with money or candy inside. That way, if you don't find them all, your yard doesn't smell like death for a week while you hunt down the discarded eggs. Nasty! So anyway, no Deviled Eggs, but still a fun time with family.


If you are interested in keeping up to date with his story, go here. Things seem to be looking up for this little guy. First, his brother was allowed to go see him and now he's allowed outside! It's amazing what little pleasures can mean to a young kid cooped up in a hospital room. Caleb has been diagnosed with a b-cell lymphoma called Berkins Lymphoma. It has a huge success rate as far as curing it, according to his dad. Please continue keep him in your prayers and thoughts.

Of course, when we heard his story, the Comfort Quilters sprung into action to get Caleb a quilt to keep him cozy during his chemo treatments.

caleb with quilt

caleb's quilt

It's backed in a lizard flannel one of our lovely quilter ladies found at Jo-Ann's. Caleb LOVES lizards, so it was perfect!

While I know Caleb's parents, I would also like to ask that you pray for another little man from our church whose parents I have yet to meet. Cooper is also 8 years old and was diagnosed with leukemia a week before Caleb was diagnosed. I don't know much about his story, but it's heart wrenching none-the-less. We made Cooper a quilt too so now the boys have matching ones!

And since I'm talking about Comfort Quilters, here are a few snapshots of Hope Quilts I delivered this weekend:

Hope QUilt

Hope Quilt

Hope Quilt

I will be sharing more about Comfort Quilters in the near future and giving my readers a chance to get involved. Keep an eye out for that!

Stitch Tease.

So, I'm a little bit behind, but I finally finished my strip.

Stitch Tease Starter Strip

I have asked for everyone to make a 70" strip of whatever they want! I started with my sun, which grew to include the butterflies, then the clouds. I intend to hand quilt/embroider this once it's finished and back in my hands. The clouds will have rain. The butterflies will have swirls. It is going to be awesome!

I think that's enough for today. Clara's going to be up from her nap soon and I need to finish pin basting my Beatles quilt. Yep. I said it. Beatles.

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