Monday, March 31, 2014

Follow me??

I am switching over to Word Press for my blog because it's way simpler for a non-technical person like myself. So, if you subscribe to this blog via one of the readers, can you please change the address to my page to  I hope that you continue to follow me - I appreciate every single reader I have. You guys make it worthwhile to continue to do this!!!! Below is my most recent post over at word press.

March 23 / 2014


The weekend before last, Mr. LB went to Minneapolis to visit with our son and have some father/son bonding time. They went to the auto show and picked up one of these for me:

A girl can dream, right?
Anyway, with Mr. LB out of the house, I had most of Friday and Saturday by myself – just me, fabric, thread and my sewing machine. {Insert the sound of angels singing here.}


I have this deadline looming over my head that needed some serious attention. And you know, while I don’t like making long term goals, I’m always up for the challenge of setting goals to accomplish in the short term. Sort of like lists but just in my head.

You see one of my sisters is getting married at the end of April. Who doesn’t love a wedding? But the cool thing about this one is that my sister is 54 and this is her first marriage. I guess she was just waiting for Mr. Right!! So, this wedding, this marriage deserved something BIG! Something REALLY big! Something COLOSSAL!
Well, really it’s just because they have a king-sized bed.


I had started this quilt way back in December thinking I had plenty of time. It’s the Pinwheel Paradise quilt from one of Pam and Nicky Lintott’s jelly roll books. After all they had been engaged a whole year without setting a date; I figured it would be awhile. It was at Christmas that they announced they would be marrying April 25. What? April 25? As in 4 months from now? All work on other projects had to cease. Now you know how hard it is for those of us who are deficit in the attention department to work on ONE thing until it’s done, right?!?!


So on aforementioned weekend, some serious sewing was to commence. I was about half way done with the quilt and set a goal to complete 17 blocks that weekend. With 56 blocks in this quilt, this thing is BIG! (see above – 100″ x 110″) and each block took about an hour to complete – there’s a lot of coordination of the colors, HSTs to be made, pressing, pressing and more pressing. Oh gawd the pressing!


The weekend started out real strong and I even initiated an Instagram campaign that my (six) followers could join in on (HA!). By Saturday morning at 2am, when I finally called it a night, I had completed nine blocks.



In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I took a break from sewing to lay out the remaining block colors.
After a couple hours rest and some much needed housework, I was back at the drawing (well, sewing/cutting/pressing) table.


By the time I laid this block out on Saturday afternoon, I was wishing they would sew themselves. But I persevered.


By Saturday’s end, the last set of HSTs were cut, sewn and trimmed and 15 blocks had been completed.
The cool thing about this quilt is once a block is sewn, and subsequently a row is sewn, the vertical and horizontal sashing is also added. I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare it would have been to sew all the blocks and save the sashing until the end.


No, I don’t sew over pins. (If you could see me now, you would see that my fingers are crossed behind my back to protect me from the lie I just told).
Mr. LB and our son (he was on spring break) came back about 8pm on Saturday and I called it quits for the day recognizing that you CAN have too much of a good thing. (We went to Culver’s for some much needed nourishment!)


By Sunday afternoon I had reached my goal leaving seven more blocks to complete this past week.


Which I finished on Friday. Since then, the borders have been added and I have a date with Angie at The Quilting Connection for quilting on April 11. And . . . . that’s the last you’ll see of it until she sees it.
So a Very Important Person Work in Progress indeed! I think you’ll agree!
This post, I’m trying something new and I’m linking up to Freshly Pieced’s Wednesday Work in Progress!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Because the post is already so long, I’m forgoing Random Thoughts. Please forgive.
Life is good! It just is!
TTFN – Annette

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Brave Post!

There hasn't been a lot of sewing going on because we were traveling one week and then had our daughter home with us on her spring break. I wanted to spend what little time I had in the evening with her so quilting took a bit of a hiatus. I did work a bit on Cats 2 which I'm calling Caterwauling.

I finished quilting this wall hanging in a marathon session on Sunday after we dropped her off at the airport. Let me tell you, straight line quilting at ½" on center is good therapy for the "missing your kids" blues.

The week we were traveling we had been in Blacksburg, Virginia at the Virginia Tech campus for our daughter's indoor track conference championship. I'm grateful that she runs long distances to make these trips worthwhile. I pity the parents who travel 13 hours to see their kids run a 55m dash indoors or do three jumps or throws.

Bravery Example #1: She ran the 3K on Friday and the 5K on Saturday. Whew! I tire just thinking of it. (For those of you unfamiliar with indoor track: the track is 200 meters so a 3000 meter race is 15 laps and the 5000 meter race is 25 laps. Mind numbing I tell you!  A standard outdoor track is 400 meters. Fewer laps - same distance. :P) She did so well taking seventh and fifth respectively in the Big South conference. Mr. LB and I are both so proud of her!

That's her in the front. Not a great photo but you can't believe how hard it is to take photos when you are incredibly excited and cheering your lungs out for your kid. Literally! Mr. LB lost his voice for days.

Anyhow, traveling that far meant about 26 hours in the car for us. I had set the goal of knitting three pairs of mittens during the time. I did accomplish my goal but I can't tell you how bored with knitting mittens and being in the car I've become. But I was back knitting on Tuesday morning when we drove to work.

If you've been following this blog for awhile you would know about my mitten project. I have just finished pair #67 with 33 more pairs to go. I think we still have a bit of winter left so if you are in need of a new pair of mittens or want to plan ahead for Christmas, any of the ones pictured here are for sale at $10/pair. As in the past, ALL PROCEEDS go to Friends of Haiti. Just leave me a comment - if you are local, we can arrange pick up. If you are willing to pay shipping, I'll gladly ship anywhere. This is most likely the last time I'll be offering them until next fall.

I'm anxious to finish these mittens because I got this a few weeks back:

And I really want to make a garment for myself. I know very little about garment sewing and even less about garment knitting. This book's emphasis is on knitting garments that FIT and FLATTER. But first the scary part . . . . . you have to take pictures and measurements of yourself and ANALYZE them.

Like most women, I don't like photos of myself. If you've noticed, I don't even have a profile picture on this blog and I've been at this since October. And my Facebook profile photo is the back of my head. Lovely, right?

Awhile ago, this Dove commercial was circulating Facebook. It has come back around and I happened to watch it again as I was planning out this week's post. If you haven't seen it, it is an absolute MUST SEE! (If you want a bit of humor, watch the male satire version too.)

And then my daughter put this on my sewing machine:

What a sweetheart, right? How can I tell people and hear people tell me how beautiful she is and how she looks just like me and not feel beautiful myself?

So here's Bravery Example #2:

Acccckkkkk! Now it's out there. Me! In living color! On the web! My daughter helped me with this exercise. The good news (well, good for knitting garments at least) is according to Knit to Fit, I'm considered evenly proportioned and not top heavy or bottom heavy.  But the coolest thing the author says in this book is that while it can be uncomfortable seeing ourselves in pictures, most people focus on our face when they speak to us and those that know and love us do so because of our personality and not our outwardly appearance.  Duh, right?

So when all the mittens are knit, I can move on to knitting garments - and it will be one of these two from the book.

(Apparently this model is, like me, evenly proportioned. I'm honestly envious of THAT hair!! I KNOW I could look amazing in either of these sweaters with THAT hair!!!) I'm so ready to get started! However, I have enough WIPs in the sewing field, I'm NOT going to do the same with knitting. So stay tuned!

Random Thoughts
1.      February remains the longest month of the year! So glad that's done for awhile again. I truly believe that Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day are there just to keep us from jumping off a cliff during the endless cold and snowy winter days.

2.      The black bean brownies were delish! You should definitely try them! Don't be fooled into thinking they are healthy though. There are still plenty of calories in them - especially when you consume ½ the pan by yourself. However, no adverse effects were felt in our household. I think you know what I mean.

TTFN! Life is good - it just is!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Carol’s Summer Garden

We could use a super-sized dose of summer cheer. Unfortunately, our weather in the north is unwilling to play by the rules - "Hello! It's supposed to be in the 20's in February and 30's and 40's in March!" Clearly Mother Nature did not get the memo this year.

So, how about some cheery pictures of my first finish of 2014? Besides the cats, of course.

Warning: Lots of pictures ahead! If you are reading this blog from a reader, you may want to go to the actual website as sometimes readers will parse some of the pix.

Carol's Summer Garden is for my sister who has THE most beautiful perennial gardens this side of the Mississippi! I do believe she is one of my biggest cheerleaders and besides all her other wonderful qualities, she's a super sweetheart!  You can read about my progress with this quilt here and here.

I was hoping for a reasonably warm day to snap some pictures outside. That wasn't happening but we had some nice sunshine on Saturday so I bundled up and gave it a whirl. Our household enjoys irony and I thought it a bit ironic that I should photograph Carol's Summer Garden in the snow.  :P

Despite the blustery wind gusts, I got a few shots before moving back inside. The sunshine really made the quilting stand out though.

The pattern is Do Si Do designed by Faye Hoch with Twin Cities Quilting - a fabulous quilt shop in Minneapolis. It is an easy pattern that is fat quarter friendly and fun to put together. (I have already purchased material to make another one.)

I added a pieced border of my leftover blocks and strips to make this quilt a whopping 110"x95". The fabric collection is Snap Pop by Sandy Gervais for Moda which I purchased through the online quilt shops Burgundy Buttons and Old South Fabrics.


I adore the striped binding fittingly called Snap Pop Cloud Rain Squiggle Stripe.

I added a little "Snap Pop" into the backing using Mosaic Rain from the collection and Bella solid Lime. I quilted it at The Quilting Connection in New London with a lot of help from Angie there.

The colors are amazing and just squeal Summer!!

In the meantime, can you just picture curling up with this on a sunny window seat right now with a good book? Hopefully watching the snow melt outside?
Random Thoughts

  1. I gave up caffeine in a very small effort to improve my (women's) health. I still drink coffee but choose decaf instead. I really miss how I just didn't get tired during the day. Now, around 2:00, one may find me napping at my desk. 
  2. I'm going to try making some black bean brownies today. Not really sure why other than I want to get rid of a can of black beans that has been sitting in the cupboard for about 6 months. I'll let you know how this one goes. With beans the primary ingredient, literally, I'll let you know how it goes.

Life is good! It just is!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Keeping the WIPs Under Control

I don’t think I am unique as a quilter when I say that I typically have several projects going on at one time. Most of my peers are on board the same ship. The quilting community even has some clever acronyms for our plight – WIPs or works in progress, UFOs or unfinished objects. We all know that it is because we get bored with a particular project or it may not be going well so we ditch it and start a different one. Picking out fabric and starting is often the most fun part of the process. It’s when you are in the middle of it and realize you need 672 of those pesky half-square triangles that it all gets a bit mundane and you lose a bit of focus.

I currently have 4 projects in varying stages of completion but you already know that I have several others that I have fabric for but haven’t started. You may not think so but it takes an awful lot of discipline to not start those too.

In 2013 my beautiful and talented daughter started a Christmas tradition I hope she continues. She bought me a quilting book. Owning quilting books is another secret passion. They are beautiful to look at and touch – especially the matte finish covers (I’m a very tactile person) – and they provide an amazing amount of inspiration. Continuing her tradition, I got this book from her this past Christmas:

It seems only fair that I make this said daughter, who adores Christmas, a quilt from the book she gave me. I had an Amazon gift card that was burning a hole in my e-mailbox so I picked up this.

Now I just need to decide, should I make this one:

Or this one:

Of course, it is taking just about everything out of me to NOT start just yet. Sensibility tells me I HAVE to finish some of the other WIPs – primarily because some have deadlines. In the meantime, I would love to know what you think. Which one should it be? Do you have parts of your daily life – hobbies or to-do items – that become WIPs or UFOs? I would love to hear from you.

Random Thoughts:

1.  Sadly, I said good bye to a great co-worker last week because he took a job elsewhere. He’ll be missed. I know this because I’ve worked at enough places to realize you say you’ll keep in touch but over time the things that bound you in common interest are lost. I truly wish you all the best Mr. F! The place is already not the same without you!

2.  The chicken rice soup from The Pioneer Woman that I spoke of previously was phenomenal!

Mr. LB made her perfect potato soup while I was away with my sisters on Sister Weekend. Equally as good! I could get into this whole soup for dinner gig! More importantly, I could definitely be down with Mr. LB cooking dinner!!

TTFN! Life is good – it just is!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Austerity + Bad Weather = Quilty Finishes

After the new year, we re-implemented our austerity plan in an effort to replenish some funds lost after the furnace repair, windshield repair, tuition, Christmas, etc. Need I go on? We’re all probably in a bit of the same pickle to some degree. With little wiggle room in the budget, there was plenty of at home time to sew. First up is my cat quilt.

I finished quilting it last weekend. I just used a simple straight line quilting ½” apart using my walking foot as a guide and Bottom Line thread by Superior Thread in a light gray. I wanted the cats to take center stage so I used a thread that would fade into the background a bit.

The pattern was a QAL with Elizabeth Hartman. I used mostly scraps with the exception of the background and backing which I had on hand slated for a different project (oh well).
I think that’s what I liked most about this project. I really had to dig through my scraps to combine colors and patterns to sort of match Elizabeth’s original design. Believe it or not, this is something I don’t always feel comfortable doing. It really stretched me and I love the sort of “color wheel” that the cats represent.

This became a present for me from me. I love it!!! I sort of love real cats too but it is impractical for us to have one. This wall hanging will find a permanent home in my sewing space once I finish the second one I’m making. What?

Oh yes! I’m making a second cat quilt. Cat Repeat! Cats @ Night? : )
Temperatures finally warmed up in Wisconsin so much so that the next round of precipitation came in the form of freezing rain. That also contributed to the hunkering down and staying in last weekend. It was time to finish the last of the Swoon blocks.

This block pattern is from Camille Roskelly and was THE RAGE last year in the online quilting community. You should check out her blog – she’s really just the cutest thing and is so incredibly talented. Of course, I had to make one too which is why I’m calling this one my peer pressure quilt. Let’s just say I sort of dislike half square triangles or HSTs as they are called in the quilting circle. All that seam matching drives me insane.

In addition to being my peer pressure quilt, it is also my procrastination quilt. But the blocks are finally done and just waiting to be pieced together to make a top. I have them laid out on the floor in our daughter’s bedroom which may just give me the push I need to put them together . . . . she is planning on returning home again this summer. Lots of time! This quilt deserves its own blog post so look forward to that.

Finally I pieced these strips for a commissioned quilt for a co-worker’s daughter. Love these colors!!! I didn’t purchase the sashing because I wasn’t quite sure the route I wanted to go. Unfortunately austerity measures have also limited fabric purchase and that means this one will have to wait until February. That’s okay – I have more to keep me going but why is it the best sales are going on when you have the least amount of money?
Random Thoughts
1.  Why do towel manufacturers put that decorative band on bath towels only to have it shrink up much faster than the rest of the towel when they are washed? Do you experience this or do I just keep my towels for too long? Do your towels look like this?

2.  I have never liked soup as a meal because when we were sick as kids, our mom would make us eat soup. Something has been embedded in my brain that soup=sick. But Mr. Left Brain LOVES soup and he LOVES rice so together we are going to make some homemade Chicken and Rice Soup. We are using the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I'll let you know how it turns out.
Life is good - it just is!! TTFN!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting Past the Melancholies

After a really nice time with our kids over Christmas break, our son went back to Minneapolis on Saturday. His ride had to bail on him so he took the dreaded bus back – 8 hours of bus travel. Ugh!  Our daughter left for North Carolina on Sunday. We dropped her off at her friend’s house about 2 hours from our home and they made the remaining trip by themselves. A normal 13 hour drive took them over 20 hours because of a bad winter storm in Indiana.  Double Ugh! But it was that 2 hour drive home for us that did me in. By the time we pulled into the garage, a burly case of the melancholies was brewing up inside my head.

And this wasn’t helping either: 

Yes, that is a minus sign in front of that 17.

After all the laundry, cooking and cleaning I did while they were home from college, I really thought I would be happy to return to the peaceful calm of our empty nest that Mr. Left Brain calls efficient. Doesn’t matter how many times you bid them farewell, the tears still sting and the nest just feels hollow and, well, empty when you get back home.

So I tried to drown out the feelings with copious amounts of leftover St. Nick candy:

I tried reading the book I started over break: 

Great book but it made me cry and miss them more.

I started cutting up some pretty colored fabric for a quilt for a co-worker’s daughter:
Nice but it just made me think of my own kids.

I thought about hunkering down and watching the NFL wild card playoffs but we all know how poorly that ended for Packer fans. Glad I opted out of that!

I finally decided to work on something that was just for me. If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably been seeing the cat blocks I did in December as part of Elizabeth Hartman’s Cat Quilt-Along. I had SO MUCH FUN with this and except for the background, I used completely scraps.  The blocks are small – only about 4”x5” – which makes the quilt more of a wall hanging. But it is BIG on FUN! Elizabeth named each cat and released the tutorial to make one each day in December to finish on Christmas Day. I had sewn all the cat blocks together during the holiday break:

Huge crush for this quilt!!!!!

To beat my blues, I started working on the backing. I wanted to machine embroider the names of the cats somehow but my machine doesn’t have a great set-up for doing that. I came up with this idea and I sorta love it!

All that embroidery didn’t go very quickly but it got my mind off of feeling melancholy.  I started some straight line quilting on it tonight so I’ll be sure to post the finished product soon.

Over break I also got the borders on and the back done for Carol’s Summer Garden quilt:

The lime green fabric really faded away in this photo but I really impressed myself with the embroidery on this one.  I’ll be quilting it at The Quilting Connection in New London in February. Yay!

So I’d be lying if I said I felt 100% better after some “me sewing time” but maybe 40% better is a good call. And it’s good enough for now. Life is still good! It just is!

Random Thoughts:
  1. Even though I don’t really like Christmas, it truly is the only good thing about winter. It didn’t help my mood that Mr. Left Brain wanted to take down the Christmas decorations after coming home from the drop off of our daughter.  Absolutely the worst day of the year is putting away the Christmas d├ęcor. I think our house echoes now.
  2. I’m partially to blame for that. My new year’s resolution was to rid my house of the junk and I’m throwing away (or giving away) at least five things each day. In 15 minutes, I can make a dent in one hoarding area that I’ve been ignoring for too long. So far, I’ve cleaned out one closet, 4 kitchen cupboards and 1 kitchen drawer and this plan is working out better than tackling the job all at once.

If you are an empty nest during the college school year (or if you are the one going away), I would love to hear how you feel when your kids come and go.