Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day means cooking...

I think in most homes, when there is a special occasion, it means there's something special cooking in the kitchen.  Well, today we made some special yummy goodness in honor of our beloved father. I made this yummy French Toast for breakfast.  It was pretty good, but I think next time, we might add some of our very own homemade lemon curd for an extra lemon kick.



Cooking for me, always reminds me of my own dad.  Each Sunday my dad made an amazing dinner.  I loved his cooking.  I miss his cooking.  I miss him.    Today as I was thinking about the blessings of Father's I got a little teary.  I remembered all that I love about my dad.  Let me tell you a little about him.

My dad is tender.  I remember as a little child, I would always love snuggling with my dad.  His chest was perfect for snuggling, and I always felt like I fit perfectly there.  Whenever I was scared in the middle of the night, I knew exactly who to go to in order to be comforted, my dad.  He would scoop me up around my waist, and pull me close to him.  I loved those early morning hours snuggling with him, I never felt more safe.

As a child, our family experienced a tragedy a family should never experience. My brother took his own life.  My parents were amazing through the whole experience.  Here was an opportunity for any parent to truly fall apart, to be consumed by grief.  And yet, what I saw, as a 10 year old, was that my parents were concerned about their children's well being.  They took time with each of us to make sure we were well.  They made sure none of us felt like anything was our fault.  I remember looking at my dad and thinking it was amazing how well he handled it all.  As a mother now, I have no idea how my parents pulled this off. I learned from my dad that children always come first, parents put their own feelings on the back burner to make sure their children are well.

As a teenager, when I flew off the freeway in our family van (on my way to Lake Powell with some friends), I remember calling my dad to tell him of my awesome adventure.  It was midnight, and I woke him up to tell him some pretty upsetting news.  Yes, he was mad.  Pretty angry, and I deserved it.  And yet, what I didn't know is after we hung up, there was no way he was going to be able to sleep.  He drove the 4 hours in the middle of the night to come pick up us all up.  When he got there, he wasn't angry, just glad that we were all safe.  My dad's biggest concern was the safety and happiness of his children.

A few years ago when my own little family had a little trial, my dad was there.  As I lay in the hospital bed, cradling Lizzy and wondering what the future held for us.  My dad called.  He asked what we needed, should he come to the rescue?  Should he make the trip?  And, being the spaz I am, I didn't want to inconvenience him.  I told him he could come if he wanted, that we could use him, but if he didn't want to, he didn't have to come. But inside I was screaming, YES, I need help.  I knew our temporal needs would be taken care of by our ward family, I knew we could get by.  But yes, I needed my daddy.  Well, after talking for a bit, we hung up and I wondered what would happen.  In a few more minutes, I received another call.  My dad had a flight out the next morning, he would get here at 8 a.m.  Oh my word.  My heart soared,  and I was so relieved.  He came to the rescue, he took care of our kids while we stayed in the hospital for the next 5 days to get Lizzy well.  My dad continually teaches me what a parents love is like.  It's unconditional, unending, and unstoppable.  I'm so grateful he saw past my 'punkiness' and supported us.

As I face parenting teenagers, I constantly think of my dad.  Who told me over and over again that teenagers were his favorite.  I love his example of love.  He talked with us.  He enjoyed us.  He included us in all he did.  He had fun, and taught us about fun, and about loud speakers.  He shared his love of Cougar sports, vintage cars, and near beer.  I love my dad beyond description.  I hope I can be a parent like him someday.

I'm grateful that my own dear husband is such a father.  He is strong and good and kind.  He is always striving to be better.  He plays games with the kids, and looks for ways to make their lives better.  He supports me as a mother, always.  He always has my back.  I love that on this Father's Day, he made the ribs for dinner.  My kids and I are pretty lucky to be surrounded by so many great men.

Happy Father's Day to all the amazing dad's out there.  Happy Father's Day to the extra dad's my kids have, there are great men who are so good to my kids.  We are blessed!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Paris in Our Hearts




Here's another one of the quilts.  This one has some of my favorite colors; aqua, red, an gray.  Yum.

The best part about making this quilt?  It is so easy.  If you need to get a big quilt done in a hurry, this is the perfect quilt pattern for that.  It's simple, it's a jelly roll, and fat quarters for the borders....with a little bit of fabric thrown in there for good measure.  Why do I add a little extra fabric?  To make the quilt more interesting.  I find quilts are a lot more visually appealing if there's about 20% of the fabric that doesn't come from the same line of fabric.

What's your favorite color combination?





Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Let's Paint....Kids rooms

For those of you who aren't invested in my daily life, this is my daily life during the school year:

Get up. Work out. Drive. Clean up.  Prepare all things for living with a family of 6. Preschool driving. Then spend 2 hours driving to pick up kids from various schools.  Then piano lessons, gymnastics, basketball practice, etc..  So yeah, I spend my days in a car.  Not the most productive time, and definitely hard to get time lumped together to get stuff done.

Let's be really honest here.  When school is in, I'm lucky to get an hour of free time.  Ever.  I know, I must be doing something wrong (like having my kids in all different schools on different sides of town).  

Anyway, schools out.  And you know what that meant for me?  Time.  Time free from driving.  Time, with hours - all in a row- to work.  I LOVE being productive.  It's my very favorite.  So, in two days, I painted 4 of my kids rooms.  Was it slightly insane?  yes.  Did I have help from my cute hubby.  Not so much, except for the help of him making dinner and caring for the sweet cherubs while I ignored them.

Here's how it started:

This is Lizzy's room, half way through.  All the rooms were painted white.  When we moved in, we painted the rest of the house.  It was hard work then.  I wanted to paint the kids rooms, but with everything we were doing, it just wasn't physically possible.  And then...time ate me up.  Lizzy wanted her room green and blue.  I worked hard to try to influence her on how she wanted it painted.  To no avail, she wanted green, then a white stripe, and blue on top.

We started with taping around the room, using a level as our line to follow.  Painted green on the bottom and then blue.  The kids actually "helped" a lot with this room.


 Here is the finished product.  Well, here's the paint.  I really want to decorate at some point.  I do have a vision.  But, I need more money an some time to pull it off.  But, at least this room is painted, and my Lizard feels like it is her special place.


Mitchell's Room:

The theme of his room is going to be travel.  His colors of his room are blue and orange (yep all the kids have the same blue in their rooms, with their own accent color).  

Here's Before:
yes, a little furniture heavy.  I would love to get a desk thats a little smaller to fit the room better, but this one is free.  so...yep, that's what he gets for now.



Mitchell After


Madeline's Room:
She's a full fledged teenager now.  She has a vision of what she wants her room to be, and it's flipping cute.  But first, all the walls are blue, with a red accent.


Madeline's Room after

She also made one chevron wall.  It is the window wall, which makes it terribly hard to photograph.  Just saying.  I found a fun tutorial about how to make the chevron.  It was pretty easy.  Just make a graph on the wall.  We divided the wall vertically into 4, then horizontally divided it into 6.  Drew those lines.  And then connected the intersecting points, by drawing a line from one point, to the other lines point one line up...does that make sense?  Anyway,  pretty awesome.  
Best part.  My two oldest worked on the grid part all day while I painted the other rooms.  Super helpful.

Noah's Room:
Pretty basic before shot.  Bed, clothes, and toys...there's like three in there.


He wanted to help.  I had to continually remind myself of our family theme during painting...
the purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship......
To make his whale wall this is what had to be done:
1. Paint the whole wall base color (our room, light blue)
2. Make wave template out of contact paper, and  place on the wall.  Make the line straight using a level or laser level.  Remember, to use the negative of the wave shape.


See...those are pretty cute waves...just cut them out free hand.

3.  Using my silhouette, I cut out a boat, and a whale with vinyl.  

The whale tale had to be navy blue, but the whale body had to be light blue.  That meant, there was some waiting time in between painting time.


4.  Enjoy your sweet kid who loves there room, and swims in the ocean there....











Saturday, June 7, 2014

True Love and New Adventures





Here's one of my newest quilts. This quilt took a long time to make.  It spent a long time in design stage, and an even longer time in the "make it" stage.  Having a family (and falling in love with a sweet baby/toddler/little boy) takes time away from quilting.

Anyway, I am super excited about my new adventure.  Instead of writing a whole new book,  this time I am going to be offering my quilts as downloadable PDF files from etsy.  I am really excited about this prospect, because you, as my customer, can get what you need, and focus on the quilts you actually want to make.  

The best thing, I get to start with one of my favorite quilts.  I loved making this quilt.  I loved the whole process.  I am drawn to stars.  I always have been, I think star patterns just call my name.  I also love the Joel Dewberry fabric.  Each time I worked on this quilt, my little quilters heart sang.  Oh how I loved everything about this.  

Thus the name, TRUE LOVE.  As I made it I thought about my True Love. Each quilt holds a little piece of my heart, and this one has a full measure of my LOVE.


Check it out!  Go to etsy and check out my new pattern and tell me what you think.

Maybe, you just might find your own "true love" quilt.


Quilting Tutorial


I have decided to start selling my quilting patterns on etsy.com.  Because not everyone needs in detail instructions on how to finish their quilt, I decided to omit those from each pattern.  However, I know there are a lot of people who would like to have some more in depth instruction on how to quilt.  

So here we go:

Let's start with batting.
  There are many different kinds of batting available.  I prefer to use a thin 100% cotton batting.  Cotton batting shrinks slightly with washing, and gives quilts a softer puckered look.  There's wool, bamboo, polyester, and so much more.  Play around and see what you like.  

Backing

Remember to use the same quality fabric for the back as you do for the front.  Using a single pattern of fabric for a backing is very popular.  When you choose this option,  you can choose a fabric that has a somewhat busy background to hide your quilting.  If you want to feature your quilting, choose a solid or less busy patterned background. Also, be aware of the color you are using, try to pick a color that blends with the thread color you are using for quilting.

A pieced backing can be just as interesting as the front of the quilt.  I love to use leftover blocks from the quilt top, scraps of fabric from my stash, and other large pieces of fabric.  You can put these backs together in many ways, use your imagination.  Some of my favorite quilts have pieced backs.  

Quilt Labels

I mention quilt labels at this point, because I love to put the quilt labels on before quilting.  That doesn’t mean I always remember to do this, but I thought the placement here could be helpful for you.  You should put a label on all your quilts.  The label should include the name of the quilt, who made the quilt (pieced by, quilted by), the year it was made, and the location.  If this quilt is made as a gift, I also add a quote or a little message for my loved one.

The quilt label can be a left over block from the quilt you made or a scrap piece of fabric.  Using a permanent marker, print your message on the quilt label, and then press with a hot iron.   
As an alternative to the permanent marker, I love to print labels directly onto my fabric. To do this the fabric needs to be centered on an 8.5” x 11” paper, with 2” margins on each side, there is enough room to print 2 quilt labels per page.   
 To print directly on fabric, first create your label in a word processing program, and the print it onto a sheet of paper to test the spacing and font size.  When the label is ready for printing on fabric, center fabric over the already printed page.  While fabric is flat, tape with clear wrapping tape, covering all edges of the fabric.  Make sure there are no wrinkles in the tape or fabric.   Feed the paper back into the printer, and print.  When finished, set the ink with a hot iron.

You can sew the quilt label on as part of the backing, or you can hand sew it on after the backing is already pieced.  To hand sew it, press the raw edges of the label under 1/4” and pin them into place.  I like to place it in the bottom corner of my quilt so I only have to hand sew two edges, the other edges being sewn in with the binding.

Basting

To prepare your quilt for quilting, form a quilt “sandwich” and then pin baste the layers together

1. Prepare backing by ironing smooth.  Place the backing fabric, right side down, on a large flat surface (that can endure scratches and pokes from safety pins).   Using masking tape, begin taping the quilt back to a flat surface.  Start taping from the middle of one side, then tape the middle of the opposite side.  The backing should be taut, but not stretched.  Continue with the same method on the two other sides.    Continue taping around the backing, keeping the backing wrinkle free and taut, with approximately 8” between each stretch of tape.

2. Layer batting over the secured backing.  Smooth completely.

3. Center quilt top over the batting and backing.  Smooth over the batting.  The batting will hold the quilt top in place as you smooth the entire quit top.  Starting from the middle of the quit top, using basting safety pins, and pin using approximately 4” spacing.  Be aware of your quilting pattern at this point, and try to pin in the areas where you think you won’t be quilting.  Continue pinning until the quilt is secure.


Marking

 You may want to mark lines as a guide, or you may want to mark the whole quilt.  Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.  When machine quilting, it is easier to get smooth clean lines when the design is simple, and you can move freely.  Practicing quilting designs by drawing on paper beforehand, helps the actual quilting process go much smoother.  Draw a sketch of the quilt, and then practice the quilting pattern on top of the quilt drawing to determine the direction, path, and form of your quilting pattern.  Magically, if you can draw a design on paper, you can quilt it with your machine.  It is also a great idea to quilt along the print in the fabric.  This not only is a fun and beautiful method, but it ensures there is enough quilting.

Quilting

There are many methods of quilting.  Hand quilting is beautiful, time consuming.  Machine quilting is much quicker, still beautiful, and sturdy.  There is also always the option of sending the quilt top out to a professional hand quilter or professional machine quilter.  Whatever method you choose for your quilt, please ensure the quilt is adequately quilted.  The quilt you have made will endure much longer when it is quilted evenly and somewhat densely throughout. 

Machine quilting is much easier than most people think.  The key to machine quilting, is taking the time to practice on scrap “quilt sandwiches.”  The practice time helps you determine the correct thread tension, the best quilt design, and it helps you get in the quilting groove.  Never skip the “practice” step of machine quilting.

In machine quilting, you are free to use whatever thread you like.  As you do, consider the thread strength, and try to match the spool and bobbin threads in strength.  Whenever possible, I use the same type of thread for both the spool and bobbin threads, the exception is when I use a mono-filament thread for the spool thread.  Don’t use mono-filament thread in the bobbin, it will only cause headaches.  For a dark quilt, use a darker or smoke mono-filament thread, for a lighter quilt, use the traditional clear mono-filament thread.

For straight line quilting, use a walking foot, and sew on your quilt as normal.  For free motion quilting, use a darning foot, and lower the feed dogs on your machine.  As in piecing, draw the bobbin thread up through the top, and hold both the spool thread and the bobbin thread to prevent bunches of thread.  A few tips to remember as you quilt:

  • it is easier to keep an even stitch length if you use the same sewing speed, and move in a smooth even motion.
  • pay attention to the thread tension.  Check your top and bottom threads to ensure there’s no looping.
  • relax and enjoy, try not to tense up.
  • use quilting gloves.  Gloves really help you keep a hold of your quilt, and move it easily.


Binding

Selecting the binding for a quilt is like choosing a frame for a picture.  It can really add to the quilt, or it can disappear into the background.  Both of those options are great, depending on the quilt, and it’s purpose.  Binding’s can be made of one fabric, or have continually changing fabrics.  I love to use stripes and plaids for bindings, they help the eye move around the quilt, and provide visual interest.  Avoid using symmetrical small patterns (like small polka dots), as they lose their interest in such a small strip.

Another decision in binding, is to use bias cuts (cut on the 45 degree of your fabric), or straight of grain.  The only time the bias is absolutely needed is when the quilt has a curved edge.  The bias cut, helps the fabric bend, stretch, and move over the curves with ease.  Most of my decisions about bias or straight of grain come from the fabric.  Do I like the fabric best on a 45 degree angle, or is straight of grain best?  Luckily, many fabric designers are making bias looking fabric for those of us who love look of bias, and love the ease of cutting on the straight of grain.

Now you have all the information you need to finish your quilt.  I'd love to see your progress!



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Inspiration



Each morning I spend a fair amount of time working away on my treadmill.  To make this time, fun, I love watching Netflix.  Another added bonus, I get inspiration for quilts, art, and decorating.

I know how much time we all spend scouring the internet, pinterest, and magazines for inspiration.  However, did you know that inspirational things are all around you?  One of my favorite quilts, was inspired by a door mat.  It's crazy all the fun patterns that are all around us.  If we open our eyes, and pay attention to what is in the background, we can all be inspired.

I love that as I watch my latest show, White Collar, the focus is on a lot of art.  LOVE THIS.  I get to see architecture, sculptures, painting, all while exercising and being entertained.  It's a win win.  So, when I see something that sparks my interest, I get off the treadmill and start taking pictures.  It just helps remind me of what seems fun to me.

Maybe these things won't actually amount to anything, but maybe they will.  It's possible their influence will be felt in my next quilt.  Or, in decorating my home.  Who knows, but at least it gets the creative juices flowing.

Go get inspired today!  Take a picture!



Sunday, May 11, 2014

10 Year Old Birthday Fun


My dear, newly turned 10 year old, had quite the fun birthday party last week. She wanted to have her friends over for dinner, for cupcake decorating,  and for playing games.  Quite honestly she asked for an 8 hour party.  Holy Hannah Batman.  I talked her down though. 


One huge desire of hers was to have the kids guess how many gumballs were in the jar.  Kinda funny this was such a big deal to her.  I love her sweet heart and quirky ways.



Here are our goodie bags.  Inside I had a homemade apron for each girl, their own decorating bag and tip, and some goodies to take home.


Ok.  I seriously loved this.  These boxes I got from a local gas station.  Yep, I saw some cupcake boxes at walmart, but didn't want to spend the money on that.  Then when I was at the gas station late at night, I saw these boxes.  I asked the employees how much it would cost, and if I could buy their boxes, and he gave me 11 for free.  I know it sounds funny, but I thought it was AMAZING.  So cute.  So I made some cute stickers to cover up their logo, and their girls had their own boxes to take home their cupcakes.


And here's what really happened at the party.  They spent three seconds decorating their cupcakes and then spend the rest of their time sucking down the frosting.  I have to admit, I had girls jumping up and down for hours.  This was in no way a calm get together.


Each sweet amazing girl got to pick the color for their frosting, and they really did have a blast decorating their cupcakes.  We had a wide variety of goodies to decorate the delicious cupcakes.


I sure love the chance I get to be a mom.  Hopefully these memories will last forever.