Simply Homemade.

I for one love homemade gifts.  Perhaps because I know of the time, thought and love that goes into each gift.  I love making the gifts almost as much as giving them.  This year with the little, um 'bug' I caught I got a little behind in my gift giving preparation.  The Saint Nicholas Day gifts went out about a week late, but HEY they're out.  I have a feeling that some of the Christmas gifts will be a little late this year too.

One of the things my kid LOVE to do during the holiday is Countdown to Christmas.  We have had a Lego Advent Calendar for the last 3 years.  There is usually so much fighting over who's day it is to open the door that we have to make a schedule.  This year I picked up the Lego-Friends Calendar.  (You know the one for GIRLS!) There is not as much interest in this calendar as there was in the Star Wars calendar.  Go figure. Well, let's just say there is only one of my Children who is eager to open up the calendar each day.  And she Loves the fact that the boys don't want to participate.  More for Her!

Thinking about the Calendar led me to another project in the Modern Holiday book by Amanda Murphy.  The Christmas Countdown.  This calendar boasts 25 adorable little packages to decorate.  One for each day.  (yeah, yeah I realize that Advent is technically 24 days but work with me here.) In Amanda's Pattern she uses a layer cake to make the Christmas presents.  A fabulous idea I might add if you happen to have one laying around.  Sadly, I did not.  No worries.  I cut out 25 bright and cheery 5 inch squares and began sewing.  I was disappointed to find out after I had made it about half way through the pattern that there ended up being so much fabric waste!  I ended up trimming about 1-1.5 inch off of each package.  If I would have known ahead of time I surly would have started with something smaller than 5 in squares.

Don't you just love that Embroidery?  Thanks M.

Other than that picky little problem I really enjoyed sewing this up.  So much sew (couldn't resist.) That I went ahead and hand quilted the quilt (gasp!)  It was a great project for our car trip to Tennessee but trying to find the time to sit and finish it almost killed me!

The finishing touch was the cute little "yo-yo" bow for the package.  I couldn't bring myself to make 25 yo-yos so I cheated. (shh. don't tell Santa.)  I found a package of glittery pom-poms and used those as my package toppers. I did have to break down and make one gold yo-yo for the last package.  Don't worry.  I survived.  I shipped off the quilt along with a box of candy numbered for the days of Advent.  What's Christmas without chocolate?

Chocolate and a Christmas Countdown...  A delightful combination.


Just keep sewing. Just keep sewing.

Lots of Quilting going on over here now that my Machine is BACK.
So the story on the  is this...I had a service repair man come out to correct the timing and tune her up.  She is almost 5 you know.  While he was here he mentioned  that the needle position, when stopped varied.  It is supposed to stop in either the full up or down position.  Mine. Well it sort of ....didn't.  It like to randomly stop anywhere between up and down.  He took the machine apart and couldn't find anything visibly wrong, so he suggested I contact Handiquilter and ask for help in the diagnosis.  I talked with the technician out at Handiquilter headquarters. Dave informed me that it was probably the wire that had been crimped between the housing during assembly.  I ordered a new wire.  When it arrived a week later, we installed it and nothing.  It didn't make a difference.  I talked with Dave, my dear husband talked with Dave and we decided to ship the lady out to Utah and have Dave work on her.  We boxed her up and off she went.   That was almost 2 months ago now.  WoW.

Through various conversations with Dave, we learned that  he thought the problem was a bad transformer.  Dave had talked with "the men back" in the work room and they were going to make up a new transformer for her.  This just all happened right before the Houston Quilt Show.  Bad timing.  Unfortunately my machine got pushed out of the way and forgotten. :(

2 weeks later when I talked to Dave he was very apologetic and said he would have it shipped out the next day.  When I call Dave the next week after not hearing from him he was at a loss.  He said this was the most frustrating machine he has ever worked on.  He had replaced every single working part in the machine and get this..... It was STILL having the same problem! What? How is that possible?  If every piece in the machine is new, HOW can this happen?  Dave again, was very apologetic and shipped her back to me essentially rebuilt, free of charge, but still having the same problem.  Dave assured me she is all tuned up  and sewing great.  She just has the annoying habit of choosing her own needle position.  Bummer.

Well, as you can imagine I accumulated quite a nice stack of quilts while she was away.  I have now quilted 3 of them, and my verdict?  Still out.  She does sew nicely.  I haven't had any needle breaks, thread brakes, or stitch regulation problems since her return.  In fact there is only one problem.  The needle position.  Uh. Imagine.  The needle still is choosing it's own position at random.  This only seems to effect my initial startup.  When I start sewing.  I drop the needle and grab the bobbin thread and pull it up to the top of the quilt.  This way I can hold the bobbin and top thread taught as I lock the threads into position.  Unfortunately now the top thread is getting stuck and won't pull of the bobbin thread. Well, it does after 4 or 5 trys. Annoying.  Now what?

Do I call Dave back and say see if you can fix it?  This means paying another exorbitant shipping cost to send my 60lb. machine to Utah.  Do I deal with it and see if it improves?  Worsens?  Do I contact Handiquilter customer service and see if they can help?  (I am sure my warranty is long expired).  Or do I just keep sewing.  Just keep sewing.  just keep sewing...


A bad case of the BAH-HUM-BUG!

Those of you who know me, know that most of the time I am an up-beat, energetic person.  I thrive on creativity.  I am a boundless bundle of creative ideas.  A bevy of crafty projects happen here on a daily basis.  Now, I am no Martha Stewart, although if you ask some of my sisters they will disagree, but I hold my own.

I am not sure what happened but somehow I caught a Bug.  The Bah-Hum-Bug.  We took a wonderful vacation with friends up into the Smokey Mountains over Thanksgiving.  There was lots of food, fun, and most importantly crafting.  We sat by the fire many evenings while the kids entertained themselves.  We would talk and  knit or crochet or quilt all evening.  It was bliss.  However, I returned with a serious case of Blah.

I didn't feel like doing anything.  I didn't want to decorate for Christmas (something I normally love to do).  BAH! I didn't want shop for Christmas or get ready for Christmas in any way.  HUM! And most alarming, I didn't want to sew, or knit or anything. BUG!
She's Back!

It wasn't until my Long-arm returned last Tuesday that I started to surface out from under my Scrooge like demeanor.  I started quilting on Thursday and my mood started to lift.  I am feeling better now.  Although I am still not quite my chipper self.  A few more quilts might just be the medicine I need!  Here is a peak of the quilt I just finished up for a client.

A few swirls.  A couple of Loops. And Bye-gosh. Bye Golly, how could anyone say Bah-hum-bug.


Stocking Stuff--hers

I've kept up on my stocking creating.  And this time they are for some girls I know.  This stocking is a 'mate' (if you can call it that?) to the first.  1.5 inch hexagons in a variety of reds.  Like the previous stocking (here)  I added a stripe ruffle.  This time a dash of green separates the ruffle from the embroidered top.  I had to blur the name to protect the gift's secret.

I embroidered the top with the name and a cute little Christmas Tree. For the back I  kept it simple by using a Red print.

The second stocking I made was a Knitted and Felted little number.  I used a pattern I have fallen back upon numerous times from Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas. It's a great pattern.  If you have knit a sock before, it's super-duper simple. I used brown sheep worsted weight for the red and Cascade 220 for the green (also worsted).  I haven't knit in almost a year and I cannot tell you how Awesome it felt!  (no pun intended)  

Two more Christmas gifts checked off that list!


Hush up

I am not sure that I shared this story.  In fact I am sure I didn't.  It was unsettling to say the least.
About 1-2 months ago, not exactly sure of the time, my Rowenta Iron caught fire.  No worries. There was no damage.  That there could have been was troublesome.  As quilters we rely on our Irons, almost daily.  The reality is I do not Iron my clothing nearly as much as I iron the fabric I sew.

 I was up in my quilting space ironing several large pieces of backing as well as a quilt top.  As I ironed each piece I would then drape it over my quilting table in preparation for loading the quilt.

 Now this particular iron had it's peculiarities, as do many electronic devices I own.  It often would release steam at random. Usually while it sat waiting for me to pick it up to iron the next piece.  I assumed that this was a method the iron used to cool it's self when it started to get to hot.  Perhaps it is, I still do not know.  What I do know is that this particular day when the iron started to make popping noises and smoke started to stream out of the iron I thought it was cooling.  It wasn't until I started to smell burning plastic and the smoke alarm went off that I realized, "This is not steam."

I immediately unplugged the iron. As I sat I watched the smoke continue to wisp out of the iron.  I started to wonder if perhaps leaving it on the ironing board, which happened to be sitting next to my antique dresser wasn't just a really bad idea.  I checked the handle and it was cool.  I gently carried the iron out and set it in the driveway.  There it sat for 15-20 minutes and smoked.  For a good 15 minutes a steady tendril of smokes twisted its way out from between the metal plate and the plastic body. It was truly amazing.  Here the iron was UNPLUGGED and it was still burning.

I thought it best to contact Rowenta and see if this particular model had had any recent recalls or safety warnings. The woman I got was remarkably calm, almost bored, as I explained how my home could have just caught fire.  The first words out of her mouth were not, "Oh, I am sorry." or "I hope no one was injured."  Her first words were, "How much property was damaged?"


Now, I realize when you are working for customer service you could get a little callous towards life or death situations.  But, Really?  I explained to her that there was no damage and that I was calling to make sure this situation would not happen to another individual.  Another individual who may not have the same 'luck' that I had.  Again she gave me a bored response as she explained that the model I have did not have any recalls or safety issues.  She was also quick to inform me that my warranty was expired and that they could not issue me a new iron.  Again, Really?  I offered to send her the iron in the hope that if there was an electrical issue that, again people could be warned. Finally I got a little 'carring' out of her but it was brief.  Her next statement explained that if the technicians found and issue I would not necessarily be issued a new iron.  Again, I NEVER asked for one!

She took my information down and insured me I would get a copy of the technical evaluation.  Nope.  Now I could still get one, but I am not holding my breath. Here is the model # DZ 1500 if you would like to check yours.

What I got was a brand-new-iron.  Yesterday, much to my surprise, a brand-spankin'-new iron was delivered to my house.  No report, explanation, not even any paperwork in the box.  Just and iron.   I feel a bit like I am being bought off.  Okay, I feel a lot like it!  Hush money. A bribe. I don't know.  All I do know is that I feel a little guilty and a lot dirty.  I haven't even taken it out of the box yet.


Creating of a different sort.

This past week, you may have noticed I was a bit absent from blogland. With the loss of my Long-arm machine I inadvertently freed up time for 'other' types of projects.  Namely, tiling my kitchen backsplash.  This is a project that I have wanted to do since we moved into this house 4 years ago. After a week of bringing home tile sample after tile sample, I decided on a travertine and glass tile combination.  The dark granite countertop and the light cream cabinets made tile choices difficult but I think I made the right choice.

It took me about a week to tile the entire kitchen backsplash.  From what I've read, I need to seal the travertine before we grout to ensure that the cleanup goes smoothly.  The travertine is quite porous and without a sealant the grout would likely adhere to every inch. Since there has been no word on my long-arm machine I am left with ample time on my hands to create beauty of an entirely different sort.


Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! Okay a day late.  Hope your Halloween was as spook-a-licious as ours was.  As you would expect they had a blast!  Who doesn't love getting free candy?  Fortunately for us the rain held off until today.  I know many had a very wet and rainy beggars night.  We were able to sit out by the fire and enjoy conversation (and maybe a few goodies) while we catered to the trick-or-treaters. A few pictures to share.
E has recently been obsessed with Teen Beach Party.  Which consequently led to the watching of the original Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello original Beach party movie.  Which then opened the box to an entire era of Teen beach movies. E. Loves the oldies.  So naturally she went as a greaser.  Beehive and all.  Let me tell you getting her hair up that high wasn't so difficult.  Getting her hair to stay up that high was a major problem.  

J and his friend had other less defined plans.  Okay they had no plan.  Basically it was what can we throw together in 15 minutes.  So they went as Evil Scientist.  Lab coat? Check.  Safety Goggles? Check.  Work Gloves?  Check.  Albert Einstein wig? Check.  

Hey, they're 8th grade boys.  Things were very unsure right up to the minute they grabbed 2 pillowcases and headed out the door.  All-in-all it was a very successful haul.
Happy Halloween!



It's official.  My Long-arm is sick.  I received the cable Saturday.  I had hoped that it would fix the problem.  Sadly, No.  She is all boxed up and loaded into my truck. Sniff.  Soon she will be on her way to Utah.  Hopefully she will be restored to her former glory and return home soon. sniff. sniff.

Meanwhile I have been busily working on another project.  Christmas Stockings. Remember when I said that I had found a new plan for my Hexagons?  Well this is it.

Don't give me all of the credit.  I had a little help in the form of inspiration from Amanda Murphy's Modern Holiday.  She has four different and equally striking stocking ideas in her book.  But I saw the hexagons and just new I had to make it for my nephew.  I didn't follow Amanda's pattern, basically because I am lazy.  The pattern in the book called for enlarging the templet 300%.  My printer/copier doesn't enlarge.  And I just didn't feel like driving to the print store.  See?  Lazy.  

I simply made up my own by tracing a generic red and white felt stocking I had on hand.  I had to  modify the hexagons I had already sewn up by adding a row to the bottom and a couple to the side to accommodate the heel.

I embroidered my nephew's name by hand.  It finished up quickly, seriously it only took one Dr.'s Appointment to finish it up. I checked out TaDa! Creations for her quick embroidery tutorial and she just happened to have a stocking tutorial too!  Her embroidery is far superior to mine but her tutorials are awesome.  I even added the ruffle from her stocking tutorial!

I backed the stocking with Santa fabric.  In hindsight, red would have been a better choice, but for a 2 year-old I just couldn't resist Santa.

Now for the really fun part.....Filling it!


This is not good...

I had the sewing machine repair man out to set the timing on my Longarm.  Sadly he found other more complicated problems.  Now my machine sits and waits for a new cable.  Hopefully that will have me up and running soon.


A Bean Bag...Baby

The Little Boy Blue {Toddler Bean Bag} from Vanessa Goertzen of lellaboutique.com is on it's way to a special little one.  I finished it up towards the end of last week.  It is so cute.  I mean it!  SO CUTE! 

It has been tested and approved by all of my, not so, little ones.  If I could have only snapped a shot of my 16 y.o. trying to sit in it!  

The pattern went together so quick!  The worst part was those darn beans!  They get everywhere, and FAST.  Emma and I resorted to stabbing them with pins to try to keep those pesky little static cling beans from rolling everywhere.  We had all these little shish-kabobed beans stabbed into the carpet all over the sewing room.  It was quite funny.  Kinda had to be there.    The pattern calls for a separate interior bag to hold all of those little beans.  That way the exterior can be washed and rewashed.

Now I still have 1/2 a bag of beans left.  Guess I'll have to sew up another.  darn.


He loves me? He loves me, not?

It's official, He loves me!  Yep, it only took nearly 30 years but he has proven himself.  This weekend my husband bought me sewing/quilting supplies (and they are things I can actually use.) All by himself.

This summer my DH has caught the garage sale bug.  He spends several Saturday mornings a year driving around looking for "things,"  tools mostly, or occasionally yard equipment.  This Saturday I was the beneficiary of his garage sale finds.

Here is a little of what he brought me.

An Extra Jumbo cutting mat, mini quilting iron, pinking shears,

A tracing kit and THE BUTTONEER 2 (not to be confused with the original Buttoneer)

Not one but two pairs of "New" electric scissors.  Cuts everything, (says so right on the box)

S-P-A-C-E  T-A-P-E
I have no idea on this one.

And the entire contents of this cabinet.  Which includes but is not limited to pins, needles, hooks and eyes, zippers, a hot glue gun with glue sticks, a chisel, 5 measuring tapes and much, much more!  All this for $15.  Yep, he loves me.



Ah...Fall.  It is finally upon us.  The days are getting cooler, even down here in the south.  Today we are only going to reach a high of 80 degrees.  Seriously, with out the humidity 80 seems cool( in the shade. )  We have been enjoying the cool nights by keeping the windows wide open.  Even the kids have commented on how wonderfully they are sleeping.

With the cooler temperatures the garden is slowly dying.  I think I pulled off our last green pepper just yesterday.  Emma and Jack have been anxiously awaiting the fall of the leaves.  Nothing says fall like a big pile of crunchy brown, gold and orange leaves.

Jack and I have been busily baking up apple pies.  We have made 2 in the last 2 weeks.  Sadly I think we will have to make another this weekend. ;)  bummer.

With the arrival of fall canning the last of the seasons veggies and fruits seem to be on a lot of people's minds.  Pinterist.com is flurry of Mason Jar ideas and crafts.  This past week I too have been canning.  Although, I have not been canning veggies or fruits.  I have been canning quilting and sewing supplies, of course!

I posted a blog last week surrounding the numerous projects I have floating around my house.  Well we can cross one off the that list!  I finished my mason jar labels and let me tell you they are cute!  Just sayin'.  There was no real pattern involved.  I kinda winged it.  I took fabric for the front (expertly embroidered), batting and another strip of fabric for the back, sandwiched them together stitched around the edge, leaving an opening for turning along the short side.  Turned the sleeve inside out and top-stitched around the outside and installed a closure. YAHOO!  Give it up for  my new mason jar holders.

1.   for Velcro... (please hold your applause until the end.) hehe.

Closed with...
you guessed it Velcro.

2.   for Elastic...

and for the closure... yep. Elastic.
  Here I made small casings and sewed the ends into both sides of the sandwich.

3. for Rickrack..

A little bit of rickrack to spruce it up.  And for the closure.. 
You guessed it Ribbon. (had you for a minute, didn't I?)

(insert loud boisterous applause.)  Thank you. Thank you. You are too kind.  


a campaign based on facial hair and lights

This fall my middle child (and middle school child) decided to run for Class President.  The fact that he was unopposed didn't dampen his enthusiasm one bit.  After days and days of agonizing over what his campaign posters and speech should be about he decided on "The Mustache.'  I know I din't understand it either, but it made for some cute posters.  Thought I would share these.
I mustache for your vote..Jack Hoog 8th grade president

And this one ...
Obey the 'stache' vote Jack Hoog

When Jack decided to run for 8th grade President his father said,"the best way to get votes was to give away free stuff and to have flashing lights."  Since they are not allowed to give things away, he had to settle for flashing lights.   It's a bit hard to tell but around the perimeter of this poster we put lights.  (if you look closely you can see small black dots ...that's where the lights were threaded through the poster.)  Emma and I ran across poster lights at Jo-ann fabric and new we had to get them for Jack's campaign.  The funny thing is... It totally worked.  The day Jack hung the sign with lights he had one person after another come up and tell him they would vote for him!  Many had no idea what he was running for, which Jack found hilarious! Everyday Jack would go into school in the morning and turn on his poster. And everyday one more person would pat him on the back and assure him he had their vote.  Jack said it was a shame he was running unopposed it would have made for an interesting experiment. (obviously he was not running with the popularity ticket)

mustache gracias
Well, since Jack was unopposed he won.  Amazing I know. 

 Now if you will excuse me I really Mustache...:)