Saturday, January 25, 2014

Things I Did in 2013

Is everybody staying warm? we are, but just barely! it was 6 degrees when I got up this morning and that's the warmest its been here in a week. I can't remember such a cold winter! we are fortunate that we put in extra batting in our eaves and increased the size of our biasi furnace last year. we are not using much propane compared to everyone else around here but our wood pile is going down fast.



 Looking through my pictures, I was surprised at how much quilting and sewing that I accomplished last year! this one is my favorite. my son Andrew's good friend is a buyer for brooks brothers and saved me a whole bunch of shirt material samples that she had. I came across this pattern on the internet and wanted to try it. I still had a bunch of old jeans from my grandson Paxton's quilt and decided it was perfect for this project. it was fun to make. it was a quilt as you go process so I was able to make it as large as I wanted. I was tempted to make it fit the bed but it was getting way too heavy so I made it twin size. it looks really great on the bed and will be a great "drag around" quilt.

 I never showed you Kendall's birthday quilt! I made curtains from material she picked out for her room and with this quilt her room looks great! there is nora jean putting her kitty love into the quilt before I quilted it. she loves quilts and kendall.

this is an I spy quilt I made for my son Gregory's office. he is a school councilor and loves his job. this is the first quilt I have ever pieced by hand. once I got going on it, it was really a lot of fun. I took the patches with me to my sister's house in august and worked on them there and while waiting for my plane connections. I fussy cut some things that I thought his kids could relate to. there is an I spy patch of a man with dark hair and glasses and everyone picks it out as Mr Y-B! I've made so many
I Spy quilts (at least 30!) but I discovered when I made this with the English paper piecing method the edges you sew are all on the bias so you can fit the hexies wonderfully. I machine quilted it to give it strength and I put a cool kitty material on the back. all in all, a success!
this is a wall hanging I made for my niece's birthday. I hardly ever buy kits because I like to put my own color scheme into things. this ufo kit had to be quite old and a really good price for me to buy it. they are the colors that my niece, Cynthia, likes so I decided to make it for her. the directions were so confusing and terrible! if I bought this as a new quilter there's no way I could have made it. I finally had to just look at the colored picture on the front and use that as a guide because the directions were that bad! it was really cute when it was finished but I hope whoever was selling this kit has improved the directions on it!
this last quilt was a "mile a minute" quilt. I just had to try it! it was fun to make and so quick! I did the entire quilt in about 8 hours and that was just taking my time and enjoying the process. I thought it looked too plain so I machine quilted big flowers on it and it really dressed it up. I gave it to a good friend as a gift for her wedding. it's lap quilt size and should make a good "throw" quilt. she and her new husband were traveling by car across the country to their new home so I wanted something she could use right away and would be easy to pack. this is a great beginners quilt or if you're like me, some days you just want to sew!

well, its time to make the mister and myself some breakfast. oatmeal or eggs and toasts? mmmmmm big decisions when you're retired!!!! today I love the fact that winter is half over and we have survived it quite well thank you!

p.s. we caught a total of 8 squirrels last week and dropped them off 3 miles up the road in the national forest. we now have 2 more in our back yard. did they find their way back or are they new? I wanted to spray paint their little butts after we caught them and before we released them but the mister said NO! regardless, these two aren't climbing up our siding to get to our birdfeeders. the blue jays seem to have gone with the squirrels. so for now, things are peaceful up here in the wonderful white mountains of nh. our little birds and woodpeckers are enjoying the homemade suet and birdseed and we are enjoying watching them. if the feeder gets too low the little guys sit on our windowsill peeking into the kitchen. like their saying.....helloooo! we're out of food here!  have a great day and I will too. nancyb




Monday, January 13, 2014

Linen water and vodka!

January 13, 2014

Good morning everyone! have you ever made your own best press? the first time I tried it I LOVED IT! I got it as a gift about 10 years ago and quickly used it up. well, I went to buy some more and was stunned at how much it cost! I looked up the "recipe" for it and I thought I had ended up in the wrong site or that it was a joke. I found that all the recipes included vodka. its to preserve the linen water (or best press)! who da figured? so I've been making my own ever since. its not quite as good as Best Press but does the job and costs only pennies. I am an ironer and go through a lot of this stuff. you can use any type of vodka you want. the cheaper the better! I used the smirnoffs because it was a gift! as I was leaving to go to the liquor store, I mentioned to the mister that if I died before him, when "they" were cleaning out my sewing stuff and came across my vodka bottle, I'd appreciate him explaining why I had an opened bottle of vodka down in my studio. "mmmmmmmmm," he replied with a little smirk on his face, "sure I will". I'm suspecting he won't so let it be said here. I am not a closet vodka drinker (although some days I've thought about it). here's the recipe I use:
Nancy's Linen Water
1/4 cup vodka (any kind)
10-20 drops lavender oil or any fragrance you like
mix this together and then add 2 cups distilled water

I use the original Best Press bottle and I taped the recipe right on the bottle. as simple a recipe as it is, I still forget the amounts! this is a really inexpensive alternative to best press and your material smells really nice as you're ironing, but the scent doesn't overwhelm you or stay. try it and tell me how you like it.




this is one of the gifts I made for Christmas this year. The top pillow I made for my dil using the Cocheco Mill works collection I had on hand. I made a large pocket in the back of the pillows (like you see in photo #2) that holds a magazine, journal or book. I made the other two pillows (with a pocket in the back) to match the quilts I made my grandchildren for their birthdays. the mister and I put an envelope with cash in it for each, with a magazine that they would be interested in, some candy and a note. They are 12 & 14 now and seemed to like this gift. I was happy with how the pillows came out. in the middle picture I tucked in the fairy doll I made my great niece, Sammi. btw, that fairy book is really good. it gives good guidance on how you can make your own fairy. it also has a great section on making felt gnomes. i used some specialty yarn i had kicking around and glued it to her head for her hair. it came out really cute and Sammi loved it. I would recommend this book if you're interested in making fairies.

and finally........this is what i made for my etsy shoppe to sell. I never did get my shoppe up and running again but plan on it soon. these outfits are never wasted though. sadly, my granddaughter has outgrown her dolls but my great niece (who is 8)has  American girl dolls. I can always give her the leftover outfits . it is hard to sell my crafts up here because I no longer have a customer base. between work and my girlfriends in the seacoast and my boys in college, I never needed to advertise anything I was selling! one of my goals for 2014 is to become more proactive with my etsy shoppe and I thought I might go around to some of the specialty shops around here to see if they would let me put my wares in on consignment. I also need to be more aware of the background when I'm taking my pictures! this is obviously an unfinished wall down in my sewing studio. i'll have to retake these pictures for my etsy shoppe! i will put the info for my shoppe on this blog when I get it all set again.
meanwhile, the mister and I are catching squirrels in our have-a-heart traps and we just caught #2. we are taking them up the road and releasing them in the national forest. we were ignoring them because of the weather but yesterday we counted 8 in our back yard. they are eating the birdfood and word is getting out that its a great place to dine. we don't want them trying to get in the house and we do want to feed our winter birds. well, i'll write again very soon. I still haven't caught up on all I want to tell you! have a great day and I will too! nancyb                                                                                        

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Sewing Room part 2 and my I SPY baggies

January 6, 2014

Well I'm back as promised and will be trying to write on my blog regularly. I have had a lot going on for 2013 and want to share it with you. I've taken more pictures of my sewing studio. the mister is working on my ceilings. he has a little more wiring to do and then will put the tiles up. what little he has done looks so good! it really finishes the room.

the walls will eventually be painted and the ceiling done with added overhead lights. I haven't decided whether I will put a floor down. the cement floor is easy to sweep and with the radiant heat they are nice and toasty to walk on. I like that I can wheel my chairs around from machine to machine without effort. the middle picture shows a wonderful floor mat that the mister spent big bucks on for my birthday. I stand on that while I'm cutting and am quite comfortable. thank you mister!!!

well, this weekend I worked on some I spy things that my niece asked me to make for one of her best friends who had twins about a year ago. they came out really cute and I'm thinking of putting some in my etsy shoppe. my shop is currently closed but I will hopefully be reopening it soon.

the bottom picture is the back of them. I used fleece and lined them with felt. I sewed them twice on the seams and hopefully they are really sturdy for little hands. they are about 1 year old now so  i'll be curious as to how they'll like them. my niece wanted to pay me but I asked her to fill out a questionnaire that I can use for reference when I make more of these instead. I had all of the material because I had made my great niece (her daughter) one to play with in the car. she enjoyed it and still has it. this style was a lot easier and quicker to make. sammi's took me an entire day to make! this one only took me about 4 hours. now that I've made two, I think it will probably take a minimum of half that time. I'm anxious to see what they think of them. any opinions out there? they were fun to make!
well, I am hard at work finishing up UFO'S. it feels great to get them done! i'll put in more pictures the next time I write. they weather has been REALLY awful. I cannot remember it ever being 20 below zero!!! we had to add some space heaters to our rooms to keep the temperature up. thank heavens it wasn't windy too! it poured an icy rain today and will be freezing tonight and tomorrow. it should be a slippery ride! its time to make supper so i'll sign off for now. i'll write very soon again. I need to share with you the Christmas gifts that I made. it was so nice to have the time to make things! today I love warm and toasty floors, the birds all over our feeders (made them their own yummy cake and their own suet) and how beautiful it is up here in the white mountains. .have a wonderful day and I will too.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Sewing Studio, Tractor Man and Happy New Year!


I cannot believe it is already 2014! it seems like yesterday that we hit the new century mark of 2000. wow! the mister and I have been very, very busy fixing up our house. the tax man said that it is about 85% done and I agree with him. we now have closets and two finished bedrooms. I have taken a bunch of pictures of my quilting studio and will show them here. for me, its the most important room in the house!

when I was in Kansas in august with my sister for two weeks the mister (as a surprise) painted the walls in the basement. before I left we went down to home depot and I picked out my paint. it looks pink here but is a lilac. now, I am NOT a purple girl, especially light purple! I had picked out a nice light teal from paint chips before I left for the store, but when I got there I totally forgot all about it and picked out this color. I still don't know what drove me to do it! the mister worked really hard in really hot weather to surprise me when I got home. when he proudly took me downstairs I was speechless. this was not the color I had ever even thought about having for any room! EVER! I hinted that maybe he could do a little repainting? but the look I got said no......I was stuck with my choice. well, I did thank the mister most sincerely for his hard work and sadly put up my original curtains until I could get some new material to make new curtains to match these awful walls. lo and didn't look bad! I added a few more of my decorations and well, it kind of tampered down the PURPLE and made it look soft and light. as each day passed I liked it more and more and so did the mister! my original curtains actually go great with the walls! as time has gone by and we are finishing more and more down stairs, we are actually liking the walls. yeah!

the upper picture is the wall to the right of my sewing machine and window and the bottom picture is what's to the left of my windows. the blocks on the design wall are from a class I took with Karen Combs 4 years ago! it was a really great class and I learned some new stuff! I want to finish this in 2014 because I really do love it! the dress form is one I made of my granddaughter so that I can make her things without trying them on her. I haven't tried it out yet but hope to be making her pj's this week and maybe a skirt.

this design wall is next to my cutting table (my quilting studio is 1/2 of our basement). this has all of my machine quilting samples up on it. I actually use this one a lot. every time I machine quilt I go to the wall first and check out my samples. I have taken 4 or 5 machine quilting classes and when I've made a sample I've written right on the cloth. it's helpful. I have signed up for several craftsy classes and plan to add to my board as I make the samples. I am really rusty with my machine quilting. I was doing so great with it but haven't done anything interesting or  innovative for a couple of years. I hope it will be like riding a horse???
 these are two of my bookcases. the one on the left has only quilt books and the one on the right has my reading books. I have donated about half of what I had in both reading and quilting books. I can use our library or my ipad to download books now and wanted to free up the space. I have two more book cases. one has instructional books and dvd's on it and the other has my quilt magazines. I have also downsized these by half.
and finally (this is not all of my room!) the plastic boxes you see are material that I cut up while I was taking care of my mother. between the 4 hours of driving and visiting her 3-4 hours every day, I had no energy to quilt, so I would come down to my studio and just cut material. it centered me and made me calm. I now have time to grab a box and start making scrappy quilts which are all I practically ever make anyway. i'll give you a tour of the rest of my space on the next blog. it is still a work in progress but really useable and workable right now! we have radiant heat floors in the basement as well as the main floor and the garage so we are toasty warm wherever we are! I will also add some pictures of our finished rooms on the main floor for you to see.                                                                                                                              
this is our latest purchase. it is a 1953 ford golden jubilee tractor. the guy up the street was selling it and since the mister is so mechanically handy we are sure he can keep it running. he is really excited about it and we both know it can be used on our fifty acres. I think I will start calling the mister TRACTOR MAN. what do you think? I think it fits him perfectly!

well, I will sign off for now but will try to blog in just a few days. I have so much to fill you in on! I am grateful for the new year and our health. nora jean is 12 now and got very sick around thanksgiving. what a scare. we found a really nice vet in the area and she took good care of nora. she is on the mend and acting more like herself. we are grateful for that. today I love my sewing studio, the mister, nora jean and our new tractor. have a great day and I will too! nancyb