Pardon the Dust

It’s going to get pretty crazy around here for the next couple of weeks as I tinker with the ol’ blog.  I’m consolidating multiple blogs, so there’s lots of deleting and re-publishing and “What?!” going on…in short, lots of fun times…or not.

I’ll get it all sorted out, but please be patient while I’m remodeling.  I’m planning to start posting regularly next week, despite what the surrounding page elements decide to do…see you then!


2015 Crafting Goals

No, I can’t sit without pain, but I am mandated to laying flat on my back for a couple of days, and it turns out that I can type rather well whilst supine.  Also, bed rest is very conducive to pondering and planning.  What better situation is there for drawing up some crafty goals?  Exactly.

1. Oh, this hurts, but I have to do it:  STOP FEEDING THE STASH.

Seriously, I am amazed at how much fabric stash I have.  I’ve always been aware of the volume of my yarn stash, and I’ve been good in past years in curbing my yarn purchases; but with the move to Australia, I had to pack up my house, and now that we’re back I’m unpacking my house–and I don’t know which boxes were packed up right before we left, and which ones were just “stuff that’s been in boxes for a while.”  It’s ridiculous–I’ll open a new box and discover that it’s packed to the brim with fabric that I totally have not seen in over five years.

After this “surprise box of fabric” thing happened a few times, I realized that I needed to organize my fabric in a much better manner than random cardboard boxes, and now that it’s all pretty much visible (I’m still finding a box or two, and some random cuts shoved into weird places) I’m a little astounded as to the amount of fabric I own.  So, no more “because it’s pretty” or “because I really want it” fabric purchases in 2015.  (Sobbing.)

Exceptions:  Backings and bindings, and those random little cuts I might need to finish projects.  Thread.  Oh, and the stuff that’s already been reserved for purchase as they arrive on the market.  No more making reservations, though.
Ugh, to keep me honest, here’s what’s been reserved:
A. Fresh Cut Jelly Roll, February
B. Farm Girl Vintage book, April
C. Winter Wonderland book, May
D. Evergreen Jelly Roll, May
E. Cold Spell Batiks Charm Pack (2), June (These are for my oldest daughter, so they don’t really count as mine, but I’m being 100% transparent here.)
F. Jingle Layer Cake, June
G. Tinsel Fat Quarter Bundle, June

I have a serious Christmas fabric obsession.  There’s another ELEVEN collections due to come out this year that I really, really want to own.  I missed out on the Solstice collection this past year, and I resent that.  Deep breath, be strong…maybe I’ll just put a bunch of fabric on my Amazon wish list and hope big hopes come birthday time…it doesn’t count if someone else buys it for you, right? 😉

I made significant progress on this in 2014.  It is a long, slow project, but I am determined to finish it this year.  I was hoping for March, but I’ve had a hard time getting the twenty rows in each week that I was able to do in Australia.  I’m kind of tired of this project, so I’m going to shoot for twelve rows a week instead, which will still get it done by July, before the County Fair, where I think it has a serious shot at contending for “Best in Show.”

I’m insane.  I kept seeing all these sign-ups for Quilting Bees, and then finding that they were all filled-up, so I decided to ask Facebook friends if anyone was interested in forming our own Quilting Bee, and I am so excited to announce that there were SEVEN women who wanted to participate!  So this is going to be a very big thing for me this year.

About half of us are rather seasoned quilters, and the other half range from zero experience to just a little bit of experience.  Each month will be an increase in skill and/or difficulty in regards to the construction of the quilt blocks, and I’m hoping that by the end of the year we’ll have a rather proficient group of quilters who would like to sign-up for a Year Two.

In addition to the blocks I’ll make for sending to Bee members, I’m making a goal to make another set of the same blocks in some of my bountiful Christmas fabrics for myself.  I want Christmas quilts, and so I’m just going to jump in and make one.  It shouldn’t be too hard, just an extra block or two a month.  I’m super duper excited about this.
So this is really three quilts in one–the blocks for the other ladies, the blocks for my own Bee Quilt, and the blocks for my Christmas Bee Quilt.  My Bee Quilt will probably be complete by January of next year, and I hope to finish up my Christmas Bee Quilt before Christmas of this year.  I have a spreadsheet, and it all works on the spreadsheet…let’s hope reality is as kind as my spreadsheet.
This is the quilt that never ends.  I’ve sat down with my spreadsheet to figure out how I can keep this going, while still moving ahead on other things I want to work on, too.  I’ve given up on the idea of having this go along with the kids’ bedroom makeover, and now it’s just a quilt I’m making that will be pretty.  That being the case, with its new schedule it won’t be done until next year.  Who knows, maybe my motivation to finish this will come back and I’ll speed through it at some point, but for now, I’m content to take a “slow and steady” approach.
I’m planning on finishing this during this year.  Most of the hard work is done, and I’m shooting for a completion date of September.
After sorting all my fabric I realized that I had an obscene amount of some folksy snowman fabric, purchased for a well-meant “Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone on this side of the family had matching Christmas stockings?” project some eight or nine years ago that I just up and abandoned when I came to the conclusion that I honestly did not care enough to continue with my grand plan.
Seeing that all this snowman fabric was seriously clogging up my blue scrap bin, I decided that I should do something with it and get it out of my house.  Enter the Scrappy Snowman Pillows, which are only in need of their backing.  Of course, I didn’t have any pieces of the snowman fabric large enough to make the backings, so I’ve ordered some fabric (backings are an exception, remember?) and plan to finish these up in February.
A random aside:  I have found EVEN MORE of this snowman fabric.  There are cuts of this in almost every box that I open as I unpack.  I cannot escape it.  Perhaps a throw quilt is in order, yes?  Dear goodness, I am amazed at how much of this fabric that I don’t even care for is in my stash.  I do know a handful of people who really, really like snowmen, so it’s not that big a deal to find someone to make cute things for…but geez, snowman fabric EVERYWHERE.  I’m not a fan of the folksy look, so it’s got to go!  Plus, it’s not quilt shop quality fabric, as evidenced by that see-through white HST, so it just really needs to stop being at my house.  Most people in my family don’t care about seam allowance ghosts, so it works out for them.
My mother gave me a jelly roll of Modern Roses fabric for my birthday last year, and I started making a quilt with it, but then it was interrupted by the big move down under.  I’d like to finish this up in April.

I am seriously smitten with this quilt by Lori Holt over at Bee in My Bonnet.  I don’t have time for it, and it’s outside of my realm of usual projects, but I adore it and am eagerly awaiting its release in April.  I’m going to take another slow and steady approach to this, and aim to complete one block a week.  At that rate it won’t be finished until June 2016, but it just looks like so much fun, so I’m giving myself the gift of working on it.

It has a strawberry block, and a sheep block!  And there’s a ridiculously cute cherry block that makes a great quilt on its own!  It’s all so cute!  Exclamation points!!!

I’m going to attempt to make my Farm Girl quilt purely from scraps…we’ll see how that goes.  And upfront, I am designating this as a fun project–it will be OK to slack on this one if I’m crunched for time.

Because I have a lot of Christmas fabric, and I’m going to be receiving more as the year goes along.  Why not?  Another fun quilt that I plan to start working on in May, hopefully to-be-completed in November so we can enjoy it this year.  No stressing allowed on this one either.

I have something coming up next year that I need this for (more on that later!), and I will start working on it after I finish the Peacock Shawl this summer.

There are no plans to work on this, but I’m writing it down in case I find myself with some extra time.  It was an impulse project that I started last year with no real plan, so it’s suffering from the consequences of rash crafting.  As it is, it’s about 32″ square, which makes it somewhat unusable as anything in my house, so I need to add some borders or filler edges or something to make it serviceable.  I’m awaiting inspiration.

Another quilt that is not scheduled for work, but I have everything to make it and am listing it here just in case I find time for it.  I know exactly where it will go in my house at Christmas time; I just need time to make it.  (Note to self: Stop buying Christmas fabric and patterns!  You already have too many Christmas projects in the wings!)

And that’s where this list ends.  Of course, I have two other daughters who would really like quilts of their own, but I guess those can be goals for another year.  Maybe one of them will like my Quilting Bee quilt?  Or maybe I’ll just go ahead and have my Quilting Bee quilt made out of MY FAVORITE colors and love it and squeeze it forever?  My girls have hands of their own that could make quilts instead of playing video games, just sayin’…

And I keep seeing fabric that would be so cute for my nephew, and I keep smacking my hands away from buying it all.  Sigh.

So, in short, the crafting goals for 2015 are, in finishing order:

  1. Quilting Bee blocks (Monthly, ongoing)
  2. Scrappy Snowman Pillows (February)
  3. Modern Roses Friendship Braid Quilt (April)
  4. Peacock Feathers Shawl (July)
  5. Rocket Age Quilt (September)
  6. Winter Wonderland Quilt (November)
  7. Quilting Bee Christmas Quilt (December)
  8. My Quilting Bee Quilt (January 2016)
  9. White Shawl (February 2016)
  10. Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt (May 2016)
  11. Farm Girl Vintage Quilt (June 2016)
Now, let’s see how well I stick to this list.  I reserve the right to amend my goals if weddings and new babies pop up on the radar.  I’m such a sucker for weddings and babies.
AND, in order to keep me motivated, I’m going to post updates on my crafting goals at the end of each month.  Oh yes, these projects are going to happen.

Re-visiting My Crafting Goals for 2014

I laughed out loud when I read my crafting goals list that I wrote last year.  I was set to really do a lot of crafting in 2014, but then we got sideswiped by a last-minute (read: three months’ warning) MOVE to Australia.  I took along the bare minimum of projects, and really got ahead on those two things; which was good, because they are time-intensive little suckers.

However, I love to look at my lists and use the strike-through thing on words, so I’m going to go through last year’s list and see what happened:

2014-specific crafting commitments and dreams 
  1. Faberge Shawl for a sister’s wedding day:  I started this and got through the first section, but she never got back to me about some questions I had in regards to her original plans for it.  As far as I know, they didn’t get married either.  Communication is a little scarce with that stepbrother.
  2. “Star Spangled” quilt for my third daughter:  I am halfway done with this, which is precisely on-schedule.  It’s a beast; pieced entirely by hand.  It’s my goal to finish it in 2015.
  3. “Rocket Age” quilt for my son:  Two blocks done.  It got left behind in the States because it requires a sewing machine for the string blocks.  
  4. Peacock Stole for my granny, which I promised to her four years ago:  Over halfway done!  I’m hoping it will be done by the end of March this year.  This is the other beast…besides a couple of pairs of handknit socks, I only worked on this shawl and the Star Spangled Diamonds quilt for my daughter while we were in Australia.  Love them, but…yeah…looking forward to being done with them!
  5. 2 Christmas quilts:  Nothing.  I signed up for the Fat Quarter’s Shop Christmas Fabric Club, so I have a few fabric collections to choose from in the future.
  6. Baptism wall hanging for my 2nd daughter:  Nope, but I could make good on this still.  She didn’t want to get baptized in Australia, so her baptism will take place this spring.  We’ll see.
  7. Church crayon bags for all four of my children:  Nope
  8. Advika mittens for myself:  Nope
  9. Winter accessories for my first daughter:  Another nope
  10. Sample Tweedy Pumpkin hat for pattern re-market in the autumn:  Sigh, no.
  11. Sample Harmony Wave Cowl(s) for pattern re-market in late autumn:  Nuh-uh
  12. Woodland Winter Mittens, as many as possible:  Laughing hysterically.  NO.
  13. Socks for me VICTORY!  One (1) full pair, and half of two other pairs.
  14. Aprons:  I bought four new ones in Australia.
Almost Finished (less than a week’s worth of work):
  1. Matryoshka dress:  I just divided it up into my new scrap bins.  The child intended has grown out of it.
  2. Cowboy baby quiltStill needs its binding.  THAT’S ALL!  Geez.
  3. Pastel Flower baby quilt:  I started the quilting on the border at some point…about 40% of border quilted.
  4. Hexie bag:  Nope
  5. Patriotic ruffle skirt:  Into the scrap bins.
  6. Pink Vest:  I realized that wearing vests makes my son break out in a heat rash, so this was frogged.

Needed by a Specific Date:

  1. Matryoshka Dress–spring/summer, daughter will outgrow it otherwise.  She outgrew it.
  2. Storybook Hexagon baby quilt–a gift for a friend, due this spring.  I DID finish this, and it was beyond beautiful.
    Patriotic ruffle skirt–spring/summer, same daughter will outgrow it otherwise.  (She hates to wear pants.)  Outgrew it.
  3. Pink Vest–making slightly large for my son, but it’d be good if he could wear it this winter as well.  Frogged; vests give son heat rashes.
  4. Purple Fingerless Mitts–these need to get done, it’s been too long.  Best friend’s birthday’s in April, but otherwise they need to be done by October.  Not a stitch.
  5. Gray Rock Island Shawl–a wedding shawl with a weird back story, I’d like it to be done by October.  Knit a little of the edging.
  6. Faberge Wedding Shawl–wedding’s this summer, I’d like it done by June to avoid last-minute stress.  Never heard back from the bride about it.
  7. “Star Spangled” quilt–I’m re-doing the “Little Kids” bedroom this summer, so by August.  Ha ha!  By August.  I’m insane.  Got a lot of work done on it during the last half of the year.
  8. “Rocket Age” quilt–ditto.  Couldn’t take to Australia
  9. Peacock Stole–this could win ribbons at the County Fair, so by July if I’m interested in that.  Otherwise, it’d make a great birthday or Christmas present for my granny, whose birthday is also in December.  It’d have to be done by Thanksgiving for that.  More than halfway done, expect to be finished in March 2015
  10. 2 Christmas quilts–I know should give up on this idea, but I really want Christmas quilts.  Too bad.
  11. Baptism wall hanging–her baptism will be over Labor Day weekend, so preferably done by August.  Maybe this year?
  12. Church crayon bags–wonderful Easter basket gifts, yes?  Nope.
  13. Tweedy Pumpkin Hat–done by mid-August so I can do all necessary photography and re-marketing.  Nope.
  14. Harmony Wave Cowl(s)–ditto.  Ditto.
In Conclusion:
2014 wasn’t a quantity year for crafts, but I did finish that beautiful Storybook Hexagon Quilt and made significant progress on both the Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt and the Peacock Shawl, with a few little things done for a handful of other projects.

Scrapping Happy

My family and I just moved back stateside after a five month stay in Queensland, Australia.  All the boxes we packed up were stored in my craft room, which means I haven’t been able to get to my sewing machine until today, almost a month after getting back into our home.  With the task of unpacking, I’ve taken the opportunity to re-organize my craft room and make it a little more user-friendly, which included finally finding a permanent eye-pleasing way to store my fabric:

Oh, I like rainbow order.  The two big bins on the bottom of each cart hold a specific color each, with the pieces being larger than fat quarter-sized.  I’ve organized the bins into pink, red, orange/yellow, green, aqua/turquoise, blue, purple, multi-colored, gray/black, and brown/white.  The middle bins hold fat quarters in any combination of the two lower colors (i.e. orange, yellow and green in the second cart), and the upper bins hold scraps–the top holds anything 2.5 inches or thinner, and the second from the top holds anything larger than 2.5 inches and smaller than a fat quarter.  The carts used to hold construction paper for my kids, but I’m taking a sabbatical from homeschooling this year and decided to re-purpose the bins for my own personal use.

One bin won’t close easily:  the “larger than 2.5 inches” aqua/turquoise & blue bin.  This tells me that I need to start working from that bin, and it turns out that a large portion of that bin is a bunch of snowman prints from a epic failure of a project many years ago.

What a great place to start!  I decided to whip something up out of the snowman fabric to give away, partly because I know someone who decorates heavily with snowmen during the winter months, and also because just seeing the fabric reminds of my epic failure, which isn’t a whole lot of happy-making for me.  Take the failure and make it into something that blesses the life of another!

Since Sherri McConnell over at A Quilting Life inspired me to start working with my scraps with her “Scraps Monday” series, I decided to take a quick look through her book, Fresh Family Traditions, and came across her “Sugar Pine” pillow pattern, which I think will work smashingly for this fabric.

I’ve got the first bit of sewing done, and I’ll work on turning these HSTs into some QSTs in the upcoming week.

I did go ahead and turn one of the HSTs into a QST, just because I wanted to see how it would look.  They’re at the top of this next picture:

I think it’s going to turn out rather well.  I’m planning on making two pillows, because I’m a “pillow set” kind of gal, and I’m rather certain that the recipient is as well.  Or maybe I’ll end up liking them and being able to overlook the “epic failure” memories, and just keep them for myself.  We’ll see…

Linking up with:
Scraps Monday @ A Quilting Life
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Hearts
WIP Wednesday @ Freshly Pieced
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
WIPs on Wednesdays @ Esther’s Blog
Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Scrap Happy Saturday @ SoScrappy


I’ve spent a few minutes scrolling through my blog posts from the past year, and it honestly does not feel like those things happened.  I mean, two and a half weeks ago I flew home from Australia.  We lived in Australia for five months, but now we’re back in our home and it feels like it was a movie I watched…there’s no way something like that actually took place.  I never thought I’d live somewhere like that, and now I can say that I have.  It’s surreal.

2014 was…busy, challenging, and overwhelming.  After 2013’s back injury, I threw myself into 2014 with passion, only to feel like I couldn’t quite get ahead, ever.  Michael traveled a lot, and it was very difficult to homeschool, keep the house in order, or move ahead on anything while he was away.

I let the girls sign up for sports, which took up a lot of time.  It’s insane to shuttle the kids around for that stuff, but at year’s end I’m so glad we did it.  Penguin loved soccer and gymnastics and is eagerly awaiting getting back into both, and Bluebird went out for fastpitch, which I was really nervous about, given that she’s wary of new things and hadn’t shown any inclination towards the sport ever before, but she blossomed over the course of the season.  I was so proud of her.  I hope she plays again this year.

I helped throw a baby shower for my dear friend, Rachel, and it was a smashing success.  That was one of my favorite things of this past year.  I love to throw a party, I loved the reason we were celebrating, and it was just so much fun to do something so elegant.  I love my kids’ birthday parties, but grown-up stuff is just so much more appealing to a grown-up, you know?  That was a lot of fun.  I felt like I was able to expand into a lot of my potential with that event.  I always want to do nice things, but I’m limited most of the time, so it was nice to do an “all-out” thing that turned out so well.

I also made a work of art in 2014, the Storybook Hexagon Quilt.  I’m still fairly new to the quilting scene, so it was scary to give myself over to my heart’s desire to create something I was sure would be incredibly beyond my fledgling abilities, but that quilt turned out spectacularly.  I don’t think I mentioned it on the blog, but I made the quilt for Rachel’s baby girl, who arrived in June.

When I found out that Rachel was pregnant, I was overjoyed for her, but also knew I needed to respect her personal space and not be all like, “LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BAY-BEEEEEE!” all the time.  I was going to channel my enthusiasm into a simple little quilt that would allow me to flex my FMQ skills, but I happened to see those ridiculously cute fairy tale prints, and they just seemed so perfect for a child of Rachel’s because Rachel likes Japanese things and she practically has a Master’s in Literature…and that’s when the vision happened.

It was such a huge undertaking for me, but I had to do it.  HAD TO.  Any time I felt like making up an excuse to knock on her door and harass her, I’d spend some time with the Storybook Hexagon Quilt first.  (I think my actions helped preserve our friendship, because, oh boy, did I want to stalk her and her growing belly.  I was just so stinkin’ happy for her!)

Rachel was absolutely shocked when I gave her the quilt because I had led her to believe I was making it for one of my own girls.  While I was in Australia, she wrote me letters and included pictures of her growing baby girl, always laying atop the quilt.  Such a feel good project, even many months afterwards.

The girls and I were cast in our stake’s musical, which was very exciting.  But then we learned that we would be moving to Australia, and that our departure date was smack-dab in the middle of the musical’s run, so we had to resign.  (It later turned out that we left an entire month later than our original plans, but I’m so glad we weren’t in the musical during that time with all the preparations we had to make!)

And then it was all about Australia.  Oh, the packing.  The securing of services to keep our home functioning and our pets alive during our absence.  The stress of visas, passports, and plane tickets.  We did manage some time at Disneyland, which was a great day.

And then we did it–we moved to Australia.

And it was harder than I ever believed it could possibly be.  I mean, it’s a first-world country and they spoke English, how hard could it be?  It was beautiful, there were lots of neat things to see and experience, we had great neighbors and a great ward…but it was hard.  Things were just different, all the time, and I had to constantly remain conscious of everything so that I could remember all the different things and not make mistakes.  It was exhausting, despite the general awesomeness of the things we were able to see.

Which led to the decision to put the girls into school while we were there.  I was just maxed-out with everything, and had to make some cuts.  It was a great decision, and we enjoyed our time with their adorable little school.  I wish I could find a school like that here where we live in the States.

And then it’s all a blur.  The girls caught the bus at 6:45am and got home at 4:30pm.  I worked hard to keep our rental from getting dingy, ran errands with Monkeyboy, spent a ridiculous amount of time line-drying clothing, and did a lot of cooking because Australian take-out did not agree with us.

I managed to make some fair progress on two big projects, the Peacock Feathers Stole and the Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt, and knit up a pair of socks as well.

We had the missionaries over for Thanksgiving, and it did my heart good.  My goodness, it was a lot of work to make that meal, what with continually converting my American recipes into metric and Celsius, and trying to figure out substitutes for ingredients I could not find in Australia.  In the end, I figured it out, and we had a lovely meal with four very happy guys.  It was a great experience.

We visited the Australia Zoo.

We were able to observe a wild sea turtle lay her eggs.

And then it was time to go home.

Since we’ve been back, it’s been a whirlwind of cleaning, unpacking, Christmas, and throwing a New Year’s Day brunch.

A whole year in 1,136 words.  It seems like it should take more words than that, especially with the events that happened.

Regardless of what has happened over the course of a year, I think the most important question to ask myself at the end of it is, “Am I a better person now than I was at the beginning of the year?”  Because, really, that’s all that matters in the end.  Did I progress?  Did I do anything to make this world better?


I’m happier now.  Not because I can say that I lived in a foreign country, or because I’ve fed a kangaroo, or because I went to Disneyland.  I’m happier now because living in Australia opened my eyes to how unnecessarily busy I was with things that didn’t even make me happy, and it also made me see how much my homemaking matters in regards to my family’s happiness.  I’ve gone through experiences that will help me be kinder to others in difficult situations.  I’ve experienced what it feels like to really let myself go and do the best job I can do with something, and how great that feels afterwards, despite how much extra work it might have required.  I experienced the fun of working with a group and the end result actually turning out nicely.  I re-learned how much I love my home.  I re-learned how good my life is on a regular, ordinary day.

Big things happened in 2014.  2014 was busy.  2014 asked a lot of me–I had to sacrifice some things, and I had to learn to trust in my abilities a little more than I have for a very long time.  But each of those experiences ended positively, which makes me think that I’ve been hiding and protecting myself a little too much.  I’m looking forward to putting these realizations into play a little more in 2015.

Thank you for your kind words, whether you chose to send them through comments or emails.  I love hearing from each and every one of you, and it means a lot to me when you take time out of your busy lives to write a few words to me, whether you know me in real life or whether we’ve never had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face.  I wish you and your families a beautiful new year in 2015, and look forward to sharing more of my family and my experiences as the year unfolds.  Blessings to you all.