Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Finishing Instructions

We made it to the end of the sew along! We’ve made it to the end of 2020! When I volunteered to take on this task at the beginning of the year, I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams how this would end up going this year. But I’m glad we at least had this little block of the month to keep us connected. Thanks for going on this journey with me, and thanks for the little texts and Facebook messages with pictures of your blocks! I love seeing them!

So here it is, the finishing instructions for this quilt:

I hope your quilts come together with ease and I look forward to seeing them in actual real life AT SOME POINT when all this craziness has passed us. Pat yourself on the back for finishing this up! Good job!

As always, if you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing! (And thank you!)

The 12 Week Year: Figuring out your Life Vision

I read The 12 Week Year during lockdown this year, and my life has dramatically changed as a result. I’ve read handfuls of goal-setting and time-management books over the years, and found much to like about them, but I cannot shut up about The 12 Week Year. Anyone who I can get to listen to me will hear about this book because, finally, I now know what I want out of life and how to create a plan to get it.

I’ve seen this book around for a few years, but the title, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, led me to believe it was more of a business-y/efficiency/time management manual, and I’m a mother of four–I have figured out how to eke as much as I can out of my days already, thankyouverymuch. Pass.

But then I saw a random review of it online and the reviewer said it helped them define what they wanted out of life and helped them figure out a plan to actually work on the things that would get them there. And that “helped them define what they wanted out of life” line…I wanted that. So I borrowed it via e-loan from my library (because quarantine!) and…it just spoke to me, especially chapters 3 (The Emotional Connection) and 13 (Establish Your Vision).

I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, and I know about “beginning with the end in mind” and prioritizing the important tasks and mission statements. I’ve also read Getting Things Done and written down my random “5 Years from Now” and “Someday” goals/ideas.

But never had I ever sat down and brainstormed about what I want out of life or what a great life would look like for me. Which is such a simple exercise that I feel like an absolute moron for not ever making the connection to do it on my own. What would a great life look like to me? If I could have everything I was interested in, and everything went right and I did have it, what would that look like?

I had plenty of ideas of what other people had told me a great life entailed; some things I thought were good and some things I would never be interested in in a million years, but I didn’t know what my personal core-of-my-heart desires were, and if you don’t know what you actually want out of life, it’s pretty stinking hard to make a plan to live your best life…because you have no idea what that is.

I just lent my copy of The 12 Week Year to a friend, promising her that it will totally help her figure out her life vision. Only problem is, as I was reading through it while walking over to her house, I realized that the book doesn’t actually spell out the whole “figure out your life vision” exercise…and that maybe I had actually put a lot more effort into that part because I wanted to desperately figure it out for once and for all, so I figured I’d write a post to explain my process before my friends think I’m talking crazy about how this book is going to help you figure out your life direction and then not being to figure out how I came to that conclusion.

So, here it is, my Thanksgiving gift to you:

How To Figure Out What YOU Want Out of Life

Materials Needed:
*A ruled notebook
*A writing utensil
*~3 hours of uninterrupted time
*Optional: A copy of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (not really needed for this exercise, but it will be absolutely amazing in helping you start working on the things you figure out with this exercise)

1: Get comfy in a place where you won’t be interrupted. Open your notebook and write “ASPIRATIONAL VISION (Long-Term)” across the top of the first page. Below that, write “The Life You Deeply Desire”.

Now, write down the following seven categories, with a few blank lines in between them for listing ideas:

Spiritual
Spouse (or Relationship or whatever works for you)
Family
Community
Physical
Personal
Business

These are the seven areas of “life balance” listed in the book. (Depending on which version you’re reading, they may have different names. I noticed that they were a little different between my e-loan from the library vs. my purchased hard copy.)

Take a few minutes to think about what a great life would look like in each of these categories in ten, twenty, fifty years. What would you like to be able to say those areas included in your life? What would you like them to look like?

Write down those thoughts next to the category they apply to. Don’t limit yourself here, it’s just brainstorming your pie-in-the-sky happy thoughts. No one is ever going to see this, so be free with your dreams.

2: On the next page, write:
THREE YEAR VISION
A: What needs to happen in the next three years to move towards long-term vision?
B: What would a GREAT personal and professional life look like, three years from now?

Now you’ll write an “area of life balance” category (spiritual, spouse, family, community, physical, personal, or business) and then under that heading write “A:” and then list everything you can think of that needs to happen in the next three years to move towards the long-term vision you wrote down on the first page of your notebook for that category. (You’ll be flipping back to that page A LOT throughout this exercise!)

When you finish listing all those things, start a new line with “B:” and write down what a GREAT life in that particular category would look like, three years from now.

For example, on my first page/ASPIRATIONAL VISION, under the category of “Physical,” I wrote:
Physical: Healthy weight, would love to be able to run, as pain-free as possible, no meds.

A couple of pages later, for the Physical category, I wrote:
A: Lose weight, keep doing physical therapy, strengthen full-body, build up walking plan to running plan, control eating
B: Wake up and work out hard without fear of injury, can run. Move fluidly, no pain. Eat healthy diet–lean meats, lots of produce. Don’t crave junk. Food is healthy and good–don’t feel deprived. Kids are healthy. Ankles don’t swell and bones in feet don’t ache. Back doesn’t ache, and I can move easily.

A special note for the “personal” category: Because there were so many, unrelated topics in my aspirational vision for my personal life (read: hobbies and interests), I had to organize that section differently when I came to it. Let’s say you list, among other things, the three ideas of “can speak other languages,” “can play musical instruments,” and “travel.” I organized this category like this:

6. PERSONAL
A. What needs to happen in the next three years?

I. Choose & learn languages
a. Spanish
b. Mandarin (or Cantonese?)

II. Musical Instruments
a. Piano: Keep practicing & progressing
b. Bagpipes: Find a teacher, rent a set, start learning
c. Other instruments?

III. Travel
a. Brainstorm/Research
b. Save $$$
c. Learn appropriate languages
d. Photography equipment/skills

B. What would a great life look like in this category, three years from now?

I. Languages
a. Can hold basic conversations in Spanish and Mandarin(?)
b. Can read easy books in target languages

II. Music
a. Piano: Can sight-play hymns
b. Bagpipes: Be a member of a bagpipe group and perform with them
c. Other: Violin? Play prelude @ church

III. Travel
a. Know of places I want to see/excited about specific areas/attractions
b. Savings for trips building up/have an amount that gets automatically deposited
c. Progressing in languages
d. Offered opportunities to travel because I’m good at what I do at work
e. Have the photography equipment to take good pictures, and I’ve practiced enough to do a really great job at it

(No, I don’t actually want to learn to play the bagpipes; I just thought it’d be a great way to show how to brainstorm about something out of your comfort/knowledge zone.)

And…that’s it. When you’re done with this exercise, you’ll definitely be prepared to follow the rest of the 12 Week Year plan and start moving forward wisely towards goals that actually mean something to you. The book tells you how to set it all up and track it, so there’s no point to me reiterating it here.

Writing down and figuring out your life vision is the keystone of this goal-setting system. I remember when I was in the middle of my first 12 Week cycle, and in the depths of despair over my (seemingly) sluggish progress towards my goals, and wondering if I should just give up or if any of it even mattered, and I happened to read through whatever chapter said that part of my planning/strategic time each week should include re-reading my life vision and checking and seeing if I was still emotionally connected with it.

So I did. And I cried. Because, YES, I wanted to be able to say that my life consisted of those things! It gave me the psychological boost to keep showing up and performing the actions I knew I needed to do to move towards those goals. I was even able to condense my vision down into two sentences after that, and I repeat those two sentences to myself all the time because they make me excited to keep doing the hard work that will eventually get me to those goals.

And the beauty of having written this all down in a notebook? You can use the remaining pages for figuring out what goals you’re going to work on in future 12 Week cycles, keep track of your tactics, and all that other good stuff. All my brainstormings, to-do-lists…in that one notebook. Easy peasy.

I hope this clears up any confusion anyone may have had about what I’ve been talking about!

(If there’s interest, I can also write a post about how I choose what my next goals are going to be, and how I plan my week so I can actually find time to work on my goals.)

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 9: Martha Washington Star

THE LAST BLOCK! WE MADE IT!

When I volunteered to do this Block of the Month, I don’t even think I’d heard of COVID-19, and we got a late start on it because of quarantine and not knowing what the heck was going on. But here we are, nearing the end of a very long year, and I’m so glad to have been able to offer this little spark of light to you throughout it. Hopefully your quilts are looking good, and I hope that the time when we can finally gather in-person to see each others’ blocks arrives sooner than later.

I left this block until to the end because I didn’t know how I was going to be able to “draw” it in the PDF. I gave up and just threw in some actual photos on the second page of the pattern. If the directions are a little unclear, this block has a lot of pattern explanations all over the internet…I did my best.

You can download the instructions for the Martha Washington Star block here:

Good job, everyone! Keep sewing and look for the bright side in these murky times!

Half Yard Jam Quilt

Fat Quarter Shop contacted me a while ago about sewing up one of their new patterns, the Half Yard Jam Quilt. Seeing that I’d like to redecorate my bedroom, and the quilt is queen-sized, I jumped at the opportunity.

It’s an easy pattern–simple seams and BIG blocks. I got it done really fast once I got through the headache of starching my fabrics.

The pattern uses eighteen half yard cuts and I decided to make mine out of two boxes of those beautiful Art Gallery Color Master collections that always get me dreaming whenever I scroll past them on Fat Quarter Shop’s website. I decided to use the Fresh Waters and Coraline collections.

I think this will be a GREAT pattern for wedding and gift quilts–fast, modern, and you can definitely showcase the personalities of recipients. And, obviously, it will work well for indulging one’s desire to redecorate without going overboard with an overly-complicated new quilt.

You can download the pattern here:  https://www.fatquartershop.com/half-yard-jam-free-pdf-quilt-pattern

And Fat Quarter Shop has a quilt kit available, that you can look at here:  https://www.fatquartershop.com/half-yard-jam-quilt-kit

And you can visit the Fat Quarter Shop’s blog to learn more about the quilt, too: https://blog.fatquartershop.com/shortcut-quilt-half-yard-jam

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for inviting me to join you on this new pattern’s release! I really love this quilt and can’t wait to finish redecorating so I can start using it!

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 8: Rail Fence Star

OK, let’s see if my blog is finally going to let me publish an actual post…it’s being weird this week, and coupled with how lousy I was feeling yesterday, I decided to just wait out the bug. A few hours late shouldn’t hurt anyone’s plans, I hope…

We are getting so close to the end, you all! How exciting!

You can download the pattern instructions here:

If you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing!

2020 Word of the Year

Good morning!  Happy New Year, and a very merry “kids went back to school today” day to you as well.  Hee hee!

Are you all sick of Word of the Year posts yet?  New Year’s resolutions?  I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year because it does seem to get rather monotonous with the theme of goal-setting, but you know what?  I just realized how cool it is that almost all of us write these posts–we are similar in that we are all striving to be better.  And if that doesn’t give you hope for humanity, I don’t know what will.  We all at least think about becoming better versions of ourselves at the beginning of a new year.  I love that.  Carry on, fellow humans, with all your dreaming and optimism.

My word for 2020 is BLOOM.

At first I thought I’d go with “blossom” or “shine,” but “blossom” only talks about the flower, and “shine” can very quickly morph into arrogance or presumptuousness.  “Bloom”, though–it encompasses blossoming and also brings to mind the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted,” which makes me think of the roots spreading through the soil and the stalk of the plant growing taller and straighter and sturdier; it’s a word that means multi-dimensional growth, rather than just focusing on the growth of one aspect of the whole.

So, BLOOM it is.

I’m encouraging myself to branch out in my social activities.  I’ll be showing up to local crafty guild meetings in my area and trying to find one or two that fit my preferences.  Friends AND crafty inspiration, yes please!  Joining my local guilds has been on my to-do list since the move the Washington, but getting the kids settled was my main objective when we first got here, and then 2019 had some sticky issues to work through, so I’m only just now getting to it, and that’s fine.  It’s going to be fun!

As far as growing taller and straighter and sturdier, I’m taking the time to re-establish healthier habits, both physically and emotionally, and consciously trying to push myself to learn more and try new techniques in my crafts.

And blossoming/shining…well, it’s hard to get flowers if you don’t plant some seeds.  I’m in the seed-planting phase right now, but I’ve already had a seed blossom in a short time–I applied to a brand ambassador for Blank Quilting Corporation, and they offered me a spot on their Social Sewing Team!  How cool is that?!  They’ll send me cuts of a soon-to-be-released fabric collection every other month, and I’ll make something and post it.

So there you go…you can’t harvest where you don’t plant a seed.  Lesson learned.  I’m eager to see what other sorts of opportunities start to grow from seeds I’m going to give myself permission to plant this year, and I’m optimistic that 2020 will be a year of great harvest.

I decided that I also needed two support words: Balance and Celebrate–the first to keep me from throwing all my eggs into the crafty basket at the expense of time with my family, and the second because I realized that I have no idea how to actually celebrate a good thing when it happens beyond saying, “Oh.  Yay.  That happened.”  Which feels incomplete and like I’m denying myself the full range of joy when it comes to personal achievements.  So, yay, another area in which to grow.

Isn’t it great that we can refocus and refine these lives of ours?  What a gift!

Do you have a word for the year?  Multiple words?  Or is it not your thing?

My New Plan for Battling UFOs and Scraps

I made no resolutions this year because I knew that, by mid-February or so, I’d be looking for justifications to abandon them.  Instead, I decided to stew on the things I would normally make resolutions about, and hope that feasible solutions would present themselves to me.  Lo and behold, whilst scrutinizing my bulging scrap bins and the big ol’ bin o’ UFOs a few days ago, a plan magically unfolded in my mind:

20170211_164545

How freakishly simple is that?!  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I always start out my year with the resolution to finish as many UFOs as possible, but then new patterns, yarns, and fabrics start popping onto my radar, and it’s just such a teeth-clenching battle to not chase after the new bright and shinies.  And that sums up my entire creative year.

Now, instead of white-knuckling it as much as possible, I’ll plan for finishing up a few UFOs each year, a few “new-to-me” projects, and a few scrap bin-based projects.  No guilt required.

AND…if it’s time for me to work on a UFO, and I pull out a UFO and decide to just donate it instead, IT COUNTS.  The goal is to whittle down the UFO pile and close those open loops, and that happens even if I donate a half-finished project to Goodwill.

I am super excited to give the plan a try!

What are your methods for finishing UFOs and managing scraps?

 

Winner of Art Gallery Fabrics Fat Quarter Bundle

Thank you all so much for your kind words and well wishes, each little comment cheered me greatly.

Without further delay, I’m excited to announce that our winner is Shannon W. who said that she’d love the Arizona Triangle Token Metallic in her bundle.

Thank you again for all your comments, and I hope you all were able to download the free Welded quilt pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop without problem.  I can’t wait to get the green light to go ahead with it once my foot heals up–looking forward to sharing that finish with you in the future!

Congratulations, Shannon W., I’ll be in touch with you so we can get your bundle out the door quickly!

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: FREE Welded Quilt Pattern and GIVEAWAY

agf-stitched-LOGOI was asked to participate in the latest Art Gallery Fabric & Fat Quarter Shop Stitch Along with Kimberly blog hop!

Check out this video explaining the FREE Welded quilt pattern:

The Fat Quarter Shop has also made up some kits for us to purchase, featuring that lovely Artisan fabric line by Pat Bravo:
Welded Quilt Kit
Backing Set for Welded Quilt

As part of participating in this blog event, I got to see the pattern before it was distributed, and I got to choose any Art Gallery fabrics that I wanted to use to make up the pattern…how cool is that?!?!  I waited eagerly for the precious fabric to arrive, did a little dance at my mailbox when it showed up, and dashed home to pre-wash it like all good little crafters do…

Stack of Art Gallery fabrics

And then I broke my foot.

Because I’m Cara, and that is what I do.

And, because I’m Cara, I really did experiment with the idea of pushing through a broken foot and sewing my quilt anyway…which lasted about the amount of time it took to move my fabric from my cutting table to my ironing board and I tripped about seventeen times.  As much as I love quilting, “death by tripping over iron cord” is really not the way I want to bow out of this world.

A sad email was then written to the Fat Quarter Shop.  *sniffle*

A very kind response was received.  *smile*  The folks at the Fat Quarter Shop are so very nice.

I am really bummed that I couldn’t make up a quilt to show you, because the Welded pattern is super cute, and I was really looking forward to its assembly.

But, even though I don’t have a quilt to show, I DO have a lovely, lovely giveaway to offer: a fat quarter bundle of your favorite Art Gallery fabrics!

Win a fat quarter bundle of your favorite Art Gallery fabrics over at That Crafty Cara!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me at least ONE (1) Art Gallery fabric that you would choose to have in your fat quarter bundle if you won!  Also make sure to include a way for me to contact you if you win.  (Not sure which Art Gallery fabric you’d like? Visit the Art Gallery Fabric website or Fat Quarter Shop’s Art Gallery section, drool a little bit, and then come back here to leave a comment.)

Giveaway is open to US and International commenters, and will close on Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm MDT.  I’ll post the winner here and on Instagram (@thatcraftycara) the next day.

A huge thank you to Art Gallery Fabrics and the Fat Quarter Shop for inviting me to be a part of this Welded quilt pattern release; it has been a lot of fun even without being able to fully participate!  I’m really looking forward to sewing up my own quilt once my foot has healed!

And be sure to stop by some of the other blogs featured on the Welded blog tour:

John of Quilt Dad
Kitty of Night Quilter
Dana of Old Red Barn and Co.
Michele-Renee of Quilt Matters
Corey of Little Miss Shabby
Christina of Sometimes Crafter
Sinta of Pink Pin Cushion
Jess of The Elven Garden
Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting
Svetlana of Sotak Handmade
Jemima of Tied with a Ribbon
Katarina Roccella
Caroline of Sew Caroline
Riane of Vessel Quilts
Megan of Quilt Story
Kaye of Miss Print
Natalia of Piece N Quilt

I can’t wait to see what everyone has made!

Click here to access your copy of the FREE Welded quilt pattern.

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!