Creating, Not Just Crafting

Last spring I wrote myself a reminder that would automatically pop up in my feed on December 26, which is about the time I start firming up plans for the next year.  It says, “Don’t plan sewing & inside projects starting in March–once it gets sunny, you hate being inside!”

I remember being swamped with quilting deadlines last year, and looking out my window at my blossoming yard and just being so forlorn about not being able to be out in the sunshine and dirt.  March and April are weird months here amongst the elevation of the Rockies and the super fun extra element of being in the desert–it’s still pretty stinking cold outside, but spring is hesitantly getting her foot in the door and then quickly pulling it back by throwing a spring snowstorm in the mix, repeat ad nauseum, and then May happens and it heats up FAST.  I’ve had plants just not grow because they were planted too late and couldn’t handle the heat, which is so weird because, hello, SUNSHINE!  It’s what makes plants grow!

With this year’s forced distancing from crafting–thanks to our family believing we were going to relocate to North Carolina until the last minute when that company rescinded their job offer, and already having packed up my crafting room because that’s an easy thing to pack first–the reminder to not schedule crafting starting in March was moot, but still appreciated.

I just spent today out in the garden, which has been in a state of preparation since mid-March, planting peas (might be too late for those, but we’ll see), carrots, onions, lettuce, sunflowers, and various herbs.  A neighbor walking by asked me if I felt like a Winter Quarters pioneer, planting crops with the expectation of leaving them behind for someone else.  And I really do–I don’t know if we’ll still be living here come July, which is when most of these things will be in height of their harvest, but it’s still creating something, and I really need that right now while I’m stuck in this limbo of not knowing where we’re going to be living next school year.  That feeling of doing something and making something is still needed, and I don’t need to create via my regular channels in order to satisfy it.

To be honest, it’s really nice to be out in the garden without any pressure to hurry up and get back inside to meet a sewing deadline!  I’ve been under sewing deadlines for the past three years now, and I’m appreciative of this, albeit unwelcome, restriction that has cut me off from regular time with my sewing machine because it’s good to get a breath of fresh air and be able to look around and contemplate if your life is heading in the direction you think it should be heading.  I’m learning that I probably need to cut back on the sewing commitments so I can more uniformly focus on the many facets of my life.

That sunshine feels good.

 

 

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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!

2014

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?

Yes.

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.

the big, long plane ride

Hello there. You’ll have to excuse my punctuation and other errors, because this post coming to you strictly from the voice recognition software of my phone. The pictures my Instagram account, and it looks this may be the only way that I can update the blog while we are Australia.it turns out that the internet connection we have here isn’t very good, in fact, it’s rather ancient.I’m not sure there’s much we will be able to do about it, so I’ll try my best to post updates, but…yeah.

so, yes, we are here! We left Utah on July 26 and flew to Los Angeles. We stayed a few days in Los Angeles, as witnessed by my blog post there, and on July 29th we flew out of Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. That flight was aboard an enormous plane, eating something like 800 people, and the flight lasted 14 hours. Almost all the flights had television screens built into the backs of the seats, so the kids had no trouble at all with the long flights.

our flight to Sydney left Los Angeles at 10 p.m. And they served dinner at midnight, which three of the kids were still awake for, and then they turn down the cabin lights and everyone on board went to sleep. I got 6 hours of horrible sleep, and everyone else seemed to do fairly well with their sleep. I woke up while we were flying over Christmas Island, but because it was the middle of the night, I didn’t see anything. I slept a bit while we flew over summer and Fiji, and then most of all of us were up and just watching movies on our little screens. The flying was easy. Like, the easiest part of it all.

while I had been excited about all the knitting I was going to accomplish on our big, long plane flight, I ended up knitting and sewing nothing at all. I was simply too exhausted. I guess with the swimming, the full day at Disneyland, I’m a general all-around poor sleep, I just didn’t have anything left over to concentrate. It felt like work to pay attention enough to understand a movie.

once we landed in Sydney, it was a mad rush to get to our connecting flight to Brisbane. We had two hours to make the switch, which included picking up our ten suitcases, taking it all through customs, checking the 10 suitcases into domestic flights, and then taking a bus to our departure gate on the other side of the airport. You know, while towing four crazy children. We made it to the gate about a minute before they started boarding the plane.

we then flew from Sydney to Brisbane, and then later took another flight from Brisbane to Bundaberg. the Bundaberg Airport is tiny. It’s just one conveyor belt for all the luggage, housed in the same room as the ticket counters. Michaels company’s office is at the airport, so our car was ready for us and a couple of people from his work walked across the street to greet us when we arrived. After the enormity of everywhere else we had been, it was so odd to be in such a small place. We loaded up our baggage, some in our people mover, which is what Australians call minivans, and the majority of it on a workmates flatbed pickup truck, and then we set off for our temporary home, driving on the left side of the road, which makes me think we’re going to die at any given moment.

and so we’re here. We will live at our current house for one more week, and then we will move into the house we will be staying in until our departure in December. The ocean is one block away, and we tried to walk down there at least once a day to enjoy the waves and the sand. The kids are loving it all! It is quite beautiful, the birds make very different cause here, the wind blows through the palm fronds, and the sunshine is warm and delightful.we’ve had only a few days here but already I love it quite a bit. Hopefully I can figure out a better way to update the blog, as this way has taken me far longer than I would like to admit. Until then, I am updating and posting to my Instagram account usually a couple times a day. Unless I can find another way to make this work better, that may be the route I choose to go with Laur while we are here. I hope your summers stateside are going well, and hopefully I can resolve this ancient internet issue quickly.

Making Blueberry Jam

OR “A Masochistic Way to Spend a Beautiful Summer Morning”

Homemade Blueberry Jam is one of my most favorite things in the world. I actually look forward to the summertime and to berries ripening throughout the land so I can replenish my blueberry jam hoards. Rabbit and I had fun this morning making jam together:

She’s my go-to girl whenever something needs “smashing” in this house, so it was only natural that she help me out with crushing the blueberries.

Now, to the uninitiated, I must warn that making jam can be rather painful because it spits like nothing else, which covers you with a smattering of burns. Cover any skin that you can, stir with a very long handled spoon and do not lean over your concoction while it cooks. (And shoo away any little ones from the kitchen!)

What things look like after you’re done boiling it all down:

Yep, it’s messy; you acquire a few burns and you’ll definitely spend the entire processing time cleaning up the kitchen.

But it’s worth it, because you end up with beautiful jars of gloriously tasty blueberry jam. It’s practically ambrosia.

And, in the words of my granny, who includes an extra step at the end of all her recipes: “Yummy”

Peach Butter


4-4.5 lbs peaches
4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  1. Wash and blanch peaches. Put peaches in cold water. Peel, pit and slice peaches. Combine peaches and 1/2 cup water in saucepot. Simmer until peaches are soft. Puree in food processor.
  2. Combine peach puree, sugar and spices in a large saucepot. Cook until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes (20 for Spanish Fork) in a boiling-water canner.

For a couple of years when I was a young girl, someone in my family made apple butter and gave us a couple jars. I absolutely fell in love with fruit butters then. This was my first time attempting to re-create some of the magic on my own and I’m very pleased with the results. This peach butter has great flavor and the spices make it absolutely wonderful.