Tuesday, April 14, 2015

beginnings

When I saw this prompt my mind raced all over the place.  I love beginnings.  The first pages of a new book.  Beginning a new quilt or knitting project.  Those early stages of planning and prepping.  But often, I fall off and loose steam.  That is why my pile of unfinished projects never seems to dwindle.
But there is such energy and joy in beginnings.  Many years ago, my sewing journey began in mom's sewing closet.  I loved that space.  Fabric, scissors, pins, and patterns.  It drew me like a magnet.  Mom did a lot of sewing.  I especially loved the dresses she stitched for me.  Pink gingham, white buttons, pretty ribbon and rick rack trims.  So one day, I went into this sewing space and began to cut some lovely red velvet.  Of course mom had a plan for this fabric and it was not for me to cut.  I don't remember that she got angry although that might have happened.  What I do remember is that she took me to the fabric store and we picked out a simple pattern and red corduroy.  Then she sat me down and taught me how to sew.  That was my first garment.  The beginning of a journey that still brings me joy. 
When I visited mom this week, the activity director asked if I could help her put together mom's memory box.  This is a little framed box outside her room.  She suggested I choose a few things that would tell mom's story.  Dad and I went through some pictures but when I came home I knew that what I really wanted them to know is that this woman taught us to love books, to write thank you notes, to be patient and kind, and best of all, she taught me to sew.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

healthy choices

I love the set up part of new projects.  In fact, there are time when the set up takes up so much time that I run out of steam and the project never gets off the ground. 
So I hunted high and low for a half marathon training plan that would fit with my work schedule.  In the end, I had to create my own.  This gave me a chance to really look at meetings and events for the next two months and to schedule my long runs and cross training work so that I won't be stressed about fitting it all in.
This schedule is going to sit on my desk for the next 8 weeks, right next to a marker to check off each day's training.

And since I am returning to that work schedule next week, I spent a bit of time this afternoon looking at cookbooks, pulling recipes, making a shopping list, and filling out the meal planner for the next two weeks.  This has been my most successful planning adventure.  I think I started using this weekly planner last May and it has helped me keep on track.  On the menu next week:  Rosemeary Chicken Breasts (which will give us leftovers for a chicken salad one night), and baked salmon with veggies (leftovers will be salmon and aparagus tacos).   Do you meal plan?  It sure cuts down on the temptation to stop and pick up (not so healthy) dinner.
Now, off to chop some veggies, make hummus for snacks, and drink some water inspired by this creative gal.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Love your stash

After finishing my star quilt, I decided to see if there was another quilt top that could be finished without too much muss or fuss.  I pulled out not a top but a basted quilt.  Most of the blocks were constructed from a bundle of Lecien fabrics during a time when I really wanted to make a taupe quilt like the beautiful Japanese quilts in Quiltmania.  The construction was simple and I believe this was another retreat quilt.  I had planned to use a heavier embroidery thread to add texture and had begun that process.  Then it got lost in the stacks of unfinished projects in my closet.  There are 56 squares and I had quilted 6 of them.  Without much thinking, I pulled out the seam ripper and un-quilted those squares.  Then I pulled out the thread basting and replaced it with pin basting and before dinner, I started to machine quilt simple lines, offset from the squares.  I finished the quilting this morning and dug into my fabric boxes to find something for the binding.  It didn't take long to find a large enough piece of this subtle plaid.  I am certain I will get that binding sewn down and have another finished quilt to show and tell before I head back to work next week.
Digging around for projects and fabrics has me thinking.  I sometimes feels guilty about having so much fabric and so many unfinished projects.  I have tried very hard not to hang on to things that don't give me joy.  I have been reading a lot about simplifying and the idea that sticks with me is this:  When you look at your things (anything from clothing, to fabric, to dishes) ask yourself, does this bring me joy?  If the answer is yes, keep it.  No, it needs to go away.  Ask, if I didn't already down this, would I buy it again?  This is a good one because so often I don't want to get rid of something because I have attached a financial value to it.  But would I buy it again?  If the answer is no, it also needs to go.
I have spent some time lately decluttering my craft stuff (that is how I found the star quilt, complete with backing and binding!).  I want the things I keep to be the things I love.  Do you love your stash? 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Finish!

I finished stitching the binding this morning, tossed in the washing machine, and hung it out to dry.  A little fluffing up in the dryer and we can call this one done.  I don't know why I called it Christmas Stars.  The backing is a red and green floral and the background for the front has green but it doesn't really look like Christmas now that I am done.  I know that the fabrics were from a Moda collection - a bit more matchy matchy than my usual work.  I will need to go back into the archives and see when I began this quilt and then I can add a label.  What do you put on a label when you are not sure who will receive the finished quilt? 
 
Now, off to do some more decluttering and figure out what to finish next.  I have a knitting project that I am anxious to begin but since it is a knit along, I can't start until tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

tools of the trade - quilting

Some of my quilting tools - love my Clover chalk marker!
It is spring break and I want very much to begin a new project.  I have been reading about the lovely blocks Lori and Karen are making and I have the one of the books they are using.  And then there are the lovely stars being made each week on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts site.  This would be a great way to use some of my Civil war fabrics and I love making star blocks.
But I am resisting the temptation to begin a new project.  Instead, I have have pulled out my quilting tools and will mark and finish the machine quilting on the border of my Christmas Stars quilt.  It shouldn't take long.  I hope to get the binding on this afternoon.  That will keep me company for some evening TV viewing over the next few days.