Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tree Wall Hanging - Quilt

The Christmas elves has been VERY busy down in my sewing room.  A few days into December I decided that I wanted to tackle this wall hanging for my mom as a surprise Christmas present.  When I took my "start quilting" class back last October my very first project was a log cabin wall hanging.  Actually, now that I'm writing about it, I don't think I ever even blogged pictures of that. Anyways, way back when I did that I gave it to Mom and she's been hanging it on one of the walls in her house for the fall months.  She's been asking for a set of them for the seasons but I've had plenty of projects to keep me busy and truthfully I just couldn't find a patter or fabric that inspired me.  

That is until Amy of Diary of a Quilter posted this tutorial for the prefect tree wall hanging.  I'd been envisioning something like this for the last year or so but didn't have the quilt smarts to figure it out for myself so I was so excited when I read her post.  A quick trip to my local quilt shop and I came away with the perfect fabric and I was set....all I had to do was actually make the thing.  HA!  I started this quilt on December 7th and miraculously managed to finish it on December 23rd.  The turn around time on my quilting projects is usually a few months but the fact that this hanging is tiny helped a lot.  And, I was motivated by a deadline. 

Since I bought the fabric locally I don't have a good way of figuring out the designer/collection on it but most holiday prints are just around for the one season.  I usually order most of my fabric online but the short deadline on this project made a local purchase a must. 

This quilt is 25x33 and will fit perfectly on Mom's wall.  I decided to try straight-line quilting for the first time.  Small projects = a great time to try new things.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.   These lines are quilted 1/4 inch apart (the size of a standard quilting foot) and quilting that closely together makes for great texture.  It also takes a TON of time and thread.  I learned a few things along the way.  Mostly that if you quilt down on the first line, you need to quilt the next line from bottom to top.  If you don't you end up just pushing all the fabric and batting down making it off center.  I learned that in my quilt class but I didn't understand it in practice until I actually saw the results first hand. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Abby's Kitchen

Nearly a year and a half ago I stumbled on this solid oak TV stand and instantly saw the perfect kitchen for Abby (read: a giant project for Ryan).  Decidedly it needed some work to get this thing looking like a kitchen, but I had a vision and a carpenter for a husband so I was set.  The stand was listed for $100 and I talked the guy down to $35. 

A year and a half later (about about 4 days of work) Ryan morphed it into this awesome looking kitchen that I can stand looking at (the plastic ones just KILL me) and Abby adores.  I figured I'd get a few questions about it so I decided to do this quick post to detail it out.  You can find a million DIY posts on the web and tons of inspiration on Pinterest but I got most of my design ideas from this post from one of my favorite bloggers.  Ryan was pretty convinced we should paint both the fridge and the stove silver to match our REAL kitchen better but I'm personally glad we decided to go with all white.  It helps it all to blend in and be less of an eye sore. 

The door of the fridge though we painted with magnetic primer so it would hold a few cute magnets just like a real fridge.  The magnetic primer is cute and a good idea but a word of warning, it holds, but you need light magnets and it probably wouldn't hold a piece of paper under the magnet....so it's mostly for show. 

The oven knobs really turn and you can sort of see the light in the oven in the above picture.  We painted the inside of the over black and added a push light in the oven so it really works!!  The sink is made from a normal metal bowl and the faucet really works (well, it's not hooked up to water but the handles turn etc). 

I'm really happy with how this project turned out.  I can take exactly ZERO credit for it though.  All I did was provide the vision and point and Ryan did the rest....he's a real sweetheart!!  I think Abby will get a ton of use out of this in the years to come and I can't wait til all her little friends come over to help her cook! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas morning 2014

Somehow between the poor lighting and the fact that two year olds just don't sit still for long, most of my pictures from Christmas morning turned out a little blurry...but I did get these gems to share with you.  Don't mind the pants-less baby.  We're in the midst of potty training and sometimes less is more (especially where pants are concerned). 

This year I think we did Christmas perfectly.  In the past years we've done a LOT of driving to see friends and family but this year as Abby started to really understand Christmas and the whole Santa thing we decided that just like pants in potty training, less is more, and were able to convince both our families to come to our house for Christmas day. 

Christmas eve we spent in Wheaton with the McGrath side of Ryan's family.  His cousins from Alaska made the trip down and I'd never met them so we decided that was the place to be.  We had a ton of fun and since my family has always done our Christmas Eve open house in Freeport we've always missed the McGrath Christmas celebrations.  It was fun to spend some time with that side of the family, we don't see them enough.  The McGrath side has a whole gaggle of kids between the ages of 13 and 4 so there were plenty of kids to keep Abby entertained (it was just like having free babysitters!!).

We headed back home in time to get Abby to bed and greet Santa at the front door.  Abby was 100% prepared for Christmas morning and opening presents.  You see, I've realized that I've been creating a monster in the past few weeks.  I decided to do an advent thing for her and bought this Little People Nativity set (mine was actually from Target and slightly different). I wrapped up each of the little people and added a few little chocolate Santas to round out a total of 24 presents for Abby to open each day up until Christmas.  It took her just a few days to realize that she got one every day and she'd quickly ask for her present when we got home from the babysitters.  About 15 days into it I realized come December 26th we'd have sad little baby with no more presents to unwrap.  Gotta teach them early I suppose. 

Thankfully my present-a-day along with my Christmas Book-a-day advent projects Abby was a PRO at unwrapping gifts.  We woke up Christmas morning and did our own thing just the three of us at home.  All culminating with the big Santa present of this kitchen Ryan made her (blog post coming).  After that my parents and Ryan's along with Erin all come over and we did a fancy breakfast.  Abby snagged a quick nap and a present break while the adults opened our gifts and we finished off the afternoon watching Christmas movies, chatting and enjoying everyone's company in our PJ's. For dinner I made standing rib roast and yorkshire pudding only to be topped off with fresh apple pie (thanks Erin), mini pecan pies (thanks Ellyn) and Figgy pudding with whisky butter sauce (thanks Mom).

All in all I would say that Christmas was a complete success and I'm a little sad we've got 364 days until we get to do it all over again. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Seedlings (Quilt)

All of a sudden I've found myself LOVING the most traditional of quilt styles. Squares...lots and lots and lots of little bitty squares.  This is the one done, but beware, there are probably a few more coming your way.  

Don't you just LOVE the backing for this quilt?  I think it's one of my favorite backs yet.  I bought this fabric when we were in Canada last summer and I have no idea what it is called (sorry!).  While there I found the cutest little modern quilt store and I couldn't help but splurge on 4 yards of this knowing exactly where I was planning on using it.

The quilt is called "Seedlings" and is a total copy of one of my favorite quilt bloggers Rachel over at Stitched in Color.  I'm not even creative enough to come up with my own name for the quilt.  I suppose you could say that there wasn't a pattern per-say, so maybe I didn't copy?  Nope, I did, 100%.  I even bought Rachel's curated fabric bundle from  Intrepid Threads.  Sadly this bundle of the perfect greens is no longer available.  The rest of the fabric came from my stash.  You might even recognize the fabric from Abby's photo project.

This quilt is a Christmas present for my sister in law, Erin.  I knew I needed to move her to the top of my list when Ellyn mentioned Erin saying "I hope I don't have to wait until I have a baby to have Sadie make me a quilt".  Well, a combo of that comment and the fact that it was Erin's 30th birthday this year, meant that she was getting something extra special this year!  I actually started the quilt this past summer and finished it on Halloween weekend (hence the fall pictures).  Since it's a Christmas present though, I didn't want to do a final reveal until I'd gifted it in person.

It measures 66 x 58 and for the record, this is the perfect size for a couch quilt.  I was worried it would be a little small (I used EVERY bit of green fabric I had) but I think the size is perfect.  I may have taken a nap or two under it before I gifted it away.  Let's call it quality control.  HA!

A few first for me on this quilt.  I tried straight line quilting.  It went pretty well because my squares were 2.5' finished so I didn't need to mark up the quilt to make straight (ish) lines.  With only 2.5 inches to go between corners you could pretty much eyeball it for straight.  I was a little unhappy with the fabric pull/pucker that I noticed as I quilted though.  My guess is it had to do with the speed at which I quilted.  Since it was straight line, I used my pressure foot and feed dogs and it seemed like I really had problems when I went too fast.  Slow and steady is the motto with quilting...trust me!  At 3-4 months to finish a quilt, nothing happens quickly.  

The second "new" thing I tried was hand binding.   I'd mentioned back in my last quilt post that I was unhappy with my machine binding results and a good friend came to the rescue.  A friend of ours, Christine, also took up quilting this summer (see, I'm not the only 80 year old trapped in a 30 year old's body) and she came over one Saturday afternoon so we could swap techniques and talk quilting.  She showed me a great hand bind stitch that didn't take me 27 years to do and didn't kill my fingers so I tested it out on this quilt.  I really really like the results.  It took me about 8 hours to hand bind this baby.  Yep, 8 hours.  I know, crazy time right?  But, I figure this quilt took me about 100 hours total to finish so really, what's another 8 hours on top of that?

That little pink block of fabric at the bottom is the quilt label.  My placement didn't turn out quite like I expected but I made do with what I had.  Dang it!!  Next time I'll pay more attention while basting.  You guys, seriously, the more time I put into this hobby the better I get at it.  I learn things with each new quilt and I just love the process in general.  I've got these two weeks of Christmas and New Years off and you better believe I'm making some massive headway on some projects!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

1 Family x 12 (December)

I didn't end up doing a Christmas card/letter this year so here's a quick picture of us from Christmas Eve.  Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!  We're going to spend the day with family, eating too much food and laughing lots.

The McGraths

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mini Ms. Pearl (Quilt)

You probably remember that I started quilting because of this quilt I made for Abby last year.  Well, that quilt was a queen size, and I knew it would be way to big for her for quite some time.  I wanted to make something that she could grow into and that would last her a long time.

Though we use the big quilt nearly every day I knew I also wanted to make something smaller for her that she could have and carry around now.  So, when the pattern I chose for her quilt came with a scrap saver option I knew I was in luck.  A scrap saver pattern means that you use the pieces you'd normally toss and recreate something else with them. 

So, you'll recognize the fabrics from the front of her quilt as ones we used during her weekly photo project.  That's what makes this quilt so special!!  There's been lots of love and time put into this quilt.

The pattern itself was pretty simple.  Just HST (half square triangles) arranged into a chevron pattern.  The backing was the fun part on this one.  I used Dreamlandia from Hawthorn Threads.  I think part of why I like choosing backing is because you can pick big bold prints like this and you can really see the fabric since it's not cut into smaller pieces.

The binding is called Stripe in Black by Alice Kennedy and it will likely be showing up in many of my quilts to come.  I am totally copying off one of my favorite quilting bloggers Rita at Red Pepper Quilts with this binding.  She uses it all the time and I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I ordered 4 yards of it a few months back to stock pile for future quilts.  I've found that my local quilt store doesn't stock much in the way of modern quilting fabrics so I do lots of online ordering to get the bright, happy, wild you see me using.

The quilt measures 36x40 and is the PERFECT size for Abby.  I actually modeled the size after a blanket she already loves.  This size is fast to quilt and great for little ones to drag around.  Look for more quilts in this size coming from me!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

First Snow 2014

Ekk!!  I totally forgot I had these pictures to post. They are from a few weekends ago when we got enough snow for Abby to get excited about it.

She remembers snow from last year but she was really too little to go outside and play in it and it was much too cold to take her outside other than getting around for errands and to get to work. 

This year though?  This year its a whole new ball game.  Abby was so excited to go out and play in the snow. We were a little caught off guard by it and didn't have proper snow pants/gloves etc for her.  A quick trip to target and probably too much money later we left with boots, snow pants, a sled and a little shovel all for Abby. 

This kid, she loves anything outside, especially sledding with Daddy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween Party 2014

If you've been reading the blog for awhile you know that my husband loves his Halloween parties....you can see all of our past parties herehere, and here.  Last year I vowed that I'd be better about getting pictures of all our friends who put time and energy into their costumes just to come hang with us.  Well, here's the round up from 2014.

If you can't tell, we were Mario, Princess and Toadstool from Mario cart.

Baby Stella was a cow with her two farmer parents it tow.

Greg and Meg, well, this one went over my head.  Greg is Billy Madison and Meg, well clearly she's a penguin but there's an obscure movie tie in there that I DID NOT get....here's a link, if you needed help like me.  Check out that creeper Mario in the background!

Sarah, well, I'll give you a second to guess.  Did you get it?  Clever.  Chicken Cord-on-Blue....get it??  Dan, he was this guy from Office Space.  TPS reports and all.  (In all fairness, I didn't get this one either).

Betsy was Wonder Woman, Pat showed up in this strange onsie that he just happened to have on hand....NOT for a Halloween costume (strange *smile) and Anthony was some flannel clad mountain man.

I'm sure I've missed a few costumes here and there but I really did much better than I did last year.  Everyone commented on how weird it is that the parties have changed from being all out drink fests with the cops coming by multiple times to babies running the show until bedtime and parents calling it a night long before the wee hours of the morning (hey, we made it til 1am this year).  In my opinion though, this party was the best kind.  One where were surrounded by our favorite friends all sitting around chatting and having a great time.  Thanks to everyone who came out and helped my husband realize that we are still in fact young at heart!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pumpkin Carving 2014

If you live in the Midwest you know that this Halloween the weather was less than ideal.  When it SNOWED on my way to work in the morning I had serious doubts about if we'd make it out Trick or Treating.

Luckily Abby is still just a little too young to know that's she's missing out so we decided to forgo Trick or Drinking (yes, an annual tradition coined by my parents and their friends when WE were kids...I'm sure you can figure out how happens all on your own), and carve pumpkins in the nice warm house.

Abby was NOT a fan of touching the pumpkin goo.  She was perfectly happy sitting close and watching me to do the messy work.  She was however excited when she finally saw the pumpkin all lit up.

The funniest part?  When we all commented about how carving pumpkins used the take FOR.EV.ER when we were kids.  Zach reminded us that it was probably because our parents were drinking the whole time.  HA!  It sounds like I'm bashing them, but I'm really idolizing them....they know how to have a good time!!!

Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

1 Family x 12 (November)

Just 2 days into November and we've already got our family photo for this month.  I'll have a full Halloween post coming your way later this week but for now, here's our family costume for this year.  In case you didn't get it, we're Mario, Princess and Toadstool from Mario Cart.  Thanks Ellyn for the great costumes once again!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin Patch 2014

I thought I was pretty smart this year when I suggested we go to the pumpkin patch on a Friday afternoon to avoid the huge crowds.  Well, I was right, we had the place pretty much to ourselves....the only issue was, it was freezing cold!!

Goeberts is just minutes from our house so going on the off times really is a good idea.  Especially for Abby.  She tends to be timid when it comes to new things and loud places.  There were tons of activites and areas for kids but her two favorite (by far) were this giant corn box and the pumpkin eating dinosaur (below).

We've been hearing about this dino for weeks now.  See that little red shed to the far right hand side.  Someone must control the dinosaur from in there.  Every hour this guy wakes up and starts talking and snorting smoke out his nose.  He moves up and down and side to side and will duck down to pick up one of the pumpkins laying on the ground only to smooosh it between those big white teeth of his.  Abby loved it!!!

Who am I kidding...so did Ryan.  Just look at those smiles!

The other huge hit was this giant box of corn.  Believe me when I tell you that I'm STILL finding corn kernels around the house.  Abby even had them stuck in her diaper and I found some in my Northface pocket just yesterday.  Ryan is convinced that we should build one of these instead of a sandbox.  He also thought we should make a bed out of it...yeah right!

They had TONS of animals at the pumpkin patch too.  Like two giant giraffes, a tiger, camels, lamas and all the other assorted petting zoo animals you'd normally expect.  We thought she'd have loved the animals more but the giant parrot screaming at the front door sort of scared her to start off with.  He was just a little too loud for her liking.

Oh, and I forgot...the other huge hit?  Apple cider donuts of course! You can't go to the pumpkin patch and miss out on hot cider donuts.  Abby loved them just as much as her Mommy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

1 Family x 12 (October)

I keep forgetting to hit "post" on this one...so here's our family picture for October.  It's from our bike ride on the world's coldest camping trip.  Abby was more excited about "I see da cows Mommy" than anything else....but another family picture in the books.