Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stuff and Things

So life has been interesting lately. We spent Thanksgiving with our family in Michigan last week. Our trip there was alright, except we had snow from Washington, DC all the way through the mountains of Pennsylvania. We passed a car in a ditch and a jack-knifed semi truck on our side of the road which caused a traffic backup. We made it to Michigan shortly before midnight on Wednesday and looked in on my parents and then proceeded to the in-laws to sleep. The next morning, we headed out to my sister-in-law's for Thanksgiving Day, which was filled with amazing food and even better company. Friday we spent with my family, Saturday we went to my husband's cousin's wedding and spent some time with friends, and Sunday we drove back home. We made really good time until we hit a parking lot type traffic jam in the mountains of Pennsylvania due to an earlier accident and another one on I-270 in Maryland about an hour outside of Washington, DC because some idiot decided that the Sunday after Thanksgiving would be a great time to close down a whole lane on a two-lane highway.


On Cyber Monday, I looked for new computers online and was looking at various pre-built models, when my husband finally spilled that he had used his motorcycle fund to buy me a new computer. My brother-in-law had already ordered the parts and they would be arriving within the next several days. Everything but the monitor had arrived by Tuesday, so yesterday my hubby and I put the hardware together. He then spent most of today dealing with the software, installing all the drivers, and the games we play together (i.e. Guild Wars 2 and Civ 5), because... (his) priorities. When I got home, I also installed EQ7 and moved all of my files for it over from our external hard drive. Tested it out, and they all load perfectly. Because... (my) priorities. I did play a bit of Guild Wars 2 with him, to see how good the graphics and speed are (they are both phenomenal).


The last two days at work have been both great and horrible. Horrible because as a night owl, I usually get to work around 9:30 (which is the latest we're allowed to get to work in the morning). The last two days I had to get there by 8:30 because we've had an all-staff strategy meeting. Now, if you think that's not a big deal, getting up an hour earlier than usual sucks big time! People keep laughing at me about how much I'm going to hate having a little baby, who will wake me up at all hours, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Until then I want to sleep as long as possible in the mornings, thank you very much.

They have also been good, because I think the strategy meeting was quite productive and at times downright fun. I also got to see a lot of people from our partnership offices, that I've either never met in person, or whom I do know and haven't seen in a while. We also had our Christmas party today, which was fun as always, even though I couldn't drink this year. While I'm not above drinking a glass of wine or a hard cider occasionally (and slowly enough for my liver to process) even while pregnant, everyone just assumed that I wasn't drinking at all. Oh well, I wouldn't have had more than my usual one anyway. The noise also got to me and so I ended up leaving by 5.


Several of my coworkers are expecting right now, including one of my friends from Portland. So I'm making her a quilt. Her theme is ABCs and her color scheme is grey and white. So I decided on some sort of alphabet quilt with a grey background. I ended up going with Thomas Knauer's braille alphabet quilt, cut all the fabric, and put it up on the design wall. I've even sewn a few of the blocks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stash Bee Blocks

I finished up the second quadrant for the Stash Bee yesterday. I also made an extra component piece and will be sending the queen bee the rest of my cut background fabric.


I feel a little bad that I didn't finish the whole 24" block, but it was putting a massive crimp in my style and blocking me from doing anything else. So it had to go. Two more blocks left to make for November and then I will bid the Stash Bee a fond farewell. I will not be participating next year, because newborn (first one at that, so I expect some serious quilting downtime until I get the hang of things).

Also got some work done on my leader/ender project. Here are a few more blocks (I did not finish these yesterday, but I did work on the project).


Finally, I got the HSTs done for the DCMQG Charity Quilt and am sending those off today as well. I am hoping to get back to the Charming Kate Spain quilt soon, as it's just begging me to play, hanging in all its rainbow-y glory on the design walls. Here are the first two blocks which I finished over the last two weeks:


Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Current WIPs

So here's what I've been working on one weekend at a time.

My sister's baby quilt is finally basted. I had to run to Joann's the night before Halloween (huge mistake!) to get basting pins because I couldn't find mine. Or rather, that was the night I finally couldn't take not having some anymore and ran out to get them. I literally had a box in my hand two minutes after walking into the store and then stood in line for over half an hour to pay for my one box of pins. Since all of my sister's baby showers are now done, here it is in its full glory (minus elephant and birds):


Unfortunately, I have not yet found the motivation to start quilting it. So it's just sitting folded over the back of my sewing room chair. Oh yeah, my sister is expecting a boy that they are going to call Henry.

So in my effort to find something to keep myself busy while I wait for my quilting motivation to arrive, I pulled out all of my Kate Spain charm packs and took out all of the duplicate fabrics. I am using the following: 35 pieces of Honey Honey, 40 pieces of Daydream, 19 pieces of Serenade, 40 pieces of Cuzco, 38 pieces of Terrain, 36 pieces of Good Fortune. Because this did not add up to even close to 256 (I blame the Serenade), I also pulled out my charm pack of Sunnyside even though I'm already using a Layer Cake of that for another quilt, which garnered me an additional 40 charms, and then I filled out the remaining 8 pieces with some loose charms of Verna, of which I have a FQ Stack that I'll be making into a quilt someday. I sorted everything into colors and arranged them roughly in rainbow order (had some brown, pink, and grey to fit in).


I have sewn together the first two 4x4 block. Once I get all the blocks done, I am going to decide if I want to sash the blocks. I'm thinking of sashing them in 2.5" black strips to take the finished quilt from 72" square to about 82" square, which seems like a better size to me. But we'll see how I feel when I get the blocks done. I kind of like the way it looks without sashing.

Finally I've been working on my (late) October bee blocks for the Stash Bee. Here is the first quadrant complete:


Even though I've completed the first quadrant, it took forever. Something about my quarter inch seams is off, because the pieces are turning out too large, and each quadrant requires 20 pieces. I've cut all of the background pieces, but I'm not sure I can really convince myself to finish another three quadrants. Maybe I'll just finish one more (I've been making two blocks for each person and the finished block is 24" square, so I think two quadrants is plenty), and then send the queen bee the rest of the background pieces and whatever other odds and ends I've completed.

The November blocks are super simple 12" churn dash blocks, and I'm actually looking forward to those, but first I want to get this one out of the way.

Friday, October 10, 2014

It Worked!

So my hubby had an idea to get me motivated to make my September bee blocks and it totally worked. He told me to start by sewing my sister's baby quilt, which is what I'd wanted to do, and then switch to the bee blocks. And it totally worked! Not only did I get further with my sister's baby quilt (all the blocks are now sewn into rows), but I also made two blocks for the September queen bee (a bit late, but not as bad as August).


I really enjoy how they turned out too and I got them in the mail the next day. Whee! The tutorial for the block can be found on the Stash Bee blog here.





Progress shot from the baby quilt with all of the navy or magenta removed. I really hope I can use my long weekend to finish this quilt. I'm starting to get a little worried.


Here is my other work in progress:


The seedling had its 20 week ultrasound this week, but wasn't cooperating. So we know neither the sex (even though we didn't want to know, the ultrasound tech seemed to think it was a big deal that she couldn't determine this) nor could the tech get a good picture of the heart. However, the heart appears to be beating just fine (we saw it beating and she measured the heart rate), she just couldn't get a clear shot.

I'm getting more and more excited about our trip to Michigan next weekend and the chance to see my sister and have a joint baby shower with her.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Back to Sewing - Yay!

I now have more energy (although it still deserts me occasionally) and I have rediscovered my quilting mojo! Something about deadlines brings out the overachieving procrastinator in me. I am currently working on a baby quilt for my little sister, Claudia (she's about six weeks further along than I am and all of a year and a half younger). We're having a joint baby shower in Michigan in three weeks, hosted by my brother's wife, Molly (have I mentioned how awesome all of my sisters are, related and in-law, I have another awesome sister on my husband's side, Rachel, and I'm about to get a fourth sister, Jess, once his younger brother marries). I also had to wait until last Friday to find out what Claudia's having, because she wanted either navy blue or magenta depending. I will not disclose what she's having and you'll have to wait to see the finished quilt until after she's ready to go public, but I can show you the pattern I'm working on and some of what I've done so far. :)

So here's my pattern, the elephant will have two birds on its back. And the stripes will either be magenta or navy. I'm using blue and green or magenta and yellow for the elephant and birds for some contrast. The pattern is based on a grey and white rug my sister bought for the nursery and also matches her grey and white crib sheets.

And here are all the grey pieces cut out right before I added the colored stripe pieces. I have now cut and sewn on all the white border pieces (each block is 8.5" unfinished) and have started joining the blocks into rows. The white makes things so much lighter and more playful. Just the grey by itself looked a bit somber for a baby quilt, so I'm glad that's working out.

I also managed to get started on the For Pinks Sakes quilt at my last DCMQG meeting. Finally!

I got so many great blocks, that I'm thinking a queen sized quilt is in my future. I have already managed to patch together the top right corner section and since that encompasses some of my favorite blocks, may end up building around that as a sort of center medallion instead of the layout I currently have on those design walls. There's more to the left of that as well. I tried to pull out at least one block per person, and will grab more as I need them. I've also trimmed and reassembled one or two "extra" blocks to make things fit, but for the most part I'm hoping to keep them intact. It was a great sewing project to work on during our September guild meeting, which was dedicated to making quilts for charities. I also made a wonky star block to contribute to a group quilt.

Yup, that's me in all my pregnant glory. By which I mean, you can't see jack all in this picture. :)
And last, but not least, I actually took pictures of my August Stash Bee blocks before sending them off. They were done well before the end of the month, but it took me halfway through September to actually send them off to the Queen Bee. Luckily most of the people in our group are not in a rush to get their quilts done.

Two heart blocks in eye catching shades of pink and purple with low volume backgrounds.

Hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather as much as me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Torture and Hope

(*Disclaimer: I am in no way equating this to what someone who has actually been tortured has gone through, but it's as close as I've ever come in my life thus far. Also, sorry this is long with no pictures.)

Let me start this out by saying that I am incredibly needle-phobic, to the point where I would rather deal with the pain of my dentist drilling a tooth with just the topical numbing gel than get the shot to numb half my mouth. I've largely gotten over getting vaccines, because it's in the arm (i.e. not terribly sensitive) and because I'm at an age where I only need the occasional booster, not to mention just how small the needles are. I also get incredibly nauseous when people touch my wrists and the crook of my elbows.

Put these together, and you may understand my complete and utter aversion to getting blood drawn. Add to that an aversion to seeing my own blood (although I have absolutely no problem patching up someone else, provided the cut isn't near their wrist), my propensity to faint when getting a blood draw after fasting, my tiny, hard to find veins, and sluggish blood, and you may start to understand why I considered the three hour glucose tolerance test a torture session.

My OBGYN told me I needed an early glucose test (at 15 weeks, because I'm overweight) and once the results were in, I was told I was right on the cusp of too high (130) and that I would need to take this three hour glucose tolerance test at a lab to make sure I do not have gestational diabetes (GD). When I asked what the symptoms were, because I felt just fine, I was told most women don't have any symptoms. After asking what exactly was involved, I concluded that it was going to be a torture session and asked if it was possible to skip the test. I was then told that if I did skip it, they would assume I had GD and treat me accordingly, which would involve daily finger pricks. I was unhappy about it, but scheduled the appointment online for a Saturday so I could save some sick leave at work. Since they had a 10:30 appointment, which meant getting to sleep in at least a little, I took it.

In the three days leading up to the appointment, I was supposed to eat a balanced diet and then fast for eight hours prior to the procedure, which meant no food or drinks including water. I was as mentally prepared as I could be, only to be told up arrival that their online scheduling system is screwed up and they can't do a 3 hour test at 10:30 on a Saturday, because they close at noon. No where on the website was there a warning or even their opening times. My husband and I were pissed, but I rescheduled the appointment for yesterday morning at 8:15am (that was the latest appointment slot they still had left).

So again, I do my best to eat a balanced diet the three days before the appointment, and then start my fast at midnight. We get there right on time at 8:15am only to be told that my doctor's office ordered a 1-hour glucose test, instead of the 3-hour one, as well as a panel of other tests that I never discussed with them. I immediately called my doctor's office and they said they would send a fax to the lab to change the order to the 3-hour test. Two and a half hours later, after several calls to my doctor's office, we finally figured out that they'd sent an electronic fax and the lab was waiting for a regular fax. They found the fax in their computer system and finally brought me back for the fasting blood draw (to determine my blood sugar baseline). The lady who drew my blood for that one was really competent, she didn't feel around for a vein for long, and was able to actually find the one viable vein in the crook of my elbow. But it still took a while for the one vial to fill up.

Then they made me swallow down the sugar crap on an empty stomach. My stomach was not happy, but I managed to keep it down. My hubby and I played a game of Cribbage while we waited and read our books. I could now also drink some water, which I did in small sips. The second blood draw was a nightmare. Not only couldn't the second nurse find a vein on my left hand, which I wanted to try first, she then kind of lifted up the needle while it was inside the back of my hand to try and get more blood to flow into the vial. That hurt a lot and didn't seem to make the blood flow any faster. She finally gave up, with only a partial vial full, that she wasn't even sure would be enough to test. Then, instead of letting me get back to the waiting room for another hour, she proceeds to feel around in my elbow for a vein to use for the next blood draw. This was completely unnecessary and only served to make me so nauseous that I had to excuse myself as soon as I got back to the waiting room to throw up. My hubby found me as I was trying to clean myself up and told me that they had to cancel the rest of the test. I had a good cry on his shoulder and then he drove me back home, fed me pizza, and let me nap. The only good thing about the whole thing was that the lab got the number of my doctor's office to tell them I would not be able to successfully complete the test in the future due to my lack of viable veins and my inability to keep down the sugar water.

Later that same day, hubby and I drove out to Annapolis to tour a midwifery center that had come highly recommended by a coworker. I couldn't drive because my right hand hurt like crazy every time I moved it the slightest bit and was tender to the touch from my wrist to halfway to my fingers. We got there, initially had trouble finding the place, because it's in the center of a large hospital complex, and then were told that the tour and interview was scheduled for the 15th. Someone had made a scheduling error on their part, because I had two separate emails that said that my tour and interview would be on the 9th and my first appointment was to be on the 15th. So they ended up giving us the tour and doing the interview anyway. The midwife who showed us around was incredibly nice and immediately put me at my ease. She showed us the delivery rooms and attached bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs. The only medical apparatus to be seen was a portable station that the NICU at the hospital insists they have on hand for emergencies. She also sat down and patiently answered our questions. One thing that made me even more furious about the 3-hour glucose test, was that when I told her about it, she not only questioned why they would even make me take an early 1-hour test since I have no history of diabetes in my family, but that their "too high" is 149 and my 130 was well within what they consider a normal range.

She told me about their policy of viewing birth as a natural process instead of a disease that needs to be cured, the fact that they have privileges at the attached hospital so the midwives will still be able to deliver the child even if there are complications or I change my mind about getting an epidural, and several other points that really appealed to me. It put me at ease with the idea of the delivery and gave me some hope that I might actually get through this. I was more than happy to fire my other doctors and transfer the rest of my pre-natal care to the center.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Big Announcement

So I have a big announcement and explains why I've been largely absent from both blogging and even sewing the last few weeks/months.


Meet the seedling. My due date is February 24. I'm now 14 weeks along and officially in my second trimester and really hoping that I get some energy and motivation back soonest. I have a baby quilt to make for my sister who is due at the beginning of January, as well as one for myself. I already know what I'm going to do for the seedling's baby quilt, so that's one large hurdle out of the way.

I am planning on a small version of the "Project of Doom" bookshelf quilt from Fandom in Stitches. But using some of their other patterns to fill in the little knick knacks on the bookshelf, not just Harry Potter ones. I think I'm going to keep either Hedwig or the Golden Snitch and replace everything else with one item from LotR, one from Beauty and the Beast, etc. Then I plan to embroider the spines of the books with Children's and Young Adult book titles. Pretty much anything I plan to read to my kid(s) while they're too young to read themselves (we're planning on eventually having two).

I apologize that I still have not picked any winners for the For Pinks Sakes give-away. I promise I haven't forgotten, but it's been all I can do to get home and eat something the last couple of weeks, much less try and figure out how many entries each person should get.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

For Pinks Sakes Give Away

Thanks for stopping by for the Give Away of my For Pinks Sakes Blog Hop. I hosted the blog hop to raise funds for my mother-in-law's medical expenses. My mother-in-law is a wonderful woman, who has stayed upbeat and positive throughout her battle, but the medical bills from several surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments have left her and her husband with a huge amount of medical bills and have put a major damper on her spirits and her joy at being cancer free after two years. It would be amazing, if you'd consider contributing towards those medical bills. There is a link here or on the right side of my blog.

The amazing ladies who graciously agreed to participate in this blog hop all made a pink block and sent it to me to make into a quilt to donate to the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids, MI where my mother-in-law has had all of her cancer treatments. You are still welcome to join in and make one too. Instructions can be found here.

Now to the give-away. I found some great sponsors: Pink Chalk Fabrics, the Fat Quarter Shop, and Pink Castle Fabrics.


The Fat Quarter Shop is contributing a $75 gift certificate, which I will draw for first to give everyone an equal chance at it.
In addition to the gift certificate, they are also contributing a bundle of Project Pink (how perfect is that?!)
 
Project Pink Fat Quarter Bundle Rosemarie Lavin for Windham Fabrics
 
*****
 
 
Pink Chalk Fabrics is contributing a color stack of Rosey Cheeks (apologies for the shadow on the picture, I took it real quick just before posting this).
 
 
And a color stack of Vibrant Rose.
 
 
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*****
 
The give-away is now closed. I will be doing the drawing by writing everyone's names on pieces of papers because there's just too many comments for me to create otherwise. The gift certificate and the color stacks are open to all participants, the other two bundles are open only to participants from the US.
 
Please make sure to include the following information in EACH comment: 1) if you're an international participant and 2) your email address. If I can't reach you within a week after the give-away closes I'll choose another winner.
 
Now for how you can enter to win one of these amazing items:
 
1) You get two entries if you hosted the blog hop. I will post these for you.
 
2) You get one entry per pink block I receive by August 16, 2014. I will post these for you if you hosted the blog hop, and will get a list together of everyone else I've received blocks from so you can double-check and add a comment and leave your email address, because I don't have that for most of you.
 
3) You get one entry per $5 you donate towards my mother-in-law's medical expenses (link above and to the right). I will post these for you.
 
4) You get one entry per time you reposted the link to the GoFundMe page. Please write a separate comment for each one, with a link to the blog post, Facebook post, etc. where you reposted it.
 
List of Blocks Received:
(If you do not see your name and sent a block a while back, please email me. If your name is in italics, I will post the comment for you.)
 
Nola Larson (Kaysville, UT) - 1 block
M. Kennisan (Katy, TX) - 3 blocks
Heather Tompkins (Alexandria, VA) - 6 blocks (blog hop host)
Parsons (Bail Verte, NL) - 3 blocks
Shelley Michel (Rogersville, AL) - 1 block
K Yoakum (Winston Salem, NC) - 5 blocks
K.S. Roy (W. Arichat, Canada) - 2 blocks + $5 to help with costs
Terri Johnson (Orangevale, CA) - 2 blocks
Sandy Whitelaw (Fergus, ON, Canada) - 6 blocks
Kristyn McCoy (Ilderton, ON, Canada) - 1 block (blog hop host) (I'm very sad to say that I cut into your block trying to get the envelope open) :(
Debbie Yff (Athens, AL) - 1 block
Lyanna Anderson (Dover, DE) - 1 block (blog hop host)
Jenny Green (Pittsburgh, PA) - 11 block (will post, have email address)
Erin Davis (Evanston, IL) - 14 blocks (blog hop host)
Wanda Dotson (Glen Allen, VA) - 1 block
Cathleen Mauro (Falling Waters, WV) - 1 block
Underwood (Yellow Springs, OH) - 1 block
Allison Coe (Melrose, MA) - 3 blocks (will post, have email address)
J. Silcock (Wattle Downs, Auckland, New Zealand) - 1 block (will post, have email address)
Karen Burton (Plymouth, MI) - 1 block
Christy Hall (Bakersfield, CA) - 1 block (will post, have email address)
Jessie Aller (Mount Airy, MD) - 1 block (blog hop host)
Melinda Newton (MD) - 1 block (blog hop host)
Kimberly Francesca (Nunda, NY) - 5 blocks + 6 extra pieces of fabric + offer to supply binding (will post, have email address)
Melanie Vagnini (Medfield, MA) - 7 blocks + 9 extra pieces of fabric (will post, have email address)
Amy Sheib (MV, MD) - 1 block (blog hop host)
Carla Voohees (Silver Spring, MD) - 1 block (blog hop host)
Lynne Atha-Mackey (DCMQG) - 2 blocks (will post, have email address)
Sarah - 3 blocks (blog hop host)
Margaret (Leeds, UK) - 1 block (have email address)
Lisa England (Ashland, KY) - 5 blocks (will post, have email address)
Jessica Skultety (Phillipsburg, NJ) - 1 block (blog hop host)
Debra Henkel (Springfield, VA) - 1 block
Kathy Gordon (Blacklist, OH) - 1 block (blog hop host)




Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stash Bee Blocks - March through June

Wow, I've pretty much only posted my blog hop the last few months. Between finishing that big commission quilt, a baby quilt for a coworker, and side-effects from some news that I'm not quite ready to share with the general public, I really have not been doing much if any sewing recently. Hopefully I can get my mojo back. In the meantime, I have been making blocks for Hive 8 of the Stash Bee every month (with more or less success in getting them done in time).

March Blocks for Leonie:


She asked for scrappy 9-patches in prints with economy blocks in solids arranged in this formation. I ended up cutting the corner triangle quite a bit bigger than the instructions called for, because I hate working with bias edges. But the larger amount of fabric meant that I could trim down without fear of losing my points.

April Blocks for Melissa:


Melissa wanted scrappy trip along blocks. I hate sewing this block because of all the seam unpicking and such. However, I have to admit that the finished blocks look good as do the finished quilts. But they don't look good enough for me to ever attempt to make one myself.

May Blocks for Tami:


These 16-patches went together super easy and were fun enough that I might consider making a quilt like this myself some day. I did have to unpick a seam because I wasn't careful about my strip placement, but despite that I had a great time making these.

June Blocks for Daisy:






Daisy wanted butterfly blocks. I made three 6" paper-pieced economy blocks with fussy cut centers. I definitely think they turned out well, but this was deep into my quilting slump and these did not get done in time. I also really wanted to make something more creative, but just did not have the energy or mental capacity to come up with anything.

July blocks for Sarah are in the works. She wants I Spy blocks and I signed up for black and red. I've picked my fabrics, gotten her approval, and just need to fussy cut and put them together. Of course today is the last day of July, so these are going to be late as well, as I probably won't get to them until my sewing day with the DCMQG this Saturday.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

For Pinks Sakes - July 19


Thanks for stopping by for the For Pinks Sakes Blog Hop. I am hosting this blog hop to raise funds for my mother-in-law's medical expenses. My mother-in-law is a wonderful woman, who has stayed upbeat and positive throughout her battle, but the medical bills from several surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments have left her and her husband with a huge amount of medical bills and have put a major damper on her spirits and her joy at being cancer free after two years. It would be amazing, if you'd consider contributing towards those medical bills. There is a link here or on the right side of my blog.

The amazing ladies who have graciously agreed to participate in this blog hop will be making a pink block and sending it to me to make into a quilt to donate to the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids, MI where my mother-in-law has had all of her cancer treatments. You are welcome to join in and make one too. Instructions can be found here. Everyone who participates either by contributing to my mother-in-law's medical bills, makes a pink block, or shares the link to the donations page will be entered into a give-away that I will be hosting on August 2nd.

Here is the list of participants, we've had one last minute addition, go visit our July 19 ladies to see what blocks they've made or if you haven't checked out what the other ladies have made, by all means, visit them too:

May 10
May 24
June 7
 
June 21
 
July 5
 
July 19