Halloween costume

So, of course, I wanted to wear my same costume as last year, but I still wanted to amp it up a little.  So I made this belt yesterday.  I call it my princess gypsy dream fortune teller’s utility belt.  I wanted to add flowers hanging down in order to be a float.  Maybe next year.

It was really fun and easy to make.  I just started with the bottom two layers of a quilt in a strip, then laid layers of fabric down and quilted as I went.  I added the rosette and some embroidery stitches from my sewing machine with rayon variegated thread.

The other nice thing is that it is super warm.  Happy Halloween!

another small quilt top done

Here is the second small quilt top done. I think I  love this one even more.  I had the large center completed when I started.  It was left over from the Valentine quilt I made last April for Mary Beth.  I used improvisational piecing to put the rest of the blocks together.  I used almost no measuring.  Much of the cutting I did with just scissors and my eye.

I want to point out especially the upper corner.  This is a good way to solve the problem of your corners not meeting perfectly when you are piecing.  Cut them diagonally and sew a strip down the middle. 

Also, notice the small areas of checkerboard, those are my ender leader squares.  While I was piecing, I was doing ender leader with my little tray of two inch squares.  Of course, I was picking the ones that matched my thread and therefore, my quilt.  I realized I could use them in this quilt instead of their own thing.

By the way, if you want to learn more about the Miche bags, I have posted a new blog about the Prima bag at April Style Journal.

new quilt

I’ve had this idea for a small quilt for a while using the scraps from Mary Beth’s quilt and here it is. Since I had half the squares done already it came together really quickly.

Pant free fishing

So, first: I totally have permission to tell this story.  In fact, I was even encouraged.  About two weeks ago, Paul and I went fishing.  We were trying a new place very close to the Mississippi River.  We parked the car and started walking.  It was a surprisingly hot day for October.  I had my big tote and Paul’s fish cooler. Paul had his backpack, his fishing rod and a little pail with minnows.  We hadn’t ever fished at this place, but we had talked to a ranger the day before that said that there were some man-made ponds that they used to use to raise fish. Now they were naturalizing the ponds and stocking them with pan fish.  Even better, there were several men who told us they had caught northerns in the river.  So, to get to the ponds, we walked down this long hill.  When we got to the bottom the path forked, and we saw the ponds.  The problem with the first pond was that the banks had very steep inclines. The first one wasn’t so much a lake as a large square ditch.  It made me a little nervous he would fall in.  The water wasn’t clear and I had no idea how deep it was.  Paul tried to fish, but no luck.  Then we walked a little further and found a dock at the next pond.  This was kind of nice because it had a bench I could sit on. Again, he didn’t catch anything.    Finally, we decided we had enough trying with no luck and turned back to go to the car.  Now, keep in mind, we had walked a long way and he had gear in both hands.  It was laundry day and he was wearing his last clean pair of pants. They were a little large for him and they kept on falling down.  I mean really falling down around his ankles.  He would stop, put down all his gear and pull up his pants.   He started to get really frustrated with his pants.  I said, “Just take them off already.  It’s a hot day and there is no one around.”  He had boxer shorts underneath. I didn’t really believe he would because he is not really that kind of person.  He is very modest.  I mean, he wore long pants all summer long.  He even wore a hoodie for much of the summer.  But he stopped, looked around and took off his pants.  I mean sort of, they were already half way off.  Then, of course, being the kind of mother I am, I had to tease him, ” Now watch, a pretty girl is going to come.”  He said, “Mom, there is a girl walking this way right now.”  I looked back and there was a girl walking toward us.  She stopped and turned back then walked forward again, then back.  “She’s freaked out by your boxers, Paul,” I told him.  We were both laughing.

I was thinking that we would just walk back to the car, but as we walked back we saw an access to the river. Sure enough, there were the fishermen.  Paul said, “I have to try it here.”  There was a steep incline toward the river. I knew we weren’t going to be there very long so I said I would wait on the road for him.  He bounded down the hill in his boxers, fishing rod in one hand and little ice cream bucket with minnows in the other.  And wiped out.  Mud all over him, minnows everywhere.  I have to give him credit.  I would have just come back and said, well, that’s it.  My bait’s on the ground, I’m covered with mud, and I don’t have any pants on. Let’s call it a day.  But not Paul.  His determination was not diminished by challenges.  He got up picked up all of his minnows and put them back in the little bucket. He marched over the shore.  He went to each fisherman in turn per the fishermen’s protocol and asked them if they had caught anything yet. Then, he stood on the shore of mighty Mississippi and casted in his underwear.

Now, what do you think happened?  If this was a story with a moral, he would have caught a huge fish.  No, such luck. He caught no fish.  But I have to say I was proud of him.  He had such self-possession and confidence. And the girl who was acting so strangely? It turns out she was an artist, and was walking back and forth to find the best view.  Paul stopped on the way out (still in his underwear) to talk to her and see her painting.


My work is having a charity event so I sat down yesterday and made some earrings for them to sell.  It’s funny how long it takes to make something when you haven’t done it for a while.  I spent a lot of time putting them together, then taking them apart.  I ended up with two more pairs that I kept because I liked them so much.  The bronze and red pair on the lower right I made an exact copy for myself. I also will probably remake the yellow ones in the top left for myself.  I didn’t like them at first but now they are really starting to grow on me.  I did some other sewing that I am not quite ready to share yet.

how to make a shoe rack

Look at this wonderful shoe rack.  Now I know where my shoes are.  It’s much better than my old shoe box that I had to dig through to find the particular pair of shoes I wanted.  I want to share the joy so – here is my tutorial on how to make one.

First, trash pick a wooden bookshelf.  It should be real wood, but somewhat warped.  Sure, you could buy wood, but that would take all the challenge out of the project.

Second, use the awkward shelf with the wrong size shelves for several years until some wonderful friend gives you a beautiful microwave stand with doors to hide your biggest craziness. (Thanks again, Veronica!)

Third, tell your husband you don’t want it anymore so he takes the wonky thing apart.  (If you are a husband, this is your one and only chance to throw it out.)

Fourth, notice the wood and think, wow, I need a shoe rack.  Now that it is just wood, I could put it together better.  Cut the too long sides into the same size at the shelves so you have as many boards as possible to put together.  If you want to hurry up the process go to your hardware store.  They will cut boards for a dollar per each cut.  They will do it cheerfully without arguing that your idea will never work.  In fact, they will do it without even knowing why you want boards cut.

Five, ask your husband to make you a shoe rack.  Have the first argument about how it will never work, how the space you want to put it in is too small.  Demonstrate how it will fit with your newly cut boards. (This is why the crucial taking it to the hardware store step is so important and time-saving.) Threaten to just drive to Ikea and get the same thing for 50 bucks- but still needing to be assembled.

Six,  if you are lucky enough to have been married 20 years, go to work.  Come home completely surprised when you have new shoe rack.  This is the tricky part, if you have only been married 19 years you will have to watch the whole putting-together-part.  That is why it is best to be married 20 years.  I just discovered that when you put in the full 20 years of watching, you have paid your dues and you don’t have to watch any more. Just come home from work and Ta-Da! shoe rack!  Like shoe rack elves or fairies came to your house, except even better it is your awesome husband.

(If you haven’t paid your dues, you can sometimes use a small child to be the official watcher.  I say small child because anyone over 11 years old will just laugh at you and roll their eyes when you say, ” Why don’t you go help your dad?”)

Thank you, thank you, sweet husband for my awesome shoe rack!

center done

Yay!  I’m done with the lenders and enders denim quilt center.  I will have to think of some kind of borders.  But still what a easy way to quilt in between other quilt.  I have started another one with 2 inch squares.

I got some of Paul’s quilt together.  Here’s my mise en place. I am working on several different types of blocks on this quilt and I hope they come together.  I’m working on some small blocks 6 1/2 inches square.  You can see them on the right. They have some really small parts.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I hope you are having a great day! I’m so glad you are my dad.  I know that you are a huge part of the reason I write at all, and if there is any skill at in my writing that speaks also to your influence. And not just because of the enormous amount of grammar correcting you did when I was a kid.  My kids think you are awesome. They love to spend time with you and you really have influenced them to be sportsmen, something I know they will enjoy their whole lives. Take care and eat lots of cake!

On another note, the mystery is solved.  Paul solved it (after being under suspicion all weekend). He said – “Hey, Mom, you found your cutter!”  I was confused about this statement because no, I hadn’t found my cutter.  It turns out I hadn’t ever lost it.  I had organized it right out of my frame of consciousness by hanging it up so neatly.  You may notice I am filing this under life lessons.  Why?  What is the lesson?  Don’t clean so much because it confuses me?  I can’t work when I am too organized?

lost rotary cutter

I lost my rotary cutter and it was my big sewing Saturday. Sigh. So, I did what I always tell my kids to do when they can’t find something – clean.  Here’s what I found:

 The front of a Spiderman t-shirt.

A lizard embroidery.

A half-finished block.

A grandmother’s flower garden block from my grandmother.

No, no rotary cutter. I did sew some more on my cathedral windows quilt. And now, I have a clean studio.

By the way, for those keeping track, I have not finished my September ufo.  It is a large cross stitch.  I did make significant progress, but still a long way to go.  October’s ufo is five, which was Eliott’s graduation book.  I finished that in May for his graduation.  So, I plan to work on the cross stitch for another month.