Monday, January 2, 2017

Bye 2016, Hello 2017

I must admit, I am quite happy to say goodbye to 2016. It was a really tough year for me, in a lot of different respects. We lost quite a few people, including my Dad, and the latter part of the year was really me in a rut, and not the good kind. I got really distracted with everything that was going on, with lawyers and estates, and handling distribution of things. It just seemed so ridiculous. And senseless. But I am determined to get things together. I have a bunch of big goals for 2017, and a lot of components of multi-year goals. I'm still formulating exactly what the plan is for 2017, but let's just say it's an aggressive plan. For the business, for my work life, for my sewing life, even for my exercise regime. There's enough going on that I felt the need to get an accountability partner, and not just a friend/accountability partner, but a professional one. That detailed planning will start later this week, but here are the high level plans....

1. Get organized in all aspects - house, life, finances, etc, etc, etc
2. Ensure self care - eat right, exercise, read, have fun, etc
3. Knit more.
4. Sew more.
5. Finish some UFOs.
6. Build projects almost exclusively from stash. 

So, we're starting with this....

Once I've got the plans further fleshed out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll be sewing.

See you soon!

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Pinterest Christmas

Well, Christmas is over, and tomorrow is the big return to work. I can't believe how quickly it came, and then it was over. It was really a great couple of weeks. I went home to Tennessee for a couple of days and made Christmas dinner a couple of times. And I found a couple of new recipes to add to the Christmas rotation....the first, was an easier recipe for Christmas Crack, my Mom used to make a version of this when I was a kid that took forever to make. This Pinterest version is simple quick and easy. I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. 

4 sticks of unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar

Melt these together over medium heat. Cook until it gets frothy/foamy/bubbly and turns a dark amber in color. Turn on your oven at 350 degrees.

While it is cooking, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and crackers, yes crackers. I made a couple of batches trying different crackers, and I really like the Club crackers the best, but really, any will do. 

Once your caramel is ready, pour it over the crackers. 

Now, throw it back in the oven until it is bubbly. About 5 minutes.

After it comes out of the oven, sprinkle 2 cups of chocolate chips. I used bittersweet Ghiradelli, because it was what I had in the pantry, but semi-sweet or milk will work just as well. I threw the pan back into the oven for a couple of minutes to melt the chocolate, and then spread it around.

Now, throw on whatever you want.....walnuts, pecans, almonds, even butterfinger pieces. And throw it in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden. 

Now break it up into pieces and enjoy!

And now, I need to go find some leftovers so I don't inhale the rest of the pan. See you later this week.


Friday, December 9, 2016

What's the Technique of the Month (TOM)?

This is probably the most often asked question that I get when teaching....what is it and how does it work???

Basically, the TOM is designed to be a monthly "installment" program to learn all of the Judy techniques. Each of the TOMs have a couple of new techniques and over time you learn them all.
The patterns are only available to Certified Shops and Certified Instructors, so you are guaranteed to have a certified person teaching, and to be certified on the quilt they have to have made it, ensuring competence and knowledge of the pattern.

Currently, there are 4 TOM quilts : Glacier Star (2010), Mariner's Compass (2012), Paradise in Blooms(2014), and Vintage Rose(2016).  Each offers different techniques to build upon.

Glacier Star is basic paper piecing, with geese, and an intro to curved piecing. Glacier Star is based upon a Lone Star and has a few Y seams, but don't worry, they aren't too hard.

Mariner's Compass introduces smaller piecing (in the ropes) and becomes a basic octagonal shape, with 8 "pie pieces". It has an interesting assembly technique which makes it fun, and there several different components that have alternate assembly sets, to completely customize your quilt.

Paradise in Blooms is part of the leaf series, with 8 sections and creates a master "circle" before adding borders to make it into a queen sized square. The quilt introduces Judy's appliqué techniques, including in seam appliqué.

Vintage Rose is the newest TOM, and will be available in January. It combines the best of prismatic star, curved feathers, and curved fans. I am still working on my sample of this one, but will be done in time for classes starting in February. For now, this one is in process, so you'll have to settle for an in process photo....

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pattern Focus : Feathered Goose

Feathered Goose is one of my favorite patterns, even though it was definitely not my best work. You see it all started about 10 years ago, and it is the reason that I am a Quiltworx Instructor today. You see, Feathered Goose was almost the end of my quilting career.  My Mom picked the Feathered Goose as her "retirement gift". I had never done paper piecing before, but I was sure that I could figure it out. I was also confident that the 6 week window before her retirement party was more than sufficient to finish it. That was 2007. And I was completely wrong. I didn't finish it until August 2010. I spent three years trying to figure it out and working on it off and on, so when Judy came to Camp Watch A Patcher in LA in late July 2010, I signed up for class, and in a mere 3 days I was hooked. I went to Montana a month later, and by the following August (2011), I had made 10 Judy quilts and applied to be an instructor. Needless to say, Feathered Goose was the beginning of my Quiltworx obsession. It was also the first QW pattern that I ever taught. Only later did I realize that was probably not the best intro, since it didn't have all of the short cut techniques that we have now.

Just to add insult to injury, this pattern is no longer available. That's right, it was discontinued about 3 year ago. Up until last year, I had a few copies available, and still taught it rather regularly. But I haven't taught it in 2 years. I know it will come back eventually, with some redesigns to take advantage of the new techniques that have been developed over the last 6 or 7 years. Eventually it will have floating points, and smart corners and all of those things that Quiltworx has developed in the last few years to make paper piecing easier. In the meantime, I just have to take a look back at some of the ones that have been done by students and remember how much I love this pattern.

My original, made with 24 batik Fat Quarters and 3 yards of a 1895-Honey by Hoffman. 

Vicki made her's very similar to my original color scheme.

Lorna made her's, but instead of using a dark navy/black ringer, she chose orange, and it is really striking.

This one was made as a gift for a favorite sister who has a love affair with purple. She used every shade of purple, from lilac to plum, and all types of fabric. Batiks, small prints, large prints, even solids. To ensure that the ropes would show she made sure to only use that fabric in the ropes themselves ensuring that they would not blend into the triangles. Love It!!! 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dec 1 Flylady update

So, It's Day 4 of Flylady, and the first day of December, so we are heading off to The Entrance, Front Door and Dining Room. According to the schedule I am supposed to find my FlySpot and hope it is something good. My FLyspot (the first thing you notice when you walk in the room) is a pile of unfiled papers. So, I spent 15 minutes filing, and didn't make a perceivable dent. So, I'll do another 15 minutes on that one tomorrow.

My ace of this month's Flylady is that the Monthly Challenge, which is meal planning, and I already do that, since I cook for 5, and I HATE SHOPPING. yes, I hate all types of shopping, unless there is fibre (re: fabric, yarn, etc) involved. And with 5 people and crazy schedules, planning is key. I usually do a couple of crock pot meals a week (for nights when I will get home late or not be home at all), and we always have at least one leftover night. Other than that it's really about ensuring that everyone gets one of their favorites each week, and that we don't copy too many things too often. For example, this week we had the following :

Monday : Spaghetti with Sausage - favorite
Tuesday: Mandarin Chicken - new recipe
Wednesday: Taco Salad - favorite, tweaked recipe
Thursday: Potato Soup and Grilled Cheese - new recipe
Friday : Leftovers Night - obvious
Saturday : Crockpot Beef and Broccoli - favorite
Sunday: Crockpot Chili - new recipe

I have about a dozen regular dishes that are favorites that I try to have once a month, plus a left over night each week, leaves 14ish days of trying something new each month. Sometimes those are good (or even great), and sometimes, we all agree that they are destined to never be repeated. Thank goodness we don't have a lot of things that only 1 or 2 people like (or love) so I am not stuck appeasing or cooking multiple dinners. If we like the dish, I'll put it in a special folder in my Pinterest , so that we can repeat it (like the pork and pears we had last week) to verify results, and then if we like it twice we will rate it and add it to a remakes list. I have about 50 items that are in the remakes, but not in favorites. Remakes are constantly under revamping. I am constantly tweaking/changing/adjusting until it ends up in favorites. I Pin recipes all the time, and we generally try something new two or three times a week, for example, the chili recipe this week is a white chili that I've never made before, and the taco salad was made with homemade taco seasoning mix, so even things on the favorites list occasionally get revamped, even if all we do is prove that our existing menus are still our favorites. Of course, I also have some seasonal recipes, like carrot and cardamon soup or mandarin chicken salad. I don't make much soup in the summer, and I don't eat many salads in winter.  Next week's menu is going to be full of new stuff, as we tend to try more new stuff in the winter than the summer. I think that is mainly because I am home earlier. With it getting dark so early, there is no evening dog park visit or long walks after dark. We do them early am, or immediately upon getting home, so I am literally in the house more, and my favorite room is the kitchen. So, next week is full of new we are testing some recipes with some friends...

Monday - Baked Salmon with lemon and dill (new recipe, generally a new food, not big on fish)
Tuesday - Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Wednesday - Chicken and Orchetti soup (fancy chicken minestrone)
Thursday - Crescent Ham Slice
Friday - Mississippi CrockPot Roast
Saturday - Make your own pizza night (friends with kids over)
Sunday - Meatloaf

I will finish planning out the rest of the month tomorrow, as it's clean out the freezer night. when I literally go through the freezer and inventory all the weird things we collect. Like waffles. Seriously, I don't know who buys all the frozen waffles, but they seem to multiple in the freezer.

Tomorrow's daily challenge is to repeat the FlySpot challenge, and I will have a couple of extra minutes, so I might do a 27 Fling Boogie in the dining room. I will have to take some time to pack for the weekend, and get everything ready to be away for the weekend (sort out the dog, pay the bills, etc, etc, etc).

I have found the last couple of days of working on FLyLady to be really productive. There is something about coming home and working on things while you watch TV, or while you wait for something that makes it more exciting. As a result, I felt inspired to get into the sewing room. I  managed to get some sewing done today, not a lot, but enough that I feel like I am making progress on my placemats. I'm ready for final assembly, but I wanted to test the layout in good lighting, so I will finish that in the morning and then sew them tomorrow evening, right after I do my Flylady chores.

Flylady Day 1

Well, Flylady Day 1 was yesterday, and I managed to get my first baby steps done. The sink was spotless when I went to bed. And half full when I got up this morning.



Today is day 2, and I couldn't figure out exactly what I was supposed to do as my baby step, since this is the 5th week of the month, and the plan only has 4 weeks, so I scrubbed the shower in my 15 minute daily block. Not sure what tomorrow should be either, so I am going to do the 27 fling boogie. Basically, I am going to declutter 27 items. I have 24 hours to figure out where to start. 

Thursday, I'll be on the "regular" schedule, since it's week 1 of December. Let's not talk about that fact just yet....

Monday, November 28, 2016

Getting It All Together

So, I've been dealing with this topic for a while now, and just wasn't yet ready to admit to myself (much less anyone else) that I really need to get my stuff together. With the craziness of a full time job, and a full time teaching business, I've let things slide at home. I hosted a group of Thanksgiving, and we had a great time, and they are all friends, and know about everything that has been happening in my life, so they didn't have any great expectations that my house would be spotless. But I did. I want my house to be organized and easy to clean. And I don't want to spend every waking our of the 1 day I get off every month cleaning it. That's just not a good plan. Yet, that is exactly what I have done for the last 6 months or so, spent my one day off doing a mountain of laundry and vacuuming and dusting every surface, and still feeling like it wasn't as clean as I would like it to be. I've realized that this has been my life not just the last 6 months, but the last 25 years. I'm a crisis cleaner. I clean when I am either - incredibly bored (and let's face it, it takes a LOT to be that bored), or when having people over. It's just that I used to have more of a life. I used to have people over every week, so it never got too bad. But with my current schedule, which doesn't look like it is going to change in the near future, I need to get control of it.

So I reached out to a couple of friends who have immaculate houses that are immaculate all the time, to see how they do it. Of the four of them, three sent me to the Flylady system. I've heard of it before, in fact I am pretty certain I started her program a couple of years ago, but never really got committed. I never got tired enough or frustrated enough to finally really make it happen. But now, I am. I am ready to get all of this stuff organized in a way that makes sense, and makes it easy to follow. So, I spent a couple of hours reading through her attack plan this weekend, and preparing myself. I got my control journal started. I got my dry erase markers ready. I made my lists for home blessing hour, and I decided on my decluttering attack plan. So, now its just a matter of putting in the time every day (15 minutes is all I am supposed to need, per the FlyLady). And getting stuff done. Flylady says it's baby steps, which makes sense to me. It's how I got my finances in order with Dave Ramsey. So, Baby Steps it is.

First Step - Shine the Sink

So, I am off to shine my sink (which is going to be interesting since it is black enameled cast iron, and not at all shiny)!!!! Wish me luck!!! I'll see you tomorrow to see what tomorrow's challenge is.

I am going to try to update here every day,so you can see how it's going. I'll even try to do pictures, hopefully I will remember to take them.

Do you want to join me??? DO you have any advice for the perpetually cleaning???

See you soon!