Best Valentine’s Date You Will Ever Have

I hear you, mom… 

It’s been a long day…week…month…year…decade…

I know. Been there. I’m writing this post for you during what I think I will someday refer to as my restful season…its Springtime in 2015…for you to read around Valentines Day next year… Or the year after… Or in 50 years of my simple little blog remains beyond my years…
I won’t get mushy or go into a long spiel about what you feel or what I feel or you should feel or what he or you or whoever should or shouldn’t.
My best advice in my still learning but been in this game for quite some time wisdom… just be. Enjoy what is in front of you… don’t expect your moments to look like a reality show or a fairy tale or something from a movie. Don’t expect to have the best story of your significant other did for you on such and such special occasion.
Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself or on anyone else that you care about. The best part of the story is the part you can’t share. You can’t describe. Who cares if you didn’t go out on Valentine’s Day? I’m not big on crowds and showy things anyway… if you are … no offense … embrace it, enjoy it, and have a blast!  I’d rather have a night out on the town on Tuesday when the streets are quiet but things are still going on that no one else can see.
If it’s just you without the kiddos or if you just loathe some particular holiday for whatever reason (I’ve heard a lot of reasons…), grab a book or catch a movie or something… Work a few extra hours … Take a bath… Hang out with a friend… Go shopping… Or go do something most people won’t do on whatever day it might be. Just be. Be you. Be awesome.
imageOn Valentine’s Day this year, we didn’t even attempt to get a babysitter or go out – we grabbed a heart shaped pizza and pulled out the linens and China. And maybe you can see just a glimpse of our awesome. It lasted less than an hour. But the story in my head and heart will be for always and I hope that the littles will always remember it, too. I can’t tell you that story and I can’t tell you about the little piece of my heart that is not at that table, but blessedly just a phone call away… All I can tell you is to stop for. Just a few minutes and enjoy what is right in front of you…   Much love – XOXO – C
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The Mercy Seat

*I tend to have epiphanies and completely random thoughts that I would like to share with my small readership.  I hope that you take something from them that fills your soul with peace and joy.

In Chapter 25 of Exodus, God describes to Moses how the Israelites are to build the Ark of the Covenant. All of the measurements and details are given in great detail – I won’t go into that except to say this:

God has ideas bigger than ours.  I often wonder why we need such details.  He has his reasons, and I don’t question them.  Occasionally, I have a life moment that teaches me ‘why’ He wants it this way or that.  Sometimes, I just let it be.  So many things to focus on in a day, God can take care of my details for sure.  I do have another passage that I’ll share with on the topic of details another day.

So, here we go-

…Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other; of one piece with the mercy seat you shall make the cherubim at its two ends.  The Cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings.  They shall face one to another; the faces of the cherubim of the cherubim shall be turned toward toward the mercy seat.  You shall put the the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you.  There I will meet with you…   — Exodus 25:17-22

Verse 22 goes on to speak to Moses about God delivering instructions for the Isrealites – but that’s where I stopped reading – and just drew in a breath – and, yes, breathed in Jesus.  I have read that passage so many times.  And all I saw was God telling Moses what to tell the Israelites to do…

Hello.  Hear this, my loves – It’s called the MERCY SEAT.  The Seat of Mercy.  Do you know what mercy is?  Really? Read each defininition:

1       a :  compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power;also :  lenient or compassionate treatment <begged for mercy>
b :  imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2       a :  a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassionb :  a fortunate circumstance <it was a mercy they found her before she froze>
3:  compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor>
   – Taken from right here: Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary

Now,  Let that sink in for just a moment.

At the Mercy Seat.

 Where He sits with us. 

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God’s got this, y’all.

 

 

 

Stop pouring money down the drain….

Literally.

Jet Dry is my favorite rinse aid. I’ve tried the others. It just works best for me. What I hate, though, is how much I spill every time I add it to the dishwasher. Wonder if that was planned in the package design?  Who knows. Either way, I fixed it. No long drawn out post necessary – just a simple solution to one of life’s little nuisances.

You’re welcome.

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Please label your new container and make sure the little ones can reach it!  It’s an awfully tempting one! 

Name Brand vs Store Brand…

We all know that some store brands are name brands in disguise… But I never bothered to really research which is which… I pulled out some Publix Butter this morning…only had two sticks (the icing calls for three- yep that’s right) so I grabbed some more – had some Prairie Farms butter in the fridge … And …well… Huh… Same package, same plant… So there you go…  

 

And just in case any one is interested – here’s the best frosting ever that calls for three sticks of butter #you knowyouwantsome 

http://www.melskitchencafe.com/the-best-frosting-ever

This is my third time making it and it is the bomb diggity!

T Shirt Quilt Sew Along Part 8: Final Tips and the Man Behind the Gift

Papa

In our family, all you have to say to solicite a smile or a giggle is that one name: Papa.

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Photo by Stella Dolce Photography photography. Used with permission (c) 2011 Edited by me.

Who is he?  A father, a brother, a husband, an uncle, a grandfather, and a great grandfather.  I have lost count of all of the children that can call him their own.   It is rare to meet a man so full of love for his family.

Papa is retired from the United States Post Office and spends his spare time bowling, attending Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball games, attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and school programs, and taking care of his family. If he’s not doing that, he’s probably talking to somoeone about Vanderbilt or reading something about Vanderbilt.  I have the blessing of having been married to his son for 10 years and just two weeks ago was finally able to attend my very first Vanderbilt Basketball game.  They have season tickets, you see. But they so rarely miss a game (and Papa, like NEVER), that I have not had the opportunity to sneak into one.  My children have made it to games…but not I.  Finally…I made it.  It was awesome.

Papa is fierce, stubborn, set in his ways, opinionated, and outspoken.  He is a God-fearing, and faithful man that gives a beautiful, Godly example of what a husband and father should be.  He is not afraid to tell us if he does not approve of our choices, especially when he knows we can do better and know better.  And yet, he loves us all just the same.  His love and openness to serve and assist in unending and far reaching.  And, often, this can be taken for granted.  I only hope that he knows how very much we all love him and appreciate his love and wisdom.

And that is why this project was such a labor of love.  I have been planning it for at least 3 years – I think the idea came when I was cleaning out my daughters closet and couldn’t bring myself to part with the Commodores onsie and bib set Granny bought her to…stashing away shirts from my household, other family members, and even enlisting Granny to sneak some of his shirts out of his stash.  This has been the cause of a I’m sure more than one arguement, as he has told me on more than one occasion – “I don’t know why she keeps throwing my shirts out….there ain’t nothing wrong with them…”  Bless his heart.

Well, I think he was happy with the finished project.  

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Final Thoughts, Tips, and Helpful Links

Starch & Interfacing – I did starch my shirts well in the beginning, I did not use interfacing at all – I did not use starch throughout – I found it more cumbersome than helpful – I did iron very well, and am comfortable with knits.  I can see, though, on the finished product, how interfacing might be a good thing – but I am very happy with it without and like the weight with nothing added.

Tools – I used pretty much everything I listed in Part 1.  I did go back for more shirts and backing material because what I originally planned to use was just not quite enough.

Things I would do differently – 

  1.  Maybe use interfacing?
  2. Plan ahead a little more before cutting.
  3. Use more uniform squares to avoid measurement errors…
  4. …or measure more 😉

Things I loved that I wouldn’t change:

  1. The binding – I absolutely LOVE the way the binding turned out and plan to do that again.
  2. Having some uniformity – I don’t know why that matters to me – I usually love randomness…but I love some balance to things like this.
  3. The backing – I used sweatshirt fabric. Love the weight of it and sturdiness when sewing.  Might experiment with something closer to a t-shirt weight or use t-shirts themselves, but I really liked this.
  4. Having some flexibility to change my mind as I worked.
  5. The time – wouldn’t take it back – worth every minute.

Useful links and resources – These are some of the places I found great advice, tips, and inspiration for this project and t-shirt quilts in general – please browse through them and study up!  There are some folks way more talented than I am that offer some wonderful advice!

My pinterest board for quilt resources – all of the below, and then some, are here.

Inpiration for tagging/dating the quilt…Loved this idea – and, of course, hers is much lovelier than mine…Photo by Nana Company: http://nanacompany.typepad.com/nanacompany/2012/02/a-postcard-from-paris.html

Photo by Nana Company: http://nanacompany.typepad.com/nanacompany/2012/02/a-postcard-from-paris.html

This pin shows you how many shirts you need for different sizes – that was a helpful starter – the link leads to a blog where I can find nothing about quilting or t-shirts – but a good pic, nonetheless.

Visual Inspiration with lots of pictures of completed quilts on about.com.

Starch & Sizing discussions – VERY informative…on equilters.comniagra

Drafting your quilt tutorial from Bee in my Bonnet – great site!

Another tutorial and visual inspiration – this one uses much more detailed quilting…Normal According to Me

Those are just a few!  Lots more on the pinterest board.  My best advice? This is a REALLY fun project – make sure you are ready to tackle it and don’t worry about mistakes.  They are easily corrected.  If you have any questions along they way, or need any advice or suggestions, I’d be more than happy to help.

AND I must add a special thanks to all my friends that helped me make decisions and the folks at Creative Village in Old Hickory for their input and encouragement, as well.  I’ll try to update this ASAP and add links to all their fun stuff!

Here is a good spread out picture of the finished quilt – I ALMOST forgot to add…sigh…

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  My pastor shared a woodworking quote with us a couple of weeks ago, and it very much applies to quilting experience. Not sure I got it exactly right, but I will leave that for my final thought.


What I make may be for someone else, but how I make it is for myself…


T Shirt Quilt Sew Along Part 3: Layout

Ready to sew??  Not quite yet…

IMG_3137.JPGFirst you have figure out where you are going to put everything…because once you sew those knits together – you DO NOT want to have to pick them apart…and, if you cut them, you will lose precious inches.  I made this step way more time consuming than it needed to be. Let me share with you what I did and then what I might do differently next time. And here is my favorite t-shirt.  Papa & Granny bought the t-shirt for my middle son when he was tiny, and it has been repurposed into a bag and then back into a tank top for my dauther.  So, there wasn’t much left of it.  Luckily, I was able to work it in.


Working the layout….

I measured out all of my pieces and what I thought would make a good size square/piece from each and made notes on which ones I could cut down to a smaller size if needed…my goal was to make, at minimum, evenly measured rows and columns.  I did number each piece with it’s ‘finished’ measurement (you are cutting them 1/2 larger for 1/4 seam allowance) Because this is my first try at this, I didn’t want to try to do too much piecing. So, I spent hours trying to figure out the perfect layout to get to a good finished size.

Graph paper was very helpful…each little square would represent 4 inches in most of my drafts.

IMG_3121.JPGIMG_3159.JPGSo, I got that figured out.  Then, I had the bright idea of taking pictures and seeing if I could lay them out.  That worked pretty well – I took the picture, cropped them to the portion I planned to use, and resized to scale.  It was pretty simple to move them around on a IMG_3156.JPGIMG_3118.JPGspreadsheet.  I used the Numbers app on my iPad. I liked that b/c I could easily take pictures and add them without having to go back and forth to the desktop.  That looked good – so I started laying everything out with my finished draft in hand…didn’t dig it so much…so just kind of played with everything and moved it around IMG_3123.JPGuntil I liked it.  Apparently, I wanted it to be a little more uniform and balanced than I thought. I just wasn’t crazy about all of the randomness…and, having really only 4 colors to work with, I didn’t feel like I had much choice…maybe I did…but nothing I liked…so here is what I ended up with….

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What I will do is use one solid color for all of the background/fill in pieces on each column.  The center, I’m thinking gray – the two columns boarding the center, probably gold, and the outer columns black…because there is so much white there…may change my mind as I go.  I have plenty of grey, black, and white shirts, unfortunately, no gold ones that are workwithable…so I’ll have to hunt down some of those…


Do as I say, not as I do…

So, what would I have done differently?  In a perfect world, and with a smarter brain, I would have kind of known what I wanted my finished quilt to look like and approximately what size I wanted the squares to be – and if I wanted them all the same or different.  I would have first measured the designs on the shirts, tagged each one with a number and finished measurement and design size.  At that point, I would choose between the graph paper and the spreadsheet – I like the spreadsheet with photos better because it gives you a visual – you don’t have worry about how you take your pictures (don’t try to take them all the same size) – once you crop and size your photos for the spreadsheet, it will work itself out.  The biggest thing here, for me, would be to NOT cut out my pieces before laying it out.  This may have saved me lots of piecing later.

And, then I would again lay them all out in according to ‘plan’ and make adjustments as needed – you may just want to have the shirt fronts (and backs if using that) already cut away from the sleeves/neck/etc….this will make it easier to overlap them and fold them, etc.

And then, start cutting…measure twice (or 3 or 4 times!) before cutting!  GOLDEN RULE


 Have fun! We’ll start putting it together next time!


 

 

T Shirt Quilt Sew Along Part 1: Supplies

This is going be fun, right? Lie with me…

No, really, we can do this. I have had a stash of Vandy shirts for quite some time in hopes of ‘someday’ making a blanket for my father in law. ‘Someday’ has arrived. We have less than 2 weeks until Christmas and I have more homemade gifts to make than I think I can actually pull off. So, just to add a little more pressure to myself, you can do this with me…

A little warning…I have never done this before, so we will be learning together. If you jump over to my Pinterest board, you will see where I have pinned lots of good tips and ideas in hopes that I can get a little help along the way.  I just found all of the info I needed spread out in different places, and everything either too much all in one place, or not quite enough for my novice self…that’s why I’m trying this sew along.  Hopefully it will help you break this down into a manageable project that you can walk away from if need be.  Warning number two: I don’t always follow the rules…so, some traditional quilters may vomit at my methods…promise I will try to behave as much as possible. Let’s just jump in, shall we?

For today, lets gather our supplies:

Wooly sweatshirt type fabric – found this at goodwill. I’m sorry I can’t tell you exactly what it is…seems to be cotton, poly, wool? If that’s even possible. You can use extra t shirts, a sheet, a knit fabric, or just buy some fabric you love that is big enough for your quilt.  If you will be purchasing new fabric, you may want to save this for when you finish the top to make sure you get enough or don’t buy to much and that it works well with your finished top.

Curved safety pins for basting – I don’t know if these are necessary, but I think it will make the job easier.

Lots of straight pins.

Quilting squares in as many sizes as you can get your hands on. These are not required, but you will find the make cutting and measuring much faster. You will at least want these or a large cutting mat with measurements on it and a long straight edge.

Rotary cutter – if you sew much or plan to quilt, now a great time to invest in this. Really. Get one.

Cutting Mat – the biggest one you can afford – at least big enough to accomodate your largest size square.  The measurements on the mat are very helpful and this will also protect your surface and just make life easier.  If you don’t have it in your budget, ask around – you may a friend kind enough to loan one to you. Like the rotary cutter, though, this is a good investment in your time and sanity.

Scissors – any scissors will work…just make sure they are good and sharp. I have awesome ones with a matching little trimming scissor with a lanyard. The person that ‘borrows’ these take their life into their hands. I love my scissors.  Don’t try to cut your squares with scissors – use the rotary cutter. You’ll thank me later.

Matching threads – I know, duh…but really, look at your shirts, consider what color you want your quilting to be and buy extra. You don’t want to run out in the middle of a seam. And, of course, bobbins.

T shirts – as many as you can get your hands on. I will have some links at the end of this post to help you determine how many you need. IMG_3090.JPGI am making a lap quilt, have about 20 in various sizes, and expect to have to creat some fill in pieces because of the designs I have to work with.

Graph paper – they make special quilting draft paper which I am sure would be wonderful, I’m just using some graph paper I stole from our stash of school supplies.

Starch. I used spray starch. I had intended to mix up some Argo starch and dip everything in that to make it super starched, but we are having a stretch of cold and dreary weather here, and with two dogs and 3 kids, it was not reasonable to spread them around the house. We will address my loathing for spray starch some other time. Argo Starch is great, easy to mix, cheap, etc. I will say this now and probably again later…if you starch, make sure you wash and rewash to get it all out. During the research portion of this journey, I read that if you leave any starch residue your quilt can attract silverfish and who wants holes in their quilt they worked so hard on?

Marking pencil or chalk – something washable in case you want to make notes, number your pieces, draft your quilting design, etc.

Templates – this too is optional…there are lots of options for quilting. Got them just in case I want to make some appliqués or some kind of pattern. I went with some see through plastic draw-and-cut-it-yourself ones.

Of course, you will want a sewing machine.IMG_3093.JPG

Wash everything. Read a tip somewhere to wash everything on warm, so I did that. I suppose that will avoid future shrinkage. Did that, everything still looks great…so we are ready to go.

Please let me know if you have any questions along the way and I will do my best to help or direct you a good source.  Any supplies I didn’t already have, I purchased at JoAnn Fabrics. These can be easily found at any fabric or craft store or online.

I thinks that’s enough for one post!

Next time we will deal with prepping the t shirts, design/ layout, etc. Get out there and get shopping!

Nativity Display

I always have a hard time finding a way to display the nativity…and tend to go a little overboard with lights and garland. Not so much in the mood for too much extra this year, so I got myself a little pinsperation and got it done…in the frame is a wonderful chalkboard printable I found over at Yellow Bliss Road. And we are done. Now, the empty space will be filled with the endless flow of crafts the kids will inevitably bring home (love them, hate them, love them…why are there so many?). So, no need for me to spend time trying to draw/paint/craft something that most likely won’t turn out right…so there you go! Spend more time playing and less decorating!

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The Bible is my grandmothers’ family Bible, and we will simply change the page every few days as we read through the story of Christ’s birth. The cross is a bookmark I found in the Bible. Big heart inserted here.

“What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!” The Grinch.