Saturday, December 31, 2011

Foto Finish - Goodbye to 2011

Happy New Year's Eve!  If you are going out on the town have fun, be a safe.  We'll stay home, eat cheese and crackers, then watch the ball drop on TV. Will we make it to midnight, maybe/maybe not.  How about you? 

This is the last Foto Finish for 2011.  Barbara has decided to drop the themes, at least for now.  So how to select a photo for today?  This one seemed appropriate for the end of the year.

The sunset Thursday night was just beautiful.  The sky was such a deep, dark red. We just stayed outside and watched the sun sink in the west and the reds, turn to purples then to midnight blue.  It's been a while since I just stood and watched the sun set. 

Sunsets always make me a bit reflective.  This past year has been a good, if hectic one at Life in Pieces.  No big dramas though, for which I'm very thankful.  Next year will see some major changes at work as the company undergoes restructuring.  Our pre-teen will become a teen in about a week.  Kids grow up so fast.  She's demanding a new "blog" name, telling me that she is no longer a "kiddo".  So I'm putting some thought into making that change.  I'm sure we'll have bigger challenges and changes in 2012, but that's part of life.  There's never a dull moment around here.  I wouldn't have it any other way. 

May 2012 be a year of adventure and joy for you and yours. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 NewFO List

Barbara over at Cat Patches did such a good job this year at Judy's UFO challenge that she's left with no UFOs to do the challenge in 2012.  To remedy that situation so it doesn't occur in 2013,  Barbara is going to start one new project a month.   Isn't that a cool idea?  She's even sharing the fun and sponsoring a challenge. 


I do have a few UFOs (click here to see) and have signed on to participate in the 2012 UFO challenge.   But Barbara has reminded me that if I finish all my UFOs in 2012, I won't have any for the challenge in 2013.  So it's obvious that new projects really need to be started this year.  However, knowing how hectic the schedule gets around here, trying to start 12 new projects would just be frustrating.  So the plan is to start 6 new projects in 2012.  Here's my list (more or less in order).  

1.  Mystery Quilt.  The Jan/Feb issue of McCall's Quilting includes the instructions for a three part mystery.  I've done two other mystery quilts and enjoyed each.  I'm intrigued by the fabric choices presented in the magazine, so think this one would be fun to play along with.  Plus it addresses another goal, to actually make a pattern from one of the many magazines I subscribe to. 

2.  Jigsaw from Lehmann Quilting.  This pattern was requested by Kiddo last July and I still haven't started it.  She'd probably like me to finish it before she graduates from high school (in 4 years), so it's second on the list. 

3.  Angel Quilt, from original design.  Two SILs got quilts this Christmas, two didn't.  So I have some sewing to do before next Christmas.  I've started playing with designs, but don't have anything final. I want to use at least one of these fabrics in the quilt. 

4.  Dresden Plate.  This would be a new technique for me.  I'll probably make something based on a pattern from Anelie Belden's "Thoroughly Modern Dresden". This is another two-fer project.  With all the books in my quilting library, it's been a long time since one was used to make a quilt.  It's time to put at least one book to work.

5.  Buzz Lightyear.  One of my PIGS (Projects In Grocery Sacks).  I bought this fabric when Kiddo was about 4 or 5, when Toy Story was popular the first time around.  She picked out the fabrics and helped design the quilt, but it never got made.  I'm thinking this would be a good quilt to donate to the school auction.  But it may end up finding a home with some other little boy, you never know.  I'd just like to get it out of the PIGS pile (another goal).


6.  Project Using a Speciality Ruler.   Yes, I'm guilty of collecting gadgets then never using them.  So it seems like a good idea to make something from a ruler in my collection.  I really like the look of quilts made with diamonds separated by a narrow sashing, but I've been too scared to attempt such a project. It's definitely time to get over that. 

So that's my list.   Add in the 4 UFOs and I've just committed myself to working on 10 quilts this year.  Should be interesting to say the least.  

Wordless Wednesday - Sunset

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 UFO Challenge - Quilt List

Judy of Patchwork Times is again sponsoring a UFO challenge.  I didn't play along last year,  but decided that it would be fun to try my hand at the challenge this year.  I only have 4 UFOs.  However, I also have a day job and Kiddo is playing multiple sports this spring, so it's not likely that I'd be able to finish any of the UFOs in a single month.  Each project has been assigned 3 numbers and I'll switch between the 4 based on what number Judy pulls each month.  If they all get done by the end of the year that would be fabulous. 

Here's my list:

1,2,3:  Purple/Yellow Scrap Quilt - From 2006

Needs borders and the backing made before it can be shipped off for quilting. 

4,5,6:  Scrappy Stars - From 2003

Only 4 blocks completed.  This is supposed to be a queen sized quilt.  I have no idea how many more blocks I need to make. 

7,8,9:  Moose on the Porch Layer Cake Quilt Along - From 2010

All the blocks are completed and the setting has been designed.  Just need to cut and assemble the sashing, the borders, make a back and it can go off for quilting. 

10,11,12 RWB (Red, White and Blue) Stars - from 2005

This started as a technique class at the local quilt shop.  I intended to make a quilt, but didn't get past the first block.

So that's my UFO list for 2012.  Even if they don't all get done, any progress at all would be a plus.   

15 Minute Challenge - 2011 in Review

I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas.  The Life in Pieces crew and extended family all had a good time.  Other than a few excess pounds, I didn't get anything that I didn't want.  I'll be getting a jump on my New Year's resolutions by putting in some time in the gym during Kiddo's swim practice this week. 

This is the last 15 Minute Challenge report of 2011.  Looking back, this challenge started for me back in February, when the lack of progress on my quilting projects was beginning to frustrate me.  Surely I could find 15 minutes every night to sew.  How can it be so hard to find my way up the stairs to the sewing room to do something I really, really like to do?   Actually, really, really need to do to maintain some sense of sanity in my crazy world of work deadlines and family stuff.  I really am a nicer, saner person if I get a daily dose of fabric handling (there must be something to the rumor that fabric gives off mood enhancing pheromones).   I started 5 new quilts this year, finished 7, and am close to finishing 2 others.  I'm pretty sure that challenging myself to spend those 15 minutes sewing each day is a big factor in having made that much progress.

For whatever reason, having to report my success or failure to my blog buddies each week was a good motivator for me.  More often than not, the fact that I had to write a report was the sole motivator getting me up those stairs some weeks. (Doesn't that sound pathetic?)   So the 15 Minute Challenge will continue in 2012.    Rules for 2012 are the same as they were for 2011.  Spend 15 minutes a day, or as many days a week as you think you can routinely manage, doing whatever art/craft (depending upon which camp you are in on that subject) project that brings joy and sanity to your life.  You decide what activities count.  So if organizing your stash is needed, you can count that as your 15 minutes. If shopping for some fabulous fabric is needed to start/finish a project, you can count that. 

So let's wrap up 2011.  Did you get those Christmas gifts sewn and under the tree?  I did better than expected on the finishing gift front.  Geisha became a finished top, the label was added to the Texas Twilight and Flurry was finished.  I had really good (though rushed) week. 

Christmas Eve was the only day I didn't manage to find time to sew.  It was filled with last minute Christmas shopping and other family activities.  

Did your sewing time become present wrapping time, baking time or family time (all very valued activities this time of year)?  Share how your week went by linking up below. 

1. Liz

2. Pat

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Design Wall Monday - December 26th

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.  I certainly did.  The last week was a shopping and wrapping frenzy around Life in Pieces.  Manic sewing was also well in evidence as can be seen in my late bedtimes on a few nights last week.  Thankfully, I did "finish" two Christmas gifts during those late hours.  The last two borders were added to the Geisha quilt so I could at least wrap a finished top up for my niece. 

My niece was thrilled with the top.  I'll get the back assembled this next week, then get it off to Trudy for quilting. 

I finally got the binding on the Flurry quilt about noon on Friday.  Leaving me just enough time to get photographs before it was wrapped and loaded up in the car as a gift for one of my sister-in-law's. 

She liked her gift as well.  She likes both the front and back.  My Guy and Kiddo like the back of this quilt better than the front. 

Trudy quilted this using holly leaves and berries along with a few snow flakes here and there. 

Trudy did a wonderful job as usual. 

The only thing left on the design wall is the Fat Quarter Stars Quilt Along, but I've not made any progress on that this week due to the aforementioned manic Christmas sewing. 

I'm off this next week and have plans to do some sewing room clean up and reorg, along with some significant piecing.  To see what everyone else has been up to, check out Judy's Patchwork Times for more design walls. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Foto Finish - Colorful

Happy Christmas Eve!  The present wrapping is done and the Christmas gift quilts are all snug in their boxes under the tree.  So now I'm kicked back with my coffee contemplating what to post for this week's Foto Finish.  Barbara's theme this week is colorful.  This  image seemed appropriate for today.

These were a gift from my supervisor.  I love all color and texture in this picture, especially all the red.  I've seen white poinsettias and even pink poinsettias.

Though not quite this pink.  What if they could be purple?

My favorite color is blue.

I kinda like the blue.  Not very Christmassy is it?  Still, this color and the shape of the flower remind me of winter and snowflakes. 

I don't usually play much with Photoshop Elements other than to do a bit of cropping, but I couldn't resist playing with the color slider in light of Barbara's theme this week. 

Have a very Merry Christmas.  Before you get to into the holiday, take a break and check out the colors over at Cat Patches

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

15 Minute Challenge - December 20th

Are you ready?  I'm not.  But then again, I didn't expect to be as I never am.  There is some small comfort in the fact that history does often repeat itself. 

I'm actually doing much better on the sewing front than elsewhere.  The Geisha top is done!  Yeah!  Now just one label and one binding and I'll be done with Christmas gift projects.  I was able to double my time in the sewing room this week.

Early last week was focused on getting day job stuff done before vacation.  It was much easier to find time to sew once the weekend came.  So not a bad week.   Between now and Christmas I'll make time to finish up the last gifts so they can be under the tree, but most of my time will be on Christmas preparations, like wrapping presents and maybe a bit of baking.  

Did you find a few minutes of sanity in your sewing room last week?  If so or if not, let us know how it's going in your part of the world. 

1. Pat
2. Liz
3. Thea
4. Marcia
5. Kate

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Design Wall Monday - December 19th

It's Monday, Christmas is Sunday.  I have a lot to do between now and then.  How about you? 

Not much sewing going on here in the last couple of weeks. Between holiday prep and work stuff, it's just been hard to get into the sewing room.  I didn't bother to post last Monday, nothing had changed up on the design wall.  I have snuck in a few minutes of sewing here and there this weekend, so do have a small amount of progress to show.  I'm almost done with the borders for the Geisha quilt. 

The last border looks very different depending upon the lighting.  It has a lot of reflective gold in it.  It really does look much better in person than it does in the photo.  All that's left are the horizontal borders.  Those are sewn and cut to size, I just didn't have time last night to get them attached.  How I managed to pick two border fabrics that were directional I don't know.  Must not have been focusing on the color part and not the assembly part. 

Hopefully the Geisha top will be done today.  I still have to label one quilt and put the binding on a second before Christmas.  I'm getting there slowly but surely. 

That's what's up on my design wall.  Check out the other design wall goodies by stopping by Patchwork Times

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stash Report - December 18th

Only 7 days till Christmas!  Only 14 days till the new year!  I'm looking forward to the holidays.  I'm on vacation the next 2 weeks, so will have time to do a little baking, a lot of gift wrapping and maybe some sewing.  After Christmas I should be able to do a lot of sewing.   

This week was hectic, which has been a pretty constant theme with me since about mid November.  Consequently, it was another week with very little sewing going on.  Even so, there was still a bit going out this week.

Used this week:  0.25 yards
Added this week:  0 yards

Used year to date:  53.58 yards
Add year to date:  70.12 yards

Net stashed for 2011:  16.54 yards

I'm still working on the borders for the Geisha quilt, those should be done today.  Then the top will get wrapped up for Christmas.  The purple and yellow quilt just needs borders, which I hope to get to after Christmas, then I can assemble it's back.  So I have a slim chance of making it back to the black before the end of the year. 

Have you started thinking about your 2012 stash management goals?  I don't think I want to do another year of limiting my purchases, though I don't know that 70 yards is limiting.  I'm thinking a focus on using more would be a better way to approach my stash.  I'll be giving that some thought over the next couple of weeks. 

That's it for me this week.  For more dashing through the stash, check out Patchwork Times

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Foto Finish - Ribbon

It's Saturday, finally.  The end of another crazy busy week and the beginning of 2 weeks of vacation.  Yeah!  I've been MIA this week on the blog, mainly due to end of year reports that had to be in on Friday so I could take vacation.  I've put in a number of evenings this week and a few early mornings trying to get stuff done and turned in.  Nothing like making it in under the wire.  The last report went to the boss at 5:15 PM yesterday just before I had to leave to pick up Kiddo from swim practice.  Now I can pretty much concentrate on Christmas stuff, which has become a dire need with stuff needing to get to UPS by Monday.  I do hope to spend some time catching up with email and everyone's blogs.  And of course, some sewing will sneak in there as well. 

Barbara's theme for this week's Foto Finish is "ribbon".  Some of my best memories of Christmas are helping Mom wrap Christmas gifts (as well as eating all the icing when we decorated sugar cookies, but I digress).  My Mom loves pretty packages, often making her own bows to get just the right bow for a package.  I know she passed that love down to me.  My holiday wrapping stash is proof of that. 

As you can see I have a lot of bows that are meant to be put on the tree.  Those bows are great if  you have to ship a lot of your gifts or end up jam packing everything into the car to make the drive to spend time with family.  The regular "fluffy" bows get crushed and look yucky, so I've looked for bows that can take a bit of close contact with another package and still look good.  The "pom pom" bows also hold up well at close quarters, so they've been creeping into the holiday stash in recent years.  I'm still working on trying to make these "everyday item" shots look more glamorous, that skill definitely needs more work. 

That's it for me this morning.  Take a break from your holiday preparations to visit Cat Patches for more ribbons to get wrapped up in. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

15 Minute Challenge - December 13th

Can you believe that?  Only 11 days till Christmas!  I'm not ready, but there is comfort in knowing that I'm in just about the same place as last year and I still managed to get done what had to get done before Christmas without too many late nights or panicked shopping trips. 

On the other hand, I'm not feeling real great about this week's challenge report. 

Yes only two days where anything sewing related happened.  It was just one of those crazy weeks where the rest of my life didn't mesh well with my quilting life.  Those weeks happen occasionally. This week looks to be much more conductive to sewing than last week.  

I do plan to continue the 15 Minute Challenge in 2012, though I'm playing with making some changes for next year.  Nothing firm yet, just some thoughts floating around in my head.  If you have any thoughts about the challenge you'd like to share, I'd be interested.  

So how did your week go?  

1. Pat
2. Liz
3. Kate @katiemaequilts
4. Amanda, Seabreeze Quilts
5. Thea
6. Marcia
7. Polar Pathway (w/Linky)

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stash Report - December 11th

The Christmas tree is out of the box and assembled, but it still needs to be decorated.  That's on tap for this afternoon once we get done with the swim meet.  

I noted in my post yesterday that it has been a busy week.  I've not done any significant sewing since last Monday.  But I did get some sewing done last Sunday, so there is a bit to report.  

Used this week: 0.81 yards
Added this week: 0 yards

Used year to date:  53.33 yards
Added year to date:  70.12 yards

Net Stashed for 2011:  16.79 yards

Not a bad report for not being in the sewing room much this week.  I'm hoping to fit in a little sewing time this evening after the tree is up, but to be honest I'm more likely to end up in the recliner asleep with the computer in my lap.  It's been a busy weekend. 

If you've got some time, hop over to Patchwork Times for more stash busting news. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Foto Finish - Holiday Decor

What a week!   The week started with a faulty heating system at work.  My office was 58 F on Monday and Tuesday.  By Wednesday it was in the low 60's.  They were still working on it Friday.  I'm hopeful of having a reasonably warm office when I get back to work on Monday.  We've had the normal sport practices, but this week was also Kiddo's Christmas program and then one evening of Christmas shopping for the Angel tree at work.  I wish the weekend was going to be slower, but it's a swim meet weekend, with 7 AM warm ups.  I'll need to go drag Kiddo out of bed in few minutes. 

With all that going on, it's been hard to get into the Christmas spirit around here.  No tree up yet.  No packages wrapped yet.  Since today's Foto Finish theme is holiday decor, I had to go looking at previous year's pics, since there is definitely no decorating going on here at the moment. 

This is actually a very small part of the holiday display at my sister's house last year.  She has a significant collection of all things gingerbread related.  You can just make out the gingerbread baker in the background.  My sister goes all out for the holidays, she decorates almost every room in her house.  Me, I do good most years to get a tree up. 

I'm hopeful that our tree will go up this afternoon.  Things should slow down some this week. If it doesn't, things will definitely start looking up the week after since we'll start our holiday vacation.  I hope your holiday preparations are in full swing.  Take a break, grab a cup of hot chocolate and hop over to Cat Patches for some quick holiday cheer. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

15 Minute Challenge - December 6th

My Christmas shopping is on schedule and that's about all I can claim in terms of being ready for this holiday season.  Well that's not quite true, I'm more than ready for the 2 weeks of vacation that's coming up.

I've learned (yet again) that it takes more time to finish a project than you think it will.  Geisha is progressing, but I don't think it's going to get done in time for Christmas. I can finish the top, but I don't think I can get it to the quilter and back again in time for Christmas.  I'm contemplating wrapping up just the finished top to put under the tree.  Has anyone done that?  How well did that work out? 

Having just said all that you'd think I'd be spending every spare minute in the sewing room.  That just didn't happen last week.

Thursday I didn't feel well, so I didn't sew.  Friday was marathon Christmas shopping.  Which needed to be done, but I was too tired when I got home to spend any time sewing.  So just 5 days out of 7 last week where I made it to the sewing room.  Which really isn't shabby at all considering the schedule we've had.  In the overall scheme of things, it's been a good year.  Striving for 15 minutes in the sewing room every day has meant that I've done a pretty good job of meeting most of my quilting goals for the year.  So even if Geisha doesn't get completely done, it has gone from being an idea and a pile of fabric into something real.  Which was really the whole point. 

How did your crafty efforts go last week?  Are you making progress or did you have other priorities with the holiday so quickly approaching?   Here's Mr. Linky, link up and share how your holiday crafty efforts are going. 

1. 501quiltblocks
2. Thea
3. Amanda, Seabreeze Quilts
4. Kate @katiemaequilts
5. Liz
6. Triple Tulips - Marcia
7. Angie in So Cal

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Design Wall Monday - December 5th

How's the Christmas preparations going?  If I were giving myself grades, I'd get an A in shopping and a F in holiday decorating and gift wrapping.  Just haven't gotten there yet.  Mainly because I've been trying really hard to finish the Geisha quilt.  I made good progress on Saturday till I realized that the fabric choice for my first border was just lousy.  Of course I didn't realize that until I had both vertical borders sewn on.  After some playing around on the design wall and a consult with My Guy, I unsewed the lousy choice, cut new borders and tried again.

I still have two more sets of borders to add.  This may have to be wrapped up as a completed top for Christmas with the promise the new owner will get it back quilted after the first of the year.  We'll see.  The tree is not up, nor are any gifts wrapped.  Kiddo's Christmas program is this week, plus she has a swim meet this weekend.  Time to sew is going to be a precious commodity this week. 

On the other design wall are the first 5 blocks from Moose on the Porch Quilts Fat Quarter Stars Quilt Along.  

These blocks have been assembled as leaders and enders while I've been working on the Geisha quilt.  I know the block in the lower left stands out since it's the only one that has red corners.  There are still 7 blocks left, so I'm hoping there are a couple more blocks with the corners in the set.  Other than that, I'm pretty happy with how this project is progressing.

That's it for me this week.  Hope your holiday preparations are going well.  I'm hoping to sit down for a few minutes this evening with a cup of tea to check out all the other design walls over at Patchwork Times

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stash Report - December 4th

It's been a good weekend to sew since it was cold and wet.  I spent most of yesterday in my sewing room, though the stash report doesn't really show that.  Today we'll (actually I'll) put the Christmas tree up.  Once it's up with the lights on it, I can turn it over to Kiddo for her to hang the ornaments. 

As I mentioned above the stash report looks pretty anemic considering I spent most of yesterday sewing.  In part, that's because I started on the borders for the Geisha quilt and then decided that one of the borders just wasn't going to work.  With some input from My Guy, an alternative has been worked out.  Now I just have to unsew the last set of borders from yesterday.  Since I have to do that, the yardage for that last border has been backed out of the report. 

Used this week: 0.66 yards
Added this week:  9 yards

Used year to date:  52.52 yards
Added year to date:  70.12 yards

Net stashed for 2011:  17.60 yards

Did you notice the 9 yards in this week?  That doesn't help the report either.  Part of this yardage will be used for borders for the purple and yellow quilt.  I played with the fabric that was in my stash and just didn't really like any of the options.  I've spent a lot of time on this quilt and just can't make myself finish it with borders I'm not thrilled with. 

The dark purple in middle will be used as a narrow border around the quilt, then there will be a wider border of one of the two medium range prints.  I'm leaning more towards the "viney" one at the moment, but I haven't played with these 3 on the design wall yet so that could change. 

I hope your report is  moving in the right direction.  Check out Patchwork Times for more stories of the stash. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Foto Finish - Cold

It's a typical, Saturday. Well maybe typical is the wrong word,  maybe I should start by saying it's my favorite kind of Saturday.  The kind I can start in my recliner, with my first (second or third) cup of coffee.  The computer is on and I'm writing this post, looking forward to reading eveyone's blogs, then catching up with emails.  The crew here at In Pieces has been everywhere but home it seems the last few weekends.  It's nice to catch a break.  The plan for the rest of the day is to work on the Geisha quilt in hopes it can be mailed to Trudy Monday.  It's cold, it's raining and after walking miles yesterday in both solo and Kiddo Christmas shopping modes, my legs are really sore.  So it's a perfect day to stay in and just sew. 

Before I get to the sewing part of the day, it is time for this week's Foto Finish post.  The theme this week is cold.  I didn't have to look far.  Last February we started the month with a miserable snow and ice storm.  This poor guy took refuge in our rose bushes.  Doesn't he look really cold?

Later in the month, we had a record low of -29 F.  It was below freezing the day I snapped this shot, but not quite that cold.  I'm hoping we are not on tap for as cold and snowy of a winter has we had last year.  However, the forecast is for snow on Monday.  I guess I can still hope for warmer temps. 

Check out Cat Patches for more chilling shots. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

TGIF!  I'm on vacation today - yahoo!  Christmas shopping is the plan.  All by myself shopping.  No Kiddo, whose feed start to hurt after the first hour (with all her swimming and volleyball you'd think she'd have more shopping stamina).  No My Guy asking after the first hour "Aren't we done yet?".  I really don't have that much to get, I've already done a fair amount of my shopping via the Internet.  But I'm looking forward to one of those rare days when I'm on my own.  So I can dilly dally if I want.  No arguments over where to have lunch (or when to have it).  I really do enjoy my family, but with the break neck pace we've been on the last month, a day where I get to set the pace is definitely welcome. 

So that's my favorite thing this week.  Wander over to Quilting in My Pyjama's to check out the rest of this week's favorite things.