Saturday, August 31, 2013

August NewFO

The last day of the month seems to come faster and faster the later in the year it gets.  As hard as it is to believe, this is the last day of August.  That means it's time to link up with Cat Patches for the August version of the NewFO Challenge

I wasn't sure there would be a NewFO this month.  I've already started 7 new projects this year, but balanced out some of those by finishing 5 projects.  So my "to be completed" pile has grown by only 2.  But some of the projects started this year have only one block completed, so I didn't get very far on several of them.  I had definitely decided not to start anything in August.  Then Judy Laquidara of Patchwork Times started her Back to Brenham quilt along.  I just loved the pattern and couldn't help checking my stash to see if there were any cuts that had enough yardage to work in this pattern (it calls for almost 6 yards of the focus fabric).  Once I found a couple of cuts that might work, I couldn't resist playing around in EQ and came up with this:

Now I wanted to make it.  So in spite of my good intentions to finish up a couple of other projects before starting this one, I pressed the fabrics and cut the strips for the first set of half square triangles last weekend.  I haven't made much progress, just 8 HSTs completed so far. 

 I love the red with the black.  Not sure how much progress I'll make with this one, there is no way I'll keep up with the quilt along. It will get done when it gets done.  The one consolation is that it will use up quite a bit of stash.  

Check out all the other NewFOs over at Cat Patches.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

15 Minute Challenge - Beauty Sleep

Is it really Tuesday again?  The weeks seem to go faster now that school is back in session.  Maybe it's just because there is so much going on.  Well, I do know that school being in session has impacted my ability some evenings to find 15 minutes to stitch.  With parents night on Monday and a home volleyball game on Tuesday, not a lot of stitching got done those two nights, but I didn't do too badly the rest of the week.  

Four nights of stitching isn't doing too bad for a busy week. Since we have a holiday weekend coming up, I'm hopeful that lots of stitching will go on this weekend.  

In addition to finding time to stitch, I'm supposed to be fostering my creativity each week.  For August, the focus has been on getting a good night's sleep, so I feel like being creative rather than cranky.  It's definitely an area that I need to do a better job in for both myself and for Drama Teen.  It's amazing how your kids pick up your bad habits if you aren't careful.  So though I've not done enough to improve my sleep habits, at least I've been more aware of them.  Last week's post included a list of 10 sleep hygiene tips.  If you scan the "sleep" sites on the web, most of those are included as good sleep habits to form.  

One tip that is not on that list is regulating your melatonin levels.  Melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle.  It's production is very sensitive to light, exposure to light reduces the amount in your brain, staving off sleepiness.  The problem is that many modern evening entertainments can retard the production of melatonin, such as TV, computer screens and e-readers.  So if you spend your evenings with any of those devices, melatonin production is reduced and you don't feel as sleepy as you should.  Most authorities recommend turning off all such stimulation about 30 minutes prior to bedtime to allow your melatonin levels to rise.  

So how did you do on stitching this last week?  Did you do a lot or were you too tired?  Link up and share your creative activities for the last week.  

1. Julie in GA
2. Pat
3. Thea
4. Kate @katiemaequilts

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Design Wall - August 26th

It was a quiet weekend.  I managed to get a good jump on my report that's due by the end of the week.  Most of the laundry got washed.  My reward for all that productivity was to spend a couple of hours in the sewing room.  

This month, I've pretty much limited my focus to just 3 projects, Mon Ami, Back to Square One, and Neutral Gems.  Mon Ami just needs one more border and it will be a finished flimsy.  It's up on design wall number one, but it doesn't look that much different than it did last week.  Neutral Gems is moving slowly since it's my current leaders and enders project, so there isn't much to see different on it.  All the Economy blocks in step 4 of the Back to Square One instructions are done.  I've been working on the Economy blocks in Step 5 and finished enough yesterday to have one border completed.  

Back to Square One
by Judy Laquidara (pattern available here)

Just a few days till Judy posts step 9, so I'm still way behind on this project.  Once Mon Ami is on the way to the quilters, this project will move up to be my number one project.  

Yesterday, I finally gave in and started my version of Road to Brenham, another of Judy Laquidara's quilt alongs.  She's up to step 7 and I only managed to get fabric 1 cut for step 1.  Hopefully, I'll get enough done to have something worthwhile to show for Cat Patches NewFO post on Sunday.  

That's it for my design wall.  I'm linking up with Patchwork Times for her weekly linky party.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stash Report - Week 34

It's been a busy week with not a lot of sewing going on.  School activities and volleyball took up a couple of evenings.  I didn't feel well on Friday and Saturday, so I just sat in the recliner and read a book.  Today I have to work on a report that's due next Friday. I'll probably get to sew some this evening, but I won't get my usual Sunday afternoon sewing session in this week.  Some weeks are just that way.  

At least there is no new fabric coming in this week and just a bit going out.  

Used last week:  0.6 yards
Added last week:  0 yards

Used for 2013:  51.24 yards
Added for 2013:  148.83 yards

Net stashed for 2013:  97.59 yards

My revised stash busting goal for 2013 is to keep the net stashed below 100 yards.  I didn't notice last week, but the outgoing column has crossed the 50 yards out mark.  The most I've ever used in a year is 60 yards.  I'm on track to exceed that mark this year.  So though I've blown the goal of using more than I buy, I can definitely do better in fabric usage then I have in previous years.  

That's it for my stash report this week.  I'm linking up with Patchwork Times this week as usual.  You can check out the state of the stash there.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

15 Minute Challenge - Broken Beauty Sleep

For some unknown reason I've been waking up at 3:30 AM and can't go back to sleep.  That's been happening a few mornings for the last few months.  This was one of those mornings.  After 30 minutes of tossing and turning, I just got up.  It's handy that this month's fostering creativity topic is "get a good night's sleep" because I felt better about spending some time doing a bit of research to fill in my "extra" coffee time this morning.  According to Harvard Medical School, what I have is sleep maintenance  insomnia. Basically this type of insomnia means you go to sleep just fine, but you can't stay asleep.  Turns out this form of insomnia is more common in women then in men, especially during "mid-life".  It is often associated with depression, stress and hot flashes.  Probably 90% of that age group are dealing with one of the three.  So I'm in good company it seems.  

Unfortunately according to the Harvard article, there's no magical treatment for this type of insomnia.  Certain medications can cause it, but typically it's more complicated than that.  The site offered some "sleep hygiene" tips.

1.  Stay away from coffee, tea, sodas after 1 to 2 PM
2.  Stay away from alcohol. 
3.  Don't smoke
4.  Don't nap more than 15 to 20 minutes if you need one and don't do it in the evening before bed.
5.  Get regular exercise
6.  Set a sleep schedule
7.  Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet
8.  Eat dinner several hours before bedtime.  If you have a late evening snack keep it light.
9.  Establish a relaxing evening routine.
10.  Limit fluids before bedtime.  Don't drink anything the 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.  

Most of this is common sense, but with busy schedules some of this is hard to do every night.  By the time I picked Drama Teen up from volleyball practice and got home there was just enough time to head over to the school for parents night.  It was after 8 PM by the time I got home to a very late supper and then bed. So no stitching last night.  But it I did pretty well last week anyway. 

I managed to find at least 15 minutes to sew 5 out of the last 7 days. It shows too as I've made a lot of progress on Mon Ami.  Probably not much sewing tonight as Drama Teen has a home volleyball game and I'm working concessions for most of the evening.  But the rest of the week looks clear.  So I have hope.  

So how did your week go?  Did you find some time to stitch?  

1. Pat

2. Julie in GA

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Design Wall - August 19th

It was a quiet weekend for a change, with not much going on.  So the house is a little cleaner and the piles of laundry are conquered for the time being. There was even some time for stitching.   I'm working on just three projects at the moment; Mon Ami, Back to Square One and Neutral Gems.  The only one of those that shows significant progress is Mon Ami.

Modified from Mon Ami
by Miss Rosie's Quilt Company

Three of the 5 borders have been added.  The 4th border is ready to sew on, hopefully I'll get to that tonight.  I probably won't get it done tonight, it's parent night at the school.  Then tomorrow night I have to work concessions for the high school volleyball games.  The rest of the week looks clear, as is next weekend.  So there is still a good chance that Mon Ami will be a finished flimsy by the end of the month.  

That's it for my design wall this week.  Check out the other design walls over at Patchwork Times.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stash Report - Week 33

We are taking advantage of our slow weekend to just gel.  Drama Teen is just about decompressed from her first week of high school.  I'm still recovering from a bout of muscle spasms in my left shoulder that started on Tuesday.  I've been off the computer at work and here at home in an effort to get the muscles to relax.  It's much better now, but my computer time is still limited to very short sessions in order to keep the inflammation at bay.  Consequently, I'm way behind on email and reading blogs.  

I did get some sewing in this week.  My Guy and I took our 19/30 day on Friday, so I got to sew most of Friday afternoon.  The borders are going onto Mon Ami and I'm making progress on Judy's Back to Square One mystery quilt.  That accounts for most of what went out this week.  

Used last week: 0.91 yards
Added last week:  0 yards

Used for 2013:  50.64 yards
Added for 2013:  148.83 yards

Net stashed for 2013:  98.19 yards 

So far I'm managing to stay below 100 yards stashed for the year.  Compared to last year that's a major improvement.  I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to start Judy's latest quilt along for Road to Brenham.  Here's what mine would look like with the red, white and black fabrics I showed last week (without the pieced border, I'm not quite that EQ7 literature yet).  

Road to Brenham
Pattern by Judy Laquidara (found here)

I couldn't leave well enough alone and started playing with color placement and using all the same block, now I've got a few other options I may like better.  

Modified Road to Brenham
Original pattern by Judy Laquidara (found here)

The fabric is all washed, I just need to decide if I'm going to strictly follow Judy's pattern or make a few modifications along the way.

That's it for this week's stash report.  Check out all the other stash busting going on over at Patchwork Times.    

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

15 Minute Challenge - More Than Beauty Sleep

It rained again this morning.  If the temps weren't so high during the day, you might think it was April rather than August here in Oklahoma.  And to be honest our highs in the upper 80's to low 90's aren't really high for the time of year either, our average temp the first few weeks of August is usually over 100 F.  So it's been cooler than normal by quite a bit.  It's really been a weird August here in Oklahoma.  

Drama Teen goes back to school today.  It's been hard to wrap my head around the fact that she's a freshman in high school now.  I'm looking forward to the more stable schedule we tend to have when she's in school.  This last week of getting her to volleyball practice has played havoc with my work schedule, which means it's also messing with my sewing time.  Though I didn't have a bad week by any means.  

Not a lot of machine sewing going on except for last night.   I did get 3 quilts labeled over the last week and they were gifted yesterday to 3 very deserving teachers.  It was a good week, 6 days of sewing and three quilts were moved out of the fabric closet.  

In addition to finding time to stitch this year, I wanted to do more to foster my creativity.  This month that effort focuses on "get a good night's sleep".  Being tired is probably the number one reason I don't get more stitching time in.  As I noted last week, most of us don't get the 7 to 9 hours of recommended shut eye each night.  Besides not wanting to get a needle through your finger, there are some other good reasons to get the recommended hours of sleep. Here's a few.

1.  Avoids brain blight.  Habitually sleeping 7 hours or more has been linked to decreased dementia risk.
2.   Sleep decreases your sensitivity to pain.  
3.  You'll eat less.  Being short on sleep increases the hormone ghrelin which stimulates your appetite.  
4.  Being short on sleep can make it hard for your body to clear excess glucose from the blood stream.  
5. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night has been linked to a 62% increase in breast cancer risk.

I wonder now if can sleep your way to a skinnier you?  Points 3 and 4 would suggest that. 

That's it for this week.  How are you doing on finding time to stitch? 

1. Pat
2. Julie in GA
3. Kate @katiemaequilts
4. Thea

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Design Wall - August 12th

How did we get to almost the middle of August already?  Wasn't it just the first yesterday?  I guess it's true, time flies when you are having fun.  Though in our case, maybe it should really read time flies when you are busy! 

Not a lot going on with the design wall this week.  I took some time out from the ongoing projects to finish getting labels on some quilts that are presents for three teachers who have been really important in making Drama Teen the awesome teenager she is (Don't tell her I said she was awesome, it will go straight to her head!).  The only project that hasn't shown up on the blog in a while is Neutral Gems, my current leader and ender project.  

 Neutral Gems
Pattern is "Gems" by Donna Lynn Thomas
found in the book Patchwork Palette

Only one more 6.5" block to sew before I can make my 4th large block.  I love the pattern that these blocks make. This project is a big change from the other stuff up on the wall.  It's subdued, while all the other projects use bright colors.  

That's it for my design all this week.  I still have one quilt label to attach, but I didn't have the right color thread to stitch it down. Since I'll have to order that, I should be able to get back to work on Mon Ami and maybe get all the borders on it this week.  

For more design wall goodies, check out Patchwork Times.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Slow Stitching Sunday - August 11

Sunday started off cool and cloudy, which is definitely different than our typical August mornings.  I'm not complaining, everything is green when it's usually brown.  My Guy on the other hand isn't very appreciative that he has to mow for the second week in a row.  Usually in August it's too dry for the grass to grow much.  Northern Oklahoma has had a fair amount of rain this week and temps have been in the mid 90s.  We've been lucky, but southern Oklahoma and Texas still have horribly dry conditions.  

Most of this week, I've been working on hand sewing labels to a few finish quilts.  First was the OSU quilt,

then the Evening Star quilt.

This afternoon I started attaching the label to Counting Stars

Just one more label left to stitch down.  That should get done before bed time tonight.

I'm linking up with this week's Slow Stitching Sunday over at Kathy's Quilts.  Take a break and check out all the posts there.   

Stash Report - Week 32

This house is in "back to school" mode.  Drama Teen starts high school on Tuesday.  Yesterday was the final mad dash to finish up shopping for absolutely have to haves for back to school.  She spent last night cleaning out her notebook and backpack from last year so she could get ready for this year.  She's excited and nervous. Just two more days of freedom and then she's back to the school year grind.  

I did stop in at a quilt shop yesterday while we were out shopping, but I didn't buy anything.  I was very proud of myself for that restraint.  Unfortunately, I've not done much this week that uses fabric.  I had four quilts that needed the labels attached before they could be delivered to their new homes.  I've got two of the four done and hope to finish up the last two today.  So other than one vertical border for Mon Ami, not much going out this week. 

Used last week:  0.19 yards
Added last week:  0 yards

Used for 2013:  49.73
Added for 2013:  148.83 yards

Net stashed for 2013:  99.1 yards

So I'm still below 100 yards stashed.  Once I get the labels done and get back to the borders for Mon Ami, the fabric usage should jump up a bit.  I've also been playing around with possible fabric to use in Judy's Road to Brenham quilt.   I've been playing with these 3:  

I made a red, black and white quilt a last year and loved it, so I'd like to make another in that color combination.  To be honest, the main reason I started with these 3 is that you need almost 5 yards of one of the fabrics and I don't have a lot of pieces that big, but I do have that much of the black.  I don't want to buy anything for this project.  I can justify starting another quilt if it takes a bite out of the existing stash.  

That's it for my stash report.  Grab a cup of coffee and check out all the other stash posts over at Patchwork Times

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

15 Minute Challenge - It's Not Just Beauty Sleep

Life is getting back to normal after our 10 day vacation.  Laundry is pretty much caught up, I've caught up on sleep, but still working to get caught up on stuff at work.  Two out of three is not bad.  As much as I enjoyed vacation, I was so ready to get back into the sewing room last weekend.  Mon Ami is ready for borders, so a finished flimsy is a near thing.  I always get energized when a project gets close to being done.  It always takes longer to get the borders on than I expect, but even so, it's nice to get one more project to that stage.  

As much as I itched to get back into the sewing room after vacation, my energy level last week had other ideas.  

The siren song of the recliner caught me in it's web 3 of the last 7 days, so only 4 days of sewing last week.  Not a bad week, lots got done on the weekend.  Maybe it was being at a higher altitude for a week, whatever the reason, I was pretty much exhausted after work each night last week.  One night My Guy had to wake me up twice before I managed to make it from the recliner to the bed.  It's hard to want to sew when one is that tired.  

Not getting enough sleep is a big creativity killer.  It's hard to focus when you are tired, so you make more mistakes.  If I'm feeling really tired, sewing is usually a bad idea. More unsewing goes on than sewing in those instances.  According to the most of the references I found, most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.  But the National Sleep Foundation says that most women only average about 6 hours and 49 minutes of sleep on work nights, plus have more problems then their guys do in getting to sleep and staying asleep.  

After all that you've probably guessed that August's Fostering Creativity theme is "get a good night's sleep".  The reading I did getting ready for this post was pretty eye opening.  Recent research into chronic sleep deprivation is turning up links to some scary longer term health effects.  Just an hour of research had me deciding that improving my sleeping habits should be one of my goals for the rest of the year.  Look for more on the health effects, causes of poor sleep habits, and tips for better sleep over the next month.  

How was your week?  Did you find the time and the energy to spend some creative time in your sewing room or with your yarn and needles?  Either way link up and share your success and challenges in being creative this last week.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Design Wall Monday - August 5th

Monday already?  The weekend was way too short, but they always are.  It rained off and on all day yesterday.  It seemed more like late September than early August.  Not that I'm complaining.  I'm sure we'll have our typical August weather back sooner than we are ready for it.  

Lots of stitching this weekend, though the design wall doesn't really show it.  All the Mon Ami blocks are sewn together and the first border is in progress. 

Modified from Mon Ami
by Miss Rosie's Quilt Company

I'm happy with how it's turning out. This one just might make finished top status by the end of the month.  

There was some progress on the other design wall as well.

Back to Square One
by Judy Laquidara (pattern available here)

Only 7 more Economy blocks before I finish step 4 in Judy's Back to Square One Medallion Mystery.  I'd really like to catch up to step 8 this month.  I'm not sure that's doable, but at least I'm getting closer.  
That's what is up on my design walls.  For more of Design Wall Monday, check out Patchwork Times.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Stash Report - Week 31 of 2013

For the second morning in a row we woke to rain. That is decidedly odd for August in Oklahoma.  Typically the heat and the dry have turned every one's yards to brown, but things here are still really green.  

Not much sewing this week as I struggled to get back on schedule after 10 days of vacation.  After a full day of work, dealing with getting Drama Teen to her twice a day volleyball practices, and trying to get laundry caught up, I ended up dosing off in the recliner each evening this week.  Not a lot of sewing gets done when that happens.  I did get to sew yesterday afternoon, but most of that was sewing the Mon Ami blocks together and those have been counted already.  A Neutral Gems block and border blocks for Back to Square One are all that I could count as going out this week.  

Used last week:  0.11 yards
Added last week:  0 yards

Used for 2013: 49.54 yards
Added for 2013:  148.83 yards

Net stashed for 2013:  99.29 yards

Not much out, but at least there was nothing in.  I'm hoping to hold the net stashed number to under 100 for 2013.  So far so good, but I really need to get some stitching done.  

Check out all the other stash reports over at Judy's Patchwork Times.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August - 2013 The Year of the Finished Project

It's the first day of August and the first Thursday in the month, so it's time to review the progress on July's goals and decide what to focus on in August.  Then link up with Lynn over at Never too Hot to Stitch for this month's Year of the Finished Project post.  

Never Too Hot to Stitch!

Unfortunately, July wasn't as productive of a month as I had hoped for.  

1.  Back to Square One
     Finish Clue 4                8 of 20 blocks completed
     Finish Clue 5
     Finish Clue 6
     Finish Clue 7

Back to Square One
by Judy Laquidara
(pattern available 

2.  Mon Ami
     Make 3 blocks            Done

Modified from Mon Ami
by Miss Rosie's Quilt Company

3. Neutral Gems
    Make 5 blocks            Made 2

July was a busy month, we were gone almost every weekend plus took a week of vacation.  In reality out of a 31 day month, I only had 17 days where sewing on these projects was possible.  Add in a few days of illness with suspected food poisoning and that all equates to not a lot of progress.  My project focus changed after I'd put July's goals together when I realized the Mon Ami was the closest to being finished of all the projects up on the design wall.  So it became the focus for what sewing time I did have.  

Though it's disappointing to only finish up one goal, it really wasn't a bad month considering how little time I had to sew.  Progress was made on the other two goals.

So what's the plan for August?  Since this challenge is all about finishing up projects, I'm going to focus on finishing up those projects currently up on the design wall.  Since Mon Ami is the closest to being a completed quilt, it will be the main focus for the month.  I'd like to get caught up on the Back to Square One mystery, so it will be goal number two.  Neutral Gems with be this month's leaders and enders project.   

1.  Mon Ami
     Sew blocks together
     Add borders
     Make back
     Send out for quilting
2.  Back to Square One
     Finish clue 4
     Finish clue 5
     Finish clue 6
     Finish clue 7
3.  Neutral Gems
     Make 10 blocks  

I probably won't finish goal 2, so it's my stretch goal for the month.  What doesn't get done will go on next month's list.  

That's it for me this month.  Check out all the other progress posted over at Never Too Hot to Stitch.