Sunday, June 27, 2010

happy birthday to me

24 years ago today (at 3:13 MST) I was born.  Today I am celebrating with my wonderful hubby and so far it's great!

In celebration, I'll be hosting a giveaway later this week.  Look forward to that!

Friday, June 25, 2010


A few things are keeping me entertained recently.  I've succumbed to the oh-so-dramatic Grey's Anatomy.  Yes.  THAT show.  Go ahead and laugh.  Okay stop now.

My dear husband likes to find shows for me to watch.  Since I hate watching live television (because really, when did there get to be 4 minutes of commercials for ever 10 minutes of show??) Joel and I tend to watch new (or new to us) shows on our PVR or online.  It's fantastic.  You can get through a 1 hour show in just 40-something minutes!

It took us just 3.5 weeeks to get through the entire series. Yes, I need a life.  I really can't tell you how thankful I am for all of the quality time I get with my husband, even if he is sitting through hours of Grey's with me.  It used to be that we both worked and volunteered so much, that we would get an hour before bed each night and maybe a few hours on the weekends.  It has been like a wonderful vacation to have him home so much since our job changes.

Previously, Joel and I both worked for a large multi-site church in town and for various reasons have left both our jobs and the church.  It was very hard to move on from the people we had grown to love and respect in our jobs and our church life, but it needed to happen.  While we worked there he was working up to 60+ hours a week running the buildings for rentals, and I was working a normal 40 hour week in the office, but we both added at least 5 more hours of volunteering on top of that.  It got to the point where we didn't get much time together, and when we did we were so tired, sometimes it was hard to have a conversation.  So when we couldn't muster anymore energy, we shared tv shows and movies.  It's a special thing we do, and it may seem brain melting or mundane to some, but I love it.

Needless to say, I am now addicted to Grey's and can't stop watching.

Another new show we've been watching:

I'm not even really into the whole vampire thing, but I like this show, even though it is sometimes (okay, most of the time) extremely over acted and a little cheesey.

I've also been re-watching The Office.  How can you go wrong with that genius?  And before you think that I am a couch potato who does nothing but watch tv, I mostly watch while doing other things , (laundry, sewing, eating lunch, etc) or late at night once we are in bed.

The other thing that keeps me entertained is my brother-in-law.  Joel's youngest brother Jamie has been staying with us since the end of April and needless to say it is an adventure having and 18 year old boy living with us.  He is here for the summer to work and save money so he can go back to university in September.

Here's a few of the highlights:

1.  Getting woken up at 4am because Jamie is sure there is someone trying to come through his window.  Apparently he was sleeping naked (ew, TMI?) when the blinds blew off the edge of the window sill because of some wind coming through the open window.  Panicking he first got ready to grab the guy and "pull him to beat him senseless" but then ran upstairs to grab Joel (and a knife!) and run around the side of the house.  There was no one there.  Oh, and Jamie was somehow wearing Joel's clothes, which I guess is better than nothing!

2.  His 7 word vocabulary: "geez, JO-EL, stop, shut up, ugh, NO, what"

3.  Hearing stories about his university parties where he drinks liquor from a vase and mixes white wine with sprite.  Yuck.

It's an endless parade of silly at the house recently and I love it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

teeny tiny baby gifts

A friend of ours recently had her 4th baby!  Little Nathan Victor arrived just a few weeks ago and we couldn't be happier for him or his parents and siblings.  Too celebrate the little ones arrival, a friend threw them a "Sprinkle Shower".  The idea was that since he is number 4, they already have a lot of the essentials, so guests were to bring little things to sprinkle the new mom and baby with.

I agonized over what to give.  Usually I would make a baby quilt, but I didn't because a) I am severely lacking in boy friendly fabrics and b) I doubt that a quilt can be considered a sprinkle, even if I really want it to be.

In the end, I made the little man 2 bibs and a monster.

A Monster & 2 Bibs

I picked out a solid chocolate brown, some Alexander Henry Teeny Tiny Zoo in pool, and some Cake Rock Beach Eclipse in Water and whipped up two little bibs using a combination of the Nested Basic Bib template and the Quilted Patchwork Bib tutorial on Sew She Sews.  They were fun and really easy to make and so I am sure they will become a go-to gift for baby showers.  I also made a little RevoluzZa monster with her tutorial and pattern.  I only made a slight alteration to the mouth since I didn't want to make the embroidered one from the instructions.

All three resources provided really easy to follow instructions, so the only error I made was to sew the monster together with a wrong and a right side facing together instead of the right sides together.  Due entirely to make lack of attention.

We dropped the gifts off on our way downtown since I was unable to actually attend the Sprinkle Shower.  I got to meet tiny perfect Nathan and spend a little time with his mom and siblings.  It was great fun, and so nice to hold such a new baby.  I am glad that Nathan's mom enjoyed the gifts and am anxiously awaiting the pictures of him with the bibs and monster.

the random object: wedding rings

Wedding Set

My wedding rings. Before I tell you about them, let me tell you how this picture came about. One of the two families I work for has an adorable set of twins. Occasionally I will go over in the evening, put them to bed and then have several hours to myself before their parents get home. Most often I will read or watch tv or hand sew, but recently I have started taking my computer. I spend time blogging (like now)or getting sucked into Flickr and Facebook, or I bring tv episodes or movies to watch.

A couple of days ago, I brought my camera with the intention of taking some pics of my wedding rings for this post. I was out in the backyard in the last of the late afternoon sun, my rings on the railing, practicing my macro skills. After about 10 photos, I took a step back to look at the composition and fell down the deck stairs! Ouch! Although it was only 3 steps, it was really quite a spectacular fall! I didn't injure anything but was definitely sore after that! As my old joke goes "Grace is my middle name!"

Okay, back to the random object. I decided to start with this because I forgot to take some pics of the things that inspired this meme. (And of course they may be my most important random object.)

For some reason, for a long time, I had an irrational fear that I would never get married or have kids or be loved. Probably because as a teenager I dated a guy for a few years and in my naive teenagery ways thought that we would be high school sweethearts and blah blah, and obviously, most of the time that is not the way it happens.

I'll save the story of how we met and married for another day, (perhaps our 3rd wedding anniversary coming up in September?) Today instead I will tell you about how he picked the rings and proposed.

Joel knows that I am a picky person when it comes to well, everything. When we started talking about getting married, he asked me if I wanted to go ring shopping with him or have him pick the ring himself. Something girly and old fashioned inside me said I should send him on his own (or perhaps with the help of a friend, but I had never so much as been in a ring store before so I was curious and really wanted to go with him.

The actual shopping part wasn't really anything special which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. We stopped on a whim on the way to doing something else and wandered quickly through the store. We went to Spence Diamonds mostly because we had heard all sorts of ads for their better prices and open showcases. (Who said radio advertising wasn't effective?) I was so sure was looking for something simple and classic that I didn't even go over near the modern stuff. I knew I wanted a solitaire and most likely in a classic tiffany style setting.

As soon as I tried one on, I knew it wasn't right. So we kept looking. We looked at 3 stone rings, engagement bands, super sculptural stuff, nothing was right. And then Joel saw it. THE ring, and he made me try it on even though I was skeptical. I fell in love with it as soon as it was on my finger. (Even though the floor model was about 5 sizes too big.) I loved the squareness of the band, the little frame of metal around the diamond and I love that it had an equally modern wedding band that fit right under the engagement setting. Perfection.

So we got someone to right it down and we left, we didn't even buy it right there. That came a little bit later when we went back and picked out a diamond together.

(photo by Brooks Ryenolds)

Joel proposed to me on a bridge overlooking the lagoon in Bowness Park.  The picture above was taken a year after our wedding, at my friend Amanda's wedding (I'm right of centre.)  We had gone to Bowness park on our first date, and Joel brought me back there to ask me to marry him.  We had had a delicious dinner at Mongoli Grill, and were going back to his house to watch a movie when he made an excuse to stop at the park.  Just like shopping for rings, and like most of the other important events in our relationship, it wasn't anything huge and special, it was just us, being ourselves, and I loved it.  We wandered through the park on our way to the bridge, holding hands, joking and smiling.  When we got to the bridge it was peaceful, not another soul in sight.  And then he started saying mushy things (which of course I can't remember now.)  He got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife and I jumped up and down and cried "Of course!"

The first thing I did was take of my other ring (another random object for another day) and let him put my shiny new diamond ring on my finger.

I found out after that, that many people knew that we were getting engaged that night, including a friend who lived just a few blocks away and had agreed to take photos after he proposed.  So off we went.

I could barely hold my hand still long enough to take this photo.  We called my our parents and friends and generally just floated around.

And now this photo hangs in our room more than 3 years later.  The rings are well worn and loved and are certainly not as blindingly bright as they used to be, but I like it that way.  They almost never come off, and I still haven't tired of staring at them as they sparkle in the sun.

For those who are interested, these are the specs:  Engagement ring is platinum, size 3.25, .75 ct Princess cut IF, F colour conflict free diamond in a bezel setting.  Wedding band is platinum, size 3.25 with 8 princess cut diamonds in a channel setting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

meme me

I've decided to start participating in a couple of memes for two reasons.

1. I need a couple of things to encourage me to continue writing on a regular basis. I go through periods where it's difficult for me to pluck creativity out of the air and I feel like picking a few memes can help me to find some inspiration.

2. I like to write because it helps me to remember and appreciate. Looking through photos and writing about experiences keeps things fresh in my mind and often makes me laugh.

So, starting this week I will be introducing two memes to superlative sewing. Sunday Stash and The Random Object. Sunday Stash is probably well known to most quilting blog readers, but The Random Object is one I've made up for myself. I was cleaning the kitchen a couple of days ago and came across a couple of random objects that are special to me and come with interesting stories.

I'm hoping you enjoy them and would appreciate any feedback you'd be willing to give as well as ideas for random objects or even other memes you might enjoy.

For now, another picture from a trip to Banff. Love the hat!

Monster Mash

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Today we went here:

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
(The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel)

and here:

Banff Upper Hot Springs
(The Fairmont Hot Springs Upper Pool - borrowed from wakarimasen82's photostream)

We soaked and relaxed and then wandered downtown.

On Banff Ave
(On Banff Avenue)

We posed and then we went to eat.

Joel Makes a Face
(Wild Bill's Legendary Saloon)

And Joel made faces.

All in all it was a pretty great morning. I'm glad I have a husband to wander with, and some out of province visitors to force us to visit such great destinations.

Monday, June 21, 2010

the criss cross quilt

A few weeks ago I posted about a new project. Well, it's done!

Introducing the Criss Cross Quilt.

Criss Cross Quilt

From the get-go, this project has been a challenge. Generally speaking, to start a project I need a big dose of inspiration. Sometimes that comes from cruising Flickr, sometimes from a stack of fabrics, or an outfit a friend is wearing, sometimes from a book. Since I knew I wanted this to be a more traditional quilt, I had originally chosen a sawtooth star block. The inspiration came from the book  Quilting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time. I think I have mentioned this book before, but I'll say it again - I love it! There is a quilt in the book that is monochromatic sawtooth stars and it is so beautiful.  My idea was to go out and get a bunch of different fabrics in red, gold and off white type colours and to piece many, many sawtooth stars out of them to create an eclectic but somewhat traditional quilt top.  I didn't think I had time to order online, and I didn't have the money to pay what my LQS was charging and so I went to the dreaded Fabricland in search of fabric.  Thus the end of all my inspiration.  After a frustrating hour wandering around the store and finding literally NO red fabric, I gave up.  All while uttering quiet profanities.  Oops.

I decided to focus on solids.  I had seen a beautiful quilt on Flickr by cauchy09 and used that as my inspiration for this quilt.  She mentioned that the pattern came from a book called Quilting Pieces of the Past (Better Homes & Gardens) but not being able to find it at the library, and not wanting to purchase the whole book, I decided to just figure out the pattern myself.  I stuck to the red and white of the original quilt because it's beautiful and it was a set of colours I knew Grandma B would like.  I found an AMAZING deal of some Kona cotton at Blueberry Buckle Quilt Shop and ordered up 7 yards of it in Chinese Red and Snow.

I had mentioned in the previous post about using Oh Fransson's postage stamp piecing method and how well it had worked.  It did actually work very well, except that I forgot to account for seam allowances on my first block and it went to waste.  Then of the subsequent 9 blocks I was a little sloppy in some places and ended up running into issues with squaring the blocks.

In the end, it got done.  I did come to like it more than I thought I would, especially after quilting it was my standard stippling.  I spent several hours at work binding and a few more at home in bed binding and it got finished last night.  I have to say, if I'm proud of anything on this quilt it's the corners.  For the first time, all of my binding corners are perfect.  And I mean, PERFECT.  They are perfectly shaped and even on all four corners and that is a big accomplishment for me.

Criss Cross Quilt Back

The back is solid red with a whole lot of bright white stitching showing.  I think it's a neat effect.

Criss Cross Quilt Label

The label of course.  I don't really use cowtown baby as a label anymore, usually just an s for superlative, but I thought I'd throw on this one because that is the label that Grandma B and my mother-in-law know.

Criss Cross Quilt Binding

And the ubiquitous folded with binding out picture.  I love it.

This morning it got sent off in the mail all wrapped up pretty.  I paid a whopping $36.00 CAD to ship it which if you ask me is a bit unreasonable for shipping withing Canada, but I wanted to make sure it got there on time and that it was insured in case it goes missing.  (Which by the way is highly likely, stupid Canada Post).

I've got a couple of things in the works for more posts soon, and a giveaway coming up at the end of the week in honor of my birthday, so stay tuned!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

been away for a while now...

But I hope to be back soon.  I'm working an abnormal amount of hours this week, plus scrambling to finish a couple of projects with deadlines looming too close.  Lots of pictures and stories to come I promise!  Thanks for your patience!

For now, some kitty love:

Kitty love

Friday, June 4, 2010

sexy hexies

I realize I never posted a follow up to my busy work post about my new love of hexagons!

As it turns out (and not at all to my surprise) hexagons are super fun!  They are small enough that they travel well in a purse or little bag, and with a little prep, you can sew them just about anywhere!

I took my little pack of hexagons to the Toyota dealership so I would have something productive to do while I waited for my car to be serviced.  (They offered a shuttle but I declined since there was nothing close enough for me to do while I waited.  When we bought the car, for some reason we purchased from the dealership on the other side of town instead of the one down the road and now we have to drive all the way by the airport to get service!  oops!)

Anyways, I had spent the night before cutting all my templates and little bits of fabric and pinning them to the templates so that I could just bring a pile that were ready to sew.

Have Hex Will Travel

After talking to a service rep, I got myself all settled into a comfy chair in the lounge and started sewing.  I must have looked like I was setting up camp.  I had a water bottle, snacks, all my sewing supplies and a book.  Apparently I was prepared for the long haul.

Even though the dealership is across town (a very LARGE "town" indeed) I really don't mind going there because of this:

Inspiration in an Unlikely Place

That's right.  Possibly the most beautiful carpet I have ever seen in my life.  It is the most beautiful colours and detailed scenes and it's endless inspiration.  Who knew you could find something so beautiful in a car dealership?

Back to the hexies.  After that first day I have about 18 done.  According to my calculations, 18 hexies over approximately 2.5 hours including a bathroom break and a coffee break works out to about one every 7.2 minutes.  Not too shabby for my first go round.

A Pile of Hexagons

I'm not sure what I will be making out of them, but I love them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

a new project

I started a new project today.  Correction:  I started a new project several days ago, but undid it and started again today.

I love to sew and quilt and whatnot but I am not the worlds greatest piecer of small things and so when I decided on this particular pattern I must have been having a mental moment.  Lots of small squares to piece in rows that need to be perfect.

New Project

This project is a commission, and came about when my mother-in-law asked me to create a quilt for her mother for her birthday this month.  Joel's grandmother is a lifelong quilter with a great deal of talent, so this is VERY intimidating!

I decided to do a more traditional pattern to reflect the kind of work that she does in her guild, but that I would quilt it in a more modern fashion so that it has a bit of my personality in it as well.  I love the look of a sawtooth star and thought about doing a quilt much like the one from Quilting for Peace by Katherine Bell.  In the end I decided on something similar to this.  Apparently it is from a book of historic quilts.  I could never find the book so I made up the pattern myself.

(As I am typing this I realize that I really should have been taking pictures of my process.  I apologize!)

For those of you that read Oh, Fransson! you are probably aware that she (Elizabeth) has been creating mini quilts for the winners of her Giveaway Day contest and one of them was a mini map of the Tokyo Subway system.  This woman is a formidable quilter and she has created a tutorial over at Sew Mama Sew for what she calls her Stamp Collection quilt.  It's a fantastic tutorial and such a great way to piece small squares and get perfect seams.  Thank you Elizabeth!

Last night I went out to The Fabric Store That Shall Not Be Named and picked up 4m of light weight fusible interfacing to help me piece my blocks.  Amazingly, they had what I needed and how much I needed and at a way lower price than I thought it would be!   Only $2.50/m!

I rushed home and didn't look at it until morning.  This morning however, I ripped out all of my previously imperfect stitches and got to work!  And this is what I got:

New Project

Ta Da!  I am SO happy with this block.  (Sorry about the crappy picture, no sun today.)  It is so satisfying to spend all that time cutting and organizing and ironing and sewing and whatever, and to have it turn out exactly as I wanted.

Only 8 more to go!