Monday, August 22, 2016

Two Years In The Ranch!

Two years ago today, Brent and I bought the greenest house you've ever seen!  I am still just as in love with this place as I was two years ago.  Thank you, estate sale gods!  Sure we've encountered some crazy things (panic button to a rooftop air raid horn?!?), we've dealt with some massive updating projects, and we've got a million things to tackle in the future, but this is home and we are enamored with it.

I'm not sure I could love our neighborhood any more and our neighbors are pure gold.  I often still find myself in shock that we live here!  And a month after we moved in, my best friend of 20+ years moved in right around the corner from us.  The walk to their house from ours is one of my favorites.
To serve my own list-making needs and to step back and applaud our own accomplishments, I give you a list of what all we've done in the past two years.  Let's see if I can remember it all.

-new floors in all but two bathrooms and the kitchen
-painting galore.  so much more to paint.  paint, paint, paint.
-the removal of five trees (still gives me the feels)
-removing at least one-thousand rocks by hand throughout the backyard to mitigate flooding
-complete electrical update and partial rewire
-converting indoor planter to bench seat
-replacing drain line and clean out
-repairing front door planter and added a seat
-replacing front door (it was hollow core!) and adding a storm door
-converting game closet into media center
-repairing and updating wall in garage - in progress
-replacing under counter lights with LED strips and connecting to switch
-updating kitchen hardware
-replacing microwave from 1982 (RIP radioactive microwave!)
-clearing chimney of a tower of newspapers from the late 80s
-obtaining a dumpster and cleaning our attic and sheds 
-replacing most of the window treatments that came with the house (don't worry, I'm putting all of that old curtain fabric to use!)

I feel like I'm missing so much so I may come back to update the list!  Many befores and afters to come!  I will refrain from starting the list of what we still need to do and will instead just focus on back-patting for what we've already done.  :)
This house was good to the original owners for 60 years and so far, it's been wonderful to us as well.  Two years?!  I'm so glad we're here. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ten Years

Just a couple of weekends ago, Brent and I celebrated ten years together!  I CANNOT believe it's already been ten years.  That went by FAST.  We met at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival completely unexpectedly and have been going strong ever since.  I wrote all about our journey a few years back.  It had been a few years since I had attended the festival but this year, we made it a top priority to go. 

Okemah is not only Woody Guthrie's hometown but it is also Brent's hometown so it's always a small family reunion when we make our journey there.  Thanks to an awesome freak storm (a crazy derecho!), we lost power at our house for a few days which postponed our departure but it all worked out in the end.  We spent a good amount of time before and after the festival at my wonderful father-in-law's house with all sorts of characters. 

The land out there is just gorgeous.  I took a quick stroll as the sun began its descent and grabbed a few photos of the magic.  In person, it's rejuvenating.
The festival has changed over the years some, but so have we.  A few of our friends that have been there since our beginning joined us again to celebrate Woody, beautiful music, and us.  My gratitude runs deep.
I'm so glad we were able to run away together for a few days.  Ten years!  I'm proud of us, I'm impressed by us, I'm inspired by us. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Quilt for Myself!

This next quilt just happened. 
I was moving around some of the various trims I have on hand when I came across a small bolt of 'curtain trim' that I'd never used before but had always thought was beautiful because, green.  It was one of the many treasures I pulled from the fabric warehouse, aka the gift that keeps giving!  Ha!  So for the first time in two years, I finally started to unwrap that green fabric trim from its bolt and was floored to find it had been folded over and was twice the width it appeared to be!  I knew it would be the star of this quilt that was practically begging to be made.  I pulled out scraps from Rio's sewing basket and started piecing the main strip in fabrics that I adored. 
The bold black strips of fabric are actually the backside of a fabric that really wasn't my style at all; I probably would never have used it that way.  The backside had more of a batik/tie dye feel to it which I was all about.  Other than the black piece and the green trim, everything was scrap fabric!  This quilt was actually SUPER fast and simple to make.  It's the busy-ness of the green trim that makes it look more involved than it actually was.
For the backing, I used the same fabric that I used on the back of this quiltI have loads of it in my shop.  It's so different in person!  It gives the quilt such a fantastic weight and I LOVE the way the quilting shows up on the back.  It's a good thing I have so much of it since I see myself continuing to use it on quilts!  As you can see, I quilted the hell out of this thing.  My lines aren't straight and I did back stitch here and there (gasp!) but I LOVE the finished product.  In fact, I'm typing this post up with this quilt in my lap!
For the binding, I just used some scrap bias tape I had on hand and it turned out to be the PERFECT length for this project.  The floral binding in the corner is actually made out of the only fabric I inherited from my Great Granny so I'm quite partial to it.
I wasn't far into this quilt before I knew that I would be keeping this one for myself.  I'm not the only one in our house that loves it - it's quickly become the quilt of choice for everyone here!  It's definitely become my favorite. 
I know it may not be everyone's style but for me, this quilt is perfect and that is what matters.  :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Quilt Made With Mustard

No joke, I have about ten quilts queued up to share with you.  I've been busy!  My quilt motivation has been overwhelming and I've just been going with it.  I figure I'm just ahead of the game for holiday stock!  Though, if you see any pieces that you love, the majority of these quilts could very easily be yours.  :)

Now, onto quilt babble!  I started this one by playing around with half square triangles at the last Crafty Weekender I attended.  The mustard-y color is leftover fabric from last year's Alliday dress which I loooooove.  This quilt was one I worked on in between several other projects and it just kept getting shoved to the back burner.  I think technically I nailed it, but ascetically I wish I had done a few things differently.  I think a more subtle background fabric would have made the triangles pop more and would have made me love the white stripes more.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love that background fabric (it's an old Vera Neuman sheet!) but I wonder how the effects would have been different with a different fabric.  Guess I'll just have to make another version some day!  ;)
I quilted this one TIGHT.  Most of it was done in vertical straight lines with a beautiful silky green thread except for the off-center section which I did in angled straight lines with white thread.  The quilting took forever but it's what made me end up ultimately loving this piece. 
It really washed up beautifully and is the perfect size for a lap quilt or baby blanket.  That crinkle effect is A+.  That mustard fabric and background (sheet) fabric are beyond soft. 
I went back and forth about binding it and ultimately decided upon throwing in one more color/fabric to pull out the subtle turquoise that is hidden throughout the quilt.  Any worries I had about that were quickly gone once I started stitching that puppy on.  I love it!
The back used up a few more scraps and some mega soft woven fabric I had on hand.  Did I mention that this quilt is super soft?  ;)  
Until later!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Third Time Is A Charm - Sew OK!

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea that I'd be able to go to SewOK.  In fact, I had given my sad RSVP many months ago, when the dates were released.  Turns out, I had horribly gotten some dates wrong and had scheduled three different events incorrectly in my calendar.  Long story short, my mistake royally sucked BUT in the end, I was able to run off last minute to SewOK!  Just TWO days before the retreat began, I was lucky enough to fill the ONE open spot remaining!  I was elated.
SewOK started three years ago and somehow, I've been lucky enough to attend them all (one and two).  It's been a real treat to see the event evolve and to have formed the friendships I have through it.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of my absolute favorite parts of these retreats is the relationship you form with the other attendees.  It's also a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills or tricks from those more experienced than you.  :)
Since I jumped aboard so last minute, I didn't have any projects planned or prepared for the weekend.  I threw some random fabrics in a bag and figured projects would just come to me...and they did!  The first night I made Rio a little dress by using another one of her dresses we both like.
I also made an Annex Double-Zip box pouch for the kid to use for overnighters.  The pattern was part of our swag and I ended up loving it even though I just about threw it out of the window due to frustration!  Should you make one yourself, just go slow and follow the instructions.
Finally, I spent a good majority of the weekend making Latifah Saafir's Molehills quilt.  She was our featured teacher and was SUCH a pleasure to be around.  Her presence was laid back, confident, and encouraging.  Plus, her quilt was SO much fun to make.  I never thought I would say that about sewing multiple curves but we were taught some A+ tricks that changed my curve-sewing world.  In fact, I've already made a second Molehills quilt!  It was such a fun and fast sew that I was able to complete the entire thing, aside from washing it, at the retreat!  I spray basted for the first time - game changer! - and then had the opportunity to use a long-arm machine to quilt it for the first time.  FUN! 
It's hard to imagine that I almost missed attending this year!  Fingers crossed that there will be future retreats like these and that I'll keep my calendar straight in the future! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Quilt for My Mom

My mom turned 60 this past Saturday!  We celebrated, oh did we celebrate, and I'm certain the memories will put a smile on our faces for many years to come.  In a nutshell, my dad and I planned a day full of surprises including flying my sister in for the weekend, having family photos taken, and topped off with a huge surprise party!  It was a grand day and it wasn't even my own birthday.  :)

I reeeeeally prefer to give handmade gifts for any celebration.  My mom's birthday was no exception!  Recently my mom passed along allllllll of her sewing notions, fabrics, and books to me.  Remember, she was once quite the sewist.  Included in the stash of hand-me-downs was a stack of nine-patch quilt blocks, approximately 50 of them actually.  I thought about passing them along to our guild for a charity quilt when it hit me, I was going to make the quilt that she started almost 30 years ago for her!
I took the blocks to our cabin sewing weekend and the ladies helped me put the blocks together which made my heart incredibly happy.  There was also a stack of cut squares in a green color-way that you could tell were also supposed to be blocks so I decided to use them on the edges to give a little pop of (my favorite) color and to include the final color that my mom had originally intended to be part of the quilt.
For the back of the quilt, I also used fabric from my mom's old stash - a soft gentle white with light blue polka dots.  I included a strip of a few leftover blocks to give the quilt a modern kick.  For quilting, I straight-lined it and used four different subtle thread colors.  I bound it in three different fabrics but the most notable was bias tape made from some of Rio's painting fabric.  It was a perfect match.
She loved the fabric choices because she chose them (duh!), she was wonderfully surprised with the finished quilt, and it was even used right off the bat for a disco nap before her surprise party!  But the best part, if you ask me, is how many people made this quilt a quilt.  So many hands and hearts made it and filled it with beaucoup positive energy and creativity.  Happy Birthday, Moma!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Me Made May

What do all of these pictures have in common?  I'm wearing an article of clothing that I made in each photo.
You see, there's this thing called Me Made May that I noticed last year on Instagram as a hashtag.  The idea is that you wear self-made clothing throughout the month of May and you document it.  Over the past few years, I've been wearing clothes I have made more often but I never really thought twice about doing an internet challenge with it but for some reason on May 2nd of this year, I decided to dive right in.  Why the second?  Because I had no idea it was even May until we were already a day into the month!  Ha!  So for the following 30 days, I made sure to wear something I had made but not just any something.  What I wore needed to be something that I liked, that functioned well, that I wasn't embarrassed to wear in public, and something that I was comfortable showing to the internets!  Oh, and I had to have someone photograph me each day which ended up being one of the hardest parts of the challenge!  I only 'selfied' twice and other than that, the pictures were all taken by someone else.  I do believe, though, that Rio was my most frequent photographer and some of her photos are by far my favorite!  

I have many, many thoughts about this seemingly superficial project.  First, the clothes.  For a while now, I have become increasingly thoughtful about what I am wearing.  Not in regards to 'fashion' or colors, but in regards to where my clothes are coming from, who is making them, the conditions in which they were made, and their footprint in our world.  I haven't been to a mall to shop in over three years now and the only modern, commercially produced articles of clothing that I have purchased have been leggings, jeans, and undergarments since I've had Rio.  Absolutely everything else I have been wearing has been secondhand (thrifted, estate sales, flea market, handmedowns), handmade, or something that I've had in my closet for many, many, many years.  There is a documentary that I strongly recommend you watch sometime - The True Cost.  I believe it is on Netflix and, in my opinion, is a must see.  Embarking on this project really forced me to look at my wardrobe in a different way and I value that experience immensely.

The other huge takeaway for me were the photos.  Taking a photo of yourself everyday is not easy and it's kind of weird, too!  There were days that I was not feeling so 'cute' or I was in a funk or making time to take a quick picture wasn't my highest priority.  But I still did it.  And you know what, I'm SO glad that I did.  We often get lost in the everyday and before we know it, today becomes yesterday and we barrel on forward.  Having this collection of photos is more than just proof of a sewing challenge, it's a brief record of that day that I lived.  Every single one of these photos takes me back to that day - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Once upon a time, I documented my outfits often on this here blog.  Most of them were teaching outfits but there were others sprinkled in there, too.  This felt like abbreviated 'fashion' blogging to me and I realized that I missed that!  I looooooove clothes and I especially love them if they are a little less than normal.  This challenge reignited that creative spark that I felt had been slipping away.

Would I do this again?  Maybe!  Or perhaps a different monthly photo challenge.  I always enjoy seeing others' challenges they impose upon themselves and always wonder what they take away from it.  If you've been toying with it, I say do it!  Now, if you'd like to see all of the outfits, just keep on scrolling!  Try and guess which photos the kid took.  :)
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