Sunshine Quilt

This post has been about a month in the making… and really the story isn’t finished yet, but I don’t want to wait any longer to share it. I got to check something major off my bucket list in October. Quilters, prepare to be jealous…

I had a quilt hang at market.

Diamonds Quilt at Marketpicture courtesy of Art Gallery Fabrics

Yup. No joke. I made that quilt hanging right there.

For anyone who has “get a quilt at Market” on their bucket list, I can tell you that for me the process was a little bit of luck and whole lot of work… with a dash of insanity thrown in.

After making the Roots and Wings Quilt, I had a bit of a “lull” in my schedule. And by “lull” I mean no major trips out of town or massive projects due. Just my steady stream of crafting and watching the kids with Halloween costumes and Christmas projects needing to get done. So I asked the folks at Art Gallery Fabrics if they needed anything done for market. They needed a quilt and a pillow, and we were off and running.

I’m not going to say that there was a major snafu with the postal service that delayed the fabric getting to me for over a week, or that I had to take a trip out of town for about 24 hours right smack dab in the middle of making the quilt. But I will say that getting to work on a project like this is better than getting a full night’s sleep. Well, I’m pretty sure. I haven’t actually gotten a full night’s sleep since 2007, and I really don’t remember it being that special.

Anyway, I got her finished, and I love her. Here is the front.

AGF Quilt Front

I cut, placed, and pieced each diamond. There are all kinds of crazy bias edges in this quilt. I had learned about glue basting the week before starting it, and that is probably what kept me sane… and made my points line up. Oh – and I quilted and hand-bound it as well.

I love adding some personality to my backs, and a variation on a stacked-coin back is my favorite way to go. I mixed it up a little this time by using the selvedges. This took a little planning – I actually cut all the selvedges from the fabric before cutting the diamonds, and set them aside to use in the backing.

AGF Quilt Back

After finishing the quilt, I still had a little steam, and a little time, to make the pouf pillow. Here it is unstuffed.

AGF Pouf

The circles are all done with reverse-applique and I inserted a big zipper around the bottom to make it easy to fill. Zippers and I usually get along, but after gettting that zipper into a curved seam… zippers and I weren’t on speaking terms for a little while.

And although you can’t see my pouf in this post (she is there though, just hiding!), here is a photo of the whole booth…

Art Gallery Fabrics Booth

picture courtesy of Art Gallery Fabrics

Why isn’t this story finished? Well… I have the blocks of a second quilt, using the scraps from this quilt, up on my design wall right now. I just need to find some hours to spend sewing, and then maybe I can show you another golden beauty…

 

ps… if you want to see more of the great Art Gallery Fabrics booth, you can read about it in their Market Wrap-Up Post.

Halloween Wrap-Up

I thought I’d give y’all a little Halloween wrap-up. Especially since I didn’t give away anything about the kiddos’ Halloween costumes ahead of time…

Little Moore wanted to be Lego Batman. Mostly because when we were at my Aunt’s house, he tried on one of the cousin’s old costumes, and his little Lego-loving heart went pit-a-pat.

lego batman costume

I asked my aunt if she could ship me the costume, or at least the head and the hands, to ave me some of the work. She did… but the head got a little crushed in shipping.

crushed Lego head

So, I took off the posterboard that held the styrofoam top and bottom of the head together, attached a new piece, and re-spray painted the head. I created the body and then made a catastrophic error.

I asked my son if he was sure he wanted to be Lego Batman. Since I had to re-do the face and body anyway… he could be any Lego guy he wanted.

lego guy

Oops. But there was no going back.

It took me over 4 hours to paint the body. Mostly because I needed nearly 4 coats of paint to get the paint to look smooth and even. But… I finished. And it looks pretty darn close to the original.

lego guy costume

The baby, now 18 months, didn’t really have a preference. I took down the hem of his big brother’s 1-year Halloween costume, and he was a dinosaur for Halloween. I snapped a pic of him enjoying a chat with one of our neighbor’s doggies.

hello halloween doggie

We had a fun time trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.

trick or treat

Then L’s feet got tired, so we went home and passed out candy until the trick-or-treaters thinned out… and then it was time for bed.

lego guy trick or treat

Now we just have to find a place to store the costume…

Too Much Candy? Call the Great Pumpkin!

If you have kids and have never heard of the great pumpkin, then you’re in for a real treat. And not the sugary chocolate-covered kind. The Great Pumpkin is like the Tooth Fairy of Halloween. In fact, I have it on good authority that he is a third cousin (twice removed) of the Tooth Fairy. He picks up candy to keep kids from getting a stomach ache, ruining their appetite, and all the other bad things copious amounts of candy are known for.

How the Great Pumpkin saves kids and parents from too much candy

Here is how the Great Pumpkin works at our house:

My kids get to Trick or Treat as usual.

When they get home, they get to pick THREE pieces of candy that they can eat right then. If they’re smart, they’ll pick the full-sized candy bars… but it is up to them.

The rest of their candy goes back into their trick-or-treat bag, which is left by the back door.

While they are sleeping, the great pumpkin will collect their candy, and trade it in for a toy! (I have it on good authority that the great pumpkin will be trading in their candy for Lego this year).

When they wake up, they can come downstairs to see what the Great Pumpkin left for them!

The candy mysteriously makes its way into our pantry… but the kids are still to young to notice this coincidence.

This set-up is actually a fun twist on the way my mom traded us for our Halloween candy when I was a kid. We’d get a toy in exchange for the bulk of our Halloween treats. The benefit of getting the Great Pumpkin involved is that the kids need to go to bed in order for the Great Pumpkin to come! And anything to help over-tired and sugar-infused kids get bathed and in bed is a bonus!

Hope you have a happy (and safe!) Halloween!

Five Year Finish

witch quilt by buggy barn

This quilt is finally finished. It only took 5 years.

There is nothing overly complex about this quilt that made it take so long. I took a class at Quiltique when I was on maternity leave after having my oldest, who is now 5. I finished the blocks within a few days of taking the class.

A few years later, I put the blocks together and finished the quilt top. I had a friend quilt it.

A year or so after that, I made the binding.

This year, I stitched on the binding. Finally. It took 5 years, but this quilt is finished.

I have quite a few more UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) hanging in the closet that need piecing, quilting, and/or binding… I’m hoping to start working my way through them, instead of adding to them. I have already trimmed 3 quilts that need binding, and cut out their binding. I’m taking baby steps, but at least they are in the right direction.

Do you have any UFOs that you want to get caught up on?

PS – If you are interested, the quilt pattern for the quilt pictured above is from Buggy Barn. It is a fun stack-and-chop technique for making a quilt block.

Quilting Feathers Class with Sharon Schamber

Earlier this week I had the chance to take a class from Sharon Schamber, an amazing free-motion quilter. When I saw Quiltique advertise the free-motion feathers class, I immediately knew I wanted to sign up. One of my goals last year was to get comfortable with free-motion quilting. I never did it. I hoped that this class would give me the push I needed. In whatever form that might be. Inspiration, knowledge, tools… I was lacking in all these departments.

When I signed up for her class, I had no idea who Sharon was. Really. I do know that Quiltique always brings in amazing teachers, and I have never met a single guest teacher in their classroom who didn’t live up to the hype (and then some)! She is an Award Winning Quilter, nationally (probably Internationally) recognized for her work.

award winning quilter sharon schamber

It was an all-day class, and very little of it was actually spent behind the sewing machine. The first half was a lot of lecture. Sharon has a unique teaching style that I won’t spoil for you by trying to explain it. But I learned more in class than quilting (for example, apparently I have a “biker chick” aura… for those of you who have met me in person, feel free to debate or agree). We talked a lot about the role of quilting, the proportion of quilting, and how to make decisions about quilting a quilt. I could listen to her lecture for another day and still feel like I only learned a little of what she had to offer.

She didn’t share her quilts until the very, very end of class… and I’m glad. Had I seen all this beautiful quilting beforehand, I might not have been able to focus on the class!

feather

I know it is hard to tell scale in these photos, but just check out all the beautiful detail in this quilting!

The gold thread in this next photo is bobbin work. A whole different technique… but check out the fill in the white space behind the bobbin work. Ah-maze-ing.

bobbin work

I snapped a photo of the back of one of the quilts as it was being folded up. You can see fingers in the top right of the photo, which gives you an idea of the scale here. Some of this quilting is seriously tiny!

back of quilt

I was fascinated by this little study. Each of these 9 squares is just 2.5″ across! How many stitches can you fit in a 2.5″ square?

quilting study

This gives you a better picture of how small this really is.

small study

This next quilt is all made from hand-dyed cotton. All the texture the quilting adds makes it look like velvet!

quilting texture

The different colored threads here help the quilting really stand out on this quilt.

quilting detail

This is a shot as this quilt was being opened. There are 99 different stipples on this quilt. A stipple is small quilting usually done on sections of the quilt that are in the background.

different fills

Here is an amazing fill – that wavy-line quilting with the cross-lines between? Wow.

more fill

And this is probably my favorite shot. These little toadstools live right on the edge of the quilt. Like a little secret surprise. I wonder how many surprises live in the quilting on this quilt?

quilted toadstools

One last shot of her quilting… this beautiful feather!

large feather

As a beginner, I’m not anywhere near this skilled. Her quilts are something to aspire to. But, I did take the first steps! I had a chance to try three feathers in class… and here is the third one!

my feather

Yeah, I’m no Sharon Schamber… but for my third attempt at a free-motion feather, I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself! I will have to keep working on it, practicing the shape and getting better control of my stitching speed… but I now have the tools, knowledge, and definitely the inspiration to make it happen!

More Riley Blake Fabric Fest

I had a total blast at Fabric Fest this past week, and wanted to share with you more of the fun goings-on. I really can’t express what an amazing job the folks from Riley Blake did on this event. Seriously. Putting on a conference is no joke, and these gals (and guys) knocked it out of the park on their very first try. I’m hoping they’ll do it again next year, and if they do I have no clue how they’re going to top this event!

Earlier I shared with you some pictures from my first night… there was some meet-and-greet with the other attendees, lots of ogling over quilts, and a little buying of fabric, too! (ok… maybe a LOT of buying of fabric! HA!)

jack quote

This quote is one from the Thursday keynote, and I loved it. I loved that I spent the week surrounded by dingledodies.

My first class, Tuesday morning, was with Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter. Her class was part lecture, part hands-on about modern quilting. I’m a fan, and love absorbing the modern vibe whenever and wherever I can.

What is modern quilting

I took this picture so that I could put most of these books on my Christmas List! HA!

modern quilting books

In the hands-on portion of the class I whipped up a scrappy, quilt-as-you-go, free-pieced mini quilt.

modern free pieced mat

I kinda love how it turned out. I won’t even share with you all the ways it isn’t perfect, or all the things that look awesomely intentional, but are total happy accidents.

The Tuesday keynote was with Eleanor Burns. This lady is tons of fun.

Eleanor Keynote

Seriously, this picture of her is like the definition of all my favorite people: creative, and just a little crazy. But totally the good kind of crazy.

eleanor laughing

My Tuesday afternoon class was with Eleanor as well. If you haven’t read about my connection with Eleanor, you have to go read the whole story in the post where I talk about teaching at fabric fest.

eleanor teaching

I didn’t finish my quilt, but got very, very far in putting it all together…

eleanor and me

On Thursday, I had lectures. The morning lecture was with Nancy Zieman who came to us via live satellite feed. Isn’t technology awesome?

Nancy Zieman Lecture

My afternoon class was with the twin quilting phenoms from Logan, UT. Kim from Kimberbell Designs and Kris from My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of that class, where they talked about all kinds of fun ways to transform precuts into quilts!

I do have a couple pictures of what meals looked like. In case you have ever wondered, this is what 300 hungry quilters look like:

fabric fest meal

And this is what all their bags look like… machines and rulers and more!

sewing machines all lined up

Thursday there was a dual keynote, Jenni from Missouri Quilt Co gave an awesome impromptu talk about how her choices as a quilter have changed her life. I really love hearing quilters who really get it. She understands quilting, other quilters, and what it is really all about.

Jenny from missouri quilt co

I was able to snag a quick photo with her after the conference.

jenny and me

And since I started this post with a quote, I’ll end it with another great one that helps describe this whole experience:

Brian Andrews Quote

 

Riley Blake Fabric Fest!

It is here! Riley Blake Fabric Fest!! Four days of hanging out with other quilters, sewing, teaching, learning… and shopping! Oh… the fabric!

I don’t have much time, but thought I’d share with you a few of my impressions from the first day… no classes, just registration, shopping, and chatting with other quilters…

 

This is what it looked like when the doors opened onto Fabric Fest. All the ladies looking forward to the fabric awesomeness behind the doors…

walking into fabric fest

Riley Blake and Quiltique did a great job of setting up all the displays and the fabric…

quilts at fabric fest

I love all the seasonal fabrics – Halloween, Christmas… yay!

Halloween Riley Blake Fabrics

I’ve got a quilt at the quilter right now that I made with Dresdens… I love this colorful version (and I can’t wait to share mine with you next week!)

dresden bursts

Pinwheels go very modern, and very colorful in this quilt.

colorful pinwheels

I always have hexies on the brain lately, and I love what adding a chevron print did for these hexagons!

chevron hexagons

More coming soon… I promise!

The Best Last Day of Summer EVER

We just celebrated my son’s very first last day of summer. He officially starts school on Monday, but with events going on this weekend, this was his true last day of “freedom” before he starts Kindergarten.

the best last day of summer ever

I thought that this was a fun milestone, and that celebrating the last day of summer in a blow-out fashion would be fun for the whole family. So I planned a day of fun, out-of-the-house activities for us to do. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen some of the fun we were up to. I used the hashtag #FirstLastDayofSummer to keep track of all the photos.

We actually started the day off the night before. We set up the kiddie tent in L’s room so that he could spend the night in the tent. He’s been wanting to sleep in a tent all summer, so what better time to let him sleep in a tent than on the last day of Summer? This way, he got to wake up on his last day of summer in a tent!

wake up in a tent

We got in the car. There was a fair amount of driving, so I let L watch movies in the car as we drove around town. I don’t usually pull out the movies unless we’re on a long trip, so this was a special treat.

watching a movie in the car

We headed to our favorite pool. We call it “the Beach Pool” because it has a beach inlet on one side. Great for my youngest, because he can walk right in and play. And they both love the sand.

at the beach pool

After spending the whole morning at the pool, we grabbed lunch at McDonald’s. Like most kids, my son has a passion for chicken nuggets. This was not the McDonald’s close to our house, this one has a different playground that L caught a glimpse of through the windows one day and had asked to go. I had put it on our “someday” list, and this was the perfect day to go.

playing at the play place

Dad got off work right as we were finishing lunch, so we met up with him at mini golf. I got some work done on my phone (yay for smartphones!) while the big boys played a round of golf.

playing mini golf

The baby was asleep at this point (a big day at the pool will do that), so the boys hung out in the arcade for a little while.

playing at the arcade

Then, of course, we had to pick prizes. This was the hardest part. So many choices (and only so many tickets)!

pick a prize

We went by the bookstore so that L could pick a new book, and then went to the grocery store to grab a much-needed item for our next step in our blow-out last day of summer. While at the grocery store, we grabbed donuts. Yum!

getting a donut

We went home and filled the bath with as many bubbles as we could manage! Bubble baths are more fun when they are EXTREME bubble baths!

lots and lots of bubbles

We had L’s favorite dinner (Orange Chicken and Garlic Bread), and then sat down for popcorn and a movie. L was asleep before the movie ended… it was a great day!

I’m looking forward to celebrating the last day of summer every year… hopefully we’ll find some new things to add into the mix, but I’m sure that several of the things we did yesterday will stay part of the tradition.

Mac and Cheese Recipe Using Leftovers

No More Leftovers Mac and Cheese at Always Expect Moore

I was at a party, and there was a bunch of cubed cheese left over afterwards. The hostess couldn’t eat it, so she asked if I could take it home. I knew that I could turn that cheese into a yummy dinner… and it really was delicious!

Update: I hope you like this easy, affordable recipe! Between April 25 – May 25, 2014 a donation of just $40 will help the Beckstrand Cancer Association feed a family coping with cancer for an entire week! Click HERE to make your donation.

Here is the Mac and Cheese Recipe I used.

For every 1 cup of cheese, you’ll need:
4oz elbow macaroni noodles
2 tbsp flour
1 c whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp butter + 4tbsp for breadcrumbs (use REAL butter – worth it!)
1/2 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Boil water and add macaroni noodles. Cook according to package directions and drain.

While the noodles are cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees and chop up the cheese so it is as thin as if you had shredded it.

chop cheese to shred

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and whisk.

Once the flour/butter/spice mixture is mixed, slowly pour in the milk. Keep stirring as you pour to keep everything lump-free. Bring the pot up to a boil, stirring the whole time, and cook for 2 minutes. Lower the heat and keep cooking for about 10 minutes.

Start adding the cheese, incorporating a little at a time. Let the mixture cook for another 5 minutes. Keep stirring, making sure to stir up the bottom to prevent burning.

Add the cheese sauce to the macaroni noodles and mix well so that the noodles are fully covered. Pour into a greased baking dish.

Melt the remaining butter and toss the breadcrumbs in it. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until top is golden and yummy. This is the best Mac and Cheese Recipe ever… and to think that it was made using leftovers! YUM!

adapted from Fannie Farmers Mac & Cheese Recipe

How to Write a Thank You Note

Writing a Thank You Note is a lost art. With all the technological ways we have to give our thanks – Facebook, Twitter, Texts, e-mails… the hand-written thank you note is dying.

How to Write a Thank You Note

I’m not saying that every thank-you needs to be hand-written. Sometimes, a simple text message is best. Sometimes, giving the person a shout-out on Facebook so that all your friends can share in the awesomeness is the perfect touch. And any way that you reach out to thank someone is better than not thanking them at all. But there are times that a hand written thank you note is the best way to express your gratitude.

Starting your Thank You Note

You can start with a salutation of some kind. “Dear Auntie” might sound stuffy, so you can start with “Hello” or jump right into your note.

Thank them specifically

Start your note by saying thank you, and give the reason why. Say “Thank you for the wonderful gift” or “Thank you for sharing your time.” “Thank you for taking time out of your day.” Be specific as to why you are thanking them.

Tell them why you are greatful

Don’t stop at thanking them for their action. Tell them the significance of their actions or gift. Phrases like, “It meant so much to me that you took time out of your day to help me with my project, having you there made it go much more smoothly, and the finished result was better than I could have imagined.” tell the recipient that they mattered. When thanking a person for a gift, tell them what you love about the gift. “I love the sewing kit and have it tucked in my bag – it is so helpful for small projects on the go, and it has already come in handy on several occasions.”

Thanking someone for money or a gift card

Thanking someone for money or a gift card calls for special attention. Let them know what the gift has been used for, or will be used for. “Thanks so much for the check. I’ve deposited it in my savings account so that I can use it on my upcoming vacation. I’ll be sure to think of you when I’m relaxing on the beach!” “The Target gift card has already come in handy – I bought some cute and colorful new tops for myself.”
When thanking someone for money or a gift card, don’t mention the amount. The value of the gift is not measured in dollars, it is measured in your appreciation for their kindness.

End the thank you note with a forward-looking message

If you can, use a forward-looking message to end the thank you note. Tell them you look forward to seeing them soon, or at a specific upcoming event. If you have no plans to see the person in the future, tell them you look forward to seeing them online, or seeing their photos on Facebook. Make a final, shared connection with the recipient of your thank you note.

Use an appropriate sign-off

End your note with a sign-off that feels appropriate. “Sincerely” might feel too formal for a situation like this, so try “Love”, “with thanks”, “thanks again”, or (my favorite) a symbol like a heart or a smiley face.

 

Remember that the most important part of writing a thank you note is saying thank you. If someone gave you a gift – a present, time, money, they gave it because they wanted you to have it. Showing your appreciation for what they gave – in whatever form you can show that appreciation – is the way that you value that gift.