Friday, July 15, 2011

I finished my three nephew's quilts!

Well, their birthday is in September, but I put a rush on finishing them to be able to bring them with me on our trip to Washington. I packed them in the empty dog kennel which we will be filling up on our return with our new Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Ginger.

Here's the first one:
This was the Eric Carle "Brown Bear fabric" and the pattern was free from the fat quarter shop.
Brown Bear Quilt for Brody

Of course, when I was laying out the quilt to take pictures, Bella, our other Ridgeback, had to join in.

I actually quilted the whole thing myself.  I got better at the meandering as I practiced.  I loved my new hoop and extended table.  They made it a lot easier.

Here are the other two quilts.  Brevin and Bronson are twins, so I used Moda's Lily and Will layer cakes to make these crazy quilts.  I quilted them myself too, cutting down a bit on the cost of the quilt.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Free Motion Quilting Accessories

I hate quilting. Now, that kind of statement on a quilting blog may seem odd.  I love putting together tops, the harder, the better. I love getting a pattern and learning a new skill to make a really beautiful quilt, but then, I usually send it out to be quilted by  long-arm quilter. I recently visited a quilt store where we demo'd three new accessories which may make me a machine quilter after all...we'll see.  Using this set-up made it really easy to control my stitches. 

Firstly, some advice from the shop owner:
Slow hands, quick needle

Draw your design on a piece of paper to "loosen you up" before starting to draw with your needle.  Do it without lifting the pen off of the page.  (It works!)

The Tools:

The Supreme Slider: This is a 100% teflon sheet that has an opening cut in it, so it fits right over your machine top.  This way the fabric just slides along your machine and doesn't get all hung up.

The next product is called a quilting halo.  It is a covered, weighted ring that you use to guide the needle around when free motion quilting.  You no longer have to wear those gloves! It grips the fabric with its weight and you don't have to muscle it at all.  


The last accessory needed to make this all work is the Sew Steady Extension table.  These plexiglas tables are made specific to your machine and come in a lot of different sizes.  The size I liked most was the 18x24 large table. The larger table is needed to have enough room to use the halo.  (Unless your machine is dropped into the sewing table - lucky!!)


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wizard of OZ

We're off to see the Wizard.... 
(Well, at least the Wicked Witch)
Our version of America's Next Top Model photo

This week was super-hectic, but sandwiched between all of the award's ceremonies was Laura's performance as the Wicked Witch of the West in Ramey's version of the Wizard of Oz.  She did an AMAZING job! I was so proud of her.  It was hilarious watching someone whom everyone thinks of as a very quiet, soft-spoken girl (I know, how can she be my daughter?) turn into this REALLY scary witch! The munchkins' screams were their best acting! 
Bring them to me Monkeys!! - Right before she gets melted
After a month of practices with no activity bus, the production finally occurred. I hope that she goes on to be in other performances because she and the cowardly lion stole the show!  Laura's favorite part was getting roses from her dad, at the curtain call. SO SWEET!

Laura and Marie - (Marie had to duck down for this photo)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finding Graves in Puerto Rico

As part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint's program for Young Women called Personal Progress, Laura and I decided to embark upon grave finding for one of her required projects.  (Having a blog for at least six months is one of my projects). She committed to spending ten hours taking picture of graves, writing down all available information and then uploading them to 

The reason Laura decided to do this project was to help people with their genealogy.  Many people have relatives in Puerto Rico, but the government records aren't always well kept.  This will give those people some data to have as a starting point, at least.

We have gone out the past three Saturdays and have taken pictures and written for about an hour at a time.  

Then we come home and upload the information.  It is a very peaceful time.  We have taken pictures of over 300 graves so far.  

Something interesting about Puerto Rican graves is that very few have birth dates on them.  
(Rec. de esposa y familia means "Remembered by wife and family")

Another interesting thing is that many of the graves are just marked with an aluminum name plate and death date like the one below. 

You can also see how close the graves are together. Many people are buried in the same plot. 

The part of the cemetery that I am working in seems older, although most people appeared to be buried in the late 60's.  Many of the graves have sunk with the shifting earth and some are buried altogether.  The one below, I had to dig away the dirt just to see a little of the name.

The picture below demonstrates the shifting ground as well.

Brown Bear Quilt - So Precious! - Part II

So, all of my fabric finally arrived and I cut up the Brown Bear panel and here's my step-by-step:
1. This pattern and all of the fabric was found at 
2. I like to cut all of my pieces first and then sew.  It keeps me better organized and I can clean up (a little!) in between.

3. I organized all of the blocks and put all of the ones that were supposed to be grouped, together. (I did mine according to the actual flow of the book.  The pattern doesn't show it that way though. I thought it would be more fun to read the book aloud while sitting on your cool blanket.)
4. I sewed the blocks together using a 1/4" seam

5. I laid out the entire quilt in the order I wanted to sew them

6. Then I connected them all.

7. Here's my completed top

8. I used fusible batting because I hate to baste and am currently working on quilting the whole thing.  I really don't like quilting it myself because I am far too critical of my work, but I figure for this one I could practice some free motion.  I will post some examples when I finish.  At this point, I have to MAKE myself work on it for 15 minutes at a time and then am allowed to work on another project. (Right now the Roses of Remembrance Block of the Month is taking up my time and I LOVE IT!) I'll blog about it later. :)

Tie Dying with the Girls

The girls all had the day off from school the other day, so we decided to break out one of their tie dye kits from Christmas.  It was far easier than I thought it would be (thus the grand delay in starting the project in the first place)!

1. Buy white t-shirts from Sam's (or wherever) and pre-soak them in the powder included in the kit for about 30 minutes.
2. Pick the colors that you want to make.  You are given red, blue and green and then recipes for making other colors.  We picked green, blue, pink and purple.
3. Prepare the area (outside).  We put garbage bags down and then put a plastic grocery sack at each position too. Rubber gloves are recommended for everyone because it does stain your skin. You will also need paper towels.

4. Use rubber bands to make different patterns on your shirt.
Laura: She picked up her shirt from the middle and then rubber banded about six times in succession.

Marie: She did the classic swirl.  You start from the middle of the shirt and twist it while it is flat until you have a kind of ball.  Then you put three or four rubber bands on it so it looks like a hockey puck with different sections.
     Jenny: She wasn't having any of that instruction stuff.  She just made rubber bands wherever she wanted to, all over her shirt.

5. You make up the dye (VERY messy, use gloves)
6. Then you take the dye and, using squirt bottles, you place the dye where you want it on your shirt.  I recommend coloring each section separately.  Saturate, but don't oversaturate.  (It will bleed from one area to another if there is more color than the shirt can absorb.
7. Put shirt inside plastic grocery bag and leave it for at least an hour.
8. Rinse out all of the dye until it runs clear.
9. Dry on the line (from left to right: Jenny's, Laura's and Marie's)
10. Wear with pride! I also used a Shout Color Catcher the first real washing, and they don't seem to bleed at all now.  Here's a link for a free sample.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Family Fun Activities

Today in our Young Women's lesson at church we designed Family Fun bags.  All of the girls decorated their bags and then we filled out pieces of paper that had ideas for fun family activities on them.  There were some great ideas. Now each YW has a bag full of ideas for their family to do when they need a little more "family time."

1. Grey Wolf: A variation of hide-and-seek.  One person hides (and is the grey wolf).  Everyone has to leave the base to go looking for the grey wolf.  When you see the wolf, you shout "GREY WOLF" and run as fast as you can back to the base.  If the wolf catches you before you get to base, you are it.  This is really fun after dark.  
2. Eureka: This is a great one for family walks.  The kids have to run ahead of the adults and hide somewhere on the path. If the parents see a child, they say "I see you John (or whatever the kid's name is). If the parents walk by the kid without being spotted, the call "Eureka" and they get a point.  The kid with the most points at the end of the walk wins.  (This was invented by my in-laws as a great way to walk without kids listening to every word spoken). 
3. Family Cook-off: Each family member can compete in cupcake decorating, in cake making, in chili recipes, etc.  
4. Sardines: Another hide-and-seek variant.  The person who is "it" hides.  If you find "it," you hide with them until the last person finds the group and they become "it."
5. Walk to get ice cream: Self-explanatory, but pick a location to walk to that has a pot of gold at the end. Walking for ice cream, pizza, roller skating, etc. 
6. Snorkeling: Obviously, this is not for every location, but living in Puerto Rico, we forget that we have  beautiful waters to explore.
7. Scum (President) Card Game: This is a fun card game that can be played with a bunch of people.  As I'm not the best at describing card games, here's a link to describe it.  Thank you Bruce Gourley. Scum or President Card Game Rules
8. Skip-Bo: Another card game.  Here are the instructions courtesy of Mattel. Rules for Skip-Bo
9. Monster: This is a great outdoor game to play on a family sized jungle gym.  One person is the "monster." They cannot touch any part of the jungle gym with their feet, but may run around the ground as much as they want.  The victims of the monster are not allowed to touch the ground, but must stay touching the play equipment. Especially with larger groups of people, this leads to much hysterical laughter 
10. Movie Night: Pick a theme and break out your best G or PG movie for everyone to enjoy. Popcorn enhances this activity.
11. Tea Party: Break out the cucumber sandwiches, scones and clotted cream, mini muffins, cheese slices and peppermint tea for a fun picnic cum tea-party.
12. Flash-light tag: Another after-dark game. Only the person who is "it" has a flash-light.  Usually we get in a field or an open area to minimize injuries and then it is just like regular tag, except if the light hits you, you are "it."
13. Spud: You need a tennis ball for this game. You assign everyone a number and then you have someone who is "it." They have to throw the ball straight up in the air and call someone's number. If they call your number, you have to run as quick as you can and get the ball and call "SPUD!"  If you don't have your number called, you need to run far, far away very quickly until you hear the person's whose number was called yell "SPUD!" and then you freeze.  The "it" person can take three giant steps towards the closest victim and then try and hit them with the ball while they are frozen.  If they get hit, the person they hit gets the letter "S."  If they miss, they themselves get "S."  You play until someone has spelled "S P U D."
14. Blob Tag: This is a variation on tag where when you get tagged, you are stuck to the "it" person until the last person is caught. Fun Games Kids Play has this site that is dedicated to Tag and all of its variations. Varieties of Tag
15. Pass the sign or Animal: Each person in your group picks an animal sign that they make with their hands (eg: one finger sticking out of your forehead, could be unicorn, etc.) After each person has a sign, you pick someone to be in the center of your circle. Have them close your eyes, and pick who will go first. Then have them open their eyes. The person going first, must make their own sign and then the sign of someone else in the circle without getting tagged by the center person. When they pass the sign, that person must make their own sign and then the sign of someone else.  Play continues until the middle person catches them giving a sign.  If the play passes fast enough, it is very hard for the person to tag them even if they can see whose sign is being called.  This is really funny too.  Here is another variation on the game. Animal game variation

I'd love it if you have other games that you play with your families that you can share on here.  I know that by spending time in joyful activities with my family, we become closer and create amazing memories.