Travel Flat Iron Case

Over the weekend I finally got around to making this awesome flat iron case that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I saw a really cool pattern for one last year and pinned it to my Pinterest board, thinking I’d get get around to making it sometime. Every time I went on a trip, I would wish that I had a case like that because I was getting pretty tired of wrapping a towel around my flat iron after using it and packing it away. I’m always nervous about it being so hot and burning my clothes or melting something in my suitcase. Now I don’t have to worry about it any more.

090213_0002WI changed a couple of things from the original pattern. I used Velcro instead of adding ties for the closure because I didn’t want to have to mess with tying and untying it every time. I also didn’t add the pocket in the back for the plug because my flat iron has a rather chunky plug and it probably wouldn’t have fit in the pocket. So I only had to use 1/4 yard of fabric for the outside, the lining and the Insulbright batting. I also chose to use the silver Teflon fabric for the lining (the kind of fabric you use for ironing board covers) because I thought it would be better protection for the intense heat of my flat iron.

090213_0006WThe instructions were very easy to follow and I’m very happy with the way the case turned out. I could have done a little better job sewing on the bias tape, but I’ll know better for next time if I ever make another one. Now I don’t have to worry about my flat iron damaging anything else in my suitcase when I travel. I can’t wait to use this for an upcoming trip this week.

I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend. Did you work on any projects that you’re proud of?

Back after a Health Scare

After experiencing the worst two weeks of my life, I will now always remember August 2013 as the scariest month ever. On August 4 (a Sunday), I woke up with sharp pains across my abdomen. I thought maybe it was food poisoning or just a bad stomach ache. So I just chugged Pepto Bismol all day and hoped it would go away. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was anything serious or life-threatening. I decided to just wait to see my doctor the next day.

So on Monday I saw a physician’s assistant in my doctor’s office because my doctor wasn’t in that day. She checked my blood and urine and took an abdominal x-ray. She wasn’t sure what was wrong, so she wanted to schedule me for a CT scan that afternoon, but my stupid insurance company wouldn’t cover that without an ultrasound first. And I couldn’t get an ultrasound until the next day. So I suffered through another day of pain.

On Tuesday I went and got the ultrasound and waited in the waiting room until they said I could leave. After awhile, someone said there was a doctor from my doctor’s office who wanted to speak to me. He told me that the radiologist who read my ultrasound results sent him the results and it was clear that my appendix needed to be removed. I was supposed to rush to the emergency room immediately. Surgeons would be there to meet me. I was so scared. I had never been to the ER before. So I drove over there and called Dave and told him to meet me there.

Once I got to the ER, all I did was wait. They didn’t have a room available right away. Then, once they did have a room to put me in, the surgical residents weren’t convinced that my appendix was the problem. A parade of different residents came in to examine me and ask me the same questions. I guess I wasn’t exhibiting the classic symptoms of appendicitis and my pain wasn’t just on my right side. And the fact that I was a woman compounded their confusion. It could be my uterus or ovaries or something like that. I get that they really wanted to be sure that my appendix needed to be removed before they went into surgery, but what about the ultrasound results? And what did doctors do back in the olden days?

ER-roomWMe, sitting in the ER for six hours, waiting to get my appendix removed

So after six hours of waiting in the ER, they finally decided to remove my appendix. The surgery went ok but the surgeon told me that my appendix had ruptured. I’m guessing it probably happened on Tuesday sometime. If only my insurance company had let me get the CT scan. Or I should have just gone to the ER on the first day when I first felt the pain.

The day after the surgery I felt better and was released from the hospital. I really thought I was going to be able to go back to work in a couple days. But the next day I felt worse and was throwing up. The next few days I was throwing up and was constipated from the pain pills they prescribed. So then I was taking a cocktail of pain pills, antibiotics and laxatives and having trouble keeping all of it down. A couple of days I managed to keep some food down, but then I was back to throwing up again.

I went back to my doctor’s office and they ran tests. They said I was severely dehydrated and my electrolytes were way out of whack. Plus, I had lost a lot of weight. I had to go back to the ER. Again I waited and waited. Various surgical residents came and questioned me again. Then, they finally admitted me to the hospital. After a CT scan, they surmised that I had a small bowel obstruction. They guessed it was most likely from scar tissue from my appendectomy.

They stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat. It sucked up bile from my stomach and transferred into a container. This was to relieve pressure on my stomach. I had to keep this tube in for three days and I couldn’t eat or drink anything during this time. It was so uncomfortable. Every time I swallowed, I could feel the tube in my throat. The plan was to rest my bowels and let things calm down below. I didn’t have any appetite anyway, so that was fine with me.

If you’ve never been in a hospital, count yourself lucky. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep during the seven days I was there. Nurses were constantly coming in my room and taking my vitals. Surgical residents would come in my room every morning at 5:30 a.m. and ask me how I was feeling. Then 15 minutes later, someone would come and draw some blood. I never got used to all of this. I was also waking up several times a night to go to the bathroom. I had diarrhea almost every day. Let me tell you, it was not pleasant.

Being in the hospital was really hard mentally, too. I felt like I was never going to get out of there. I never knew when I was going to be able to leave. Waiting for my bowel obstruction to heal was hard. I just had to take things slowly, day by day. I couldn’t eat for so long. Then one day I could only eat broth. The next day, I could eat soups. Then, finally, I was able to eat solid food. Hallelujah! I received great care from all the nurses while I was there, but I definitely don’t want to go back there ever again. There’s a chance I could get another bowel obstruction again or it may never happen again. I’m hoping for the latter.

I just want to say thanks to all of my family and friends who prayed for me or came to my aid during my time of need. I really appreciate it. I’m still healing and it will probably be awhile before I’m back to my old self again. I’ll never take my health for granted again. I hope you never have to go through this.

Scrappy Birthday!

Today we celebrated our fourth year of owning our cat Scrappy. He came to us as a stray cat, so we don’t really know how old he is. We’re guessing he’s about five or six years old.

About a year after Dave and I moved into our house, we noticed two stray orange tabbies roaming the neighborhood, strutting around, acting as if this turf was theirs. For about a year and a half, we’d see them walking through everyone’s yards, even in the wintertime in the snow. I don’t know how they survived. We think that they were brothers that someone abandoned (because Scrappy is neutered).

Then in July of 2009, we decided to try and feed them because they were so cute and we felt sorry for them. We had a can of tuna, so we tried to lure them over. But only Scrappy dared to come near us and eat while we were standing there. The other cat was too afraid of us. He was also pretty mean. He would just hiss and at us and try to scratch us if we went near him.

ScrappyCrown1AWScrappy took to us immediately. He let us pet him and feed him. He loved the attention. After that first time, he kept coming back for more food every day. So then it got to be a routine. And then he became ours. We started out by feeding him leftover scraps we had in the refrigerator. That’s how he got his name. We called him Scraps and his friend Boots because his friend had white paws that looked like white boots.

When winter came along, Scrappy decided to spend it inside with us. He left Boots outside alone in the cold. (Boots never warmed up to us and always stayed mean.) But when it was spring again, Scrappy headed back outside and hung out with Boots. He’s mostly an outdoor cat. He can’t stand to be cooped up inside. The winter months are the longest ones for all of us because he wants to be outside but knows it’s too cold or too snowy. By the time spring comes along, we’re all ready for him to go out again.

We love having him as a pet. Since we don’t have any children, he’s like our baby. Dave tends to spoil him a lot with treats. And Scrappy really favors Dave more than he does me. They’re such great buddies that they hang out together all the time when Dave does yard work. I always get a kick out of watching Scrappy following Dave around the yard like a puppy.

People think cats aren’t as smart as dogs, but I think cats are extremely intelligent. Even in the heaviest rainstorm, Scrappy always knows where to find shelter. It always surprises me when I go to let him in during a storm, that he’s completely dry. Somehow, he always manages to find a dry spot to hide in when it’s raining. And when he wants to come inside, Scrappy scratches on the door to let us know. He’s such a character. He thinks he has us trained.

I hope we have many more years together with Scrappy. He can be annoying sometimes. But for the most part, we love having him in our lives and he’s a part of our family now. Happy Birthday Scrappy!

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

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I hate change. Especially when it’s forced upon me. When I’m ready for a change, I like to be the one to initiate it. On my terms. But I don’t like it when, out of the blue, things suddenly change on me without any warning. Like this whole Google Reader thing coming to an end forever starting July 1.

I know Google warned us in March, but now that the end date is looming ever closer, it’s more of a reality now. I’m so sad because Google Reader (GR) is perfect and I don’t want to say good bye. But I know that I must. So now I’m searching for a suitable blog reader alternative, even though I know none of them will come close.

After some research, I had it narrowed down to two choices:  Bloglovin’ and Feedly. I migrated all my blogs (447 of them!) to Bloglovin’ and immediately found that I hated the user interface. It’s nothing like GR and the features are way too simple and bare bones for my taste. All of my blogs are listed in alphabetical order on the right side and all the feeds are on the left side with the photos showing. I don’t like that all. I don’t have any control over anything and the interface is way too simple. I don’t know why a lot of the bloggers I’m following are raving over this reader. It seems to be geared for teenagers.

Then I migrated all my blogs over to Feedly. While this is no GR, I like this reader a lot better than Bloglovin’. The layout is kind of similar to GR and it has preferences that I can set up to make it look the way I want it. It does take some getting used to and I’m still figuring out my way around the desktop. I found this helpful article with tips on getting the most out of the Feedly desktop. One thing I don’t like is that my blogs are listed in alphabetical order instead of in order of favorites, but I’m hoping that’s something they’ll change in the future.

One scary thing about Feedly is that once you close out of it and try to get back into it later, it seems virtually impossible to reopen because it doesn’t have a login button on its home page anywhere. You’re supposed to be able to login through Google, but I couldn’t find it. I was panicking, until after some searching, I discovered that you have to go to this link: http://www.feedly.com/home. They should really tell you that after you sign up.

So I think I’ve found my GR replacement for now. It will never be the same as GR, but it will have to do. At least Feedly is visually appealing and I have some control over the layout. I’m still holding out hope that some other reader will come along that’s a virtual clone of GR so I won’t have to miss out on many of the features that I know and love from GR.

Have you switched to a new reader yet? If so, which one are you using and why?

Teresa’s House Quilt

Back in December, my quilting group Seams So Easy lost a member. Our beloved Teresa got a great job offer in Orlando that was too good to pass up. So, of course, we wished her well and hoped she would find much happiness there. But we felt a deep sense of loss because she was the heart and soul of our group and she would be deeply missed. She is one really nice lady and I’ll never forget her.

So once Teresa told us she was leaving for the sunny climes of Florida, the rest of us secretly planned a quilt for her. Yeah, we’re sneaky like that. That’s the Seams So Easy way. I looked all over the Internet for quilts that the five of us could finish quickly and easily. We wanted to finish the quilt pretty quickly so she could have something in her new home to welcome her and remind her of her friends back in her old home state. I sent links to everyone of photos of quilts that reminded me of Teresa and everyone voted on them. There wasn’t a clear front runner. But then I saw this houses quilt by Oh, Fransson! and thought it was perfect. And so did everyone else. So that was the quilt we went with.

We decided how many blocks we wanted in the quilt and what color each of us wanted to use in our blocks. We also decided to embroider a message or a quilt block and our name in the center of each block. I drafted a rough design of the quilt in Adobe Illustrator so everyone could get an idea of what it was going to look like before we started it.

IMG_1353_0005WThe centers of the blocks that we embroidered

IMG_1354_0006WWe wanted to spend some time together working on the blocks as a group. So, Dawn, who is a soldier at Camp Dodge, was able to let us in there for a day. We got together on New Year’s Day and started sewing the quilt blocks. It was a perfect space for sewing. We sewed the whole quilt top together! (You can click on the photos to see them larger.)

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Tricia, Emma and Lisa busily piecing their house blocks

housesWWe were hoping to finish the quilt in a month or two, but as the song by John Lennon goes, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” It was quilted in early March. Emma quilted it in a beautiful wood grain pattern. It turned out awesome. She really did a great job on it.

Teresa'sQUILTWWe finally got the quilt mailed to Teresa in late March, I think. We heard from her last month and she said loved it. We loved it so much, too, that we decided to make it again; for ourselves this time, as a group project. We’re each going to make one and make blocks for each other to use in each of our quilts.

I love group projects like this. They’re so rewarding and they go fast with so many people working on them. Have you ever been part of a group project like this? If so, what did you make?

I’m in Stitch with Style!

051213_0014WWell, actually, my embroidered fabric necklace is. Check it out, it’s on page 36! I think the magazine might be on newsstands right now. I just got my copy in the mail a couple weeks ago. I designed the necklace back in December and submitted it to them for publication. I was so excited when the editor e-mailed me back and said she wanted to publish it. The hardest thing is waiting five months for the magazine to be published because they work so far ahead.

051213_0017WEven though I was a crafts magazine editor for three years, I still get a thrill seeing my name in print. It’s exciting every single time.

051213_0015WI actually made two necklaces. The original one I submitted used some older fabrics that were discontinued, so the editor wanted me to make another one. She told me to choose any fabrics I wanted from Westminster Fabrics’ web site and had the company send them to me. That was so fun. I picked some prints from Amy Butler’s new Alchemy line. You really only need small scraps to make the necklace, so I had a bunch of fabric leftover.

051213_0005AWIt’s been a dream and goal of mine to get published in one of Stitch’s magazines, so I feel very happy about this achievement and hope to get published in one of their publications again. I just love their magazines. They always have the coolest projects that I want to make. I hope you’ll try my necklace. It’s very simple to make and doesn’t take long at all.

051213_0011AWHappy crafting!

Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day

elephant.mmeadowblue_0003BWFor Sew, Mama, Sew’s Giveaway Day, I’m giving away an elephant pincushion that I made using a pattern by Heather Bailey. I enjoy making them and they’re always popular when I sell them at crafts shows. I’ll be selling some at Market Day next Saturday and adding some to my Etsy shop soon as well.

I’m always curious about how people learn how to sew and when in life they started sewing. So, in order to enter this giveaway, answer these two questions:  Who taught you how to sew? And at what age did you learn to sew? If you’d also like to share any beginner sewing triumphs or disasters, go for it! I’d love to hear about them. I’m truly sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only.

For an extra chance to win, you can do so by becoming a follower of my blog. All you have to do is click on the Follow Me button on the right side of my blog; then leave a second comment telling me you’re a follower of my blog. If you’re already a follower, just leave a comment saying you’re already a follower.

The giveaway will end on May 10 at 7:00 p.m. CST. I will randomly choose a winner and contact you by e-mail. So, make sure you leave your e-mail address with your comment. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck! Be sure to head over to Sew, Mama, Sew! and check out the other giveaways, too.

**The giveaway is now closed. The winner is Tamie.
Thanks to everyone who participated!**

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A Pen Pal Swap

Back in February, my pen pal Jennifer and I decided to do a doll quilt swap. I was excited about it, but also kind of nervous because she’s a fabulous quilter and I was afraid that her skill level was a little more advanced than mine.

I always wanted to join the Flickr Doll Quilt Swap but was always too busy. Plus, the last couple Flickr swaps I did, I felt like I put in a lot of effort but didn’t get much back for all the time I spent on my swap project. So I kind of got burned out on doing swaps for a while.

I was at a loss for what to make for Jennifer until I looked through her Flickr favorites and saw a pillow made from the paper-pieced popsicle pattern by Ayumi Takahashi of Pink Penguin. So that’s what I chose for her doll quilt. I thought it was perfect. It’s been on my to do list for a while so I’m really glad I got to make it. It was fun to make and easier than I thought it would be.

041313_0029AWThe doll quilt I made for Jennifer

I had intended to include a few extra goodies, as is customary with swaps, but I was sidelined with migraines the week that our swap was due. So I just mailed the doll quilt by itself. However, if I had known about all the goodies that Jennifer was sending me, I definitely would have made an extra effort to send her some extra things in her package.

042813_0012AWAll of the goodies that Jennifer sent me with my doll quilt

When I received my package from her, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. I opened the box and kept pulling out object after object. I gasped as I pulled out each item. You can ask my husband if you don’t believe me. And then I finally saw the doll quilt which was at the bottom of the box. I was so surprised. I couldn’t believe all the work she put into it. And her embroidery is perfect! It’s funny because the soda pop pattern she used has also been on my to-do list for a long time. I guess great minds think alike. Speaking of great minds, I think it’s funny that we both chose the exact same backing fabric for our doll quilts.

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Jennifer even hand-embroidered the label on the back and sewed on a sleeve to hang the quilt. I wish I would have thought of that. That was so thoughtful. This was the best swap I’ve ever been a part of and totally makes up for all the not-so-good swaps I’ve been in. Jennifer, you’re the best swap partner ever! I’m definitely going to be sending some handmade goodies your way soon.

I Met Vanessa Christenson!

On Friday night, the awesome Vanessa Christenson of V and Co. came to speak to our Modern Quilt Guild. She spoke about using traditional blocks in modern quilting and did a fabulous job. She was so funny and down-to-earth. I really loved everything she had to say about modern quilting and quilting in general.

041913_0034AWVanessa said when people ask her if she’s a modern quilter or traditional quilter, she tells them that she’s just a quilter. I like that answer. She really wants all quilters to feel like we belong to a great sisterhood of quilters that have passed on this wonderful art and tradition that continues to live and grow and get passed on to future generations. She said she believes it will continue to change, grow, live on and never die. Each generation will add its own mark or stamp to quilting just like ours has. And all generations can learn something from each other.

041913_0020AWA Dresden Plate block Vanessa made with her new fabric

We got to see a lot of Vanessa’s quilts in person that she has posted on her blog. It was so cool to be able to see them up close. Vanessa also gave us a Power Point presentation and showed how simple it is to take a traditional block and make it modern just by changing up the placement, the color, the scale of fabrics or the angle.

041913_0004AWAn ombre quilt Vanessa quilted with straight lines

I loved Vanessa’s super friendly and charismatic personality. Instead of shaking my hand when I met her, she reached over and gave me a hug. She’s one of those people you just instantly like. I’ve been following her blog for a couple of years and always imagined that her personality was just like this. It’s always such a pleasure when you get to meet a celebrity and the idea of what you think they’re like matches up to their true nature.

What I also really liked about Vanessa is that she can be honest about what she’s not good at. She said she’s not great at free motion quilting and she’d rather pay someone else a million dollars to do that for her. I think that’s something that a lot of us quilters can identify with. Vanessa quilts all of her own stuff with straight lines (because she likes that look) and pays someone else to do the fancy stuff. That’s nice to hear that even the experts aren’t perfect at everything.

If you asked me what kind of quilter I am, I would say I’m just a quilter, too. I love traditional quilts and modern quilts. But there are some aspects of both that I don’t like. So, yeah, I’m just a quilter.

Solids Pyramid Baby Quilt

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I wanted to share my latest quilt with you. I’m really excited about it and so pleased with how it turned out. It’s a pyramids baby quilt that I made for my husband’s great nephew Ridge, who was born in February. This kind of quilt is also known as an equilateral triangle quilt. It’s a simple design but there’s something so pleasing about it.

This quilt has been on my to-do list for years. I don’t know why I waited so long to try this wonderful pattern. I thought sewing the triangles together would be hard and making sure the points would match up would be tricky, but it really wasn’t difficult at all. In fact, it was one of the easiest quilts I’ve ever made. It went together quickly because I cut the triangles large. I cut 7.5″ triangles so they finished at 7″. This actually makes a nice throw-size quilt, too. It ended up being 44.5 x 56″.

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I got the inspiration for the colors after seeing this quilt. It reminds me of old Amish quilts, which I really love. When I showed my quilt to a coworker, she was surprised because she said it didn’t look like any of the other modern stuff I normally make. Lately I’ve been drawn toward using solids. I’d like to use them more.

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One thing I did differently with this quilt is that I machine-sewed the binding on. I normally sew the binding on the traditional way by sewing it on the front of the quilt by machine first, then folding it over the edge and then hand sew it to the back of the quilt. But since I was short on time and this was going to be a baby quilt that I figured was going to be washed repeatedly, I decided machine sewing the binding on all the way would be more durable over time.

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I use this method of binding for all my potholders because it’s more durable for repeated washings, but I’ve never done it on a quilt because I think hand sewing looks more professional. For a baby quilt, I think it’s passable. A baby isn’t going to notice. I would never use this method for a quilt I was going to enter into a show, though.

If you’re curious about how I did it, I’ll explain. I machine-sewed the binding strip onto the quilt front as usual, flipped the binding over to the back, pressed it really well with an iron and used these awesome clips by Clover to hold the binding in place. Then I stitched in the ditch from the front of the quilt along the binding, catching the back of the binding as I sewed. It does take some practice to make it look nice.

I’m so in love with this quilt that I’m already planning my next pyramids quilt. I think I’ll make it a little larger, though, so it would make a nice twin-size quilt or a large throw for the couch. I can see many more of these in my future. Try one. I think you’ll like it.