Monday, December 31, 2012

S.W.A.K.: Reflections on 2012

This year has been a hard year.  But as 2012 comes to a close, I wanted to look back at all I've been able to accomplish.  There have been many drafts of this post, but as saw the awesome collages on some of my favorite blogs, I had to one of my own :)  This post is a bit long, but have fun!

(1.  Mosaic Mini, 2.  Valentine's Day Table Topper with Sarah, 3.  Baby quilt for Jen & Family, 4.  RWB Blog Hop, 5.  Starburst blocks for Stash Bee, 6.  Samantha in SF, 7.  Nicholas, 8.  Chemo caps, 9.  One of my bulletin boards--I love the reverse silhouettes!, 10.  Sarah, 11. Me in SF, 12.  Ruffle Quilt Squares, 13.  the 30-miler, 14. My center block for Quilt U Be Mine, 15.  Heirloom necklace remake for Jenell, 16. Holiday Lane Blog Hop.)

In collecting these pics, I realized how truly blessed I am.  I had more pictures that I wanted to include, but this is a good sampling of me.

 My year started off with finally making my blog public.  That was a huge accomplishment for me.  I wanted everything just so and it took me weeks to learn how to do the backgrounds and do all the little design elements.  The direction that it's taken is a little of a surprise for me, but I'm enjoying it.  Hopefully in the coming year I'll be able to return to the more diverse ideas I had in the beginning.  I want to do more with general ideas and a family tracking/history.  I love my sewing and feel like I've truly found my creative outlet there, but I want to include more of the things I love and love to do.  There is so much more to me and my family than my sewing and quilting :)

Just days after I made my blog public, my oldest came down with an intractable headache that has since been diagnosed as New Daily Persistent Headache.  NDPH is a chronic condition that has taught me more about empathy, patience and compassion than I could have ever imagined.  Helping a 15-year-old struggle with chronic pain is a heart-wrenching, soul-stretching journey.  Just last week, we finished 3 days of injections--her fifth attempt to break the headaches.  As we enter the new year, I fervently pray that we find answers for her and her life can re-normalize.

Just after Sam's first hospitalization, my husband was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  He's had pain on and off for several years, but it finally became bad enough that it could no longer be ignored.  When they did the blood test, they started his treatments immediately.  His treatment is low-dose chemotherapy that he takes orally once a week.  The side effects seem to have leveled-off over time, but he is still wiped out for 2 to 3 days each week.  I'm amazed by his strength and perseverance.

Our other two kids are adjusting to the new normal.  They've both had amazing achievements of their own.  Nicholas turned twelve and is progressing well in Scouts.  He loves campouts and archery and is adjusting (slowly) to life in middle school.  Sarah is our social butterfly and World of Warcraft aficionado.  She loves playing with Rhett's guild.  Both of these guys tested for TAG earlier this year and are learning to play chess through one of the enrichment programs.

Because of my blog, I have been able to do many new things this year that I could only have imagined previously ...  First and foremost, I learned how to quilt.  While I am far from expert, I have become quite adept at matching points and creating projects (not to mention picking out stitches & seams.)  I also joined an online quilting bee--the Stash Bee--and am challenged each month to stretch my skills and color theory.  I participated in two blog hops, one fabric swap, and three quilt alongs.  I learned that I don't always need a pattern.  I learned that the online community is so fascinating as well as supportive.  I've won several prizes for making comments and participating in other online events and am amazed at the talent and quality I have been able to learn from.

There are many aspects of my every day life that are not shared here.  For one, I am an avid volunteer.  Most of my love and energy are spent working with the Young Women's organization in our church.  I love teaching, organizing activities and doing things with them and for them.  I also volunteer in several capacities at my kids' schools.  I discovered a love of bulletin boards and hallway decor.  My favorite place to be is in the classrooms and libraries, so I hope to get back to that, too.  In addition to volunteering I enjoy the outdoors.  This year I went on a 30-mile hike with the YW and it reminded me how much I enjoy hiking and camping.  I certainly live in an ideal location so near to so many natural resources; I need to take more advantage of that.  I also have other hobbies that I dabble in from time to time.  I enjoy crochet, toll painting, reading and baking.  Hopefully, I'll be able to squeeze more of these into the coming year, too.

Looking back, I know that I am so blessed.  Rhett teases me about using that term too freely--but I really feel like I am.  My kids are older and pretty self-sufficient so I can take a break when I need to and and not worry about everything falling apart before I return.  Rhett works hard to provide the necessities in life and I have a job that allows him to be home when I'm not.  I have a great relationships with my immediate family as well as our extended families even though they're far, far away.  I could go on and on.

Thank you for being part of my journey in 2012--I hope to see a lot more in 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Quilt U Be Mine--December

Yesterday I finished my work on the round robin for December. I love seeing everyone else's work!

This one really stretched my ability to "see" the next step.  Since it's a secret until February, here are a couple of sneak peaks :)


Rachelle asked for a signature block, so here's mine:

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and is looking forward to another long weekend celebrating the new year.  I, for one, can't wait.  I'm off today for the start of another round of treatment for Samantha.  Wish us some luck that this will do the trick!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tipsy Tutorials: I Can Re-position Wonder Under!

So, first of all, I'd like to thank everyone who stopped by for my day of the Holiday Lane Pillow Hop.  I had so much fun and am still enjoying the comments that keep coming!  I will answer every one, but it will take a little while.  I can't imagine those bloggers who get hundreds of comments on posts--they must be much more full-time on the computer than I am.  I did end up buying a new backing for the wall hanging when I was at the quilt store in town on another matter :)

Another bigger project that I took on a couple of months ago was an advent calendar.  I love Christmas Countdowns, and have wanted a nice one for a couple of years that is more versatile--to put love notes in, activity suggestions, service projects, candies, or whatever strikes my fancy for the year.  I have some really cute smaller ones that simply count the days, but I. want. something. more.  (No snickers from the peanut gallery :)

Sooo, back in September I printed out the directions and bought the fabric.  Here is the original tutorial and picture:

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Picture via Sew, Mama, Sew! and Elizabeth at O, Fransson!
After some shopping around, I settled on fabrics from the Blitzen line by Basic Grey for Moda.  I was doing great until it came to sewing on the numbers for the pockets ... or rather I didn't even get quite that far.

I'm so used to the quarter-inch mantra I've learned this year that I didn't double check the instructions before I started ironing things and, well, I ironed all the numbers too close to the edge to properly sew the pockets together.  Of course, I didn't even realize this until I was on #23--really!  See the nice small space between each of the numbers and the seams above--mine would not have that.  So, as is typical of me, I set the project aside and buried it so I didn't have to look at the frustrating failure until I decided what to do.  (I don't have enough of my chosen solids to just make whole new pockets.)

Working on my Holiday Lane Pillow put the advent calendar back in the forefront of my mind.  I started thinking and thinking ... well, you don't need all the crazy details, but I did come up with one idea.  I decided to see if I could re-position the numbers.  Not terribly original, but hey, I've never appliqued before and never used wonder under either.  That stuff seems like it sticks pretty hard and fast.

So, the other day, I started peeling.  For the most part the numbers come off not too bad.  Of course #1 peeled right off, no problems--no fraying, no glue left behind--just a nice clean pocket and perfectly shaped number.  I could still feel the sheen of the adhesive on the back, so I thought, "Still in business ..."

I fired up my iron ... well heated it up, anyway ...

re-positioned it to the proper 1/2-inch from the edges ...

and pressed good and well.

Voila, it stuck again!  Success!!

Who knew?  I certainly couldn't find any tips like that in my searches, so I share it with you now :)  I probably wouldn't do this if I wasn't already planning to machine stitch around the edges, but for this project I think it will work out OK.

A couple of tips I figured out:
* Try to use the pads of your fingers to help peel off the old placement.  Using the tips of my fingers/fingernails tended to fray the edges a bit.  If it ends up bothering me too much, I'll just re-cut-out a few of the numbers rather that re-doing everything.  I can live with that :) 
* On some of the numbers, a little glue was left behind.  I found that lightly scraping with my fingernail or the side of my bone folder distorted the fabric locally, so I stopped that right quick.  I ended up just leaving it and ironing over it.  That seemed to take care of it.  There wasn't really a residue left on my iron, either, so that made me happy.  I'll probably clean the plate of my iron when I'm done with all the pockets just to make sure no gummy residue is left to transfer to other projects.
* Go slowly!  You don't want to stretch your pieces out of shape or leave behind too much adhesive.  It might have taken me seconds to make the mistake, but as with anything, a real fix will take a bit of time.  I put on some Christmas music and reminded myself that it's not a race :)  There is no deadline, so if I don't have it ready for advent season this year, its OK.

Please feel free to add your own Wonder Under tips/stories to my own :)  You know that misery loves company.  I don't feel so new when I know other more experienced souls have had similar blunders learning experiences.