Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finally a crafty weekend!

It felt good this weekend to get a lot of crafty project done!  ***Ann and Ava don't read this; it's got SPOILERS!***

1) Remade my phone case for running.  The sides were too tight, so I ripped it out and sewed it back together with a different technique.  It works great now, especially when hubby demo'ed it for me when I finished it.  Love that guy.

2) Made my baby niece a Buttercup bag and ruffled clutch for her birthday in May (extra yay for getting it done early.  Buttercup pattern is here, clutch pattern is here, and fabric is Always & Forever by Deb Strain for Moda fabrics

3) Made a Dr. Seuss taggy blanket for my other sister's bun-in-the-oven

4) Quilted a set of 4 mug rugs that I originally intended to hand quilt.  Yeah, that went no where.  I still need to bind these.  Fabric is Awesome by Sandy Gervais and pattern is by Sweetwater

All on top of being sick!  Also, my Halloween quilt is on its way to Mom's to be quilted.  I have my Christmas mystery BOM out now to work on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My new cash envelope system

My husband and I decided at the beginning of the year to get on a budget and save for the crazy stuff happening for us over the course of this year.  I've been a fan of Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover plan for a while, and we're implementing a lot of his ideas.  We're trying out a cash envelope systems for a few of our budget categories.  Of course I had to craft them!

When I did a quick search on Etsy for Dave Ramsey-style cash envelope systems, there were so many to choose from!  I ended up getting the Magnetic Cash Envelope Pattern from tresmarias, along with a set of iron on labels.  I got the magnets from K & J Magentics, and I used fabric from the Acorn fabric line designed by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures. 

I ended up making a little pouch for the envelopes with the left over fabric.  It doesn't *quite* fit, but oh well!  The categories I used are: Groceries, Pharmacy, Restaurants, Pet Sitting, Pet Food & Supplies, Hair, Dry Cleaning, Gifts & Christmas, Richard's Fun Money, and Beth's Fun Money.  I also got a Dollars and Cents Memo Book from Staples.  I ripped out the pages and put a page in each envelope to record the activity for each one.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2010 Designer Mystery BOM Blocks 9 and 10

This weekend I got two new blocks finished from the 2010 Designer Mystery Block of the Month sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop.

Block Nine "Matching Ornaments" designed by Joanna Figueroa

Joanna Figueroa designed the fabric line used in the FQS 2011 Designer Mystery Block of the Month

Block Ten "All Tied Up with Pretty Red Tinsel" Designed by Polly Minick and Laurie Simpson

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My first swap!

In April, I'm going to do my first swap!  Swaps have appeared on many sites, like Craftster and flickr groups, but the one I'm doing is hosted by AnneMarie at Gen X Quilters.

Gen X Quilters

For this swap, I'll send in 12 fat quarters of Robert Kaufman's Kona Cotton Solids, and receive back 12 different colors.  I'm sure some people will use it for "stash building," but I've been actually looking forward to swapping since I lurked on the Craftster swap forums a couple years ago.  (Check out the photo galleries!)  I like the idea of picking out fabric and sending it away to AnneMarie, who will divvy up the goods and send them back to the participants.  I'm already excited about it!  Check out all the great colors Kona comes in here: Sew Fresh Fabrics.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Block-a-Palooza First Round of Blocks

Quilt Dad

I'm participating in this Quilt-Along.  It's my first quilt-along, and I'm behind schedule.  Oh well.  Here's what I've done!

Block 1: Flying Over Fields by John Adams Quilt Dad

Block 2: Word Search by Elizabeth Hartman from Oh Fransson!

Block 3: Shoofly Geese by Amanda Sasikirana from sasikirana handmade

Block 4: Gingham Pinwheel by Cherri House from Cherry House Quilts (oops, skipped this one!)

Block 5: Geesy McNinepatch by Kaye Prince from Miss Print

Block 6: You Are Here by Monica Solorio-Snow from Happy Zombie

Block 7: Orange you glad I chose a nine patch by Heather Bostic from House of a la Mode

Block 8: Basket of Geese by Angela Yosten from Moda Home Mom

Block 9: Lemonade Stand by Scott Hansen from Blue Nickel Studios

And here's my Rectangle Reverie, a design from Monica Solorio-Snow from Happy Zombie.  Her link is above.  I'm almost done, but I wanted to share what I have now.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: The Emporer's Tomb by Steve Berry

I really wanted to love this book.  This is the sixth book in the Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry.  I inhaled the other five and I loved all of them.  The basic formula for the series includes a mystery surrounding a historical artifact, a world issue, and a conspiracy.  Other books have included the Library of Alexandria and a plot to tear apart Judaism, Christianity and Islam; an advanced early civilization previously unknown to science and a cover-up by the Department of the Navy; Alexander the Great and biochemical warfare...you get the idea.  Steve Berry is great at researching the history behind the elements in his books and integrating them into a compelling (to me) storyline.  I like learning about pieces of history, and Berry always includes an Author's Note telling where he got his research and what parts are his imaginings, which I appreciate greatly.  That's probably the librarian in me.  But somehow, this book didn't appeal to me as much as the others in the series.

This book's historical basis is in Imperial China.  The Terracotta Army was built by the First Emperor of Qin as a part of his burial site.  He included a replica of all of his belongings (including living servants) to take with him into the afterlife.  The burial site is important because it contains a sample of the first oil drilled in China, in fact the world.  A Russian expatriate scientist is now trying to prove that the oil coming from the Chinese oil fields is not biotic (decomposed from living organisms) but abiotic (secretions from the rock itself).  If this is true, China can produce its own oil and cease its dependence on foreign supplies.  And take over the world.  The ancient eunuch system in China originally served as civil servants to the Emperors but it was purged for abusing their power and status in the Imperial courts.  It has survived the purge and has secretly integrated into the Chinese political system and is poised to overthrow the government and return to Imperialism.  Cassiopeia Vitt, friend of the Russian scientist, gets involved to try to save him from the Chinese conspiracy and instead gets trapped.  Cotton Malone comes to rescue Cassiopeia, and together they try to end the conspiracy and save the scientist.  And the world.

The story was great, I thought.  The plot was Steve Berry's usual gripping style, and at least two characters continually switched sides and continually provided intrigue.  I love Cotton Malone's character, plus the fact that he shares a nickname with my husband's favorite grandpa.  I just didn't get into the back story as much as in previous books.  I don't know if it was a lack of interest in Chinese history, or that it was too much scope to absorb, or that I just don't like current Chinese politics; I'm not sure.  I do love history in general, but my interests are more reserved for Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and India.  China has such a rich history full of innovation and culture, it's hard to absorb it all. 

This was my first time hearing about the abiotic oil theory, and it's interesting for sure.  I believe, like the author does, that proving this theory correct would increase dependence on oil as a fuel source.  I like seeing other energy sources explored, like the wind turbines I saw in West Texas around Abilene and the ones around Boston.  I think solar panels are also an interesting new energy source. 

I was glad to learn more about the Terracotta Army and the First Emperor who built it.  I liked the story in general.  This book was just not my favorite of the series.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Our Valentine's Day Fun

My husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day on Saturday the 19th due to scheduling conflicts.  We made cupcakes together and watched a movie.

For our cupcakes we used Pillsbury's Super Moist Vanilla cake mix.  (I know, I know.)  We added tiny pieces of strawberries and baked them into the batter.  For the frosting we made Mark Bittman's Butter Cream Frosting, and we added Ghiradelli's mini chocolate chips.  Richard was in charge of the frosting and he did a great job!  Vanilla with Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Butter Cream Frosting!! They were great.  Especially when Richard added bourbon to the frosting for the last 4 cupcakes.  :)

We went to see Unknown starring Liam Neeson.  This was an odd movie.  It was a good movie with excellent cast, but it wasn't original.  It was a cross between Bourne Identity and Neeson's other movie Taken.  Great effects and fight scenes though.