December 31, 2018


Devotion for the Week...

Happy New Year to you!

Early one morning recently I woke up from a dream that had something to do with scrolling through Instagram on my phone and all I could think in that 'barely awake' state was that it's pretty amazing that someone was able to program a computer I carry around in my back pocket to recognize what I want to do based on where on the screen I touch. Not only that, but I can touch the a spot on the first page of apps and open one thing, then swipe to the second page of apps and touch the same place to open something different entirely. Who thought of that? And who figured out how to make it work?

Computers mystify me. I have no clue how they actually work or how to change what they can do and I'm grateful that other people have been able to create ways for me to work with computers without needing to know everything about their inner workings.

The same is true in a lot of other categories as well. I don't create new recipes, but I love following ones that other people create. I wouldn't know how to design a washing machine or a dishwasher, but I'm extremely grateful to the people who created them!

Throughout history, people have created so many amazing things, in so many different fields, that it's kind of mind boggling.

Genesis 1:26 says, "Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us." The 'in our image' part doesn't mean that we look like God, since He doesn't have a physical body for us to resemble. It's talking about His character. We are meant to be like Him in our character. Unfortunately, sin often gets in the way of that. We don't always express love and compassion, kindness, generosity and faithfulness as He does because our sinful nature is too selfish.

One expression of His character that we don't often think about imitating is His creativity, but it is a large part of who He is. Just think about the variety we see in flowers or in the animal kingdom, not to mention the huge variety of appearances and personalities among people. God created all of it and designed it all to work together flawlessly.
Creativity |
A lot of people protest that they're not creative at all, but I don't think that's true. Creativity doesn't have to be painting or writing books or designing quilts. One friend talks about her mother, who can go to almost bare cupboards and somehow still create a delicious meal. Other people think of ways to teach children who are having trouble understanding a lesson at school or they come up with ways to raise money to help a charity they believe in. Still others design apps and computer programs that do things never thought of before. There is no limit to the ways people can be creative, because there is no limit to the creativity God has instilled in us.

How are you creative most often?

December 29, 2018

Christmas Gifts 2018

Now that all the Christmas gifts have been gifted, I can share all of the things I made this year, most of which you've seen at least in part recently 😊

There were the cat pillows that I've shared already and the snowflake ornaments for my grandmother, one of which is shown in the tutorial showing how I finish the ornaments. Here's the full set of three.
embroidered snowflake ornaments |
The snowflakes in the middle and on the left were designed by Mollie Johanson and the one on the right is from Craft Foxes.

These are the ornaments for our boys this year. Aiden is 16, so he gets an approximation of our van on his ornament in honour of having his beginner's license.
Aiden's ornament |
Zachary's ornament is a basketball player because he has been all about basketball this year, playing on both the junior and senior school teams, plus taking part in men's league pick up games whenever he could.
Zachary's ornament |
Nathan's ornament is a book because this was the year he finally started reading for fun, rather than just doing the absolute minimum reading required as part of his homework. Reading the Harry Potter books was definitely the start of it and it's great to see him reading (and enjoying it!) so much more.
Nathan's ornament |
I gave my Dad my Night Sky quilt, (the pattern for which is on my needs-to-be-released list). Dad enjoys looking at the stars and taught me to love it, too, so this seemed like the perfect quilt to give him, especially after I realized that I've never given him a quilt. I've given Mom a couple of wall hanging sized quilts, but that's it. She has laid claim to my Indecisive quilt, so when I (eventually) finish quilting that they'll each have a me-made quilt.

I gave Mom this rock art canvas, which was a lot of fun to make.
Nathan's ornament |
I picked up the rocks at my favourite nearby beach and painted them to make daisies, her favourite flower. I have an abundance of rock and sea glass art ideas pinned on Pinterest, so I'd say I'll be making more like this. It's really a summertime activity, though, since it's currently too cold to be rock hunting on the beach!

For my coffee loving husband, I painted and framed this canvas. I even painted the background with coffee! Then, while painting the letters, I could smell the coffee, lol.
coffee quote |
I made two sets of 15 Christmas napkins, one set for us and another for a friend.
napkins |
I made 5 each with these three fabrics, just cutting them into 10" squares. I decided on that size by taking a precut square from my stash and pretending I was wiping my fingers, lol. I discovered the purpose of a new sewing machine foot in the process of making the napkins. This is the overedge foot and using it allowed me to stitch a perfect zigzag along the edge of the fabric without it folding, pulling or puckering. I love learning how to use a foot that I've never used before!
overedge foot |
Let me say, using the napkins for the first time and intentionally wiping messy fingers across a piece of my good fabric was a strange feeling! The plan now is to make a set for everyday use to eliminate the need to buy paper napkins.

Nathan also made gifts for everyone in the family, all out of cardboard. He made me a sewing machine, complete with a needle, the turtle and rabbit speed setting and the stitch selection 😊
cardboard sewing machine |
For Aiden, he made a guitar and an amp. The guitar has frets and tuning screws and the guitar is connected to the amp by a piece of twine.
cardboard guitar |
Zach, an avid reader, got a cardboard version of Oathbringer, a Brandon Sanderson book.
cardboard book |
And for Paul, a fan of the Marvel movies and characters, Nathan made a cartoon version of Stan Lee.
It was fun to see Nathan so excited about each of the gifts he was making and to see his brothers be so enthusiastic about the things he made for them. I love knowing that he gets to experience the joy of giving handmade gifts.

I still have placemats to make for Paul's mother, but she was told already that they wouldn't be finished in time for Christmas and she's content to wait until whenever I get them done. There will be dresden plates involved, so I'm looking forward to finally getting the fabric for them, hopefully sometime next week.

Phew! I think that's the most handmade things I've ever gifted for one Christmas. Now to try to keep Christmas from somehow sneaking up on me next year so I can make most of my gifts again 😊

December 26, 2018

Best of 2018

Cheryl, at Meadow Mist Designs, is hosting her 4th annual linky party to celebrate our best blog posts of the year. It was fun going back through my posts to see which I'd choose as the best of the year. Cheryl sets no rules for what qualifies a post as one of the best, so I have a mish mash of bests to share today 😊

Back in January Nathan tore a huge hole in a pair of pajama pants and we decided to use the remaining fabric as the arms and legs of a monster. It was fun to make it with him and he still sleeps with it every night.
Nathan's monster |
These next two go together under the category of "tackling new things." First, there's my Necessary Clutch Wallet. I use this all the time (it's my only purse) and I get a lot of compliments on it.
Necessary Clutch Wallet |
And then there's my maxi skirt that I made out of knit fabric, conquering my fear of fabric that stretches! I'm actually wearing this skirt as I type this post 😊 I got more knit fabric for Christmas, so there will be more clothing in the near future.
maxi skirt |
I gifted quite a few quilts this year. There was Night Sky to my Dad for Christmas, Northern Woods to my father-in-law and Reach for the Stars to my mother-in-law (both for their 50th wedding anniversary) and Cross Stitch Heart to my grandmother for her birthday. I couldn't decide which was my favourite, so here are both Cross Stitch Heart and Reach for the Stars 😊
Cross Stitch Heart quilt |
Reach for the Stars quilt |
 And one last best, for the accomplishment I'm most proud of this year, my printed patterns! I'm still so excited about this and I'm looking forward to having lots more patterns printed in 2019 😊
quilt patterns |
2018 has been a great year and I'm excited for what 2019 will bring! Happy New Year to you!

December 24, 2018

Advent 2018 - The Wise Men

Devotion for the Week...

Happy Christmas Eve! It's the fourth week of Advent and so far this Advent season we've looked at the innkeeper, Herod and the shepherds (again). Today we're going to look at the Wise Men and their part in the Christmas story.

Here's how their part in the story begins: "Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1,2).

The first thing I want to point out about the wise men is that they were astronomers and scholars, people who would have noticed the appearance of a new star in the sky. The star wasn't like the star we usually see on Christmas cards, so huge in the sky that you'd have to be blind to miss it. Can you imagine the panic that would have gripped the common people to have such a giant star suddenly appear in the sky? No, these were men who studied the stars and noticed when something small changed. I have heard it speculated that they were also men who would have known the prophecies of Daniel, who was taken captive to the land of Babylonia hundreds of years earlier, which might explain how they knew about the long awaited arrival of a new king of the Jews.

The second thing that interests me about the wise men is that they were not from the nation of Israel and they had no affiliation with God. They weren't His people. And yet, when they noticed that new star, they set out in search of Jesus so they could worship Him.

Sometimes people think that if they weren't raised in church, then God doesn't want anything to do with them. Whether it's because they think they're not good enough or because they think He's not interested in them, they feel like they can't come to God. But here are men from another country entirely, men who had no connection to God's people, and God put a sign in the sky that only they would recognize. It was like their own personal invitation to come meet Jesus.

The wise men went to King Herod first. Where else would you expect people to look for a newborn king, but in the palace of the present king? But when they found that Herod didn't have a new son, they continued their search. "After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh" (vv. 9-11).

What a strange assortment of visitors Mary welcomed to see her baby! First there were the shepherds, the lowest of the low in society, and then came these wise men from the east who could afford to give such lavish gifts. Both groups had their own special invitation from God that told them how to find this special child and both groups immediately set out to find Him and then rejoiced when they found Him.
Advent devotions |
Jesus, Himself, is our special invitation to come to God. By coming to earth as a baby and then dying on the cross as our Savior, Jesus opened the way to allow everyone to come into God's presence. It doesn't matter if we feel like we're the lowest of the low in society or if we feel like outsiders, if we come seeking Jesus, we will be welcome.

December 21, 2018

Cat Pillows - December Island Batik Challenge

Note, the fabrics for this project were given to me by Island Batik as part of their ambassador program.

The December challenge theme for the Island Batik ambassadors is "Whimsical and Wonky." I struggled for a while to come up with an idea because neither of those things are really my style. I considered doing wonky stars, but it wasn't exciting me at all. I figured if no other ideas presented themselves, that's what I'd do.

Then I borrowed the Autumn 2018 issue of Quilt World from my library and found an adorable pattern for a cat pillow, designed by Chris Malone. In the magazine it's a Halloween cat, in black fabric with orange and black for the ribbon, ears and nose, but I knew it would look great in Island Batik fabrics 😊I also knew the kids I babysit would love to have their own cat pillows for Christmas. As a bonus, it looked pretty whimsical to me! What do you think?
cat pillows |
I love them all, though I'm rather partial to the blue one because, well, blue 💙
cat pillows |
cat pillows |
cat pillows |
cat pillows |
Nathan named them all as I worked on them, beginning with the pink one, Pig. When the face consisted only of the eyes and nose, without the whiskers and mouth, it definitely looked like a pig! The blue one he named Sky.
cat pillows |
The green one is Grass and the orange one, Tiger.
cat pillows |
The eyes are made of solid black and white Island Batik fabrics and I used a scrap of white with the most barely-there hint of a print for the inner ears and another scrap of cream for the noses of all the cats except Tiger. On him the cream print was too subtle so he needed a dark brown print for his nose.
cat pillows |
cat pillows |
I've been giving the kids their gifts to take home on their last day with me before the Christmas break, which was yesterday for two of them. One, Pig's new owner, opened hers before she even left my house and was incredibly excited about when she realized it was a cat pillow, which was really sweet to see. Then, shortly after they got home, her mom sent me pictures of her rolling around on the floor with her new pillow and throwing it up in the air with the biggest grin on her face 😊 I love when things I make for someone are used and loved, don't you?

On another note, trying to take decent pictures this time of year is challenging, to say the least. By the time the sun is well and truly up, I'm working and it's pretty much down again before I'm done work. So, to get these pictures, I raided the house for lamps and moved them and our sofa table into our entryway, which has one of our few bare walls. Well, it's bare after I take down the artwork (seen on the floor to the left of this picture).
photography set up |
I put daylight bulbs in all the lamps and the ceiling fixture and at times had Nathan or Zachary holding one of the lamps in a different position in an attempt to get rid of all the crazy shadows. It wasn't ideal, but it worked!

It's hard to believe this is my second last challenge project for my first year as an Island Batik ambassador. I've had a lot of fun using and sharing these fabrics and coming up with projects to fit the monthly themes. Here's hoping I get to spend 2019 as an ambassador, too, so I can keep right on going!
cat pillows |
cat pillows |
 Pig, Sky, Grass and Tiger wish you all a Merry Christmas!

December 19, 2018

How to Finish an Embroidery or Quilt Block as an Ornament

For a few years now, I've been wanting to share how I assemble the annual cross stitch ornaments I make for the boys, but usually by the time I'm ready to put them together I'm scrambling to get them done and I don't have time to take pictures of the process. This year, though, I've been working on some embroidered snowflake ornaments and I did take the time to get pictures as I finished them 😊
This same process will work for any small textile that you want to turn into an ornament: a cross stitch, an embroidered motif, a small quilt block or a piece of much loved fabric. I finished these snowflake ornaments as circles, but most of the process is the same for any shape. The one step that's different, I'll show how I do it for squares and rectangles, too. I've never tried triangles, but I'm guessing it would work the same as the squares and rectangles.

To begin with, decide how big you want the finished ornament to be. For circles, I find things in my kitchen that are the right size. In this case, a small glass was just right for the snowflakes. For squares and rectangles, I draw the shape onto a piece of thin cardboard, like a cereal box, and cut it out.

Trace around the template, centering your design.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Leaving a seam allowance of  ¼" - ½", cut out around your design. I generally find that the more generous seam allowance makes for easier assembly, especially for squares and rectangles.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Along with your design for the front of the ornament, you'll also need:

  •  a piece of backing fabric the same size as the front piece
  • two pieces of batting. Trace the template onto the batting and cut out on the line. FYI, this is why I'm always saving small pieces of batting. Of course, I could probably decorate a whole town's worth of trees with the scraps I have, but it seems wrong to throw out a piece that is big enough for an ornament!
  • two pieces of thin cardboard, like a cereal box, also cut out on the line
  • a piece of ribbon about 5" long. You can go longer or slightly shorter, depending on how long you want the ornament hanging loop to be.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
For circular ornaments, stitch a row of basting stitches around the edge of both the front and back pieces.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Layer a piece of batting and a piece of cardboard on the wrong side of both the front and back pieces, placing them on the drawn lines.

How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Pull the basting stitches tight to draw the fabric tight around the cardboard circle. Stitch a small backstitch to secure the thread, then press both pieces.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
For squares and rectangles, layer the batting and cardboard pieces on the wrong side of the fabric, then fold the corners in and press. This is the back piece of one of the boys' annual ornaments 😊
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Then fold in the sides and press.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Stitching only through the fabric on the back, take a couple of stitches in each corner to secure the folds.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Arrange the ribbon between the two pieces and use clips to hold the layers together.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
Using thread that matches, whip stitch the pieces together. If my two pieces of fabric aren't the same colour, I match the thread to the front fabric.
How to finish an embroidery or quilt block as an ornament |
When you come to the ribbon you won't be able to whip stitch, so just take small stitches back and forth until you're past it and then continue with the whip stitch.

At the end, knot your thread, pop the knot under the fabric and you're done! Once you have whatever you're using for the front, turning it into an ornament is pretty quick to finish, so you still have time to whip up a couple to hang on your tree this year 😊

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm still trying to finish the boys' cross stitches (one left to go!) so their ornaments can be hung on the tree Christmas Eve.

December 17, 2018

Advent 2018 - The Shepherds (Take Two)

Devotion for the Week...

So far this Advent season, we've looked at the innkeeper and Herod. For this, the third week of Advent, I'm revisiting the shepherds for another look at their part in the Christmas story. I first wrote about the shepherds back in 2016 and I've shared links to that devotion a bunch of times lately because it's probably my favourite of all the many devotions I've written over the past 5+ years. But I think there's another aspect of their story that I didn't notice two years ago, so this is take two on the shepherds.

I won't quote the entire passage here, because it's a bit long, but here's the short version: the shepherds were working out in the field at night when they were visited by an angel who told them that the Messiah had been born and they should go to find Him. "They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often" (Luke 2:16-19).

'All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.' I bet they were! What a crazy sounding story those shepherds were telling. And, as I shared back in 2016, shepherds then were not considered to be very reliable. In fact, they were thought to be so untrustworthy that they weren't allowed to testify in court!

The shepherds knew they might not be believed. They knew their reputation, after all. But that didn't stop them from telling everyone they encountered what they had seen and heard. In fact, it sounds to me like the story was practically bubbling up out of the shepherds who couldn't contain their excitement and amazement. They just couldn't stop talking about what had happened and it didn't really matter to them whether people believed them or not.

The thing is, it wasn't the shepherds' job to make people believe their story. They were sent to see Baby Jesus for themselves, but there's no mention of the angel telling them to share the story after they found the baby.

Of course, God knew that after being visited by angels and then finding the baby, just as the angel said they would, they wouldn't be able to keep from telling people about it. Those shepherds probably told that story for the rest of their lives, don't you think? Wouldn't you?

How many people heard that the Messiah had been born that night? Did any of them believe it? Did any of them then hear stories of Jesus when He was an adult and make the connection to the story the shepherds told so many years before? The shepherds never knew the answers to those questions, but that didn't matter. The results weren't up to them. They just kept telling their story.
Advent devotions |
My question for us is, are we telling the stories of what God has done in our lives or are we too worried about whether or not people will believe us? Just as with the shepherds, we're not responsible for whether or not people believe in God because of the stories we share. We simply share what God has done for us and leave the results to Him.

December 15, 2018

2019 Planning

It's planning and goal setting time again! Yvonne, of Quilting Jetgirl, is hosting her annual Planning Party to help us all set goals and make plans for the amazing things we hope to accomplish in 2019. Will you be joining the party?
2019 Planning Party  
Since I didn't actually set goals for 2018, I won't start off by assessing my progress on those 😊 We'll just say that I feel like I accomplished a lot, especially since I finally (finally!) achieved my goal of printing my patterns and getting them into shops. There's still so much work to be done on the getting into shops part, but at least I have some printed patterns to offer them and you, if you prefer the printed version over the PDF.

So, on to the goals for 2019...

1. Finish the first responder quilts!!
stack of quilts |
Nathan seems to enjoy reminding me that the fire at the Manor happened "two years ago" even though it was actually only 19 months ago. Sheesh. Those quilts really need to be finished, both so our town's first responders can actually use them and so they (and their various parts) are no longer taking up space in my house. This goal is a priority, but somehow still has to fit in around my quilts with deadlines. Ideally, I'd like to be finished before Nathan is right about the two years thing. That gives me a deadline of April 6.

2. Participate in the OMG link ups to finish up some WIPs.
Scrappy HST quilt block |
One of many projects that need finishing. This is destined to be a pillow cover, once it's quilted.
I've known about and been interested in the One Monthly Goal link up at Elm Street Quilts for a while now, but I've never participated. Well, I've decided that the WIP situation is getting out of hand and it's time to start finding some motivation to get things done rather than always jumping immediately on to the next new thing. It seems like setting one goal per month would be a good way to tackle some WIPs without getting overwhelmed, so that's what I'm going to do. As a bonus, I can use some of the early months to help me meet goal #1!

3. Host a QAL 😃
Medallion Magic quilt |
I'm pretty excited about this one! As I said on Wednesday, I'm going to host a QAL featuring my Medallion Magic quilt starting in January. I may be the last blogger in the quilt world to share about their QAL plans for the new year, but better late than never, right? Hopefully you haven't completely filled your QAL dance card and you'll be able to participate in one more. The PDF pattern is now available from either my Etsy or Payhip shops and the print patterns will be available in the new year.
Medallion Magic quilt along |
4. Have a table at our local spring craft fair.

There's a small craft fair here in town every spring and fall. Now that I'm printing my patterns, I plan to have a table come spring. Of course, that means I'll need to have quite a few different patterns printed by then. A table with only four quilt patterns on offer probably wouldn't result in many sales. I plan to update my existing patterns to get them ready for printing, plus I have a backlog of new patterns that I haven't released yet, so it's only a matter of finding the time to get to them all. Why are there not more hours in the day??

After trying the spring craft fair, I'll decide what I want to do about the fall. Will I have a table again? Will I look at going to one or more of the much larger craft fairs that are around? I'll know a lot more once I see how I do here, though this small market may not necessarily be a good indication of what a larger one would be like. Still, it's a place to start and I know there are quite a few quilters in the area.

5. Get organized!

With no established sewing room, I have sewing stuff everywhere in the house. Earlier this year I bought some shelves for the spare room to contain some of it, but there's still more work to be done. I also now have patterns to be storing (somewhere!) and a big box of bags for packaging the patterns. There's plenty of stuff in the house that could be cleared out, it's just that I don't usually want to spend my time decluttering when I could be sewing 😊 Please tell me you can relate!

I also need to find a better way to keep track of my current and upcoming quilt projects, especially the ones with deadlines. I've never missed a deadline, but I feel like I could have a better handle on keeping everything straight and knowing how much I've committed to, which will be helpful when I'm deciding whether or not to commit to something new.

I've tried using the pages in The Quilter's Planner that are designed especially for keeping track of projects, but I want something different. I think I need something that allows me to move the quilts around rather than list them. I'm thinking maybe a bulletin board with individual papers for each project. I'll still be using my Quilter's Planner for all of my weekly and daily scheduling/planning, though. Do you have your Quilter's Planner yet? If not, you should order one! This will be my fourth year using it and it gets more beautiful every year. Those are all affiliate links, but I genuinely love my QP, and I highly recommend it 😊

Well, that should certainly keep me busy, don't you think? Especially since I didn't mention the Island Batik ambassador challenges, which I'll be doing again if I'm chosen as an ambassador for another year (fingers crossed). I'm also involved in a few blog hops in the first part of the year, so I'll be making for those of course. And there are so many design ideas I want to make...You know how it is!

What are your plans/goals for next year?

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