Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quilts for Kids - Final Post

I did it! 
Wohoo! I finally finished my kid's quilt! How does it look??

This weekend I finished this baby, by doing my last rows of quilting (aka sewing the layers of fabric and fluff together). 

I had to roll each side as I fed the fabric through the machine, since there was so much material.

Then, I measured out 1 inch from the edge for the backing fabric, and cut. This was essential for using my backing as the finished edge of my quilt. 

I folded the raw edge in half and pinned to the top of the quilt, creating a more finished-looking edge. 

My assistant here was sleeping on the job! ;)

After sewing all around to secure the finished edge, voila! We have a beautiful completed quilt!

I hope this special child who gets to wrap up in my quilt, feels extra loved! 

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Oktoberfest 2014

This past weekend was the start of Oktoberfest! What's Oktoberfest, you say?

Well, Oktoberfest is the world's largest festival, or carnival, held annually in Munich, Germany. It starts in late September and goes for about two weeks, until the first weekend in October. Attendance at the fair usually reaches about 6 million people over the two weeks, coming from all over the globe.

It began in the early 1800's as a royal wedding celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese on October 12th. They eventually moved up the dates to September for the annual Oktoberfest celebrations, to accommodate for better weather.

Over the years they've had parades, agriculture shows, horse races, rides, shopping, fantastic food, and of course, Munich-brewed beer.

To celebrate at home, we decided to cook up some delicious, German-style dishes.
Anyone hungry for some Oktoberfest Lager Stew?

What about some Black Forest Cake?

Don't forget the homemade pretzels! These were delish! 
Props to Daniel who rolled and formed the pretzels. He had wayyy too much fun doing that!

If you're interested in actually going to an Oktoberfest celebration, rather than having one at home, here are a few happening around Central Florida.

Central Florida Celebrations

Downtown Orlando: THIS Saturday, Sept 27th starting at 3pm, at the Bahai Festival Grounds (2300 Pembrook Drive Orlando) 

East Orlando: Both Friday and Saturday evenings, Oct 10th and 11th from 5pm to 10 pm in downtown Avalon Park

North Orlando: Two Saturdays in October, the 4th and 25th starting at 2pm in Casselberry (381 Orange Lane, Casselberry)

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quilts for Kids - Weeks 3 & 4

Two weeks ago, we left off with almost finishing up the quilt top for this adorable quilt I'm making for the organization, Quilts for Kids.

I'm getting closer and closer to completing my quilt, so let me bring you up to speed.

Last time we left off, we were here:

I was just attaching the inner border, and ironing the fabric for the outer border.

Since last time, I've gotten this far... What do ya think?

My entire quilt top is complete! Now, it's time to add the fluffy middle and the backing.

I layered the back fabric (wrong side up), then the fluffy batting, and finally my quilt top, and pinned all around.

Fortunately, I bought batting that came in a bag and was cut to a size very close to what I needed. I think they actually did call it "baby/child quilt". Super helpful! Super not helpful- two curious kittens trying to bite/eat the batting. Darn cats! ;)

Here's a photo of the layered quilt. You can see the lime green backing poking through.

Once the quilt was layered and pinned, it was time to get quilting! I swapped out my regular sewing machine foot for a quilting foot, and got to work!

Boy, was it tough! Managing all that fabric on one little table-top was tricky. I had to find the perfect balance of feeding the fabric through without pushing it through too fast, and getting teeny tiny stitches. Oy vay!

Here's some photos (of the back) showing the different designs I've quilted on so far.

I still have to quilt another diagonal line (from left to right), and then I can work on the edges!

Almost there! Stay tuned for my final post and the reveal!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sports Team Patchwork Table Runner Tutorial

I have thoroughly been enjoying doing some sewing this year with sports team fabric! Remember my Dallas Cowboys table runner?

After that project, I decided to make another (slightly different, slightly better) runner for a housewarming party. Who doesn't love stuff with their favorite team on it?! I sewed this runner in about 3 afternoons and added a cute, melamine chip and dip platter to go with!

Here's how it's done...

1/2 yard each, 2 pattered fabrics
1 yard solid fabric for inner border (mine is white)
2 1/2 yards solid fabric for outer border and backing (mine is dark blue)
Sewing machine
Thread, pins, fabric scissors, etc
Water-soluble marker

Iron fabric, and start cutting the pattered fabric into 5 inch strips. Since it's only a half of a yard, you'll use it all with the strips. 

Pin patterned fabric strips together, right sides together, and sew. Be careful to make sure you pin the fabric pattern correctly together. You'll want to make sure the pattern faces the way you'd like it to, once it's sewn.

I wanted all my Gator fabric to face the same way, as seen below.

After sewing your 5 inch strips together, cut at 5 inch intervals. This will give you 5 inch blocks, of the two fabrics. We're getting there! 

Now, start piecing and sewing together the blocks, making a four-patch. 

Start sewing all the blocks together, to make one long strip. 

At this point, I realized that I wanted to add in a third row. I don't know of any quick tricks to do this, so I just sewed together the leftover 5 inch squares, alternating fabrics, to create a long third row. 

Then, I sewed the third row to my top two rows, completing the patchwork portion of the table runner. My runner is 16 blocks by 3 blocks, but you can always decide to make it a tad smaller.

Now it's time to add in the borders! 

Iron inner border fabric (mine is white), and cut 2 inch strips. Feel free to sew together the 2 inch strips to make really long strips.

Pin and sew the top and bottom borders, then the side borders.

Now we're ready for the backing fabric! Woot woot! Almost there!

At this point, my patchwork squares and inner border measure about 76" x 16.5" in total size.

You'll want to measure and cut the backing fabric about 2" larger on all sides. For me, that meant my blue backing was about 80" x 20.5" in total size.

Go ahead and pin the backing fabric to the inner border, all around, right sides together.

You'll notice that because the backing fabric is larger, the fabric will stand up a bit (see next two photos). This is so that when we sew, there will be an outer border on the front of the runner.

For sewing the corners, I've developed a technique that is difficult to explain. I've searched online for better tutorials, but no luck. Basically, you'll realize that you have extra fabric around the corners. Piece the corners together with the inner runner, and fold the excess backing fabric over. Sew over them as normal. This will allow your runner to have nice folded corners, when we turn it right-side out. You might have to play around with it, to get it just right.

Sew all around, leaving an 8 inch gap on one short side. Turn runner right-side out. Press entire runner.

Lastly, I would sew around the inner borders, just to stabilize the piece and make sure nothing moves over time and use.

And that's it! What do you think? This runner was quite large! My finished dimensions were 77" x 18".

Hope you like!

Happy sewing and happy football season!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

First Friday Book Review: Bad Girls of the Bible

Title and Author: Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them, by: Liz Curtis Higgs

Release Date: January 1999

Page Length: 256 pages

How I got the Book: public library

Find OnlineGoodreads Amazon ChristianBook.com

Description: "Women everywhere marvel at those good girls in Scripture-Sarah, Mary, Esther-but on most days, that's not who they see when they look in the mirror. Most women (if they're honest) see the selfishness of Sapphira or the deception of Delilah. They catch of glimpse of Jezebel's take-charge pride or Eve's disastrous disobedience. Like Bathsheba, Herodias, and the rest, today's modern woman is surrounded by temptations, exhausted by the demands of daily living, and burdened by her own desires. 

So what's a good girl to do? Learn from their lives, says beloved humor writer Liz Curtis Higgs, and by God's grace, choose a better path. In Bad Girls of the Bible, Higgs offers a unique and clear-sighted approach to understanding those other women in Scripture, combining a contemporary retelling of their stories with a solid, verse-by-verse study of their mistakes and what lessons women today can learn from them. 

Whether they were Bad to the Bone, Bad for a Season, but Not Forever or only Bad for a Moment, these infamous sisters show women how not to handle the challenges of life. With her trademark humor and encouragement, Liz Curtis Higgs teaches us how to avoid their tragic mistakes and joyfully embrace grace."

My Thoughts:
I've seen this book in the Christian bookstores for a while, and finally picked it up! I'm so glad I did! My first book by Liz Curtis Higgs, and I absolutely love her writing style! She is down-right hilarious.

The book is divided into 10 chapters, each about a different woman from biblical times. Liz first shares a fictitious retelling of the woman's story, then goes line by line in the scriptures to point out key information and glean insight into more of these women and their stories.

My favorite chapter was the one about Eve. Liz focuses on the Eve-part of the story in Genesis, rather than looking at both Adam and Eve's perspective. Eve was the first woman- a perfect woman. Yet, Eve focuses on the forbidden fruit and fixates on it until she does something about it. How many times in my life have I had razor-sharp focus on something, rather than totally fixating on God? I see something, I want it, I must obsess over it, then I take it. Oy vay, I'm just like Eve!

Liz's other insights on Potiphar’s Wife, Delilah, Lot’s Wife, Sapphira, Jezebel, and Rahab, really opened my eyes to the human-aspect of these stories, scriptures, and women. What a gift it is to learn from their stories!

I really feel like I know women from these biblical times better, and understand myself even more. They are my ancient ancestors, after all, why wouldn't I be wired like them?

This is a fantastic book for a women's bible study or small group. I could easily see each chapter (essentially, each woman's story) being a small group discussion. At the end of each chapter, we have discussion questions, but better yet, there is a small group dvd and personal workbook available.


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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Football Season is Upon Us

I feel like I've been waiting all summer for football season to start! Daniel and I got super excited about FIFA World Cup in June and July, so NFL starting in September has felt like a long wait.

In prep for the upcoming season, I put together a few home decor items to show our Cowboys pride!

What do ya think? I knew I wanted to put together a cute NFL wreath, after seeing so many good ones on Pinterest. I decided to go the "rag wreath" route, and tied strips of fabric all around a foam wreath. I also added some Cowboys ribbon, and some football-printed ribbon bows. 

To show my football spirit inside the house, I used the rest of the printed fabric to create a patchwork table runner. I'm making a similar one for a friend right now, so I'll be sure to post a tutorial soon!
Although it looks fancy, it only took me about two sittings, a couple hours each time. Definitely an easy weekend project!

And lastly, many of you know that I've been playing Fantasy Football for a couple of years now. We really get into it at work! I'm the Commish of the Low Expectations League, which is a league that focuses on fellowship rather than competition, and is for those who want to play fantasy, but aren't super competitive and hardcore.

In any case, I finally put together a homemade trophy for our league. Sadly, for our winner last season, I'm about six months late. Hey, it's "low expectations" for a reason, right? ;)

My husband put together the construction of the trophy out of wood, modeled after the Lombardi trophy (that's the Super Bowl trophy), and I painted it with gold and bronze metallic paint. Pretty sweet, huh?

Can't wait for the first games this weekend! Go Cowboys!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quilts for Kids- Week 2

Last week, I got started on my quilt for the organization, Quilts for Kids. Let me show you the progress I've made so far this past week...

Last time, I finished up sewing the four-patch squares to the printed squares, forming rows. Here are rows 1 and 2.

Now, I've put together all six rows, and am sewing all six together. 

In the photo above, I've got two rows pinned together at the top. 
Below, a close-up shot.

Once all six rows were together, I needed to start on the borders. It's really looking like a quilt now! 
Notice how all the red and white squares for diagonal lines. Intentional, people! Wohoo! That's how you quilt! 

Above, I've got the inner border pinned on the right and left sides. I'll need to sew those, then sew the inner border on the top and bottom. 
Below, a close-up shot of the pinned inner border.  

Next time, I'll show you how I put together the inner and outer borders, and get it ready for quilting! We are rockin' and rollin'!

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