January 27, 2012

The Good, The Bad, The Awesome

I've had my gorgeous new sewing machine for just over a full month now, and in that time I've done quite a fair bit of sewing. I've mended a number of things and made two crib-sized quilts from start to finish. I definitely have a better understanding of what my machine can do, its limitations, and its pitfalls.

As I mentioned previously, the extra throat space is awesome. Now that I've quilted something on it, I can really attest to how much of a boon those additional 3" of space have been. For the two small quilts, it was not necessary but definitely noticeable. The next time I make anything bigger, it will be invaluable. I really prefer to quilt tops myself, and now I can do it much more easily.

Such a pain in the neck.
The bobbin set up is still the worst part of the design, but what really grinds my gears is the low bobbin warning. It beeps and flashes an image of the bobbin on the display. It also stops sewing. Even though you have about 5 yards of thread left on the bobbin, you cannot easily finish the seam. Once you clear the message, it pops right back up and stops stitching again after another 5-6 stitches.

January 25, 2012

3D Inverse Pinwheel Quilts!

It took me a little longer to finish these quilts than I had intended, largely because I wasted so much time waiting for the fabric to arrive. I wasn't able to find it in my local quilt shops (I think I waited too long to look), so I had to order it online and apparently they shipped it from the moon.

Pink background.
 This is the one I finished first. I used a thin batting, since they're being shipped off to Hawaii tomorrow.

Brown background.
I used the stripe print for the binding on both. I tried out a new method to make the binding, and it really worked well. I think I'll do a little tutorial on it soon.

January 24, 2012

Maple Walnut Oatmeal

Oatmeal, again? Yes, indeed. I know I just did a post on it, but frankly, it's delicious and as long as it's cold out, I will keep making up ways to make breakfast the best (and most filling) meal of the day. I picked up a big bag of raw walnuts as I threatened to do in my previous post. It smelled so wonderful while making it that I ate it for dinner instead of breakfast.

Oatmeal in the morning, Oatmeal in the evening, Oatmeal at supper time...
 Maple Walnut Oatmeal

Basic Ingredients:
1 cup steel cut oats (I use Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups water
2 cups milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 pats butter

Maple Walnut Variation:
2 Tbs maple syrup
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnut pieces

January 18, 2012

Sewing Room Revamp

Our house guest left, so I had to put my sewing area back into sorts this week. I wanted to rearrange it a little so that I could make room for a little something new- a design wall! For quilters of all stripes, a design wall to help visualize your quilt before stitching it all up is a really useful tool.

Some squares from the twin quilts set out.
These seem to be all the rage, I've seen ads for various kinds in several different magazines lately. Some have all sorts bells and whistles- retractable, fold-able, portable, etc. However, they all seem to be quite expensive. Many of them weren't right for what I needed, either. I need something permanent that doesn't wreck the apartment walls.

I have a quick and easy alternative way to make your own. You start with some flannel. Flannel has this awesome ability to 'stick' to quilting fabric. All you need to do is push your blocks to it, and they stay in place for as long as you need.

January 14, 2012

Steel Cut Oatmeal

I love, and I mean love, a good oatmeal for breakfast. Instant ones don't do it for me, though. They're good in a pinch but they're not going to knock anyone's socks off. That's what steel cut oats are for. Traditional rolled oats are steamed, rolled, and then dried. Steal cut oats are actually the groats (which is the inside part of the oat kernel) and are cut into a few small pieces.

My favorite part about steel cut oats is their chewy texture and their almost nutty flavor. They pack such a tasty punch. They take about a half hour to make, which is why they aren't seen as often. It is entirely worth waiting for.

The cranberries really sold it.

Basic Steel Cut Oatmeal
Makes 5 servings, 7 Points+ per serving

What You'll Need:
1 cup steel cut oats (I use Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups water
2 cups milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sweetener (honey, brown sugar, regular sugar, maple syrup... whatever you fancy)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2-3 pats butter
1- 1 1/2 cups goodies (diced apples, dried fruit, walnuts... endless possibilities)

January 3, 2012

2011 Mish Mash in Review

I did a lot of things this year. In roughly chronological order, I started my Etsy page, started this blog, moved, got married, got a dog, and got a fancy, new sewing machine. In between those bigger milestones, I also managed quite a bit of quilting, Warhammer, and cooking.

There were never any planned goals with all of this when I started, but after seeing my friend Richard's Year in Review post, I think I should step up my game a little. It'll also serve as a reminder throughout the year that I need to get my butt into gear. I'm not really one for New Year's Resolutions, but I am a fan of setting goals.

2012 Goals:
  • Blogging - I will post consistently. I'm trying to get ahead of the curve so I can have a few posts waiting in the wings in case I need a little time off (when I inevitably get sick, for example)
  • Dwarfs & Fantasy - Dwarfs will be painted, based, and ready for action. I hope it won't take me all year, but my Daemons took about 18 months to be fully finished, so we'll see.
  • Finish projects - I have too many (more than 10) unfinished projects. Only some of them have introduction to the project posts. I will finish them all. Or else...
  • No new projects - This one will be hard. Very hard. But, I will not start a new project until all of the ones carrying over from 2011 are done. I have a new machine, so this won't be too difficult, right?
  • More recipes, more photos - I haven't been the best about taking photos of my recipe posts, nor have I had too many of my own recipes up. I'm to post a little more about my own creations, and I'm going to make the time to come up with them.
  • Poor Etsy No More - Between the wedding and my broken machine, my Etsy page became somewhat ignored. I have some ideas about what I'd like to add, and I am finally going to get off my butt and do them. 
This may be a little too much to kick off with, but once I get into a stride I should be able to tackle some outstanding things while keeping up with my new projects. Plus, now that the apartment is clean, it'll be easier to work on projects!

January 2, 2012

New Year's Cleaning

I have really started this year on the ball. After a fantastic NYE party with good friends, I managed to peel myself out of bed at 7am on Sunday and started cleaning my whole apartment. I haven't stopped since. Hubby has a friend who's moving into the area for work, but doesn't have a place yet, so she's staying with us for a while.

Once I realized she was less than a week from arriving, I suddenly noticed how disorganized and messy the apartment has become. Between holiday projects, decorations, unpacked suitcases, and general clutter, the place is a wreck. I definitely couldn't have a house guest show up to that. It also doesn't hurt to kick off the new year with a sparkly, clean apartment.

This cleaning particularly applies to the sewing room, because that's where Hubby's friend will be staying. But somehow I've managed to clean everywhere but there. I dread cleaning it the most. I never really moved it all in in the first place, and it's only gotten more disorganized since. I'm starting to wonder if it'll all get done.

At least all the clothes are clean.
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