Wednesday, April 24, 2013

V is for VINTAGE

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned HERE that I had gone to a local quilt show with my hubby. It was my birthday week and so he bought me anything my heart desired. Lucky for him there wasn't much that caught my eye so he got off pretty lightly as far as shopping at quilt shows go!

What I just couldn't resist though, were old vintage blocks from one particular vendor. It was a little old husband and wife who go to estate sales/yard sales etc and buy old quilting and sewing notions along with old blocks and quilts.

I bought these blocks for $1 each...

Yes most of them are old and funny looking. Some might even say ugly! But I think I will frame them individually and hang them. Talk about Upcycling! (Did you read yesterday's post?!) Not sure if I'll quilt them or just lay them flat in frames, but they deserve to be admired in some way. Some are machine sewn, but most are hand sewn. A couple are more modern, probably from the 80's, but hey, for $1 who was I to even think twice about snapping them up?!

Then came my favorite vintage purchase, this lovely quilt top for $25...

The tag says it was a well loved quilt, now a top. I don't see signs of quilting, so maybe it was tied? It is definitely well loved - the fabrics, which I presume are 1930's, are faded, but to me they feel like your favorite pair of jeans that have been washed over and over. The blocks just make me feel tingly inside and comfortable. I think I need to turn this into an actual quilt. It's in great condition - no rips, no holes, and is actually quite sturdy.

This is it folded in quarters...

I can't decide which are my favorite blocks. I rather like these...

and these...

and this...

and this...polkadots!

Oh heck I love all of them!

U is for UPCYCLE

Since I missed posting yesterday, today you get another two-fer!

When I told my hubby I was going to post about upcycling he looked very puzzled and asked what it was. In case you're wondering too, I found a great definition on Wikipedia HERE. A particularly good excerpt:

 "Recycling," he said, "I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling- where old products are given more value, not less."

 I was very happy when I read this, as it was exactly how I had explained it to my hubby. Gotta take advantage of the moments when we get it right!

I have quite a few upcycled projects around the house so I thought I'd show you some.

Here is a quilt rack I found at a thrift shop for just a few dollars. It's still waiting for me to paint it. I think I've been putting it off thinking of all those curly bits to get painted. Perhaps that's why it was in the thrift shop in the first place?! 

Next up are some copper molds I was going to get rid of but thought they'd look nice spray painted. I was right, and now they are on my kitchen wall.

This is an old cupboard some friends were throwing away when they moved. It was old, broken, black, distressed, and not in a good way! I gave it new paint, some gentle distressing, and mod podged some of my favorite Anna Maria Horner fabric to it.

Lastly, this is a quilting frame which I painted and use as a frame to hold a finished quilt on the wall.

None of these projects cost more than $5, so you can see that upcycling can be both affordable and beautiful, not to mention you end up with one of a kind projects!

I have many more items sitting in the garage waiting to be upcycled. Maybe this is the year?!

Monday, April 22, 2013

T is for TASTY

After our big adventure yesterday, today I was ready to relax! It was our first day of Spring vacation so I invited my friend and her children over for the first s'mores of the year! We lit the fire pit, cooked hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, and just sat in the sun and talked for a good 4-5 hours while the kids ran around using up energy.
So much fun! So that was pretty tasty, but not the reason for this post.

I decided tonight was a good night to organize a couple of my kitchen cupboards. You know how after a while, you just don't know what you have in your cupboards anymore because everyone just throws stuff in there? Yes it had got to that point, so out it all came... (Don't worry, that's not smoke on the right hand side, just steam from some draining pasta)

And now, it looks so much better...

And now for the 'Tasty' portion.

Do you see something that scares you? At least, if you are an American it will scare you. Look closer...

Aha! There it is!

Oh yes, folks, that is the infamous Vegemite, made known to the world at large by this song...(I chose the pop up video version just because some of the facts are interesting!)

In 14 years of living in this fine country, I have only met one American who liked it. Yes Jonathan Starks I'm talking to you! Most people smell it, pull an awful face and say uh uh I'm not trying that. Those who are brave enough to try it invariably say it's the most disgusting thing they've ever tasted and try not to throw up.

Why, I have no idea. It's delicious! I guess you have to grow up with it. In NZ and Australia it's a staple in every single household. Kids take sandwiches to school made with it. My mother smears it over crackers. Everyone has it on toast. Over there people as love it as much as America loves peanut butter. Yummy, and very tasty!

I found it here in our city in a British store and paid the princely sum of $14 for that tiny jar. Since I'm the only one in the house who will touch it, it's lasted a long time which is great because it's so expensive here. However, the look on lovely American faces when they smell it and then taste it, is worth every cent!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


...Did you just read my 'R' post? This is what happened in the parking lot next to us while I was lying on my quilt reading my favorite magazine today...

Yes I was the first on the scene. Yes it was scary. Yes a lady passenger was hurt, bleeding, in shock and pinned in the car. Yes the young man driving his friend's truck was speeding. Yes I saw it happen. Yes I was a police witness. Yes I cried as I comforted the lady's husband who was covered in his wife's blood while they used the jaws of life to remove her. Amazingly she is going to be OK. The fire department asked if they could use my photos for training purposes - I just happened to have my camera on me hoping for photo opportunities in the park. Boy did I ever get to take photos. I learned that I don't panic in an emergency - I've always wondered if I would!

It was a sober reminder to us, especially our kids, as to why we ALWAYS wear our seatbelts! They really do save lives.


Sorry I didn't do my 'R' post yesterday - I was out late watching my neighbor sing with her band! However, I'm catching up today with both my 'R' post and my 'S' post. They kind of go together, so read this one first, then the 'S' one. Trust me!

It was a beautiful spring day today, so after church we headed to a park with quilts to relax, lie down, read my favorite magazine, and enjoy the sun...

All of a sudden... (go read my 'S' post now!)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for QUILTS

Really, out of the almost 2000 people doing the A-Z challenge this month, I must have it the easiest on Q day! Unfortunately (or fortunately!) for you, I'm still crazy busy doing our school's yearbook with the impending deadline, so I can't so as in depth of a post as I'd like to.

How about I just go in my living room and photograph the quilts I see - sight unseen, everything untouched, no matter how messy it may be. I've been in the kitchen all afternoon and evening at my laptop doing the yearbook, and the kids have been in the living room doing who knows what?!  OK I'll go take some photos and be right back...crossing fingers...

Well, things were not nearly as bad as I thought they would have been! I guess when you ignore your children all day to meet a deadline, and they are left to entertain themselves, they end up staying in one place playing Minecraft and don't touch anything! Not too shabby! Dear daughter has dumped her school things on the loveseat, but hey if that's the worst they could do today, I'll take it!

Here is a 360 degree tour...

Now I do have a horrid secret...see this lovely quilt draped over the chair? Does it look a little bumpy under that quilt?

Maybe this is why...

Wow what on earth is all that? Remember when I cleaned out the bookcase last week HERE? This would be the remnants of that cleaning which due to the yearbook deadline just hasn't been dealt with! I got sick of looking at it so I threw a quilt over it. See? Quilts aren't just for keeping you warm or looking pretty - they have other practical uses as well!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


If you're a quilter, chances are that sometime in your quilting life you've used a pattern. Books have patterns, magazines have patterns, there are patterns with tutorials on line, and of course there are always individual patterns you can buy.

The last few years I've only really made quilts that I made up patterns for, and this year have taken the leap into publishing my own patterns! Hold on now, I don't have anything ready yet but it's all in the works. I quit my part-time job last year, with the support of my patient husband, so I could concentrate on it, and I was doing great until I started on the school yearbook I'm putting together, which has sucked up all of my pattern-making time.  With a yearbook submission deadline of this Monday, I'm looking forward to having more time to get back to my patterns. I have thoroughly enjoyed putting together the yearbook though, and I can't wait to see the finished product. The funny thing is that all the skills I had learned for pattern making have been transferable to yearbook publishing. Who'd-a-thunk-it?!

Never again will I decry the cost of a pattern. Hours upon hours of work go into each one. Especially if they include applique. Not only do you need to write the pattern instructions, but you need to use drawing software (I'm using Adobe Illustrator) and a pen and tablet to draw the designs. The learning curve is HUGE! But I'm finally getting the hang of it and what was once seemingly impossible is actually looking possible. Getting smooth curves and joining things up - wowser so difficult!

So next time you want to complain about how much a pattern costs, (I understand, I've been there!) just remember all the work that went into it - something that looks very simple is actually incredibly hard and the designer earned every cent! If you still don't want to pay $$ for patterns, design your own! If it's just for your own use, you don't need any fancy equipment or programs. A pencil and paper is all you need!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for OH NO!

I am the chairperson for our boys' elementary school yearbook. For some reason I thought the deadline to submit it was in 2 weeks, however I realized last night that it's in fact this Monday. 5 days. Yep, oh no!

As such, my posts for the next few days may be a little shorter than usual. I have a 5-day-long date with yearbook designing software online! Thankfully the bulk of it was already done, but still, there's much to do! O is also for, "OOPS!"

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I have the best neighbor in the world. No, really, I do. If you think you do then you're wrong because I do. Not only are we neighbors but we are karaoke buddies and best of all, friends.

I was over at her place today (let's call 'her' Lori...because, well, that's her name!) and she said she had something to show me and that I was going to just die.

She opened up a cedar trunk she had just got from her mother's basement and what do you think was in there?

Among other things, two absolutely beautiful gorgeous quilts made by her great grandmother! They were both dated - wait for it - 1895 and 1897. These quilts are old! Yet they are in almost pristine condition.

Here is the first, the older of the two. It is a crazy quilt with hand embroidery and a multitude of silks and satins. It also has the most beautiful perfect lace edging with no rips or tears. Just lovely...

I thought it couldn't get any better than the first. Then she pulled out the second and I fell in love all over again. It is completely made of wool scraps with embroidery on each scrap. If you look at the embroidery, it actually looks quite modern! I am desperate to recreate some of them in applique.

Are you just dying from the amazingness of it like I am?!

What treasures. Thankfully, Lori is the type of person who understands the history and importance of such family heirlooms. I almost wish she wasn't. I wish she was completely ignorant and said something like, "Look at these old blankets I found in my Mom's trunk. Want 'em?" To which I would quickly grab them and hobble home muttering, "My precious....."

A tad dramatic? Not when it comes to antique quilts!