Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The 21 Year Quilt - or The Giving Quilt

When I was 17, my church suggested that each young woman to do a project, similar to an Eagle Project in hours required, etc.  These could be anything; learning to sew to learning to bow hunt.  For one of mine, I chose to make a quilt for when I got married.

My dad is a huge cross-stitch fan.  He does amazing, tiny, intricate types of cross stitching for fun.  So, I decided I'd give cross-stitching a go and cross-stitch some of the squares for my future quilt.

Well, it turned out that cross-stitching isn't my favorite thing to do for fun.  So about halfway through the first cross-stitched square I was thinking to myself that this was not the best idea for me...and I should have chosen archery or some other avenue like that.

  Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. 
Life is like that-one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all 
right like the embroidery. --Oliver Wendell Holmes

But, I'm also not a quitter and am super competitive, so I didn't want to give up, nor admit defeat!  Instead, I asked, begged really, my mom, my aunts, cousins, friends, sister, all to help me with the cross-stitched squares.  I mean those Eagle Scouts get to utilize the time and service from others for their project, so I was game for that kind of assistance!

However, even with the help of friends and family, I still wasn't going to finish it in time for my graduation (the deadline).  So, I hurriedly learned how to make some small quilts and was able to give them to hospitals and nursing homes.

With the deadline passed and the smaller quilts-making making it so I could indeed say I made a quilt, the larger, cross-stitched quilt was put on the back burner - the very back burner.

Fast forward nine years, I then had one child and one on the way. We had recently moved to the KC area and I was tending my sister's girls in her home.  As we were unpacking some things in my own home, my sister, Giselle found the pieces to the cross-stitched quilt.  "What? You still haven't finished this? Bring it with you when you watch the girls, and when I get home (she was a teacher) I'll help you put it together."

And so, we stitched the squares together in two afternoons.  We had a mutual friend who was an amazing quilter.  Giselle suggested that I go to her house and see if she had suggestions on how to back such a large quilt without having a seam down the center.

On our next trip to our hometown, I took the quilt and visited Mrs. Wallace (our amazing quilter friend).  We spread it out on the table and said we wanted to just use a large sheet. She nixed that idea because "it would be too hard to quilt though".

Shortly after we got home, my sister died unexpectedly and I became blessedly busy with four littles and didn't worry about the quilt for a while.

And by "for a while", I mean another twelve years!  When I mentioned to my sister-in-law, Mandy, that I've had this quilt for over 20 years started and it hasn't been finished yet.  "What!?! Come on- you've already done most of the hard work. We're doing this!  It will go pretty quickly."

And so, after about three mornings of super guided sewing, the quilt is finished!!

It is the 21 year quilt because it took that long to finish.  But my niece, Mandy, suggested calling it the Giving Quilt because so many people helped to make it happen - they all gave of their time and talents to help out.  Each person's name, or initials, is stitched into the square that they cross-stitched.  I love that I have that little piece of each one of them!

Those people are: Robyn Anderson, Alan Eastman, Jill Gillis, Jody Ahlstrom, Nicole Ashcroft, Julie Menzie, Mandy Beyeler, Carol Allred, Sarah Richards, and the three to have already gone on to heaven, Barbara Wallace, Ann Johnston, and Giselle Fleming.  I couldn't have done it without you!

Our lives are like quilts bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Furniture Fridays: When Sanding Deglosser Fails

If you've read other posts of mine, you'll find that I usually LOVE Sanding Deglosser!  It has a lot of the benefits of sanding, only with the ability to reach the little nooks and crannies of your furniture project, and without the mess of sawdust flying about.

I've done many projects with it.  It speeds up the prep-time to paint and generally just makes my life easier.

During the last two weeks however, it has failed me!  Twice!  Both of my pieces of furniture were very old, antique pieces. They both had chipping varnish, or places where it had completely worn off.

On the chair, featured last Friday, I used sanding deglosser in order to prep it to spray paint a bright, fun color.  The small bench/table that is shown in this post, I first sanded, then used sanding deglosser.

When I spray painted both pieces, many parts of the furniture became mottled and splotchy!

Like this...
And this!

I don't know why that happened but I'll tell you what I did to fix the problem.  Chalk Paint.  As mentioned before, I'm a new user of chalk paint, but it seemed like a plausible solution.

Homemade chalk paint - I used this recipe at the ClumsyCrafter

For the chair, I just finished out the project with chalk paint and buffed wax.

For the bench, though, I had yellow chalkpaint, but it wasn't quite the color I was looking for (because you know I'm just using stuff I find around my house, or that of my friends' houses).  But I had yellow spray paint that was really close to the color in my fabric.  

After trying twice to eliminate the splotchy paint, I covered the bench with light yellow chalk paint.

 When that was dry, I spray painted the piece the yellow I wanted.
I believe the chalk paint acted as a binder for the spray paint to bond to.

I think my foam is too thick for the small bench, but other than that, I like how it turned out!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Baking Through the Alphabet: The Letter Q

The Letter Q:

Letter Q Meal:
  • Quiche
  • Quince
  • (you could also eat quail or get some delicious queso or have a quesadilla

For our baking project, we tried Quark Cheesecake.  Did you know that Quark is a German style cheesecake that doesn't even have cream cheese in it?  I've never made quark, nor have I ever made a real cheesecake, like the kind that you bake, before making this.  So I can tell you that it was not too difficult!  It took some planning and some extra time, but it was worth it in the end!

First of all, while my daughter was at school, I made the quark.  The recipe I found only requires two ingredients: buttermilk and heavy cream.  Quark Recipe

You mix the two ingredients together and "bake" them in the oven on 200 degrees F for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Below is a video showing how it separates after baking. 

 Once it is finished, pour the mixture into a cheesecloth and colander and let it drain for 45-60 minutes.

The "curds" leftover after running the quark through the cheesecloth.  And the "liquid separated out as well.  

Beat it until smooth.

Place smooth quark in a clean bowl and put in the fridge.

Once my daughter got home, we started to make a traditional (as closely as possible) Quark Cheesecake.  We used this recipe here:  Isolde's German Cheesecake Recipe.

You'll notice that the recipe calls for "vanilla sugar".  Anyone ever heard of it?  I never had.  Sadly it takes about a week for it to be ready, so I skipped it this time and just put in regular vanilla and didn't even add a bit more sugar.  But it turned out beautifully anyway.  Here's a recipe for vanilla sugar just in case you ever want to give it a go for your next baking needs (sounds fun!).  Vanilla Sugar  Apparently, you can use it as regular, granulated sugar, to enhance the flavor of you baked goods.  Sounds like another baking project in the near future!

Apparently, I forgot pictures of the cheesecake making progress, but here is the cake in the springform pan.  

Little hands ready for a bite!
(Sorry about the yellow lighting at nighttime for this picture - it tasted better than it looks here!)

Letter Q Musicals: (* = ones that are , in my opinion, decent or fun to watch; ** = kid friendly; *** = the one we watched for our alphabet musical)

  • We couldn't find any musicals that start with Q, but it gave us time to watch a favorite of mine that starts with "S" (since there are so many, I was happy to split it up a bit).  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Furniture Fridays: Don't be Afraid of Upholstery Nails

Decorative upholstery tacks can be scary to try out for the first time.  There are even cheat upholster tack strips that are offered to help get that straight line on your finished piece of furniture. 

These look good for a while and are pretty easy to install, but let's look at the real, hardy kind of nailhead tacks.  They can take your chair from mweh, to amazing!  

And it's not as hard as you think, I promise!  Those little puppies are so flexible and able to move around enough to make your finished product pop.

 First of all, to finish this type of chair, remove all the previous tacks, staples, and fabric.
 Cover the area of fluff with paper and painters tape (you'll want to use that kind of tape because it won't stick as much to the fluff as other types of tape).
 Paint with primer.  I also put two coats of paint on, but saved the last coat for after placing the upholstery tacks.
 Start by cutting your fabric to the same size as the seat deck.
Then, at the front of the chair, fold over your fabric (as if you were hemming it) and staple it as close to center as possible.
Next, fold the fabric over on the back-side of the chair and staple it as close to center as possible (directly opposite to the front staple).
Then put two more staples on either side of both the front and back center staples.
After placing the first six staples, do the same thing on both sides of the chair.
Then you can finish by placing the staples center to corner on all sides, pulling taught as you go.

Here are some tips and pointers:

  1. Place your first tack at the front and center of the chair/couch.  This is because subconscieclly, your eye will notice whether or not the most prominent place is symmetrical or not.  
  2. Tap the next tack into place by lining up the center of the tack point with the center of the middle tack.
  3. If you find that you are off track and your line is more like a wave, don't panic!  The hammer can tap the tacks back in line quite easily.
  4. If you find, as I did during this chair upholster, that your very last tack just won't fit into place, try finding a spot close to the last one and see if you can find some dead space (usually there is enough to tap them over a bit to make room for the last one).
  5. Tap all around the tack to place it in line with the tacks previously placed. 
Since that was clear as mud, I made a video:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Baking Through the Alphabet: The Letter P

The Letter P:

The Letter P:

Of course, with a teenager, and a pre-teen, you probably know what we'll be having for supper with the letter "P".

Pizza of course! Luckily, there are so many healthy foods, to go with Pizza, that also start with "P".
  • Pizza
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Pickles
  • Pomegranate

For our baking, we chose something easier than usual, but I had never made one from scratch, so it was a good fit: Peach Cobbler.  Every other time I've made it, I've just added cans of peaches to cake mix and drenched it with 7up - which is a fantastic recipe for camping!  But "baking-through", so we made followed a great recipe with actual flour, sugar, and various scrumptious spices. 

Our movie musical was Peter Pan, the live musical version (though we've seen and love the Disney cartoon version a lot!).  My kids were surprised to see Peter played by a woman, but they really enjoyed the movie.  


Some of these I've never seen: The Phantom Tollbooth, Paint Your Wagon, and Porgy and Bess.  I included The Phantom Tollbooth because my 14 year old loves the book and we'd like to see it in the near future.  Paint Your Wagon and Porgy and Bess are classic musicals that could be good to watch.  
I forgot a picture of Perfect Harmony, but the Disney musical film of this is really quite good.  Set during the Civil Rights era in South Carolina.  Wholesome entertainment, that one!

Of course The Phantom of the Opera has amazing music!  I kept it on here, but have only seen the film version from 2004.  And I would hold off showing it to my kiddos until at least 13.  

Popeye.  I first was introduced to this film when I was a child. The music is quite addicting and the film slightly goofy, but it was a favorite in our family.  

The Poor Little, Rich Girl.  Like many films from that era, it is hard to get into, but I love the film for it's music and dancing.  

Pete's Dragon, another one with catchy music, but it's hard to watch the rendition of the green dragon with purple/pink accents.  

Pinocchio has never been a favorite of mine, and my kids didn't like watching it much because they know that Pinocchio is about to do wrong and they have a hard time knowing he is going to get into trouble.  "Why is he at that place, that Pleasure Island?" - as they hide behind the couch.  Luckily it does end well, with him turning into a real boy by doing a good deed.  

Pocahontas, though historically inaccurate, has some decent music, but it's not the best musical of all time.  
  • Peter Pan
  • Peter Pan (cartoon)
  • Pocahontas
  • Pinocchio
  • Pete's Dragon
  • Poor Little, Rich Girl
  • Popeye
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Perfect Harmony
  • Paint Your Wagon
  • Porgy and Bess

Friday, January 22, 2016

Furniture Fridays: Mirror to Chalkboard

The idea for this whole project started when we moved into our new house this past summer.  We have a beautiful dresser that was given to us by my mother-and-father-in-law shortly after we got married.  It was pretty chippy and beat up from age and all the love and attention it received over the years!

My husband stripped it down and stained it our favorite darkest-stain-possible-that's-not-black.  (It was years ago, and I can't remember the exact name, maybe dark walnut?)

Over the years, my husband has taken to Feng Sui.  To me, it's basically commons sense principles that lots of people have forgotten or just don't actually know about.  Like "Water flowing out of the house takes beneficial ch'i with it.  For this reason, it's best to keep the bathroom door closed at all times."  KISS Guide to Feng Sui pg. 165 I've love keeping the bathroom doors closed, this was just a book saying that it's beneficial and so my husband wanted to implement it.  LOVE IT!  It is also good Feng Sui to put the toilet seat down. Yay!  Luckily, my husband has 6 sisters and was pretty good at that from the get-go, but it's good to know and seemed like common sense to me!  Anyway, I usually love Feng Sui because of that!  Thank you Feng Sui!

I'm not really meaning to make fun of it, on the contrary, I actually am really loving Feng Sui because of all the peace and harmony...and common sense that it brings to our home!

However, here is one that I was not too appreciative of: "It is very important that there is no mirror directly visible from the bed so that,...he or she will not catch sight of a moving reflection."
KISS Guide to Feng Shui pg. 160

This dresser has a beautiful mirror attached to it, which I enjoyed using daily (because our bathroom, and it's mirror, in our last house, were tiny).  In our last house, we were able to place the dresser in such a way that it was not visible from our bed.  But the dresser here is almost directly across from the foot of our bed.

When our master bedroom was set up, the mirror was never attached, and was hidden safely in our closet behind a bunch of hanging clothes.  Well, I didn't really want a mirror sitting in the closet for years on end...which brought me to the idea of turning it into a chalkboard.  It would be easy to paint, and easy to take off if we ever wanted the mirror again!  I figured it would be a win/win situation.

My husband hasn't seen it yet, but, mweh, hopefully he'll like it as much as I do!

I found the cute design idea for the birds on the wire and "you & me" on Pinterest from an Etsy shop. Check out her super cute modern art on reclaimed wood right here.  She even has some with the Eiffel tower and