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Found This Week

Take A Look

The past few weeks have had a few online quilt shops announce that they are closing down – from selling fabric – and moving in new directions. One of my very favorite shops – Pink Chalk Fabrics – is one of those that will no longer sell fabric. I love this shop, I was a member of a few of the fabric clubs they offered over the years and loved getting that package each month. I think it’s exciting to hear what others are moving toward in their business, and Abby Glassenberg’s While She Naps podcast episode 32 has a talk with Kathy, the owner of Pink Chalk, and Kristi, the owner of Sew Mama Sew, which also stopped selling fabric online.

We are living in the city for the first time ever. I remember when I was in college (go Pokes!) I wondered who lived above the bars and stores on the main street. I was never interested in living above one, I lived close to campus, well close enough that I could walk once in a while but I wondered who would pick to live above what seemed like a noisy place. I do miss an outside space, but we go to the park, and I miss grilling (which I’ll just have to keep missing for a bit longer). I like the experience of living in the city and I’m glad to have at least the older kids be able to experience this so they will remember it. Check out my friend Sharon’s City Living Guide, she has a podcast coming soon too, if you would like more on just what it’s like to live in the city.

This is an epic tutorial about how to make a scrappy star quilt – I mean lone star quilt. She uses scraps and figured out what size the resulting block would be and was able to piece together strips before cutting her strips. She has a lot of math in the tutorial too, so that is a big help if you want to make this same kind of quilt.

Free Halloween Quilt pattern over at the Fab Shop Hop website.

I am a big fan of block of the month programs. I also love getting mail, so the lack of access to our mail here is sometimes not the most fun. The Intrepid Thread (another of my favorite online shops!) is having a BOM for Patchwork City, a new book by Elizabeth Hartman.

 

Upcoming for France

Sewing at the park

Sewing at the park! Just one of my many “just one more thing and then it’s finished” projects. Since this picture I’ve finished two small projects!

We have passed the mark of living here for a year. Not quite a year in our apartment, but we’ll get there soon enough. Last week I was sick and dropped the ball on writing about life overseas and in France, and now I wanted to move on from getting here to services provided here. I am going to write about finding a place to live, picking a school for your children, doctors, dentists, and eye doctors (oh my!), as well as what it is like to navigate making friends and new friendships.

And so you can catch up on the previous life in France posts here –

Living Here
You Will Need A Huge Van
Hotel As Home
Laundry and Industrial Dryers
Farmer’s Markets

Please let me know if you have anything you are interested in learning about France. And in case you didn’t know, I started a facebook page for the blog. Currently it is all about my sewing, quilting, and creating, and as I move toward creating patterns there will be more news about that. I’d love for you to like the page and comment on a picture or ask a question!

 

A Lot of Words for Around the World

AroundTheWorld

I love that blog hops and the like are still making their way around. I am participating in the Around The World Blog hop, a good way to introduce people to new bloggers and learn a bit about our, and their, creativity and what drives them.

Amy over at Indigo Cottage Quilts tagged me, she found me through a link up at another blog. (And sorry to Amy – this was supposed to be posted last week but me being sick just threw everything off.) Be sure to stop by her blog – she’s working on some Halloween projects and is working on turning a mostly unused room in her house into her sewing space! I am always happy to see other people’s sewing areas since I’ve had so many and had to make each of them work wherever we lived.

1.) What quilting/sewing project am I currently working on?

Ohhh – loaded question! At this moment I am finishing up my Color Blocks quilt. This one is broken down into sections and I have just one to go! I had a little bit of a hard time finding the solid fabric the pattern called for so I substituted what I had. I am also working on the Ballerina pattern that was created by Julie at Jaybird Quilts. I cut up a bunch of Amy Butler fabric for this one and can’t wait to see it all together.

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Ballerina

I have a lot of WIPs and this week my daughter and I are cutting fabric for a quilt she is going to work on. To some people it can be a distraction to have that many projects, but for me I like it. I like being able to sit down and do whatever I am feeling like – cutting fabric, sewing, ironing, etc. Because nothing is in the same stage as everything else.

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Colorblocks

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve thought about this one a lot. The only thing I can really talk about is how I was taught and what I think about when I am sewing or creating. I remember watching my Grandma and Mom sew, and watching my Aunt make things. I hope my kids can think the same of me when they think about making and creating – that I really love creating things. The differences between me and others may be that I am always looking for meaning in what I do. Of course I hope everyone does this, and I know that sometimes finding meaning in everything can be exhausting. Don’t let it be exhausting and don’t let the meaning be something big and deep.

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3. Why do I write/create what I do?

At the end of the day, I believe that everyone needs to do something. Everyone needs to create, make, do. I think it’s healthy for your mind, body, spirit, everything. My love of quilting reminds me of my Mom saying that Native people have always been industrious, we have always stayed busy – whereas long ago that was hunting, preparing meat, taking care of our relatives, that has morphed into today’s world in which there are so many ways for us to waste time doing nothing. Do we need to be busy 24/7? No. But we all have the same amount of days and hours, we all have time to do something.

Over the years of us moving, meeting new people, and making (and maintaining!) friends I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve met people who run around with all the activities their kids are in, who work and spend Saturday’s at the soccer field with their kids, all the way to the other end of the spectrum of meeting people who have zero hobbies. I work hard to not judge people, and hopefully this falls within the no judgement category, but I truly don’t understand not doing anything. I don’t understand the days and hours that we all have and not being productive. Of course that doesn’t mean you should jump up and build a house in your down time (or do, that is kind of awesome), but do something. What falls into that line of not understanding is people who really don’t do anything – I’ve met people who don’t even read for pleasure. Not doing anything as in no hobbies is one thing, but not doing anything (other than taking care of kids and house) period? That is just really weird for me. Of course taking care of your home and family is doing something, that’s a huge something, but hopefully cleaning your house isn’t taking up all of your time, and that’s also not something for you. We all need to do something for ourselves.

Not only do I love all aspects of quilting – looking for or creating a pattern, finding fabric, cutting, sewing, ironing, basting, quilting, binding – because I really do. But I love having something to do. We had kids early in our relationship and the first quilt I made was a baby quilt for my niece, we were living far from home and I was working but it was temp jobs and so I had downtime. And also, no kids at that point. I hand embroidered blocks and then hand sewed them together, sending them to my Mom to finish for me. I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time. The next quilt I made was for our daughter, I had a sewing machine by this time, and we still use that baby quilt.

Quilting is also about connections. Every quilt ends up holding a story, like how the first baby quilt I made our daughter was in mostly great shape until we went to a family reunion in Nevada and fireworks were a little wild so now there are two or three small holes in it. Still useable of course!

And so – everyone do something today. Anything. Remember that our ancestors worked all the time, and not so we could stare at the tv watching lame shows. Unless you are watching Chicago Fire. Or Scandal. Or NCIS. Okay I’ll quit. Obviously I do watch tv :P but I am also a bad tv watcher because I sit and do hand work – sewing or beading.

 Snow Week QuiltThis is a quilt I made for a very close friend’s wedding, the pattern is from a quilt along and made using charm packs.

4.) How does my creating process work?

Short version – Fabric is inspirational, so are images that others show, projects my friends are creating, the weather, etc. It’s really easy to look around you and feel like there is something that can inspire you to create. When I want to make a quilt I generally pick a pattern – pick fabric – leave fabric and either the pattern or book or a sticky note w/ the name of the pattern – come back to it a few days later to see if I still like everything together – and either remove fabric and try again, or iron and start cutting.

Longer (but not too long) version – I love books. I love reading and we have a large book collection in storage in the US because it was just too much to bring with us. Of course we still ended up with a bookcase or so of books here. And we keep ordering books. Even having the kindle app doesn’t fix that ordering for us! I used to love going to a bookstore, finding the craft or sewing section and looking at books. My highly scientific way to deciding if I wanted to buy a book is quickly glancing through the book after I find out how many projects it contains – if I feel like I will make at least half, I buy it. Now you see why I have so many books. ;) I love a book with a lot of words and great pictures, with the right amount (right to me of course) of instruction or diagrams on how to do the basics. I have a harder time now since I can’t flip through a book that way. So I go off of blog hops, project pictures shared on instagram or blogs, and hope that Amazon will have a “see inside!” link. And although I do keep ordering books, I am not over-ordering – both because we don’t want to have to move a lot of books with us and because I can’t look inside.

So after I have the book, it’s the same process as the short version – pick the fabric, let it sit for a day or however long, and go from there. I have sometimes put this set up together and forgot about it or just passed it by, for whatever reason, and in the end end up giving myself permission to put the fabric back in my stash. I don’t mind when that happens.

Lately I’ve been using TouchDraw more often to design quilts and I look forward to asking for pattern testers at the beginning of 2015.

 Purple StarTiny starquilt pillow

Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that can get a person to think a lot. And I do think that living in France has turned me into a novelist in my texting and emails, and I suppose here a bit as well. That’s just one side effect of living in a country where you don’t speak the language fluently, you end up finding alternate ways to get your words out.

And now to tag. I was only able to get in touch with my good friend Jessie, who is over at A Tiny House. Go check her out, because she is awesome. She and I had never met in person but we were both attending Sewing Summit a few years ago and we hooked up to be roommates. I am so glad we did because I just really like her. She shares her fun family trips, beautiful things she knits, and on a new chapter. Jessie’s new chapter made me feel really good for her. So many times I have felt like I was in just a different place than my friends in terms of our life plans. I have been able to say okay it’s different now, we’ll be closer again when they get to this spot that I’ve already passed. I feel like I spent last year not only settling into this new place and figuring out where I fit here, but this year I feel like wow, I have so much time to be me. I had the same schedule last year because we started off with all three kids being in school but I didn’t feel like I do now. So – check out Jessie, she’s so great, and I’d love it if you friended me on instagram or twitter, and I now have a facebook page so head on over and like the page.

 

Found This Week

This week I was not nearly as productive as I usually am since being sick. Today I’m finally feeling like I have more energy, now hopefully my cough will go away quickly! Let’s get right to the good stuff! First up – a sale!

Craftsy

Craftsy is having a flash sale for two days only to celebrate 5 million members! If you are not a member already, head over there and check out the classes. There are also a lot that they offer for free – free quilting patterns, free sewing patterns, and free mini classes to get you started. I love Craftsy, I have purchased several classes and one of the best things is that you always have access to the classes, meaning you pay once and you will get to watch it over and over again.

I mentioned Sister Diane’s new English Paper Piecing shop last week, and this week she has a video of how to baste hexies up. This is if you are using squares instead of a hexie shaped piece of fabric. This is the same technique I used for my long time coming hexies because that fabric came from a charm pack. It’s so much faster to cut squares instead of hexagon shapes. And the hexagons that I used for that project called for 2.5″ squares so I was able to get four pieces from each five inch charm square. I love being able to share a video so I hope this gives you a tip or two!
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Do you do bento lunches? Do you even know what that means? I admit when I first hear “bento” I had to google to see what it was! My kids are not allowed to take lunches to school here, but they were allowed when we lived in Washington and California. For a time I really tried to make cute lunches, especially because we were firmly in the rut of the same two or three sandwiches and the same three or four sides. The kids never complained though, and I don’t think they ever traded anyone either. But Wendy over at Wendolonia makes amazingly cool bento lunches for her kids, you just have to see. I did get some of the stuff you use for bentos – something we still use today are the lunchboxes and the egg molds. Egg molds are just too fun, we have the rabbit, bear, fish, and car.
eggmolds
Here’s to a healthy week! Have you found something you have to share? Oh, and the links will all open in new windows so you don’t lose what you are looking at here.

(Disclosure: The links above may be affiliate links, this means I may profit when you take action on my recommendations!)
 

A List to Cross Things Off

Ah lists. So many of us love making – and then crossing things off of – lists. I have always loved lists, and I love it even more that I passed that along to my kids. When they were little they would write lists and bring them to show me. I still make lists, and I don’t always rewrite after I cross things off.

And what a rough week! I had lists on Monday and Tuesday but little got done due to no energy thanks to being sick. But I am glad I realized that the fourth quarter Finish Along over at The Littlest Thistle is open for signing up. I have four things I’m going to work on this quarter – and I am excited to finish everything.

First up – the advent calendar kit I started. I need to finish the little puffy ornaments and complete the calendar itself. This is for a gift and first on my list to finish so I can mail it. Mail to the US hasn’t been taking too long, but I’m sure the closer we get to the holiday season that will change a little. I love advent calendars (check out my advent calendar pinterest board!) and want to make a couple more over the next couple of months.

Advent Calendar prep

Advent Calendar prep

Next –  a baby quilt.This one is for a friend here, she is due at the beginning of the year, maybe February. She’s a nice young woman and really is the friend of a close friend here. I am happy to be able to finish and give her a quilt for her new baby. I am planning on using the Dot to Dot Quilting class quilt patterns for these blocks since there is so much space. I like this pattern, and I really like how I arranged the layout. It’s the Sea of Squares pattern, which I found as a quilt along over at Christa Quilts, and the fabric is Ty Pennington’s Impressions fabric line. I am a huge fan of quilt alongs, even if I tend to find them after the fact. I like having patterns broken down into steps like this, something I always do anyway, which is how I end up with so many projects in various stages in my sewing room. The top is done and I have backing fabric already picked out and ready to go, so just need to baste, quilt, and bind it.

Baby Quilt

Sea of Squares – baby quilt

Third – a starquilt for my Dad. A Lonestar quilt actually, but I have always known this type of quilt to be a starquilt. I cut the strips a while back and really wanted to give this to my Dad when he visits, though I’m not sure when that will be. The hardest…maybe I should say most frustrating part…of a starquilt is the square corners and edge triangles. Doing the math to figure out the size is always a bit challenging, and definitely something I do two or three times. That saying “measure twice, cut once,” well that was made for starquilts. Hahaha This is my most ambitious on the list because all I have so far are the strips sewn together! Technically this is a started project, but whew, that’s just the first step.

one strip set for starquilt

One strip set for starquilt

Fourth – oh another baby quilt! This one is a bit over due and I feel bad about that. I hate to tell someone that I want to make a quilt for them and not deliver. Or not deliver “on time” – whatever on time is. This one is from City Stitches baby quilt a month club and it was really so super fast to put together. I want to make like seven more of these. And yes, that’s a white background for a baby quilt. I hope it gets drooled on and food smeared into it and drawn on when the baby gets to have fat chunky crayons. The top is done so I need to baste, quilt, and bind. Oh and ship!

Baby Quilt

Baby Quilt

Citystitches

I think four is a good number to start. I do have a lot of free time to sew but for some reason this fall I’ve been sick more than usual, I think the change in the weather affected me more than I figured it would and I’m looking to boost my immune system now. I don’t want to spend the entire cold season sick or not feeling fully well! I probably also need a good day of resting because I just feel so not energetic.

And so, what are you working on?

 (Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links, this means I may profit when you take action on my recommendations!)

 

Do You Have a Favorite Craftsy Class?

I have signed up for a lot of Craftsy classes. It is just too easy – video access to some great designers, sewists, quilters, and so much more. But when we moved overseas I had a hard time accessing the videos because of internet issues. The apartment we are in was built in the rush to build the city back up from it’s almost completely destruction during World War II, and so I am fairly sure the building is made of concrete infused with something that makes wifi turn and run the other way. Okay, it’s not that bad in all of the rooms, but it’s really not great. We recently bought a wifi booster so I am hoping I can watch videos in my sewing room. Unfortunately for me, it’s just about the farthest away from the router one can get in the apartment.

Craftsy

Anyway, the most recent class I’ve been watching is the Dot to Dot Quilting Class by Angela Walters. I have a handful of quilts that I need to finish and I really want to expand my quilting. So far I do a lot of straight lines, and that’s fine of course, but I would love to do something just a little more. I love this class because Angela shows you how to quilt without having to mark your quilt. I admit it’s the marking of quilts that holds me back from extensive quilting. I like simple designs and I want my quilts to look awesome with those designs. I can’t wait to baste a couple of baby quilts and practice!

Which Craftsy classes have you taken? Do you have a favorite?

(Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links, this means I may profit when you take action on my recommendations!)

 

Anything avec fromage et jambon

Ah fromage – cheese in France is delicious. It is so good and of course so widely available. We live in a region that created the salted caramel, the crepe, and maybe the cider, but maybe not and even so it is very good.

When we first arrived, we frequented the market every week. On Easter Sunday this year we got a really great piece of ham from one of the food vendors. We’ve been buying our holiday meals at the market just because it is easy to do. Luckily for us, market was open even though it was Easter. Unluckily for us, we went after breakfast but before lunch, which meant we were shopping on a not quite empty stomach.

Good for the vendors, bad for the wallet! I didn’t find turkey around thanksgiving last year, so we didn’t have any of that, but there is always good chicken and ham available. There are a few vendors that roast chicken right there at the market. They usually cook the potatoes directly under the chicken so the flavors get mixed together.

I have discovered that the view of France being extravagant, romantic, Paris, wine, cheese, bread, and walks along the river is just a little off. Meals are simple and it’s not the amazingness of a meal that you enjoy but the company you are in. A favorite of ours is a halved baked potato, topped with chopped gam, cheese, and garlic butter. This is such a super simple meal. Of course this is easily made at home, but the line up of the various options at the market makes it too tempting to take home.

My tip is this: you will probably not find your favorite junk food or snack in the store. But that’s okay. Embrace the experience and try new foods. Enjoy new combinations of foods. I love pickles but here there are cornichon’s, which are small not sweet pickles but not the “regular” pickles in the US. It didn’t take long for me to love them.