Dec 27, 2013

A weekend at the lake

Oh wow!  It's been several days since I've been around the blog, and even if it sounds weird, I actually miss posting. However, there's is a good reason for this mini hiatus - or at least, that's what I always tell myself each time I pause for some days.

We were blessed to get tickets to travel to Mexico and spend a bit over a week with family. Seeing everybody again was a wonderful gift and some comfort for the heart. When Mr. Fuzz and I got married, I moved to the US and had not been able to come back home since then. All the kiddos are grown, there are more all over the place, and one more is yet to make it here (he's happy in mommy's tummy right now).

And with all the visiting, calling and excitement, I have put off posting, but it's been well worth it!

However, I decided to log in and share a bit about the beautiful place we were at last weekend, Valle de Bravo. It's a place West of Mexico City; there are a lot of activities to do at the lake, like paragliding, cruising around the lake and even visiting ostrich farms! 

This time, we went downtown and enjoyed a little cruise on a 10-passenger boat.

Many people have the idea that Mexico is only a big desert and that there are cactus all over the place.  I hope these pictures change your mind and show the wide variety of natural beauties that live happily somewhere in this colorful country.

Mr. Fuzz was particularly fond of the trees; I'm not sure what kind they are, but he thinks they resemble willows.

We went for a walk on Sunday, and I was thrilled to find little surprises along the way, like the stream that sparked so much curiosity in us; we kept hearing the wonderful sound of the running waters, but had not been able to see where it came from, until we stepped outside the house.

And going back to our Sunday cruise, we had dinner at a floating restaurant. I had one of the most delicious fajitas I've had for a long time!  But I must confess that the most memorable - and awesome - moment was when we stepped out and were greeted with a gorgeous view of the setting sun.

And this is where I have to end this post. At this point, I can only thank God for his precious love and gift of family and home. This is my wish for the new year, that you experience His love and blessings in a wonderful way!

Dec 13, 2013

Going Doodly Quilty Crazy!

There are some things in this life that are beautiful, and we sometimes get the chance to make some.  But whenever we make them, they just don't look right. This is a bit how I sometimes feel about myself and what I make. I have a certain vision in my head, and it's difficult to make it happen, at least in a way that "is right."  Each time I start a project, whether is a craft, at work or even organizing things at home, I am thankful for the opportunity of one more day and the God-given ability to make something happen.

And what became as a doodle experiment, ended up as a practice piece that kept reminding me of how important it is to practice to achieve what we want. And by looking at nature and comparing quilting designs, I kept marveling at the wonder of each line and the beauty of it all, despite my inability to reproduce what is in my head.  

So here it is!  Finished, crooked, wrinkled and crazy!  My largest quilting piece so far.  Now, I don't know whether to start another one or going back to my UFOs...  

And this is what started it all...  Hey! Never underestimate doodling when it comes to FMQ!  

Here are the two together:

But the picture of the day HAS to be this one, just because Mr. Fuzz made it happen:

When he got home, my fuzz-band parked the car and put his mug on top of this mini column that marks the little path that goes to the porch...  And then, it snowed, and snowed, and the poor mug was still there next morning! I couldn't help but get the camera; as I was getting ready to go out, my sweet heart takes it and goes out himself to snap the pic!  He does so many little things like this for me!!!  I'm sooooooo madly in looooove!!  :)  And for the cherry on top, Blogger decides to add fake snow, so it looks cool!  Serendipity in action, ha!

So, remember... Practice and patience!  I guess I can never have enough of those!

Stay warm and blessed!  :)

Dec 6, 2013

Back up for a snowy day!

Snow... What a delightful sight!

What to do on when we're supposed to be indoors?  Something tells me that the answer might be obvious, but I just had to type it to create some kind of suspense...

This guy has been mounted on the machine for some days and I just HAD TO get back to FMQ!

Trying to combine different patterns in order to find out how the quilt can be handled to cover all areas, I start having tension issues...  The quilt gets sort of jumpy and all of a sudden... SNAP! Upper thread is gone!

Back up ready to the rescue!!  My! I'd never have thought that quilting takes that much thread.  I've gone through several spools already!  And while the new spool is not quite the same color as the one I started with, I was NOT going to let that hinder me from enjoying some time at the machine on this wonderful, snowy day...

And here is where I'm at so far...

Something that I've really enjoyed of quilted feathers is the effect that surrounding areas with heavier quilting can produce. The following loop has "scribbling," which is basically a simple stippling (or meander) but the effect is done by crossing the lines and going over the same area several times.  As you see, it uses A LOT of thread, but when the color blends with the fabric, the contrasting texture of the squished scribble and the puffy feathers looks awesome!  However, I think the lattice creates a more elegant look... what do you think?

And here is a section of McTavishing... Well, sort of... This is a sound proof that after you stop stitching, ALWAYS remember to hold the fabric in place if you don't want to end up with long, straight stitches like the one on top of that feather... I decided to keep on going; after all, this is a practice piece, and mistakes are allowed.

And to balance the thread heaviness of the other loop with scribbles, I went for small pebbles with a curl inside, in order to build up thread and make it look darker.

Taking a break from FMQ and peeking outside, I am out of words... So much beauty is breathtaking.  With a little prayer for those who weathered this storm, I post this wishing that you all have a blessed, white Christmas!

Nov 30, 2013

Crafty bone on Thanksgiving

There are so many wonderful things that happen over a Thanksgiving weekend - family gathering, chats, cooking together...  you name it! 

Sometimes, I wonder if we just give things for granted.  We get stressed because the meal is not exactly the way we want it, or we may get annoyed because someone took the little piece of that dessert we had our eye on...  How often do we stop and think of the greater picture: we have food, a stove with oven, a fridge, central heating; all of them are tokens of God's provision for us, and we are blessed to live in a time and place when and where we can enjoy them and share it with those we love.

Thanksgiving is a big word that means a lot of things for different people; some may even think it's only "turkey day." However, thankfulness is gratitude because there is some level of acknowledgement. 

So, when it comes to spend time with the kiddos that I can't share time with the rest of the year (and that somehow manage to get taller than me), it is about Crafty Bone to the rescue!

Card making with LOTS of glitter was on the menu...

And just to make it more interesting, we decided to play with glitter layering:

Beads and personalized jewelry weren't too far down in the list:

And then, with a million football games going on in the background, Yiya starts drawing this crazy looking thing with quilting patterns secretly hidden all over the place...  When FINALLY someone asked if there was anything wrong with my head (little does my brother-in-law knows how close to reality he is, hehe), I was tickled to death to explain everything I could about curls, swirls, feathers, lattices, echoes, loops, stipples and cathedral windows.

Then, the magic question: "So, how do you actually do it with the sewing machine?"

HA! Did I hear right?  Woohoo!!  Demo time!!  Dining table is then overtaken by cutting mat, fabric and all the paraphernalia...  I guess it won't be difficult to guess what happened next: a new FMQ practice piece!  Did anyone say anything about being "tickled to death?"

And here is the drawing that started it all:

And no, I'm not planning on duplicating the paper one - I only wish I were that good at it!  For the actual practice piece, I made a loosely marked rectangle with big loops inside. The loops turn into the perfect practice areas. Think of all those awkward corners or curves that are often hard to fill in; with the big loopy line, you can create the perfect practice piece that can help you learn how to continue stitching your FMQ and get the design into those tricky spots.

With all the excitement and the multiple creative areas going around, it was hard to take more pictures!

But the best part of this Thanksgiving weekend goes beyond the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen or even a bunch of touchdowns...  With no doubt, the best is being aware that our families are constantly blessed and that our needs are taken care of - God is good!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend!

Nov 24, 2013

Nice discoveries: A coin well spent

Good morning everyone!  

Today, I'd like to share a nice discovery; this is basically when I find something really interesting in the web, related to some kind of art.  

This morning, my cousin shared this video, and I just can't stop watching it over and over again.  It is just amazing.

Besides the goosebumps and the excitement, it also makes me wonder about all the missed opportunities in our life and the wonderful consequences we may experience when we reach out to others. Yummy food for thought this Sunday...

Stay blessed!

Nov 19, 2013

A Charm-Hap 2

Just to commemorate that I am actually posting twice on the same week, here is Charm-Hap finished!

It was a beautiful afternoon in The Hill, perfect for picturing the colors and the textures...

There is another picture of the quilting in my previous post, but it was a smaller section. The sashing ended up with a herring bone design, and the border has a loopy design. Just like with the border sections, I wanted to have a similar kind of design, but with different angles.  

I was smiling when I was finishing this mini; it was very exciting to see this particular UFO turned into something nice - in fact, I like it so much that I'm having trouble with the idea of giving it away!  I hope it brings happy thoughts to the ones that will use it.

And the best thing of all is that it goes well with the gorgeous pear tree in the yard!  With no doubt, God is the best artist of all!

Nov 16, 2013

A Charm-hap (a.k.a. Happy Happening)

One of my first discoveries after getting my sewing machine for Christmas two years ago, was pre-cuts.  I had always worked with yardage back home, or with the big scrap fabric that the fabric store would sell because the left over fabric was under a yard.

I came across an internet sale offering a beautiful charm pack for under $4.00 dollars; sounded great!  When I got the charm pack, I realized it did not have enough fabric for what I had in mind, so I ordered a second one... It was still the same price, which was good, but I did not like the effect, which was not good.

I kept hearing in my head a little voice encouraging me to go on because every single pattern and color in a charm pack would go well together, as long as all the patterns and colors stayed together.

(By the way, in case you are not familiar with the terminology, a charm pack is a set of 5" X 5" squares of different fabric belonging to a collection - kind of a sampler.) 

I could see the pattern/color deal, but I was not satisfied with the result, and started to experiment with placing, sashing, borders, and just could not find anything that would make it look good in my head... It seemed that everything else that I put together - that did not come in a charm pack - worked way better for me.

Today, however, I am in need of finding unique gifts, so I decided to dig this UFO from the corner and see if I could put something together; after all, there is something so special about a hand-made gift! 

Somehow, it all started to make sense... lol  The poor little charm converted into improv pieced stripes - bless its little heart, hehe - waited just under two years to get some attention.  

When I saw it together today, I was still not happy with the look of it.  But you know me, if I have scraps, I'll put them to good use!

I have (yes, there are still scraps left) an array of different scraps, and was not sure of the effect I wanted.  In the next picture, you can see, from top to bottom, pieced stripes, 4x4 patches, improv pieced stars and pieced pieces of irregular shapes.

With that first experience two years ago, when I realized how much fabric is used in the seams, I decided I was going to use the scraps, and put all of the pieces together in as many ways as I could- now I'm not sure it was the best call, but I'll just deal with it!

After trying several combinations of the shapes I had, I decided to use the 4x4.  Like that, I'd be able to create a middle stripe that would be a good "bridge" between the outer stripes, without making the overall design way too complex.

Here is the middle stripe pieced together.  I liked that it sort of blends with the straight pieces of the sides without taking away from the improv stars.

And here it is with the sashing, made with a fabric I picked up at a craft store when it was on sale. I was not completely certain it would go with this collection, and was a bit concerned of adding yet one more pattern, but the final look is not that bad...

The more I worked with it, the more I liked it...

And you can see the quilt right after I finished stitching in the ditch to secure the pieced top to the quilt layers.

Once I set a quilt in the machine, it is so hard to just leave it there and not start quilting - this time was not the exception.

I decided to go with a pointy feather for the middle piece.  I went for a combination of textures for the sides: stippling for the improv stars because of the heavy piecing, and lines with sharp turns (think of a triangle loop chain) for the rectangle/square mini block.  I thought the open stipple would allow me to FMQ without much difficulty around the heavy seams and that the sharp turns will mimic the shape of the stars.

I finished only one side and the middle; here is where I'm at right now:

The results are quite pleasing!  Not bad for a recycled piecing experiment that hadn't seen the light for at least something like a year and a half, huh?  Great score!

Now it is my Wheels that will be kept in that little tote for a while.  It's OK...  Sometimes finishing a quick quilt brings some kind of refreshment that just encourages me to go on and make one more!

Nov 11, 2013

Epic Grace, by Kurt Bubna

With that subtitle, I had no idea what to expect from this book...  

God loves you, just because - this is Epic Grace in a nutshell. A practical, non-nonsense way of reminding us that God is always present and that we can actually come close to Him in every circumstance, only if we allow ourselves to follow His voice, rather than feed our independence - our idiocy - and fail over and over again.

How often have we felt that we can do more that what we are currently doing? How many times have we been told that we have to behave in such way, complete all of these courses in church or even not shed tears at the loss of a loved one?  Yes, all of these are expected "christian" responses to every-day life occurrences; however, responding differently and just being a tad human does not imply that we fall away from God - it's just the opposite.  It is during these hardships and confusing learning periods that God talks to us and shows his magnificent grace towards us.  

Mr. Bubna reminds us that it is God's love and grace poured towards us in the most unexpected and difficult circumstances what shapes our characters and minds.  It is also His grace that shows His patience with us and gives us the opportunity to stand up after falling, learn and overcome.  He is the one that transforms trials into blessings and guides our steps back to Him when we are lost and overwhelmed by circumstances. It is all about God's epic grace opposing hopelessness and winning each time!

And just in case you have been lectured and lectured time and time again about all your shortcomings, don't worry!  Mr. Bubna is just like your next-door friend, with whom you can spend endless hours laughing about life and praising God for all the GRACE showering and even tempesting just to keep you in the path of hope.

This is a profound, yet easy to read book - be prepared to take a deep plunge and savor life's ups and downs and stay afloat with the author's goofy and thought provoking experiences that will constantly remind you of the hope we can have in God!

But maybe... just maybe... you would like to hear the author telling it all - and just because I am actually getting along with this blog post and embedding videos successfully...  Here is Mr. Kurt Bubna; please allow him to share his experience and wonder together at God's marvelous love poured out towards us:


The following are links to videos where you can watch the author addressing topics discussed in the book, just in case your interest has been tickled and your heart is longing to hear more about God's EPIC grace:

I received  a complimentary copy of "Epic Grace" from Tyndale Book Publishers, in exchange of an honest review.  This has not biases my opinion on the book or the author.


Nov 10, 2013

The day of the failed everythings...

A while a go, I decided to make a quilt with a special meaning and opted to use the gorgeous flowery fabric that reminded me of Van Gogh's Terrace...  It is going to be my Wheels quilt, the first one I make thinking of what the shape represents, not focusing only on a certain technique, as I have done before.

Well, I decided it was about time to finally give some attention to the fabric I had cut...  So here it is, in HST and other units freshly pieced for my Dutch Rose (or Swoon) Wheel, according to the instructions in Candace's blog:

So, the moment of truth comes, and... I don't like it... I want to pick more of the blue in the center square, but the solid blue is way too contrasting.  

This is weird; I generally like this, but this flower fabric (a kind of print I don't use often) is just messing me up!  It is so delicate that this particular blue solid is clashing and is definitely not the effect I was looking for...

Dutch Rose block: Failed.

I can see an appointment with the seam reaper some time soon, followed by a hunt in my stash for another blue...

So, the first one of the day did not work quite as I would have liked, and it's time to work on a quilt for a great friend who loves horses and thinks of herself as a Stable Rat... hehe.  She makes me laugh, but she is happy happy when she is with her horseys.
Anyway, she wants something maroon, grey, lavander and eggplant.  When I read her e-mail, I just couldn't put those together in my head... I run and get my color wheel and... blank.  I run and get my color chart and... something is not working.   So, I get to spend quality time with my color chart and find the values that would work together.  During my recent trip to Branson, I spotted fabric on sale, and immediately got it for her.

I found a print that will work as the accent fabric, and worked my way around the spools of fabric on sale...  Great!  Now, my dear friend mentioned something like "cheery," so I got the perfect contrasting fabric to cheer things up!

Although the colors are now working, my crafty bone is having issues picturing blocks, and I decided to make an improvisational block to have all the fabric together and audition its value.  So, I make strips of different widths and proceed to take lots of pictures, just to find out that the colors are not showing in them...

After trying regular light, lamp light, window light, sun light and even cloudy sky light, here are the best shots... (sigh...).

And here is the print that is allowing me to bring everything together:

Pictures for the blog post with accurate colors: Failed.

This is kind of what I saw when I bought the fabric, encouraged by the salesperson who said people seldom thought of this combination, but that it would be pretty "if you know what you're doing, you know?"  Encouragement aside, I can see how these little stripeys will work together...

But wait a minute!  Did anyone say anything cheerful?  So here they are, with a strip of the contrasting fabric.  Looking nice, huh?

I am turning these into an Improv Block, as you can find on Elizabeth Hartman's Oh, Fransson!

An after sewing some of the strips together, considering that for some whatever reason the colors cannot show as they actually are, the following pictures are what I've got so far.

The next one, is just with regular lighting, with no editing:

And knowing I just can't get it right with color, I decided to have fun instead of getting frustrated, lol.  The next one is with the auto-edit feature:

Editing pictures: Failed.

And looking more neon-ish than real life, here are all the fabrics with the contrasting strip (drumroll, please...):

I just hope that my dear Stable Rat is squeaking out of giggles at my inability to produce decent pictures - I promise it looks better in real life!!!  :)

And just because it can be done, here is yet another picture with failed colors and nice perspective, to remind me of my drawing classes in Junior High... 

Have a wonderful and blessed Sunday!