Friday, May 31, 2013

Free Motion Friday - Pebbles

Today was a hot one so we spent most of the day outside at a local splash park enjoying the sun. After my son went down for a short nap I did some furniture rearranging in the room that is being converted from a spare bedroom to a combination sewing room/office. By the time I got everything the way I wanted, it didn't leave me much time to practice my free motion quilting. Here's about 30 minutes worth of pebble practice. Man, is that hard to master! I just can't quite get a good balance between speed and movement. If I go slower, my circles and stitches are jagged and not very crisp. If I go faster, it's more comfortable for me, and my stitches are more consistent but I end up overlapping my circles and can't follow along the lines as well. I guess that's why they call it practice. :)  I'll definitely use this design in the future, but given my lack of experience I'd be sure to use thread the same color as my fabric so my rookie mistakes won't be as obvious.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Tale of Two Bags

As I mentioned in my last post, I finished the placemats I was working on and I've got my next project lined up... well sort of. I have 2 patterns that I picked up at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo when it came through Cleveland this past spring. Both are adorable tote bags.

One is All About Anna by Loft Creations. The other is the Miranda Day Bag by Lazy Girl Designs.


The Anna is larger but the Miranda has more interior pockets. The patterns are similar enough that it got me in trouble. When I sat down this afternoon to start working I realized that I bought my fabrics for the Miranda bag and bought the recommended interfacing for the Anna bag. The Miranda bag calls for a much stiffer interfacing (Pellon Decor Bond) plus batting. The Anna bag only calls for Pellon Fusible Thermolam (and no additional batting). 

So I either have to a) go out and find some decor bond interfacing for the Miranda bag or b) figure out some fabrics in my current stash for the Anna bag. I was leaning toward option b) this afternoon but couldn't seem to find any fabrics that went together nicely. That's the problem with being a new quilter and having a limited stash. It was very frustrating. Instead of blogging about this I could be sewing right now.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Leafy Placemats!

I finished the placemats that I've been working on.  I'm pleased with the free motion quilting and how they turned out in general. I hope the colors work well with my mother-in-law's newly decorated kitchen. Wow, I've got a Christmas gift already done and it's still May. That's definitely a record for me! Now, it's on to the next project!



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wolf Your World Tour & Wolf Ears Giveaway!



Wiley the Wolf and all his friends at Great Wolf Lodge are packing their bags this weekend to embark on their very first tour - the Wolf Your World Tour to celebrate the resorts' largest expansion. During the Wolf Tour three new characters will be introduced to America - Rachel the Raccoon, Brinley Bear and Sammy the Squirrel! These characters will help Wiley the Wolf, Violet the Wolf, and Oliver Raccoon spread the word by taking part in local events, visiting national landmarks, and even stopping by the homes of some of the resorts' biggest fans.

During the tour Wiley and the gang will be travelling to all the different lodges where there will be extended weekend story times and lots of meet-and-greet opportunities. They will be handing out tens of thousands of wolf ears to get people excited and there's even an opportunity to enter the Great Wolf Lodge Ultimate Getaway sweepstakes. At the end of August, one lucky family will win a two-night stay for 25 family and friends plus a banquet for their entire “pack” at the Great Wolf Lodge of their choice! Yes, you read that correctly - you and 24 of your closest friends could be off to a fun-filled getaway right before the kids head back to school.

Here is a list of city stops for the tour. 


Week of May 27: Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

Week of June 3: Charlotte, North Carolina

Week of June 10: Madison, Wisconsin

Week of June 10: Dallas, Texas

Week of June 17: Sandusky, Ohio

Week of June 17: Traverse City, Michigan

Week of June 24: Cincinnati, Ohio

Week of July 8: Williamsburg, Virginia

Week of July 8: Kansas City, Kansas

Week of July 15: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Week of July 15: Grand Mound, Washington 



Be sure to check out Great Wolf Lodge on Facebook and keep watching for fun photo contests with different challenges like wearing wolf playing your favorite sport or wearing wolf ears doing your favorite hobby.  Don't have any wolf ears yet? No problem! As the Ask-a-Mom for the Sandusky Lodge, I will be giving away wolf ears to 5 lucky winners! To enter, "like" Great Wolf Lodge on Facebook and leave me a comment here telling me. That's it! Couldn't be any easier than that. Winners will be randomly chosen (probably by my 3 year old!) and announced on June 1st. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Give Kids The World & Coasting for Kids

Before I met my husband Jeff, I'd never heard of Give Kids the World. Maybe you haven't either. Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre, nonprofit resort located in Central Florida where kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families can go for weeklong, cost-free once-in-a-lifetime vacations. Over 120,000 children have stayed at the village and no child in need has ever been turned away. I am so blessed to have a healthy child. No one plans for their child to develop a life-threatening illness. Medical treatments are costly and as medical bills pile up I'm sure a family can't imagine spending money for a dream vacation so their child can feel like a normal kid. Give Kids the World provides that opportunity for so many families.

This is the 5th year that my family will be involved with Coasting for Kids, a fundraiser hosted by Cedar Fair at their many amusement parks across the country. On June 9th, we'll be spending the entire day at Cedar Point riding the Gemini roller coaster to raise money for this wonderful charity. Okay, to be honest, I don't ride all day especially since we now have a 3 year old running around. Instead, I tend to help out at the tent that's set up on the midway talking with/getting donations from generous park-goers.

If you would like to help us in supporting this worthwhile cause, you can get to our donation page by clicking on the graphic below. No amount is too small and greatly appreciated!


Blogger's Quilt Festival Entry - Spinning Stars

I recently discovered the Blogger's Quilt Festival and have seen so many fun quilts that I decided to enter one of my own! This is my Spinning Stars quilt. It's only my 3rd completed quilt but I was so proud of it. All of my points aligned perfectly and I did all of the quilting myself on my home machine. It measures 32" x 32" and I've decided to enter it into the wall hanging category. We're going to be converting our spare bedroom into a dual office/sewing room in the next few weeks and I think I'd like to hang it in there once we're finished.





     



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Playing in the Dirt

It's no secret that we're planning on putting our house up for sale in about a month so we're trying to get things in order. Just yesterday we had all the wood trim on the front of the house repainted and I can't believe how much of a difference it makes! We are considering replacing the outside lights but that doesn't take much time so we can decide that later.

This morning I went to our county's central processing facility where I could get 45 pound bags of compost for $1.75 each and came home with 13 bags. After an afternoon of weeding and working on 2 of the 3 flowerbeds that are in the front yard there are only 3 and a half bags left! There is still more to do - I want to remove 2 bushes by the front steps to open things up a bit so that's going to be the next big project to tackle. Once that is done, we can get a truckload of mulch delivered.

As for the backyard, I've got a few things that I want to plant in the butterfly garden. I've got a few tomato plants growing in my kitchen window until they're big enough to transplant into my herb garden. As for my herbs, the oregano and thyme are both getting out of control already. I was surprised to see that my parsley came back from last year. I didn't realize that it was a perennial. I also have 5-7 small cilantro plants that have sprouted up so that's one less thing that I need to plant! Just need some basil and rosemary to round things out.

Here's to some pretty flowers in the garden and some good cookin' with fresh herbs again this summer!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Confidence Comes with Practice

A few weeks ago I attended an all day free motion quilting workshop. I'd already taken the leap into FMQing on my last 2 quilt projects. On Puppy Patchwork I did some stippling, spirals, and stars; on Spinning Stars I did mostly stippling (you can see both of those here). The biggest win about taking the workshop is that it gave me time - time to practice my quilting uninterrupted for 6 hours, time to gain more confidence in my abilities, time to spend with other adults who enjoy quilting. It was invaluable. Here are a few of the practice pieces that were done in class. I really need to work on feathers, as you can see on the left yellow panel. I really enjoy making spirals (the red panel) and I was rather proud of my very first poinsettia flower on the right yellow panel.


Right now I'm working on some placemats for my mother-in-law to go with her newly decorated kitchen. Here is a picture of the 3rd placemat on my machine. My overall leaf pattern has definitely gotten better since my first placemat and I'm sure the last one will look the best. In addition to my growing confidence, I'm also getting much faster and more accurate which is a bonus! Right now I feel like I can tackle anything if I just take it one step at a time. How's that for confidence! :)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Matter of Perfection

I have a sock dilemma. I know, not something you hear someone utter everyday, but it's true. I've been knitting a pair of self-striping socks and I began the heel flap just after a new color started. The end result is one stripe across the top of the foot. I finished that first sock thinking that it wouldn't bother me and that it would look fine but the more I look at it, the more it looks like a mistake. So here is my dilemma - do I knit the second sock with that same lone stripe across the foot so that the socks are an imperfect match? Or do I fix the second sock and rip out part of the first sock? I need to decide on the next row.

Note the dark stripe between the teal and green.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday

I'd like you to meet Francoise.


She's a sweater that I started back in September (holy cow, that was 8 months ago!) and it's STILL not done! I have about 72 rows to go - it's just that each row is 252 stitches. Now I'm not a math expert, anyone who knows me well can attest to that, but that still seems like a heck of a lot more to do. That's why it's taken me so long to finish it. Each row takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and I'm just not motivated to work on it that often. I also want to rework the bind off of both sleeves to add a picot edge.

I really need to get reacquainted with her if for no other reason so that I can add these adorable leaf buttons that I picked up at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival back in March.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bring on the Smoothie Recipes!

Since I can't seem to get my 3 year old to eat veggies I need to get more creative by sneaking them in wherever I can. That is no small task. I've tried to do some green smoothies in the past but I only had a KitchenAid stick blender - it does a great job on things like soups and milkshakes. Not so much with drinks that contained leafy greens or raw veggies. I just couldn't get a smooth enough texture. I also can't use my stick blender with ice without the risk of bending or breaking the blades. Meet the latest appliance added to my kitchen --


Now I just need to take it out for a test drive so bring on the smoothie recipes people!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fabric Fear

I'm starting to slowly build up a stash of fabrics but as a new quilter I find that putting together color combinations is somewhat overwhelming. Coordinating solid colors is pretty simple but it's when you throw prints into the mix that I freeze up. I think that's why I like the concept of kits with the fabric already chosen for you for a particular pattern. The downside though is those can get expensive or they're only for a specific size. Yes, I could buy a bundle of a precuts from a specific fabric line, but that too, can get pricey. And it doesn't solve my issue of how to use the various fabrics that I've accumulated so far. I've been practicing my free motion quilting on some placemats that I've made but I'm itching to start a new project. I can't let the fear of possibly choosing the wrong fabrics prevent me from starting.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts on this Mother's Day

Mother's Day holds a different meaning for anyone whose mom has passed away. This is the 7th Mother's Day that I've been without my mom and even though it makes me sad, I try to remember the good times.


I'll Celebrate Instead of Cry

Another Mother's Day is here,
And I still miss having you near.
You were the best mom you could be,
And I never once doubted your love for me.
I could spend each Mother's Day in sorrow,
Crying and wishing you were here,
But instead I choose to celebrate your life,
A life I still hold so dear.
I know you'd rather see me smile
Than stand here with tears in my eyes.
So I'll do my best to honor your memory,
And you'll live on as long as I am alive.

~ author unknown



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Welcome!

Hello and thanks for stopping by! This little blog is a continuation of my older blog dianamattoni.com Feel free to browse around the site as I've created some tabs to highlight my creative endeavors. I'm still working out the kinks to importing my older posts but in the meantime I'll start posting here.

My hope is to start blogging more often using a platform that I can change to keep up with my ever changing life!


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