Sunday, March 18, 2012

In which the baby is actually napping, so it's posting time, right?

The tulip wall hanging is coming along very slowly. I was hoping to get it done by the actual start of spring (which is, what, Wednesday?), but., meh. It won't actually feel like spring for another month in the Pacific Northwest, so I've got some time.

They are actually just a slight modification on the maple leaf block. Shhh.

I am excited for the Rainbow Charm Swap I'm part of. I already know what I'm going to do with all my charms. Behold, my professional, not at all sloppily and hastily Photoshopped together:

I used to hate rainbow and grey together until I did a rainbow/grey mug rug for a swap last year. Then suddenly I liked it. Orange Kitty says: "Try new things! They may surprise you! And if it surprises you in a way that gives you horrible stomach cramps, it's probably spoiled, so throw it away!" 

I've been wanting to do a chevron quilt for a while, but then I saw the patchwork chevron on Moda Bake Shop and the scrappy-loving part of me said, "THAT'S it, I HAVE to do that!" The great thing about this is that when I ordered my fabric for the charms, I also ordered the solid fabric I'll need for it, and since the charms will be pre-cut, theoretically it should piece together quicker than I'm used to. Thinking ahead, that's a new thing for this is what it's like to be prepared for things ahead of time...

In yet other news...Sana awarded me with the Liebster Blog award! Thank you so much, Sana! It's Orange Kitty's very first blog award! So I guess the rules are:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to their blog.
3. Copy and paste the Liebster award to your profile.
4. Pick 5 blogs that you feel deserve to be in the spotlight (they must have under 200 followers).

5. Blog about it and leave a comment for your nominations to let them know that you have chosen their blog.

So I did a quick scroll of my blogger list and it doesn't look like any of the people I wrote down last week have gotten the award yet. But if they did...well, this is what I get for not blogging about it for a week! Anyway, I award the Liebster Blog Award to: 

Benta of SLIKstitches.  She was my swap partner in the very first swap I did as a brand-new blogger last year and I continue to follow her blog because she makes some amazing projects, plus she always has a positive, humorous outlook on things. Visiting her blog is like visiting a old friend's home, it's just so warm and inviting!

Kristy at Quiet Play. She's so creative, her recent toilet toll cover is adorable! She also has a couple of kids that are involved in some of her sewing projects, and it's kind of a neat glimpse into where I might be in a few years with my own kids :)

Jess at The Elven Garden. I just started following her recently, and I stick around because everything she makes is so colorful and bright! Visiting her blog is such a visual bombardment of color, it cheers me up every time! I don't know how she does it.

Fiona at Finding Fifth.  I feel like every post she makes, no matter how short, is packed full of information from speaking Hindi to fabric storage tips! After seeing that she plans out her weekly meals on a white board, I got my butt to the store and bought a white board too, and have written down dinners for the last few weeks and not sat around at 6pm whining, "Ugh, I'm so hungry but I don't know what I feel like maaaaaaaking..." (or at least, I haven't whined *quite* as much...)

Krista at krista stiched. She also uses a lot of bright, fun colors, usually in combinations and shades I wouldn't even think about using, but she makes it work! Her hexagons are downright amazing! I never know what new, crazy project she will be working on whenever I see an update from her!

So there's my Liebster Blog Award picks! Please take a moment to visit them if you haven't already--they are all great!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

In which I prepare for spring, a season that Seattle normally skips completely, going straight to summer sometime in late June

So we finally took down our Christmas wreath a couple of weeks ago (lazy, I know, shush). The wall it was on has been bare and white since, save for a lone nail sticking out of it. So since spring is coming (kind of...not so much in the Pacific Northwest) I decided to start on a little spring-themed wall hanging.

I am generally an apathetic fan of flowers, but I have a soft spot for tulips. If that guy in 11th grade had put tulips in my locker instead of red roses, he might have had a chance. Though I still would have been creeped out about how he broke into my locker in the first place.

The thing about having a baby who only takes 20 minute naps is that you have to cram as many things into 20 minutes every couple of hours that you can. Baby's eyes flutter shut? Cram those scrambled eggs down your throat while chugging coffee while running to the bathroom while tossing food at the cats at the same time and wondering if you can set up a little table in the bathroom so you can rotary-cut fabric while on the toilet. Baby wakes up. Entertain baby for 2 hours, baby falls asleep, repeat. It's like a reality game show of Multitasking XXXtreme!

But the whole thing has inadvertently made me slightly (and I do mean slightly) more organized with sewing. With pieced blocks I have a bad habit of doing only one or two blocks at a time. I'll cut enough fabric for a couple of blocks, piece them together, then start work on the next one or two, leaving all the fabric on the table or floor or whatever while I go eat dinner or whatever. It's fine when you have hours to sit around and sew, but that method was not working for me any more. So with this wall hanging I'm working on, I actually sat and pre-cut all my blocks, then sorted them into little baggies labeled with their dimensions and everything.  When I have my 20 minutes to sew, all I do is grab the right color fabric from each little baggie and sew and bam, a block is done. I am sure other people have figured out this method a LONG, LONG time ago, but I'm slow and lazy and all that. Also, Orange Kitty and Gray Kitty recently decided that Fabric On The Floor was the best place to fall asleep and promptly eject huge tufts of fur on. That huge cat tree in the corner just isn't good enough for them because the moral of owning cats is that nothing you put effort into is good enough for them; however, that cardboard box sitting by the door waiting to be recycled is the BEST CAT TOY EVER. Every time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In which I probably should not whine so much

Ok, so I guess I wrote my last blog post when I was tired and irritated, because a bunch of people commented right away on their opinion of Joann's Fabrics. When I reread the post this morning it did come off as kind of whiny and not entirely necessary.  I think blogs are for venting as well as sharing nice stuff, but I do feel bad lashing out at an entire chain of stores when I've only had terrible experiences at one. Negativity is not the intended tone of this blog, so I'll try to keep the venting posts to a minimum in the future. Or at least make them a little more humorous!

On a more positive note...

Why yes, those are dinosaur pajamas that she's wearing!

...the tag blanket that Benta sent me for the goodie swap last year is finally being put to use! The baby (whom I shall hereafter refer to as "Maggie," since that's one of her nicknames) has just figured out she has hands and is starting to pick things up. I learned this when I looked at her last week and she was lifting up the hem of her skirt and flashing her zebra-print diaper at everyone. The other day, after being unable to find her favorite toy (a bendy ball with a bunch of holes in it that makes it easy to pick up)--I have reason to believe it is at the bottom of the laundry basket underneath all the clothes--I remembered I'd put the tag blanket away in a drawer until Maggie could actually use it. So I pulled it out to see...and she likes it! I haven't gotten to use the lovely bib that Jennifer made for me yet, but Maggie will be eating solids in a couple of months and I know we will get a ton of use out of it then.

This is making me think back to a sort of giveaway I wanted to do on this blog for a while, but I'll have to mull on the details a little longer. Stay tuned...!

Monday, March 5, 2012

In which I remember why I stopped going to Joann's a long, long time ago

Yeah, so if you can't tell from the title of my post...I HATE Joann's fabrics. I am sure in some parts of the country, Joann's is worth going to. Not the one closest to me. For one, Pacific Fabrics, a local Seattle fabric chain is much, much closer, and even though they're pricier, they carry really nice fabrics and all the people there are super friendly and helpful. The only things I don't like are that the only time they have sales I'm usually out of town (this has happened the last THREE times they've had sales, what are the odds?), and their sales are incredibly rare, as are coupons. Their fabrics are standard price, but all their accessories--notions and thread and rotary blades and stuff--tend to be a dollar or more expensive than I could get elsewhere. But I like going there and it's totally on the way to Target and since I go to Target a lot, I always have an excuse to pop into Pacific Fabrics "just for a spool of thread, oh look how did all these fat quarters get into my basket."

And then there's Joann's. It's out of the way for me. It's on a large main road I hate driving down. The last time I was there I witnessed an infuriating conversation between a worker and a customer. The customer was buying buttons and they had rung up at the regular price--not sale price. When she politely pointed this out to the cashier, the cashier flatly told her she was wrong. The customer asked to see a copy of the sale ad to see if she was mistaken, and the cashier laughed and said, "I don't think so. I'm not going to check because I know you're wrong." After a few more heated words, the customer left in a huff without paying...and out of curiosity, when I got home I checked the ad and the buttons were totally on sale. This was just such an awful bit of customer service (plus I don't like their quilting fabrics) that I swore I'd never go back.

But I'm tight on money and I just got a bunch of coupons for them and I need more bobbins and rotary blades and the baby needed fresh air, so I packed us up in the car and drove down the stupid road to Joann's. It took me a full hour to get back out of there, and 10 of that was waiting to get a yard of cheap white solids cut (I have plans for a small wall hanging I don't want to blow my Konas on) because no one was around and another 15 was spent in line because they had one person working the registers who was going. As. Slowly. As. Possible.  While another worker just kind of watched for about ten minutes before opening another register. It's not worth the trek there and back to spend 25 minutes waiting around because of their poor customer service. A friend of mine assures that a Joann's in another part of town is better, but it's harder for me to get to. Maybe I'll try that one some day. Maybe.

ANYWAY, I got a new rotary blade because--well, I needed it, but I'm also hopefully going to be cutting 168 charm squares for the Rainbow Charm Swap, hosted by Sara at Modern Pink Designs (thanks to Annaliese for mentioning it!). There's only slots for 28 people right now, so join quickly! I've been wanting charm squares because I like wanting things and then buying the things that I wanted, and I especially like getting fabric stuff in the mail, so it should be fun. I want to join more swaps and stuff this year, so point me towards anything quick and easy going on! (That means no double wedding ring quilt swaps!!!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In which I might not be a small blog anymore if I bothered to update on a regular schedule

Hello, those of you who are coming in from the small blog meet! I'm Natalie, a new mom, and someone who likes to do things without thinking them all the way through. Which may, in part, explain why I'm a new mom, but I digress. Mostly I like to sew but I often take on other crafty projects as well, with my husband, new baby girl, and two gigantic cats tagging along for the ride. I'm trying to get back to updating somewhat regularly after the craziness that is the first three months of having a baby, but please bear with me and any strange, disjointed thoughts I may have. Enjoy.

Lily's Quilts

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In which it will be 4 years before I have another post dated February 29

Happy leap year day...or something? Anyway, I've had to suspend working on my string quilt due to me not making it to the fabric store yet to pick up more cotton thread. Also I'm afraid positive that I will not be able to walk out of there with JUST a spool of thread...I mean, technically I do need some more solid white for the border of the string quilt, but I don't think I've ever left the fabric store with just a single yardage of fabric, either. And I can't just blow my income on random fabric anymore since I don't HAVE an income anymore.

However, I do have another project to work on. Even though we're in a tiny apartment, we have a decent sized patio, so for the last couple of summers I've been able to have container plants growing out there. After two years of having peppers die on me within hours of planting them, cucumbers succumb to powdery mildew no matter what, squirrels digging up my garlic because Seattle squirrels apparently need a stash of garlic to defend against vampires, and me accidentally managing to snap my tomato plants in half while trying to tie them to a stake (who DOES that???), I have a pretty good idea of what will be successful and what won't. Snap peas have always grown well, but last year I kind of had to cobble together a trellis for them.  This year I wanted a real trellis, but I couldn't find one that would fit my containers.

So the other day, Baby was FUSS FUSS FUSS so I drove to Fred Meyer, strapped her in our Ergo carrier, and began walking around. After about an hour of wandering around, I was ready to go, but she'd fallen asleep...naturally. Obviously not wanting her to wake up, I walked around for another hour until I noticed workers starting to stare at me as I hiked past (well, really, there aren't a ton of people at a Fred Meyer at 11am on a Monday...we stood out). I ran into the garden section, grabbed some wooden stakes, and bought them before finally driving home, then plopped Baby into her bouncer and busted out my husband's tools before realizing I had NO idea how to actually build a trellis. I managed to saw everything to the right size but I didn't know how to put anything together. Probably because I didn't really research or think of anything past "I want to build a trellis."

Orange Kitty shot up to 17lbs shortly after the baby was born. I think he is trying out outpace her growth. Grey Kitty is probably already over the 20lb threshold. 

I'm still winging it. We'll see how things hold up. Stay tuned for the next few months to see if the minute a wine tries to cling onto my trellis, the whole thing collapses and squishes all my plants.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In which I kind of stop procrastinating

Holy cow, I knew it'd been a while since I last updated, but not THAT long. Oh well.

Little baby orange kitty is now a bit more predictable with her naps, etc. Sure, I could do the dishes or vacuum or any of the other chores that have been woefully ignored for the last three months, but sewing is more important. I've been working on small baby-related projects for the last couple of months and it's as fun as it gets when you're making nursing pads and diapers.

These are super easy to whip up, even if slightly imperfect. If I remember, I'll make a tutorial next time I sew a pair.  Making these made me wish I had a serger, though.

I'm a cloth freak. I like using cloth things over disposable things (except toilet paper...some people use "family cloth," but REALLY, I'd rather just flush that stuff down the toilet. There are limits to my hippie-ness). Even in 2012, people seem shocked when I mention we're cloth diapering. When I tell them that cloth diapers come in super-easy snaps, velcro, and cute prints these days instead of pins and plastic pants, they say, "Oh, but doesn't that make a TON of dirty laundry?" Yeah, but I've noticed having a baby=more laundry regardless. That cute outfit I put on her at 9am is covered in spit-up by noon, and then at her 1pm changing she kicks her pant leg into a dirty diaper, then spits up all over the changing table cover AND outfit #2 AND me and then the cat pukes on the bed or something and there's a load of laundry right there. It is really no biggie to have to wash a load of diapers every other day on top of everything else, and this is coming from a lazy person who hates doing all chores (yeah, I'm like an overgrown 5 year old, I know).

I made about ten of these over the course of two months. Suffice to say I way overbought some basic flat prefold diapers, so I just converted some to this "fitted" type rather than buy more...can you tell I was blowing through my spare thread when I was making these?
ANYWAY, last week a friend came by with super-soft cuddle fabric (knowing that I am always receptive to gifts of fabric) and suggested I make a blanket for little Elly with it. I got all excited at the thought, then remembered the many unfinished projects in my closet. I pulled out the string quilt I've been slowly working on for a while and realized I had enough blocks to piece together, said "Cool," and finally sewed them together. Somehow I managed to sew the "top" four rows underneath the "bottom" three rows, but since it's a scrap quilt anyway, you can't tell (oh thank heavens). Then I went to sew on a border, but as I stepped on the presser foot, my sewing machine made that oh-so-subtle change in sound that made me stop, and look....and sure enough, I was completely out of white cotton thread. I NEVER run out of white cotton thread. I'm sure that a few months ago I made a mental note to buy more thread the next time I went to the fabric store, but then I had a baby and totally forgot and at that point it was 11pm and way too late to run out and grab more.

One of the nice things about not being pregnant anymore is that I can stand on a chair and lean over to take a picture without fearing that I will tumble forward flat on my face.

So the string quilt top is still in progress. My goal is to have it totally done by the end of March, because some friends may visit and it'd be nice to throw the quilt on top of the guest airbed. My secondary goal is to actually get around to updating this blog more...I've missed sewing and the blogging world. Sharing projects with the Internet allows me to step back and look at my projects with a critical eye to see where I could improve and such, and get feedback from others. It's nice.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

In which there is much procrastinating

So, you know like 90% of Part Two of my birth story has been written for a month. I just haven't bothered to finish and post it. In my defense, it's hard to type with one hand when the other is holding a baby (or shoving a very hungry orange kitty off your desk once he noticed you were distracted with the new little squalling pet in your arms and jumped up to the desk to attempt to steal the meat portion of your breakfast)...but, I've obviously found some time to type now, so laziness is partially to blame.

I'm just so cute, Mom can't be assed to drag herself away from me for five minutes to finish up a blog post that's been a month in the making. Or so she says.

The Mom thing? Yeah, it's hard. I found a little time to sew early on. I made a bunch of cloth nursing pads that turned out pretty well after the first few tries. Too bad there isn't a huge market for cloth nursing pads that would let me make a viable income by selling them on etsy or whatever. Quilts are kind of on the backburner for now, which is annoying since I have so many in progress. But I need really small, short projects right now to get me back into the swing of things. Anyway, have a little preview of my current project. If I'm not using my baby as an excuse to be lazy, you may see a post about it sometime soon!

Of course it's diaper related. Babies tend to sort of make everything suddenly about them, you know?