Sunday, January 31, 2010

On the Road to Spring

If you haven't noticed yet, I am a sucker for a good quilt-a-long.  I like seeing the fun patterns people share.  I have also found that it is a nice opportunity to learn more about the quilting process.   It seems that every quilter does something a little differently and I enjoy seeing that.  As a self-taught quilter, I am always looking for new tips and tricks.


I saw that Randi at I have to Say... was having a quilt-a-long a few weeks ago.  I liked the pattern, but decided I had too many projects in the works and was going to pass.  Then I ordered some great fabrics and they looked so good together.  Then after I added a few from my stash, I couldn't resist any longer.

Wonderful Wonderland

During the 4 hour drive to Chicago, I was also able to finish up the binding on a second baby quilt.

I loved the several Ashley at Film in the Fridge made, so I decided, why not?  Those 5" squares are just so easy!  I love the straight line quilting Ashley does, however, I have not had very good luck with straight quilting lately.  After the fiasco with the Shady Zig Zags, I preferred to take steps to avoid more time with the seam ripper.  Stippling was the easiest (and safest) option.  I like how the stippling turned out a lot anyway.  Take that straight quilting!

The back is one of the prints from the Wonderland line.  I bound the quilt using the Kona Cotton solid in Berry.  It really is such a pretty color.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shady Zig Zags

On our drive to Chicago last weekend, I finished up the binding for the Shade Garden quilt.  You might remember my sadness the last time I posted about this quilt.

After the hole in the top, I proceeded to remove all of the quilting.  I then went on to remove all of the top pieces I needed to get to the one piece with the hole.  Luckily, I had plenty of leftover pieces from when I made the top, so that part was easy.  Then I just needed to sew it back together and I was back where I started.

And now, here you have it.  The final project. 

For the back, I used three of the prints from the Shade Garden line by Michelle Engel Benscko. 

I opted for loopy quilting to mimick the loopy pattern in one of the prints.  It seemed appropriate.

It is bound with Patty Young's Ta Dot in Teal.  I'm a huge fan of the Ta Dot fabrics.  They have such wonderfully, rich colors.  I actually have purchased several more recently and have them set aside for some upcoming projects.  Very exciting.

Monday, January 25, 2010


 My in-laws.  I am so blessed to have married into an encouraging and God-loving family.

I'm going to be an aunt!

Days off work to relax and do things I enjoy.

 Sleeping through the alarm but still waking up in time to make it to work (almost) on time. 

holy experience

Friday, January 22, 2010


This weekend Shawn and I are heading to the Chicago-area to spend some time with his family.  I decided to take today off work to get a few things done around the house and to have a little relaxation before heading out for the weekend.

I figured this was a great time to make some progress on our niece's quilt.  You know, the one with the colors of a peacock.  :) 

Even after the sexy hexy debacle, I decided that I still liked the hexagon idea.  Only this time, I opted for half hexagons.  Much easier and much less craziness.  I used the method shown here at Comfort Stitching.  The only difference is that I decided to use large hexagons to better show off the prints.

I think this is coming along nicely- if I do say so myself.

Monday, January 18, 2010


My brother's safe return from Iraq.

A successful start to the new premaritial counseling program I am helping organize.

Daylight when I come home from work.

Dinner with friends.

holy experience

Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner!  

"Thanks for the fun! I am re-organizing my stash. Not a 'favorite' project, but one that has needed to be done before I dig into other fun. :-)"

Call Me Crazy has been selected by the Random Number Generator as the winner of the 100th post giveaway.   Sounds like the fat quarters will have a nice new home in a freshly organized stash.  I will be emailing you shortly for your address.  Congratulations!

 Thanks everyone for playing along!  It was fun hearing about all of the projects you're working on.  :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home and Safe

Last February I blogged about how my brother was leaving for his deployment to Iraq with the Army.  I am so thankful to report that he has arrived back to the US safely!!  After a two week reentry training in Texas, he will be visiting us in Michigan for about a month.  I can't wait to see my brother again!

Welcome home, SPC. Jeremy Ahnen!

Aqua Clara

Last weekend Shawn and I traveled to good old Holland, Michigan to learn how to build biosand water purifiers with Aqua Clara International


Well, I'm glad you asked.  Aqua Clara is an organization created to give away water purifier technology in the developing world.  The purifiers are designed in such a way that they are built out of locally acquired materials.  Aqua Clara also sends teams to train locals in how to build the filters on their own and how to set up a unique business and training model that will work best for the local community.  In short, it is ultra sustainable and helps empower locals to take control of their sanitation issue.  I could talk about this for hours though.  I absolutely love the way the organization is structured!

The filters are quite simple.  Just plastic drums with some PVC pipe, a few layers of sand, and a brass disinfectant.  The way the filter works is that the water someone puts in today, she drinks tomorrow.  During that standing time, the bacteria and parasites in the water become food for each other and utilize all of the oxygen in the filter.  After that takes place, the water is clean once it comes out the spout.  There's a lot of biology going on in there that I can't claim to completely understand.  I think the most impressive part of the technology is the man who created it is a retired physicist from Dow and taught himself all of the biology and chemistry he needed to know.  He then patened the technology so he could give it away.

Anyway, I digress.  Here are some photos of the purifier building process.

First you measure and drill a hole in the front of the plastic drum for the out-spout.  Our team opted to use the hand drill.  Mostly because the power drills were all in use.  However, if (when) we travel overseas to train communities how to build these, a hand drill will be the only thing that is available.

Now we measured and cut the PVC pipe to fit our drum's dimensions.  There is actually quite a bit of exactness that is required to making sure the PVC fits properly and where the out-spout should be located.

Next, our leaders demonstrated how to drill the holes in the PVC pipe using a hand drill they brought back from Kenya.  Again, in the US we would simply use a power drill, however, that is not available in most locations overseas due to lack of electricity.

 Our teammates drilling the holes in the intake pipe for our filter.

And there you have it!  Our filter.  The men who were teamed with Shawn and me were actually learning to build these filters in hopes to travel to Haiti.  After the earthquake, it seems that these purifiers are needed now more than ever.

Each purifier is affixed with a sticker that states when the filter was built and who the owner can contact to ask questions about maintenance, etc.  This is typically a local expert who has been trained by an Aqua Clara team in how these filters need to be constructed and maintained.  It typically is not an American.  I think that's pretty awesome.

Now add the sand.  At this point our leaders simply filled their purifier.  It would have been a lot of unnecessary sand for all 10 teams to built complete purifiers.

Now adding the water to the purifier.

It works!

As I am sure you can tell from this post, I'm pretty excited about what Aqua Clara is doing around the world.  Clean water is one of the most needed things in the developing world.  Drinking unsafe water leads to numerous unnecessary and preventable illnesses that contribute to the extreme poverty in many areas of the world.  Think about it- how well do you work, learn, or parent when you are feeling ill?  Imagine that for every day of your life and the water you drink is causing it.  Honestly, it completely breaks my heart.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sew In Results

Last night I participating in Heidi's Friday Night Sew-In.  In the past when she has planned these I organized some friends to sew together.  However, all of my sewing buddies were busy last night.  Sadness.  It did end up being for the best though.  I spend considerably more time than anticipated making enchiladas to take to friends who recently had their first baby.  So while I didn't make nearly the dent into the to do list that I was hoping for, a couple new parents don't have to worry about cooking this evening.  A worthwhile trade off.

I did accomplish some things though.

I completed another Quilter Bee's block- this time for Lisa.  Lisa's month was actually November, but because of life's craziness we are all just now working on her blocks.  She picked the Churn Dash block and send us some lovely reproduction prints.

I also started working on another 9 patch quilt.  My mom's birthday is December 27th and I decided I was going to give her a quilt.  I had another quilt in mind, but since all she did was swoon over my last 9 patch quilt, I decided I should really give it to her.  After all, that's the one she loved and actually cried when she opened it.  But alas, it was quite a sad break up.  I miss the 9 patch quilt quite a bit as it was the perfect snuggle size.  So now it begins, round two.  I am roughly halfway through making the blocks.

Also, as a reminder, you still have time to enter in the 100th post giveaway!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

100th Post Giveaway!

100 posts.  It sure has taken me awhile to make it to this milestone!  I suppose that makes it all the sweeter.  I have really enjoyed sharing my sewing projects with whoever decides to listen.  I am often so encouraged by all of the sweet comments left on my posts. 

To celebrate, I decided to give away four fat quarters.

We have some Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy, Amy Butler Belle and Lotus, and Studio E Flourish. 

So I'm going to go with the three ways to enter method.
  1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite project that you're currently working on.  It could be sewing, other crafting, home project, whatever!  The favorite project I am working on is the quilt for my niece using the Love fabrics.  The fabrics are just so pretty!  I hope to be able to post about it soon!
  2. Blog about my giveaway!  If you do, please just leave another comment letting me know.
  3. Subscribe to my blog!  If you start now or already do, just leave another comment. 
The giveaway will run until midnight on Sunday, January 17.  I will randomly choose a winner on Monday.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

My intention was to have photos of a finished quilt for you today.  I have had this past week off work and it has been wonderful.  I have been sleeping in and doing lots of sewing.  It has really been glorious.

Back to this quilt.  I put together this lovely stack of fabrics.  It is mostly Michelle Engel Benscko's Shade Garden with a few other patterns mixed in.

I opted for a baby sized quilt using a zig zag pattern and some loopy quilting.  The quilting was going quick, but about the quarter of the way through my thread ran out.  I discovered the end of thread was knotted around the spool (why???) and that ultimately lead to a broken needle.  Unfortunately, before I could realize what happened the blunt end of the needle had done its damage- there was a small hole in the top of my quilt.  :(

So now, as I'm off to go spend several hours with my seam ripper, I'll leave you with this.

On a more exciting note, check back soon as my next post is my 100th and that calls for a celebratory giveaway!  :)