Today is someone's BIRTHDAY!!

I'll give you a hint... 

she's got blond hair...

the biggest lovely smile...

a happy wagging tail...

and four springy legs...

Happy Birthday to our awesome Katie-girl!!  You're Your (thanks Mr. happy...arggg) four years old today (28 in dog years) and I can't imagine a better friend or sewing buddy!!

Linking to Debbiedoo's Pet Party -- come join in!!

Much love for Japan


Happy Moment #25: Stop and Smell the Tulips

A Friday ritual with Soulemama.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary, happy moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments too!

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
~Omar Khayyam

Much love for Japan


Power of Happiness!

I saw this on Sarah's Yes and Yes blog this morning and I want to scream it from the rooftops!!  It's not only true, it's a very amazing quote that really captures what I want this blog to blossom into.  *love*

As a side note, Mr. Henry Ward Beecher is a pretty amazing man.  He is the brother of  Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin and lived during the time of Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain as a thinker, minister, author, and wasn't afraid to speak up for what he so strongly stood for.  So many interesting things about his life here.  And another fantastic quote from him:
"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else."
*deep breath in, slowly letting it out* now I am ready to start my day!  Inspired.  Ready to be amazing!

Much love for Japan


Quilting Progress Pony Express (WIP)

I am having great fun in my sewing room.  So much sew that I am finding myself a bit addicted at the moment.  Not that this comes as a surprise to you.


Flourishing Garden (king sized)

I've been quite excited to put more and more of this king size quilt together.  It's been like a really good story unfolding.  Almost like each seam sewn is another page turned.  I can't wait to see how this story ends -- and snuggle under it!  At the same time I am loving the process and commitment required to make a king size!

I am still totally shocked at how BIG this quilt will be.

Here is a peak into the progress of making sashing/corners.  Cutting apart left overs as small HST's (half square triangles), and then I did a ton of ironing to open up the sashing.

Next was layout.  If you remember from Tribal, this pattern requires chaos or randomness throughout each step.  It's a lot of work to be chaotic! 

The diamonds are laid out in a 6 by 6.  Then time to randomly distribute sashing.

Next, I sewed the sashing triangles to the diamonds which increased their size by quite a bit.  Then laid the whole thing out once more.  And I'm happy to report that Katie (the dog) has not yet done a home run slide into the fabric on the floor.  Thank goodness!

Now it was time to begin assembling the rows.  So, I stacked the quilt squares carefully to save the order and layout... as it's not practical to leave a large quilt like that on the floor for more than an hour at a time.

Last night, I happily sewed and sewed.  Blocks became pairs, pairs became larger sections, larger sections became rows!  I ran over to the mister to show him the first completed row -- proud as could be; after all this is my first king sized quilt!  He oohhed and ahhed and exclaimed about how big it was. 

Then I went back to sew some more.  After attaching the first two rows together something just didn't seem right.  My randomness seemed off?  I had a square with two parts of the same fabric. 

Yup, something was wrong.

As it turns out this whole time I have been working from row 1 to row 6 as I pieced.  And for some reason this last layout round I decided to work from row 6 to row 1.  Honest mistake which lead to me sewing row 6 to row 1.  Uggg! 

This means I have a date later with my friend Seam Ripper to take these two rows apart.  I thought I could live with it, after all isn't this supposed to be random -- but I can't do it.  I need row 1 to be next to row 2 and so on as planned.

The good news is that I am almost to the point where the top is together.  In fact, I think it will be all together tonight!  Next up is to figure out the backing.  By my (not so accurate) measuring and math I think I will need something around 8 1/2 yards of fabric to make a back.  That's a lot!! 

I am still terrified of quilting something so big, but am taking this one tiny step at a time.  After all... that's how you eat an elephant, right?  One bite at a time?  Not that I am eating elephants, but that refers to how you tackle something bigger than life!

Yes, you can assume all other things have been waiting in the shadows while this king size is getting the whole spotlight for now

This Week's Work in Progress (WiP) Stats 
Last WiP Wednesday Total: 6
New Projects: 0
Finished Projects: 0
Total WiP's: 6 (everything is about the same as it has been for a few weeks now)

---Linking to W.I.P. Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced---

Much love for Japan  


Creative Tuesday: Short and Tall

It's Tuesday!!  And, this particular Tuesday is a Creative Tuesday!  Whoop, whoop!  It's that time of the week where I open my sketch pad and see what comes out for the theme over at Mr. Toast's Creative Tuesday's assignment!

This week's theme was Short and Tall.  So many ideas popped into my head for this one.  I also decided to up the ante a bit by only using mediums within arms reach of my desk chair.  Ok, yes, I was really just being too lazy to get up and dig out my color pencils, but I have to admit that this made the assignment extra fun!

Let's see what mediums I had close by in the lantern, shall we?

I see a pencil, pens, sharpies in black, silver, and blue, a few peachy-pink and orange color pencils that weren't put away last time, and photo markers.  Good stuff to start with!

For weeks I have had mushroom houses on the brain.  It's probably an art quilt idea stewing and I still haven't worked the idea through to get started.  I decided it would be a fun concept to play with for short and tall... as in short mushrooms and tall mushrooms.

Yes, it's simple. 

Yes, it has pops of color!

Yes, there is a bit of whimsy with the swing and wee little doors. 

What fun to just sit and draw with no other reason than to smile and enjoy the process :)

Mr. Toast, thank you for hosting this fun Creative Tuesday routine.   I look forward to accepting your next challenge! 

If you are considering joining in this or the next assignment (and I hope you do) feel free to check out other artists in the community here.

Much love for Japan


Consumed by Favorites

I have been consumed by favorite things over the last few days.  Head over heels engaged.  Living totally in the moment.  Being somewhat lazy.  Taking lots of photos and not sharing them.  Missing you terribly!

Things like guessing what color these tulips would open up to be.  Stalking them daily as they turned more and more pink and sniffing them for any whiffs of spring perfume!

Taking a lot of pictures to try and really capture the essence of a flower in the right light and mood!

Spending every free moment with my sewing machine assembling the king size quilt.  Getting more and more attached with every stitch. 

Stitching faster and more often as the top gets bigger and I can't help but want to know how it will look in the end.  It's been like a good story unfolding that I can't peel away from.

Enjoying traditions and trying to figure out what else I can use dye on.  We decided Katie would look stunning with one pink paw and one blue one (just kidding).

Some solid eggs, some with spots.  Then laughing about how the spotted ones look like dinosaur eggs. 

Remembering our color theory studies from school and trying to determine how different dyes will look layered on top of each other.  But mostly, just laughing together and enjoying the moments!

Following Katie's good example of just getting out into the sunshine of the day.  She literally walked down the stairs, walked two steps, and laid down.  She really knows how to soak in the rays!

Hope you also had an amazing weekend!!  I am getting back to creating, looking forward to showing you more sewing progress, some color pencil art, and maybe even a small craft project!! 

Much love for Japan


Katie Dog Days: Lamb Chop!

Katie and I are hiking more as the weather allows.  Here is one of our recent adventures in the sunshine through the woods!

Katie is a curious pup sometimes.  I just adore when she has her head down and her ears droop forward like that.  Ad.or.able!

And just look at that little paw in action!  I shall squish you!

I don't remember what she was looking at... probably a bug, but she sure can be very serious looking!

I must watch that little critter move from here to there.

In general, I find she is such a happy spirit.  Always quick to the biggest dopey smile!

I'm so happy I'm out in the woods with my mom!  Life is good!

Being the crazed photo-taker I am... I said the "b-word" to get her to look my way. 

Biscuit?  Whohooooohooo!!!!!  Wait, give it up... where's the biscuit?  Are you seriously pointing that in my face again?  Uggg!!

I find so much peace out in the woods.  I feel so at home in the trees and dirt.  My calling as a Forest Ranger might still be lurking in my future yet!

Mmmmmm... this smells so good. 

And off we went... back to bouncing along the path. 

Noticing subtle changes in things blooming or branches moved.  Taking in the smells and looking for foot prints.

Me and my gal... as happy as can be. 

Where do you most often find yourself in a happy-life is amazing kind of mood?

Much love for Japan


Confessions from behind the Sewing Machine

As I am sewing with this new machine I am learning things about myself as a sewer. 

I have learned that all this time I was sewing quilt seams that were larger than 1/4 of an inch.  Now that I have a machine with a 1/4 measure marked on the base.... as well as a 1/4 foot it is all so clear.  1/4 is tiny!  This is helping me understand why I had blocks/patterns that didn't match up in the past.  *smacking hand to forehead*

I am enjoying myself so much that I have already gone through three... count them... three bobbins of thread.  I can't even begin to think how many weeks would pass when I would still be on the same bobbin with the other machine.  Yup, I over wound my other bobbins.  Gulp!  Not any more... and imagine that... the tension looks fantastic now!

Here are three more filled up and ready to go!

I am still using a cone of thread fed from a vase.  Yup, a vase.  I'm sure this is breaking a rule in a sewing book somewhere, but I haven't had any real issues from it... so I will continue in this fashion.  Cones are so much more economical!

A better look at how I have vase behind the machine and the thread looped over the spool where the thread 'should' be coming from.  Don't cringe!

All in all I am noticing my seams are straighter, things match up better and it's quick!  I haven't had any thread breaking or snagging issues.  My stitch lengths are even on the front and back.  And sewing is just pure joy again.  The way it should be.  It's hard to imagine I was doing anything else.

But, you live, you experience, and you learn!  That learning part is what counts!  Looking forward to my first finish with my new precision!

Have you experienced anything like this?  Did a new (or any) sewing machine teach you something you didn't know about yourself as a sewer?

Much love for Japan


'Hope' in Chinese

A friend of mine wrote this in Chinese for me.  Very cool stuff!!  I have some examples of words I also tried to write, but for now here is the word... Hope!  So fluid, so curvy! 

I only wish I could show you my friend in action.... magic with a brush and ink! 

Looking forward to showing you more!  Hope you had a great weekend and here's to a great start to the week!

Much love for Japan


April FNSI is a Success!

FNSI or Friday Night Sew-in is definitely a night I look forward to each month.

Last night was no different.  Although, I have to admit that not a stitch of actual sewing occurred.  I did enjoy a night in the sewing room, but my time was spent ironing and cutting apart my 16 patch blocks for my King sized Flourishing Garden quilt!

When we last talked about this quilt I was sewing these together.

Note to self: King sized quilts are a lot of work.  I thought I knew what I was in for when I started, but I am still awe struck at how big this sucker is!!  

So, let's get to what I accomplished last night.  Here's my stack 'o 16 patch blocks in need of a little heat and steam.

Ironing... I know... exciting, right?  Ok, I will let the details of this part to your imagination :)

And then I cut those squares into quarters diagonally.  Which gave me this really pretty pile of triangles.  

I felt good about getting all 36 72 triangles cut out and ready to be pieced back together.  See what I mean about a king size being a lot of work?  That's a lot of fabric in that pile!

And that's where I left it for the night.  Successful FNSI!!  

This morning (with better photo-taking light) I wanted to show you a little bit more.  Here is a look at the cutting lines I followed for each 16 patch block.  See how the triangles emerge?

Then you re-connect the triangles like so to form a new smaller square.  I love how complicated this pattern looks, but it's a cinch to pull off!  It's a really fun way to play with a ton of prints!

So, this morning I laid out all 36 72 triangles into their new 36 square pairs.  This is a quick glimpse of how amazing this quilt is going to be!!  Whoo hooo!

It's so big... and it doesn't even have the sashing yet!  So big!!  

So, now the triangles are stacked and ready to be sewn together... and that's where I am now.  I'm in my sewing room with silly TV on and putting these triangles together. 

Sometimes you have to be thankful for an overcast and soon to be rainy day to enjoy guilt free sewing. Well, I am only sewing in between staining the trim for the bathroom we are doing.  Can you say yippie it takes 6 hours in between stain coats!!

Alright loves, hope you are having a fantastic start to your weekend!  Wish me luck tackling this king quilt!

Much love for Japan
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