Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cathedral Stars progress [Quilting]

The Band's donation quilt, Bonnie's Cathedral Stars, is well ahead of deadline DESPITE taking a 20 minute 'power nap' today that somehow increased 6-fold!!!  :D

A 7" overall feather pantograph was used (my definite go-to pattern), with each 7" pass taking about 15 minutes.  I started at 8 in the morning, taking small breaks here-n-there to stoke the fire, make lunch, and finish up a batch of hot-process soap.  

Murphy's Law hasn't struck in quite some time around here, so the fact that I ran out of bobbin thread with SUCH a little corner of quilting left shouldn't really surprise me!!!  Thankfully, the right song was playing in my ears to help me power through the winding, threading and quilting of this last little section.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Celtic Solstice - Cathedral Stars - Smith Mountain Morning

Two years in the making, working between other projects and deadlines, but .... it's finished.
Celtic Solstice - Bonnie K. Hunter 2013 mystery
110" x 110"
Quilted using my favorite 7" overall feather pantograph, and Aurifil thread; one of the lighter tan/cream ones (I don't have the number readily handy.)

Part of the push to finish this was because I needed to free up the quilting frame in order to finish up Cathedral Stars for the band raffle quilt...
Locked, loaded and well underway already!!!!  I certainly do enjoy having some extra time during this week of vacation from school.

It's probably too much of a stretch to hope I'll power through this stack of other quilts all set and prepared with backing & batting for quilting ;)

Specially when this guy stares at me everyday in the quilting room;  the border units need piecing yet.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter tomatoes & herbs

No judgement needed -- it's really never a bad time to start plants if one has an indoor mini-greenhouse and grow lights!

A couple of Polish Linguisa and Power Pops (cherry) seeds were planted today in hopes we'll have some fresh tomatoes come spring time.

A few planters of herbs were also started;  thyme and basil.  The basil seeds were harvested from our plants in the fall;  it'll be the first time I've preserved basil seeds from the flowers.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Soaping Sunday [Orchid & Amber; Ginger & Lemon tea]

The past week has fired me up for some soap making again.  The gift baskets of soaps and lotions were a hit;  there wasn't any one fragrance that won the crowd over -- although the Cherry Almond and Hazelnut soaps ended up getting sniffed a bit more than the rest.

So -- a new batch of Cherry Almond, as well as a batch of Chocolate Hazelnut, were made up yesterday, using my go-to recipe for my hot-process method.  Although, the 850g recipe is a WEE bit too large to fit my 2lb mold comfortably;  no biggy if I have an extra mold or two handy for the overflow. 

The fragrance oil used for the Choc Hazelnut is called "Mint Chocolate chip," but there didn't seem to be any mint tones.  At all.  Therefore, I dumped in the last of my Hazelnut (maybe 2 tsp), to give it a little fragrance assistance.
I used the last drop of Castor oil with those batches, literally.  I also emptied the last of my yogurt, but had ZERO interest in running to the store --- on the DAY after Christmas.  No thank you, ma'am.

Therefore, I tinkered around with the site and came up with a good standby recipe...
... and used some remaining Heavy Whipping Cream (left over from an amazingly rich hot chocolate recipe.)  Note:  I also reduced the oils to 800g and decreased the water % -- the result:  a perfect fit for my 2lb mold, and a nicely hardening bar.
Orchid & Amber milk soap

Seeing how the suds were so excessive AND the soap feeling lovingly luxurious (from the single soap ball created from scraping the sides), this may end up being my new go-to.

THEN---today, I wanted to make up another couple of batches, but... I was out of olive oil!  nearing Ol' Mother Hubbard stage.  Once again, I had zero interest in heading to the store, so....
.... playing commenced on the site once more, in addition to some research on using brewed tea as a liquid...
Ginger & Lemon tea soap

The tea cubes ended up being darker than I expected.  Two bags of Green Tea & Lemon, along with a sprig of fresh Rosemary were steeped for about 2 hours before freezing into cubes.

Once emulsified, the mixture looked a bit like melted caramels!  

I needn't be worried about this recipe as a non-sudser!  Running some cleanup water into the bowl not only gave me an idea of the bubbles it is capable of, it also gave me an excellent idea of the aroma created by the lemongrass & ginger essential oil combination.  The ginger seems to be hidden under the citrusy lemon fragrance.  Very light and 'clean'!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas feels a bit different this year;  I'm not quite able to put my finger on it though.
Each of the girls requested a book or a series of books.  Caitlyn asked for this series, which is a cyborg-style sci-fi twist on the classic fairytales that we all grew up with. 

We also gifted her a large package of floss, accompanied by a "Friendship Bracelet" making book.  She and I sat in the back of the van on the trip down to the grandparent's house making up a few simple bracelets.

Cassie was gifted a set of bluetooth speakers 

and Candace spent lots of time enjoying her simple little gyroscope wand-thingy before some of her 'big' gifts were opened...

... her biggest being an early birthday present from Grandpa and Grandma!
The girl in in love, I tell ya!

... and if she isn't, then *I* am!!!!

Hoping all of your Christmas wishes have come true this year.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas week

The other night, the girls were all in the bathroom, brushing teeth before bed.  When they came out, they had to show me what they also were doing in the bathroom in front of the mirror....
We love our lil' monkeys, certainly.

And exciting news hit on Wednesday:  we're ending up with a white Christmas after all up here in northern Wisconsin!

 The 2015 Christmas concert had been rescheduled to Monday afternoon due to icy conditions the Monday prior.  Thankfully, I have wonderful coworkers who volunteered to cover my afternoon classes so I could relax with some Christmas music :)

Caitlyn's class

Candace's class

I was also immensely happy while watching this year's piano recital!  Ms. Tam has given Candace so much encouragement and inspiration;  Candace has been in lessons for almost a year now, and is still loving it!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Preparing some soaps & lotions

With Christmas looming, along with my assistant, Candace, I spent the day whipping up some large batches of lotion, lip balm, and packaged up a bunch of soaps for holiday gifting. 
The first batch of lipbalm was of our go-to recipe using Peppermint extract, but then Cassie requested for us to try root beer.
NOTE!  DUH!  Pay attention to "concentrate" vs. "extract".  LOL.  Needless to say, the root beer concentrate did not lead to a very successful batch.  I've set the entire collection of containers aside and will try to salvage what I can sometime in the future.  But, with over a dozen little peppermint containers, we should be set.

Then came a large batch of the whipped lotion - simply my FAVORITE homemade lotion method to date!  
Mixing up the master-batch was the easy part....

... choosing the fragrances was a TOTALLY different challenge!!!!!!
I'm certainly thankful that Candace loves being my assistant!!!  Packaging up all the soaps, lotions and balm took much of the entire day;  I'm hoping they end up being a success with family and friends :)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Where's all of our snow???

Our chickens have most DEFINITELY been enjoying this unseasonably warm weather lately!!!!!  Smarty pants here jumped up on the railing in hopes to nip up the crumb remnants of the bread that has just been tossed out.

With the warm weather, we're truly thinking of firing up the charcoal grill later!!!!!  The local grocery store has a sale on brats, too!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Player down -- AGAIN!

The family has decided to rename and reserve a 5-gallon bucket solely for Cassie's HS athletic career, seeing that she's aiming to twist or sprain her ankle during each of her sports.

She wasn't too thrilled with me having the camera in her face after she went down...

I'm hoping this one is a quick heal, because I certainly enjoy watching her out there!!!!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cassie turns 15

Fifteen years later, and the 19 inch lil' baby stands at a height of 5'9"...

... with no boy friends in the near future!  WHEW!

Her sister isn't far behind her either.....

... check out this gem we found while cleaning out a dresser drawer!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fitting in some quilting

I haven't been putting anywhere near the quilting time in that I used to, and I'm honestly okay with that.  Other life events have simply claimed the spotlight lately.

However, this past month, I've needed to hone in on the quilting.  Getting caught up with the Celtic Solstice, which has been hogging the quilting frame for the past few months, is one of my top priorities during my time off for Thanksgiving/Hunting break.  The frame is needed!

Our school's band raffles off a quilt every year for the February Cabaret show.  This year, the lady who typically makes a quilt for the raffle decided not to.  Having offered my services in the past, I was asked if I'd be willing and have enough time to offer up a creation.

Bonnie's Celtic Solstice, comin' up!!!!!

Hitting the quilting room with some fresh inspiration (and a deadline!) caused me to reclaim the vigor of this craft again!  I was truly quite surprised at how quickly the initial portion of the top came together.  Having an entire Saturday to devote to cutting, pressing and piecing certainly helped!

Of course, in good ol' Bonnie fashion, I leader-ender'ed my Smith Mountain Morning-greens, and both top centers are nearing their finish.  Maybe I'll offer up both quilt tops to the Band and let them decide which to raffle...

Volleyball season came and went during my time away from blog land.  Cassie completed her Freshman year as a starter on the JV squad; I thoroughly enjoyed watching her on the court!   I dare say she loves this sport as much as I do.  And... for the fifth year in a row, we travelled over to Green Bay's Resch Center to watch the State Volleyball games.

The other two were often tag-alongs during the vball season without too many of their "own things" taking the lime light.  However, we try to fit in time when we can.   Besides, with the basketball season looming ahead for the next few months, I predict life's schedule becoming even more hectic as ALL THREE of the goofballs are interested in playing BB.  Yay us!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Smith Mountain Morning progress; Country Cozy afghan (new start!)

Hi everyone!!!!!!
Yes, you betcha, absolutely.....
Can you believe it??  Amy spent some time back in the quilting room!!!!!!
Before I started up the official 'tracking clock,' I spent about 15 minutes cleaning up other crafting messes that my girls and myself have made over the past month.  I've been using my cutting mat to trim the labels for my crochet items, and my girls have been digging into my 'not-so-good' stash, making small pillows and bags.  There were cluttery messes all over!

My only focus today was to try to finish up all 28 connector blocks in the Smith Mountain Morning - greens project.  There were a few final brown strips that I needed to cut from scraps in order to complete the two brown 7.5" side strips before being able to press and move to the greens.

Hour 16 came and went, all the while pressing and cutting 56 green strips, piecing the 112 small white squares, and finally sewing them onto the blocks.  

16 and a half hours in -- all 28 connectors blocks and star blocks are sewn, pressed and ready for assembly into a quilt top center!

In typical Amy fashion, while sitting and looking around my crochet area last week, I was feeling burned out with my smaller cotton-yarn projects.  I have plenty of washcloths, the hat pattern mojo was wearing off, and my king-size manghan for Paul was giving me a small "I'm-done-with-you-for-now" moment.
So... off to Ravelry I went for a little inspiration...
The Country Cozy afghan pattern had been in my favorites for quite some time.  The examples shown weren't really sparking any magic, but when I started looking over some of the completed projects.... the single color finishes were fabulous!!!
I've been wanting a creamy-ish colored, single color afghan ever since I first learned in 2013.  With a full skein of Caron's Simply Soft 'Bone' sitting on my shelf, I was set (albeit, short lived.  The skein was emptied by day's end).

The garden has been processed for the week already, with much thanks to my MIL.  She processed up a case of potatoes (quarts) and a couple cases of carrots (pints).  The tomatoes are kinda stalled, so I don't have any of those to worry about today.  Digging potatoes hasn't really been on my todo list for all the years we've had a garden;  Paul usually handles that duty, so I'll continue thinking he'll take care of them.  The remaining carrots can wait until we decide what we want to do with them all.  The cabbage also awaits Paul's decision.

So.... with the Packer game coming on shortly, and ALL of my school work already finished for the weekend... I simply hope to kick back with some crochet and cheer the Pack to a victory over the Bears.  (and fret not -- I have some newly acquired Bone yarn for my Country Cozy!) ;)

Happy Sunday everyone!