Newfound Fascination: Hexagons

I attended my first Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting this week, and I’m really happy I went!  The topic was paper piecing hexagons.  Of course, I was late.  Even though I left early, I was unprepared for 20 minutes of looking for a parking space… so by the time I got there the meeting was in full swing.  There were over 40 people (all women I think), and many of them had brought AMAZING quilts using hexagons for a Show-and-Tell.

I was fully impressed and totally inspired.  I love that there are so many people who still actually hand stitch quilts!  Now, it’s one thing to be able to see so many beautiful works of art all in one evening… it’s a whole other thing when you get to learn how they were created.  After seeing quite a few quilts and other hexagon projects, Christina – from The Sometimes Crafter, gave a little presentation on her adventures in paper piecing hexagons and I found it very informative.

From there we split up into groups and were given some paper hexagons and thread and we gave this paper piecing a try.  Well… I should say I gave it a try ~ most people there already had experience with this technique and even had projects in process they whipped out and we all did a little stitching together.  All of a sudden it was 9:00 and time to go.

I came home and worked on a few more pieces (pictured above).  I think I’m becoming obsessed!  They are quick and fun and I can use all my scraps this way… so I had hexies on the brain before going to bed…. and I had a dream about them ~ of course.

I’ve been planning on a new quilt wall hanging project… and I wanted to use a squid image and make it skinny and long.  I’m really into the idea of poster style art in the form of fabric, using bright colors and basic shapes.  So I was going to create an appliqué like I did with the rooster… but in my dream I made one of hexagons!  After I woke, I got on the computer and laid out a design in 3/4″ hexagons and ordered 1500 paper pieces from Paperpieces.com.

I have no idea what colors I’m actually going to use… patterned fabrics look SO different than a solid color design like this.  This is going to be a long term project, one I can collect cool fabrics for and take my time with.   I’m so glad I went to that meeting ~ it’s fun to have a new fascination!

Honor… and other collages


honor, originally uploaded by RamonaX.

I’ve recently set up a flickr account and have just uploaded some paper collages that I made a couple years ago. All the imagery was from National Geographic Magazines. I had a lot of fun creating them. You can check out the other 7 collages in this set by visiting my flickr page here.
Let me know what you think!

Fireworks and Anxiety

While I try not to write anything negative on this blog, I felt compelled to write a little something here about fireworks. 
The 4th of July just passed, and we are left with a dog who will be traumatized for the next two weeks as the noise of these fireworks freak her out terribly.   I never realized it before we had this dog, that animals AND people can be negatively affected by this noise.  Especially those with PTSD: post traumatic stress disorder. 

Since we’ve had our dog (7 years) I’ve become more and more sensitive to the noise of fireworks myself.  When I hear some random firecracker go off, I jump… AND… I’ve never been to war myself.  I can only imagine what it would be like for a veteran, or someone who has been a victim of a gun crime! 

The actual holiday is not that bad since we all expect the noise, and we can medicate people and dogs for a night while very drunk people party and light fireworks all night… but it’s the 2 weeks before through 2 weeks after when random schmucks decide to light firecrackers in the middle of the day or night.  NO ONE is expecting those and those are the ones that seriously freak people and animals out.

So… that’s my rant for today:  Please be kind to those with pets, stress, anxiety, and PTSD and please stop lighting fireworks randomly.  Wait for the 4th and call it good. 

Crow Pillows

Now that my rooster quilt is finished, I have embarked on a NEW project ~ YAY!  A friend of mine took a couple great photos of some crows, and I took a couple more, and they worked really well as silhouettes.

What you see in the photo are the fabrics I plan on using, and the crows are actually pieces of film.  These pieces of film are opaque where it is black, so we use them to “shoot” screens for screenprinting.  In the screen-shooting process, a screen is coated with photo-sensitive emulsion, then we put these films on coated screens and shine a light on it.  Where the light hits the screen it “bakes” the emulsion, and where the light can’t get through (where the black film is) the screen emulsion stays soft and then we wash it out with water and voila:  a hole in a screen.  Then I can print using any color I wish… I’m thinking of printing in a dark blue ink to match the darkest blue in the fabric.  Here is a picture of a screen on press:

I’m excited to start a new sewing project… especially since our summer is still looking like winter… today I pulled out sweatpants and a hoodie ~ it’s chilly here right now.  I did hear that next week it will jump from the 50’s to the 90’s… not fun. 

So like I said, I’m happy to have a project!  Plus I’ve been watching butt-loads of soccer with my hubby ~ so my schedule is all wonky these days.  Just watched the Netherlands beat Brazil!  How cool is that?  It’s like watching the Lakers lose… I love it!  Later today is Uruguay vs. Ghana… I think I’ll be rooting for Uruguay ~ I liked watching them through the World Cup so far.

Rooster Quilt… Finished!


Woo Hoo!  Today I finally finished my Rooster Quilt!  I’m glad too because I’m about DONE looking at it… sometimes when I am focusing on the same image for so long, I start to question every decision in the process.   I would have liked to hand quilt this one, but alas… after getting ready for a long haul in hand stitching, I found out I couldn’t run the needle through all the layers of the appliqué.  So ~ it’s machine quilted, and I think it turned out fine.

The face turned out pretty good ~ here is an up close shot.  I am so happy to be finished because I already have 2 new ideas for more art quilts!  One is a Cancer crab design I did for my daughters tattoo ~ I think it’ll look great as a quilt too.  The other idea is a squid quilt… we’ll see how those ideas pan out.   I love accomplishment!

Summer Solstice

I’m excited to see the sun today… finally.  Here in Portland, we’ve had winter all through springtime which means grey, wet rainy days.  So having the sun out makes me smile 🙂

I haven’t been sewing the last few weeks… I’ve been moving my sewing room.  I’m hoping with a new set up that I will be able to be much more efficient with my time.  I also had to oil my machine.  It was getting real tough to turn the handwheel, so I found some machine oil and fixed it right up.  I learned that 3-in-1 oil is not to be used on a sewing machine… you are supposed to used a “white mineral oil”.  I wonder if that’s true or if the sewing machine guy was just trying to make a sale?

Currently I’ve also been watching World Cup Soccer!!  I’m pretty stoked that my husband is so into it that he’ll wake up every morning at 4 a.m. to hit the record button on the VCR.  Then we wake up normally and get our necessary work done and then sit down to watch some games.  I can’t sew and watch anything… so my sewing time is disrupted a bit ~ but the world cup is only once every 4 years.  I think I can make some exceptions!  I don’t root for any particular team… so I pick the underdog in each team to root for.  I’m really enjoying it.

So not a lot to report… I did finish the front of my rooster quilt and added the edging.  Here’s a picture of the back of the patchwork before I sandwich it into the batting and backing.  Kind of cool from the back too!

Rooster Work: Appliqué

I have progressed to the next step in my Rooster Quilt adventure!  Over the last week or so, I’ve been doing the applique of the rooster, it’s feathers, and a little barn.  It’s a machined satin stitch, and I used some beautiful threads from Gütermann.
I have only just started doing applique… I’ve worked on 3 other small things and that is what inspired me to create my rooster! Here is the finished applique work:

And here are a couple of up close shots:

The color on some of these are a little off… but you get the idea 🙂

Right now I’m working on the edging to frame the work, then it’s time for batting, a backing fabric and I’m off the the proverbial quilting races!   I would love to hand quilt the entire thing, but I think I’ll have to use a machine to quilt through all the layers of fabric and stabilizer of the actual rooster.  Every step of the way has taken a little time to figure out and plan out my next move.  My next dilemma is figuring out how to hold the piece in place with all the backing to quilt without puckering.   I hope I can do a good job with it.  

Who Knew…?

The last few weeks here in Portland have been rough due to the lack of sunshine.  The rain and chill in the air in JUNE is more like March weather… and it has a tendency to get me a little down.  On top of all the grey days, my health has dipped a little ~ raging headaches with nausea, sore lymph glands, bloating, sore throat, swollen ankles and tongue, achy joints – super achy back pain, heartburn and higher sensitivities to noises and smells. 

I just got back from my Naturopathic Doctor and we worked up a plan to retest for candida (I’ve been on an anti-candida regimen for 2 months) to see if that’s better, and then after that test is over, she is going to do a food allergy test on me for 111 foods.  She’s thinking there is something else I may be allergic to and this is the best way to find out.  The bad part is I have to wait a month before doing the test.  It’s okay though… I’m just happy to have found someone who doesn’t look at me all spacey-like when I talk about my symptoms, and then says something like “well, you have had stress in your life… maybe you’re just depressed ~ let’s put you on anti-depressants and see how you feel”… as if it’s ALL IN MY HEAD!

Since these symptoms started showing up again, I have been actively re-checking everything in my house for gluten.  Low and behold… most of my make-up had wheat derivatives in them!!  WHO KNEW!  So I tossed out a bunch of make-up and my eye oil and just ordered new Gluten-Free makeup from a company called Afterglow Cosmetics.  It’s much more expensive than I’m used to…  BUT it’s 100% gluten free, and I really don’t use that much make-up anyway.  I haven’t received my order yet… patiently waiting… but I will post my feedback when it gets here 🙂

Feather Colors: Rooster Quilt Continued

Do you ever notice how your productivity is affected by what you listen to?  Lately I’ve been listening to books on CD while I sew.  I was listening to good groovy music for a while, and that was cool for a while… but I find I get tired of trying to match my sewing mood to music.  Listening to stories is a very nice change of pace.

So I started cutting tail feathers for my rooster project:

When I did the background I listened to “Drood” by Dan Simmons.   It’s an interesting fictional story about Charles Dickens his “wild boys” who live in the sewers beneath London.  With the start of working on the tail feathers, I started a new seven-book series by Kevin J. Anderson.   The first book is:  “Hidden Empire” and so far is starting off great.  I need something that will draw me to my sewing area and keep me there for a while… and the books on CD are really working for me 🙂

I got all the feathers cut and this was my first take:

I liked it, but something just wasn’t right… and so I changed up one color:  The flower print on white has been rejected for a darker maroon print fabric:

I think it’s a great change, it really balances the darker colors of the body and gives the feathers a little more depth.  I’m happy with how the pieces all fit together ~ they are not totally as planned, but it still worked out great.  They are in place tacked down with a little spray glue.  Next I will be satin stitching all the edges.  Since this is all new to me I still don’t know how long it may take ~ but so far this project is exceeding my expectations.  I’m glad I have something fun to listen to while I take this on!

Rooster Work

As you may know, I’m amidst a big sewing project right now… and I’ve just finished the background patchwork for it!!  Here are some pics over the last couple weeks of my progress:

 The pieces were fairly small and it took some time to get the grassy hills to be smooth-ish.  There are a few points that don’t match up exactly… but I’m still really happy with the results.

My work station got pretty messy… of course.

For me, cleaning up the sewing mess just means I’ve completed something up to a certain stage… and it always feels great! 

I feel like it didn’t really take that long to get this done.  And check it out with some of the rooster pattern on it:

So the next phase of this project is cutting all the fabric pieces for the rooster, and applying some interfacing to them to keep them stable while they are being appliquéd onto the background.  I’m still not exactly sure of the best way to do this next part… I figure there will be some trial and error, but I am confident I’ll get it figured out.

The NEED For Chocolate

If you’re a girl, then I would bet you like chocolate… in fact, I bet there are times of the month where a piece of chocolate can be more satisfying than anything else!

Seriously though, there are times I NEED me some chocolate regardless of my food limitations.  I look online all over for treats ~ but they usually use some sort of sugar or high-carb alternative sweetener and hardly anything sugar-free is also gluten free.  SO… I came up with a yummy treat that even I can eat!! 

Gail’s Fudge

(sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

• 6 oz Unsweetend Bakers Chocolate
• 1/2 cup Almond Butter
• 1 16 oz can of Coconut Milk
• 1 cup Coconut
• 50 drops Liquid Stevia
• 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
• 1/2 cup ground Flaxmeal (use a coffee grinder to grind flax seeds so they are fresh for use)

Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler (I use a metal bowl over pot of water) use low heat until fully melted.  After the chocolate is melted add the Almond Butter and mix until smooth.

While the chocolate is melting heat Coconut Milk and Coconut in a large pot over low heat to a simmer.

Add the chocolate/almond butter mix to the coconut mix with a whisk.  Then add the Stevia.  Put the mixture in a colander and let the oils drain (I think the coconut oils are what are released… not really sure, this recipe is a work in progress).  Then put the mixture into a bowl and add the vanilla, mix well.  Then add the flax meal and mix well again.

I squish the mixture onto wax paper over a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning I cut the fudge into protein bar sized pieces and store in tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 weeks… although it usually doesn’t last longer than a week for me 😉

I’m happy to have a treat that I can freely eat without guilt (or sickness) that also has a good amount of fiber and protein.

Background Blocks

I’m just about finished with the background blocks of my rooster piece!  Today I’m starting the bottom 6 blocks which include greens and the brown of the fencepost… then it’s onto putting them all together ~ I’m pretty excited!

Of course, I started running out of pretty yellows so I used some lighter ivory colors where the rooster is going to sit ~ that won’t be seen anyway.   The paper piecing is working out really well, takes some time… but my points are looking great!  I hope the blocks all fit together as nicely as the smaller pieces did.

I decided I’m going to wait to pick edging colors until all the patchwork and appliqué is done.  I’m thinking of using an old screen printing frame to mount this onto… still not sure how I’m going to do that…. but, I have plenty of time to think about it.  It took over a week and a half to get these few blocks done!  Of course, I don’t spend every waking hour working on this either ~ I still have to do regular work, and I have to make most of my own food.  While this may not seem like much, it takes a nice chunk out of my days, and sewing sometimes is low on the priority list.

Luckily for me, I have some free time this evening for just a sewing venture.  I hope to get the last 6 blocks created and start putting the whole thing together soon!

Going For A Walk

One of the reasons I love Portland… and my little neighborhood within, is because it’s such a great place to live with plenty of stores and beautiful parks close by.  I can walk to my bank, the library, and the grocery store very easily, and Laurelhurst & Mt. Tabor Parks are walking distance as well!

In fact, here is the plot where they are building a New Seasons Market ~ my favorite place to shop ~ and it’s about a half mile from my house where the hub of other stores are at. When the sun is shining, I like to make each errand a separate trip… if I have time that is!

Speaking of time… and time flying… whew ~ it’s the middle of April already!  We got our taxes done on time, and I would like to thank President Obama for the extra tax breaks we received for being a working family close to the poverty line.  For working people like us, who are “treading water for life”, this was a huge help!  Especially this year since we’ve had to get high-premium insurance to help cover my husbands upcoming hip replacement surgery… and we’re helping my daughter go through cosmetology school… and I found out I’m gluten intolerant last year so my dietary needs are more expensive.  Our funds are as tight as they’ve ever been… and work has been slow at times, but those tax breaks really did help us. 

Time is speeding by, and it’s been so busy around here, I haven’t had much time to sew!  I’ve been working quite a bit ~ which is very good…  but, it leaves little time for my projects.  I plan on getting back to some stitching this weekend ~ YAY!  

Zucchini Pancakes – Gluten Free

Zucchini pancakes… Think potato latkes… only without potato (starch) or flour (gluten)!  I am really happy with this recipe… it’s the first one I figured out all by myself, and it’s really good! Perfect when you just need some comfort food.

So here’s the recipe:

Gluten Free Zucchini Pancakes
3 medium zucchinis
1 tsp. sea salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup pecan flour (I use a coffee grinder to grind pecans)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (grate yourself… pre-grated cheese is usually covered in flour to keep from sticking!)
1/4 cup minced onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt

First, shred the zucchini… either with a cheese grater or with a cuisinart.  Put into a bowl with 1 tsp. of salt mix and let sit for 30 mins. 

Mix eggs in a bowl and add ground pecans, grated cheese, onion, oil, salt, and baking soda.

After zucchini has sat for 30 minutes, squish out all the water/juice.  I just take handfuls and squish it out over the sink.  It is very important that most of the juices are removed before cooking or the batter will be too soft.

Add zucchini to the batter… and now you’re ready to cook!  Fry with a little butter on Med-Low heat.  It helps if the pan is well heated before putting batter on it.  Take a forkful of batter per pancake and flatten it out in the pan and cook 4-5 mins.

Let these cook for a real 4-5 minutes per side.  They are very delicate little things, so you need to wait before flipping them over or they will be too soft and you’ll end up with a zucchini scramble instead of pancakes! 

 I serve mine with a little applesauce on the side.  I eat these almost as fast as I can make them ~ THEY’RE SO GOOD! 

I’m so thankful I can still eat nuts and hard cheeses ~ there are some people out there with much worse afflictions with regard to food allergies.  It’s something I would have never considered… until it happened to me.  Amazing how much more a person can learn over time!

It’s All About Process

I am getting ready to bust out this big sewing project.  I’m doing it for the love of process.  It’s really hard to plan something from the very beginning and follow it through to the end… at least for me.  Plus ~ I’ve never tried paper piecing or intricate appliqué before, so this is a real adventure!

My mind is slowly getting around the idea of paper piecing.  It’s a process of printing on this foundation paper, then sewing directly to the paper following the printed lines so as to keep your sewing lines neat and perfect.  After you sew your blocks, you tear out the paper and voila: accurately patchworked corners. 

Now that I have a pattern AND foundation papers in my possession I’m in business again!  It took some trial and error to get these papers to print… I was worried I’d have to trace it from paper.  Luckily my OLD printer was up to the chore.  Today I got them all cut up and tomorrow I’m ready to start some actual sewing!

I also got some brand new fabrics… and that makes me so happy.  It’s like getting a box of new crayons.  I plan on using these (and many others) for the rooster and his tail feathers:

These yellows, oranges, and greens are for the background.  I found these on Etsy: Hoosier Quilter ~ what a great place to find fun unique fabrics!

Now you know what I’ll be geeking over the next few weeks! I’m so curious as to how this is going to turn out… I’m trusting my gut for color choices and pattern piecing.  I know I may make a few mistakes… but I’m just gonna go for it!

New Project: Rooster Quilt Wall Art

Rooster Quilt Design

I am so excited to try my hand at some real appliqué work… I did my first appliqués recently, and they turned out great.  So I have a big elaborate plan to do a fabric wall art piece featuring a chicken, of course… a rooster to be exact.

I plan on quilting a background that I laid out and will paper-piece together.  Then I’m going to appliqué the rooster over the top using all sorts of colored fabrics.
Here’s my work so far:

I have it laid out in Illustrator, and if it turns out well I’ll be able to turn it into a pattern for others to use.  I don’t have the details for the head yet… don’t know if it will all be done with thread, or if I will use different fabrics.

I’ve already spent numerous hours figuring out the patchwork pattern for the background and creating the tail feathers.  I have a feeling it may take some serious time to complete, since I can’t work on it all the time.  I’ll try to post pics as I go along ~ I really hope to have it done in a couple months!

It looks pretty cool as an illustration too ~ so we may be seeing this image again… maybe as a super cool screen print!

My Dinner Tonight

Lately I’ve had to be much more careful in what I decide to put into my mouth.  Last summer I was diagnosed gluten intolerant, and I am currently trying a candida cleanse.  That means my food is even more restricted… at least until the candida cleanse is over in 2-3 months.  Basically I’m avoiding all simple carbohydrates like grains, sugars and potatoes.

Here is a basic example of my dinners.  Chicken stir-fried with carrots, broccoli, onion and oregano in olive oil.  I serve almost all meals with a salad ~ today all I had was green leaf, but usually I prefer the spring mix that you can buy prepared from the store.  A little fresh parmesan cheese grated on top gives it a little tang.  This was a very excellent dinner and I fully enjoyed it!

I buy as much organic as possible, but sometimes my wallet makes me choose differently.  I love all the Portland Farmers Markets too ~ what a great way to keep veggies exciting!

Along with the food changes, I’m also taking a slew of suppliments (prescribed by my ND) hopefully just for 2 months, but I’ll go 3 if need be.  Since I changed to a gluten free diet last summer I have had good changes in my lab tests that just came back last week…  I got rid of 4 different bacterial overgrowths in my gut, and I raised my intestinal SiGA from 11 to 37!   I still have a ways to to because normal range is 400-800 ~ but I’m happy with any progress at this point!

After 2 months I’ll be doing more lab tests to see if I made any more positive changes in my lab numbers.  I’m very hopeful ~ and excited.  After years of feeling like I was always walking through water and bruised all over… I’m really starting to have a little energy!

Welcome

Welcome to my new little blog space!

I’m excited to have a place to write about all the crazy things that are just spinning and spinning in my head.  Two things I’m most recently obsessed with are sewing, and cooking gluten free, so I have a feeling that’s what I’ll be writing most about.

I created this blog so I don’t have to deal with any business stuff… this is purely for fun.  I’m have a small business with my husband called Phantom Chicken Screen Printing.  If you are interested in getting shirts printed ~ go check out that site.  If you would like to read Gregg’s Rants, check out this link.  Now that that’s out of the way…  I can move on.

 Right now I’m heading to the kitchen to make some yummie gluten-free low carb crackers.  Want the recipe?  Here it is:

Crispy Almond Cheese Crackers (gluten free)

1 Cup Blanched Almond Flour
1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seeds (I use a coffee grinder for seeds and nuts)
1 Tbsp Dill
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tsp Sea Salt
2 Cloves of Garlic minced
6oz Cheddar Cheese grated
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Water

Mash all ingredients in a bowl with a fork.  Now you’re going to divide into little balls and pat this mixture as flat as possible on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.   Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 mins. or until golden brown.  Watch carefully as these can darken and burn quickly… but they need to be fully baked for “cracker” consistency.  After baking, cool on a rack fully.  ENJOY!