Friday, November 7, 2014

Hi, my name is Carrie, and I am a Wheat Addict

Got some news from the doc today.  I was waiting for my results from my gluten and stool tests to hopefully get some answers about what is going on inside.  Much as I expected, wheat is my nemesis in this life.  The gluten test was really intense.  I never even began to think that there were so many different types of gluten out there.  Plus, I was unaware there were so many different places of the body wheat affects.  Well, much to my dismay (but not much to my surprise), I am sensitive to wheat in two different facets.  In one way, wheat in my body is like heroine.  It affects the same pleasure receptors in the brain that addictive narcotics affect.  So I eat wheat products, and they give me a high, which makes me happy.  Then I crave more wheat products....thus an endless addictive cycle.  I asked him if I did this to myself.  He said he wasn't a psychologist, but he thought that if I got a high off eating wheat products, then continued to do it because it helped me be happy, well then....  I nodded.  Got the message.  When he was explaining this to me, I was thinking in the back of my mind two things:

1. Is this weird?  Does anyone else get addicted to food?
2. This isn't so bad...maybe I can have wheat every once in a while....sign of a true addict, eh?

He assured me that there are so many people out there like me.  Food addiction is very real.  In hindsight, this completely explains my depression and anger towards taking my food away these past 2 months.  I was going through a withdrawal like a drug addict does in rehab...chemical response in the body.  Nothing I could control or avoid.  I am just thankful that folks in my family and my coworkers are still speaking to me.  I thank each and every one of you for this.  His next statement was a game changer....

My wheat sensitivity affects the myelin sheath (the cover around the nerves leading up and down the body into the brain).  This is the same area that is affected in folks that have Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  Since I am sensitive to this, if I continue a lifestyle I was living before, I am very susceptible to developing MS in my future.  I don't have MS now...but it could be likely if I continue eating wheat products.  Furthermore, if I cheat and just sneak in a cookie every once in a while, my symptoms could come back 10x worse than before and could stick around irritating my body for 2 years afterwards.

This was enough for me.  I don't want MS if I have the choice to control it. Wheat gluten free is my future.

What a relief it was to finally find out what is going on inside.  I have felt for years that my time in this life will be short.  After all, who wants to live each day in pain.  I feel valid in saying that everyday for 26 years I have been in pain and I don't want to do that for an additional number of years.  Although I am sad that I won't be able to enjoy sourdough bread (one of my favs), traditional pasta,  or my baked goods that I love to make, I am interested in learning about the world of alternative flours out there and perfecting recipes to taste like the ones that I used to enjoy.  And, even better, the light at the end of the tunnel is flickering:  I may be able to enjoy pain free days in my future.  If I proved anything in the past couple weeks,  I proved I could take a very minimal list of ingredients and make them into delicious recipes...and I can live happily without wheat (although admitting that hurts a bit).

These tests also test sensitivity for ~15 different types of gluten and some other common allergens.  What else was interesting on these tests we were reviewing, I learned I am also sensitive to: Buckwheat, Amaranth, Hemp, Quinoa, Eggs, and Corn.  Some of these I may get back in my future, but I think that corn is out as well.  At first, I wasn't really upset about the corn.  Apparently corn works like the wheat does in your gut and can cause the addiction issue to trigger in the brain.  After pondering the lack of corn in my future, I am a little bummed because corn and wheat are in EVERYTHING.  It is going to be a challenge to find products for me, but I am so grateful that I have such a short list of items to avoid.  I know a couple of folks that have severe gluten restrictions, and I am just glad that I will eventually be able to reintroduce a number of items back into my life.  And, I am also grateful to be discovering this issue these days and not thirty years ago.  There are so many gluten free products available now, that I actually have a lot of choices out there.  I am a lucky girl.

So the reintroduction process:  First of all, I am still on my diet.  I just get to slowly reintroduce items that were tested for on the sensitivity tests and I am not sensitive to eating.  That doesn't include everything.  And, I don't want to go hog wild after a 7 week cleanse and just start eating everything on the list.  However, I was advised to take one item at a time to reintroduce.  I got to pick which item to start with!  Prescription: Start with a small serving of the item, eating it slowly with some other foods and plenty of water.  If I start to feel lethargic, achy, or sick to my stomach, I have to stop, let the doc know, and go back to the repair diet to let my body heal again.  So believe me, I am listening to this advice.  And, I am looking forward to reintroducing some of the other grains so that I can experiment with those flours in my cooking and baking.

But, I know you are all curious about what I chose as my first food introduction.  Believe me, I asked for alcohol, but these next three weeks are critical to evaluate the repair work I have been doing on my gut, and alcohol is a gut irritant, so he wasn't enthusiastic about giving me my drinks back.  However, in light of my upcoming trip to Hawaii for Thanksgiving, he encouraged me to have a beautiful, expensive, glass of red wine with Thanksgiving dinner.  He wants a pic of the label too.  I told Ryan and dad about finding us a good bottle while we are on our trip for my first glass.

So what did I choose?  CHEESE!  Right after my appointment, dad and I drove over to 4th street in Berkeley to the Pasta Shop.  They have an excellent cheese counter there.  I walked unto the cheese monger behind the counter and said:

"I have been dairy free for 7 weeks and am allowed to eat my first piece of cheese today.  What would you choose and can I have some?"

She found me a beautiful French Saulnois cheese.  It hails from the Lorraine region.  Its a medium firm, nutty, silky cheese. It was a great reintroduction to the cheese world.  No tummy aches just yet...and I did refrain from eating the entire wedge of cheese.  Cheers!  We will try some more cheese on Sunday.  Then, hummmmmmmm, what's next???  Happy girl!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step....

Many of you have been so kind to ask about my diet and my back, I thought I would write about it so that it would help clear up some of your questions.  Deep it goes:

The Back Story

When I was 12, I was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis.  A spine isn't supposed to have any curve in it, so 0 degrees would be ideal...mine was 45 degrees crooked. I was recommended for immediate spine surgery to stabilize my continuously twisting spine.  So at 13, I left gymnastics, dancing, and softball for surgery at Merritt Hospital in Oakland.  What was supposed to be a routine surgery to install a rod in my back, turned into an instant nightmare as my spinal cord was pinched during surgery causing paralysis to my left leg and I wasn’t sure if I would walk again.  A week later I was in surgery again to remove the rod placed in there to take the pressure off my pinched spine.  The prescription was to lay horizontally, to allow the vertebrae to heal and the bone fusion to set, and give my leg the time it needed to gain back feeling and strengthen it.  My dad was so sweet during this time.  He made me a “fireman’s back board” so that they could lift me in and out of bed, up to the sink to wash my hair, or into the car for an afternoon escape out of the house.  He also found me a furniture mover for me to lay on so that I could scoot around the house. In fact everyone was so helpful, to come stay with me, make runs for my favorite foods, and bring me things to entertain me, but I really just craved to be normal.  As an independent person, I was having the hardest time relying on others to get around or perform daily to have any bit of freedom to get around on my own or do things for myself, I was so grateful.

Eventually, I was able to walk again, but the nightmare continued.  My spine didn't fuse in one spot, and when I finally stood up, the fusion fell and all that time spent laying flat was all for not.  In fact my spine was worse than before....65 degrees crooked.  So, a couple of months later I was put into surgery again to add rods to hold my spine straighter.  My surgeon was successful this time, but the curvature settled in at 45 degrees crooked....exactly where I was when I started this whole debacle.

Over the years after this nightmare, I felt ok.  I definitely noticed when it was about to rain, as the barometer changes really made me ache.  Cold weather was a challenge as well, as the dull ache could sometimes make facing the day a challenge.  However, my spirit wasn't dulled.  I was able to return to gymnastics as an instructor and I was able to take tumbling as a PE credit in college.  I was able to ski quite a bit too, something I learned at 16 and really loved.  But I would say that things regarding my back were manageable for a long time.

The Car Accident

In the fall of 2007, I was in a car accident.  At face value, it wasn't that bad.  My car was rear ended and as a result, I was pushed into another car and thereby crunching my car like an accordion.  I walked away, a little sore, but without a scratch and went on about my business.  I didn't really start to notice the effects until about 2 years later, but my back would constantly ache.  One by one, I had to give up skiing, dancing, gymnastics, doing my long distance breast cancer walks...pretty much all forms of exercise because of my aching back.  Consistently I started seeing spine specialists in Sacramento, as my surgeon from when I was a kid had long since retired.  They all had different opinions on what to do: One suggested that I could take up to 3600 mg of Motrin per day as a relief.  Another freaked out about this treatment and the possible damage to my liver, so he prescribed a pill to take care of the pain.  One wanted me to attend pain classes to learn about acupuncture and tai chi.  I started seeing a psychiatrist to deal with the terrible depression setting in because of being in pain all the time.  Yet another medication prescribed. Great.  This drug's side effect is to cause weight gain.

I started to put on a ton of weight.  I was so lucky to never have struggled with weight throughout my earlier years.  But in a span of a couple years, I put on 40 lbs.  I find it is completely ironic that I was prescribed a pill to combat depression that makes you getting fat and having to buy a completely new wardrobe to accommodate your ever increasing waistline isn't depressing.  This is a huge amount for a small-framed person.  And, the excess weight really took a toll on my back.  My doctor's reaction was that I needed surgery, but because of my previous surgery experience, being overweight, and being a redhead (apparently this makes you a more risky surgery candidate), he wanted me to lose 30 lbs before even entertaining the surgery.  Immediately questions were floating through my head:

  • How am I supposed to lose weight when the docs trying to help me put me on drugs that make me fat?
  • How am I supposed to lose weight when I am in too much pain to work out to lose it?
  • How am I supposed to lose weight when I am already "dieting" and cannot do anything but gain weight?
  • Why am I the only person asking these questions?
My family and friends meant well.  I really believe they felt that with a proper diet and exercise, I would be able to lose the weight. I was getting really frustrated with everyone and was feeling incredibly hopeless.

The Day that Changed Everything

Late last year, I had a group of trainees and we were all conversing over lunch one day.  They were asking me about my back.  Unfortunately, over the past couple years, I have to be rather up front about my back and tell my trainees in case I am grumpy at work.  So, I was sharing the story that I shared with you above.  Most of the time when I tell this story, people have a really hard time believing that it occurred.  I can understand that.  It is certainly a lot...much more than the average person has to deal with at the tender age of 13.  One of them asked me flat out if I had scoliosis.  I kind of looked at him funny and said yeah.  Most of the time when you say "scoliosis," folks give you a blank stare until you remind them of the bend over test from PE in junior high that most people in the US take.  But he knew exactly what scoliosis was as he explained it to me.  I asked him if he had it.  He said no, but his cousin is a chiropractor that specializes in a scoliosis treatment.  I am immediately interested....however skeptical.  I have 8 vertebrae fused together and hadn't explored chiropractic treatments because how could that be effective for a back that is fused together?  He began to tell me about this new, alternative, comprehensive, and non-invasive treatment for scoliosis. I am amazed, and hopeful that the docs would even entertain talking to me.  But the trainee said his cousin works in Japan and Singapore.  Just as my mind starts racing around trying to figure out how long I would have to take off to get seen in Japan, and maybe tour around a bit while I am there, he lets me know his cousin has colleagues in Northern California that he collaborates with.  I am stoked.  I immediately start researching this CLEAR Scoliosis treatment method to see if it is legit and if I would even be a candidate.

I find out the colleagues are in San Jose.  Not completely convenient, but doable.  I immediately type up my back story and email it to them to see if they would entertain the idea of taking me on as a patient.  I got a call back a week or so later from Dr. Mike Janzen.  The best part of the conversation is that he was completely sympathizing with my questions about how it was expected that I would lose weight if I am taking meds that make me fat.  Plus he mentioned he was concerned that if I were to do surgery that my back is so hypersensitive to pain, that the surgery wouldn't be effective.  He asked me to go get an MRI to see the damage.  With some excellent networking help from my hubby, I got my MRI and shortly after travelled to San Jose for a meeting with Dr. Mike.  I saw the images of my contorted spine and misshapen vertebrae and listened to his explanation of the non-invasive program that he uses.  He also explained that fighting pain for so long, the car accident that really woke the pain beast, and years of wear and tear in my body will need a "reset" before we start treating my back.  This brings me to today.

The long and winding road ahead

I am working with a biochemist that works along side Dr. Mike that specializes in endocrinology, neuropathy, and how pain is linked to other parts of the body.  He suffers from celiac disease himself, and has done extensive research in autoimmune disorders and their everlasting effects in the body.  I am in the midst of the reset process now.  Part of the reason I was unable to lose weight was partly the meds, but also partly because my body is holding onto fat for energy because it is in a constant "fight back" state.  I am so glad I decided to go this comprehensive route of treatment instead of opting for surgery right off the bat or taking a new medication.  I love the idea of treating from the inside out.  Mind you, it is a bit overwhelming, but I am glad that I am getting to the roots of the issues rather than treating the acute symptoms.  And, at the very least, if this treatment doesn't end up working for my back, I can learn my triggers for pain by understanding whats going on inside.

I am now treating one of my underlying issues called Leaky Gut Syndrome.  I know it has a terrible name....and it is kinda funny.  In fact,  I never heard of it before going through this process.  Leaky gut is referring to the permeable intestinal lining that has been damaged due to a number of possible contributors including:

  • autoimmune disorders
  • gluten intolerance
  • chronic pain
  • Stress and anxiety 
It turns out that I probably have an autoimmune disorder, and have had it all my life,  just not sure which one yet.  We are in the midst of treating the leaky gut...trying to get my intestinal lining to heal.  So while it heals, I need to ensure I eat foods that do not irritate the bowel.  That means no alcohol, no caffeine, no dairy, no grains, no processed food....pretty much just some veggies, some fruits, and some meat.  That is it.  I am reading more and more about it and understanding more and more about my intestinal lining than I ever cared to know.

Its been 5 1/2 weeks now on this diet and I have had only two major emotional meltdowns.  Its difficult to take food away from someone that really loves and appreciates food.  Folks around me certainly feel sorry for me but don't quite understand why I am so affected from this food loss.  I have been thinking a lot about it lately as to why I am so sad and affected from this loss.  Food is very emotionally connected for me.  I have a fantastic food memory.  I can think of dishes that I have eaten in the past and exactly how they tasted and how they made me feel.  I sometimes get a hair up my sleeve to try to recreate some sauce I have been intrigued by or some dessert that was amazing.  I am 100% in love with food, sharing food, making food for others, and trying new things.  When 2/3 of your food repertoire is removed from your reach, it can be devastating.  Everything I know about cooking has been challenged:  I cannot use the same products I have always used, I need to alter cooking methods that I know work, and I can only use a handful of ingredients to create.  It is very frustrating.  The only way I can explain it is this:  Think of the one thing that makes your world tick, then you find out that that thing is hurting you, and you voluntarily take away a huge chunk of it in the hopes that it makes you better....but it is all around you and others don't understand why or what you are doing.  It is very frustrating.

However, in the last couple weeks, coworkers and family have been so supportive of this process...asking me to blog about my experience, record down my successful recipe alterations not only for other folks to try but other patients that are going through this process, and encouraging me to keep trying new recipes to keep food interesting.  I will start posting some of them so that you can enjoy some of the tasty new discoveries.

Thanks for reading this long-winded story.  I hope this explains my sad mood these past 5 1/2 weeks. I am preparing myself for the next step which is learning which gluten sources I will not be able to reintroduce to my diet because I am sensitive to them.  Once that occurs, I am going to start learning how to make my favorite baked goods, using alternate ingredients.  I am not going to let this process get me down.  I will persevere.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcome Spring!!!!!

Hey Fellow crafters!

Been super busy wrapping up the bathroom remodel.  I just have the shower to finish.  Getting the contractor out to measure has been a bit of a challenge, but otherwise, the bathroom has turned out really well.  I feel like my guests will imagine they are on vacation while staying in our guestroom and using this fresh, new bathroom.  I know it is rather small, but I think it turned out really well.  I love the warm greens and beige in the tile...i know this goes against my conventionally bright colors, but I wanted a couple of serene rooms in the house.  And, this is definitely one of those relaxing type rooms. For amateurs, I feel like dad and I did a great tile job and I chose the right fixtures, tile, and vanity to bring the room together.  Check it out....

I have been enjoying making the aprons.  Not only do they eat up a lot of fabric, they are cute and are giving me a chance to practice following sewing instructions and practice sewing curves.  One of the gals at work saw some of my posts of aprons online and requested that I make one of my aprons for a little girl....her little granddaughter.  This was intriguing because I wanted to practice more with making clothes, and this is a great way to make small people clothes really quick.  I whipped together this cute apron pattern I purchased off the Sew Sweet Patterns website.  Thankfully, she posted the adorable little girl, proudly wearing her apron on Facebook!  Adorbs!  I love that she was so worried about making it dirty....

Of course, after I was tagged in that photo, a few more of the ladies at work approached me to make child aprons for their little ones in their lives.  Below are photos of those cute little ones plus some other aprons in action that I have made over the past year.  And to make it more fun, many of them wanted matching adult/child aprons.  This has been wonderful to eat up the fabric stash as well as be creative with pairing some fabrics with some of mom's.  It is fun making them and I plan on making a few more soon....I have many little ones in my life that need a cute apron to wear...especially when they're helping Auntie Carrie in the kitchen!

Speaking of which, I have really been enjoying some pastry assignments as of late. I have been busy making cheesecakes, poached pear tarts, cupcakes, cookies....basically been getting back to my roots as a pastry person.  All have been met with smiles and appreciation as I have made assorted desserts for a wedding, a baseball league auction, an engagement party, a shower, and the firehouse.  I conducted a very scientific experiment with the fire guys to find the best chocolate cake recipe...all prep for a wedding cake I have later this summer....I think I found it too!  Delicious and moist.....yummy.  Below are some picts of the recent goods.

I am busy getting ready for the slew of babies that are coming this spring/summer....lots of quilts and dresses to make.  I am so grateful to all those folks out there that purchase my homemade goods and give them to loved ones.  Thanks and keep requesting.  I love keeping busy.

Off to sew...and make more jam!
Happy Crafting!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Finally made some clothes!

Hey Gang!

I finally got the gumption to try making some clothing.  I thought I would start with baby clothes because they're small and take a whole lot less fabric to make in case I screw up.  I texted a good friend that made our mutual friend a baby dress that was absolutely adorable.  I wanted to know where to find the pattern.  She kindly texted me the website: Sew Sweet Patterns.  Very easy directions, simple to follow, and lots of sizes represented.....REALLY CUTE patterns.  This is the website for me as they are all easy patterns.  I immediately purchased four patterns and downloaded the instructions.  The next day, I was cutting material and sewing the dress I chose together.  It took only four hours to make the Harper Dress.  I think it turned out really cute and not too bad for a first try!

Harper Dress with Lemon Fabric
Not too bad, eh?  I think I might make a couple more of those!

Feeling confident, I tried another pattern from Sew Sweet Patterns: The Katelyn Romper.  This is the first time I made anything with pants, so I admit I was a bit intimidated.  However, I am really happy with the results.

Katelyn Romper using the English Swings line of fabric
When I posted this article on Facebook, one of my friends suggested that snaps along the pant legs would be easier for diaper changes.  I I asked hubby if he could help me modify the pattern to include these helpful snaps for busy moms. So, next time I make this, I will attempt the snaps.

Since I had a bit of time today, I used it to make a new quilt top.  This pattern I found inside the Modern Quilt Workshop book:

I was truly inspired by the cover design: The Zipper Quilt.  I loved the pretty mix of blues and greens.  Plus, it uses a lot of scrap pieces in my stash!  Here is the quilt top:

Zipper Quilt: Inspiration for a friend's new baby
Not too bad for halfway through February!  I am really proud that I have been sticking to my goals for the year.  I can't wait to start more clothes and reducing the massive scrap load that I have been accumulating.  I am really lucky as one of my trainees at work is creating forms for my quilts, jams, and cakes for me to make ordering easier....and hubby even suggested that it might be time we start tracking my inventory and building me a website!  Nice!  Progress!

Until next time.....Happy Crafting!!!!!

Friday, January 31, 2014

A little bit of food coloring goes a long way....

PI usually post on here about my sewing projects, but this event was so funny that I needed to post it so that you can laugh along with me over this mishap.

I have been toying with the idea of canning some curd to add to the jam repertoire.  I love the taste of citrus curd in my desserts and the "brit" in me loves it on toast.  I made a batch of lemon curd for a wedding I did recently and had a bunch leftover.  So, in my scientific nature, I decided to bring the batch to work and have folks taste it, and then make a new batch, can it, and open it some time later for my guinea pigs to taste again to see if it held up in quality after being canned.  It was met with rave reviews from the folks at work.  Many of them had never tasted lemon curd before, so it was such a joy watching their eyes widen and then grab additional spoons to eat out of the container.  I only had one tough critic that felt it was too sour and sweet, but everyone else really appreciated the bright, fresh taste.

Luckily, one of the ladies at work loved the taste of curd so much that she bought two jars of it from me already.  I explained the conundrum and asked her to report back on the curd quality from the jar.  I also had a few other volunteers to participate.  It is always nice to have folks around who love to try new things!

Well, today I found myself with time to experiment, so I headed off to find lemons to make curd to can.  I bought a large bag of lemons and two dozen eggs.  I got a wild hair on the way to the store and decided to try lime curd too.  I wasn't sure how many limes I needed, as they are a bit smaller than lemons, so I bought a big bag for experimenting.  I had made lime curd before in school, but it had been a while and I couldn't find the recipe we used.  So, I just decided to use the same recipe I used for the lemon, but substituting lime and increasing the number to get the proper amount of juice.  So I cooked away at my stove, starting first with the lemons, as I was certain about that recipe.  I was able to make 7 jars out of the first batch....NICE!  The second batch yielded 6 jars and a 7th that was 3/4 full.  Not bad.  I need the curd for tomorrow's dessert project, so I will use the one that didn't quite fill to the top.  Excellent!  Now I did the lime curd.  I got to the end and tasted.....AMAZING!!!!  It was so fresh and bright!  But there was just one problem.  It was the same color as the lemon curd.  I paused for a brief moment thinking how awful it would be if it stayed yellow, and not a shade of green.  But, then I thought I could just add a little food coloring to make it a light lime green shade.  No problem!

I need to remember.....a little bit of food coloring goes a long way.....

I sat and chuckled to myself for about ten minutes at the obnoxious green curd sitting on my counter.  I was half kicking myself and half laughing on how I was going to fix this.  I had run out of eggs and butter, so another batch to dilute this batch was out of the question.  Tossing it would be sinful, as it tastes too good for just throwing away.

I normally save my experimenting for pawning off stuff onto others.  I have to say that I was lucky I wasn't making it for an event today!  Oh well....

So, I leave it to you, my family and friends.  Calling all "lime aficionados!"  I double dog dare you to try the green curd.  Let me know if you are brave enough to try it!

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Scrappy Doo!

Hey Craft Buddies!

Its been a busy much so that I am surprised it is almost over.  I have been patiently awaiting the arrival of the rest of my bathroom tile, so I quilted most of the month instead.  One of my goals of 2014 is to start making scrap quilts.  Not only are they really fun, the scrap pile is starting to take over my life a little bit, so I am really needing to reduce the load.  So I am busily digging through bags of scraps to match and contrast fabrics.  It has been really rewarding to clear off the craft table, and actually see the desk top from the depleating scrap pile that has been accumulating there.

Below is one of my first scrap reduction quilt attempts:

3 inch squares arranged in "plus" signs

Up close and personal with the quilting
I loved how simple it was and it used lots of scraps.  The neat thing was that I didn't need to have 5 squares of the same fabric.  If I only had one or two squares, they could be used as fillers around the edges.  I am definitely going to remember this pattern the next time I end up with a bunch of scraps.

I also used this pattern called "Supernova" found on the Freshly Pieced blog.  This quilt was great to assemble for two reasons.  It was a great way to utilize all those leftover fruit fabric pieces that I get from making aprons.  And, I was able to contrast the fruit fabric with coordinating and contrasting solid and print colors to really bring a bright punch to each block.  I would be interested to try this again using a neutral colored background instead of my traditional white linen.  I still have lots of scraps, so maybe I will try it again against a grey or wheat colored background.

I love how bright and cheery the colors are together

I am starting to gain a little more confidence in my sewing.  In addition to my quilt gift list, I am planning to make a pillowcase dress for a little niece to be!  My sis-in-law picked the most inspiring color pallette for her pending baby girl: Navy blue, bright pink, and grey.  I am so excited to experiment with this combination.  I am planning on the dress, a crib skirt, bumpers, pillows and curtains.  Yay!  Not to mention the one (maybe two ;) ) quilts I am making for her.  This kid will be equipped!  Whoa...its already February!!!!!  I had better get moving.....

Happy Crafting!

Btw....check out Molly on her new quilt that I made her!!!  I especially love that her pants match the quilt!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

First Quilts of 2014

Well, I had to put the bathroom remodel on hold.  I wished my ordering timing for all the hardware for the bathroom was a little better so that I could've used my time more wisely this holiday for finishing the bathroom.  But, I took advantage of this gift of time and I not only tore apart my bathroom and painted it, but I reorganized the craft room with some new Ikea furniture and accessories and managed to label everything.  When I reassembled the room, it all fit, and I found myself with some additional space!  It is amazing what happens when you have the right tools for the job.  I love working at the desk I chose, as it doesn't rock when the sewing machine is running.  Now, the goal: to keep it looking like this!

My new desk and shelves from Ikea

Check out all the labels on the very "Sheldon" of me
This desk will certainly help enhance the creativity and has the potential of keeping me organized.  Here's to hoping.

Well, as I mentioned, I used my time wisely.  I made a project "to do" list of all the pending projects I need to complete in the next few months and started working towards crossing stuff off.  Most involved baby quilts for folks that I asked to make them for.  I got some interesting requests.  But my main goal is to reduce the fabric stash that I have (that keeps getting larger and larger all the time), and to resist buying new fabric.  One of my new years' goals is to empty some of the fabric bins that I have in the guest room.  That way I can go buy some new fabric to fill them!  HAHAHAHA!!!!

So, this first quilt is for a college friend that is having her first baby.  I was told shades of blue and that they are into sci-fi, but as I don't have any sci-fi fabric, I thought this modern design would suit her well.  I worked in some aqua, turquoise, and navy blue so the quilt will blend into any shade of blue bedroom.  Acutally, I have used this design before that I obtained from Elizabeth Hartman's sight, "Oh Fransson!"  and was pleased with the outcome, so I decided to try it again.

Wavy Blues

This next quilt is a design I was trying out of the book Modern Basics II by Amy Ellis.  The "stepping stones" design caught my eye, but I didn't do myself do diligence and read the directions properly.

Stepping Stones

I just plowed ahead and started making blocks instead of reading the entire instructions to ensure I had enough fabric to complete the quilt.  So I was running out of fabric as I was making the blocks, so I just substituted other fabrics to supplement the blocks.  The end product doesn't look as balanced as the one from the book, but I am happy with the outcome nonetheless.  This was a great use of a lot of green fabric I had lying around for another quilt project that I wasn't happy with, and I was able to use some of my favorite greens in my stash.  I am taking it as a learning experience to READ THE DIRECTIONS FIRST!  I ended up with enough blocks for at least three quilts, which is good because I have a lot of little boys that need quilts!
See how the mix of fabrics in each blocks works even though it doesn't "pop" like the one in the book?

Aren't those Robert Kaufman turtles adorable?  I have been waiting to use them in a quilt!

Back of the quilt
Last of all, I needed a couple of little girl quilts.  I do so much better when I can use bright colors than muted pastels, so I hope these mommies aren't too turned off by the bright colors.  I also am not always apt to use just pink and purple for girls, as I am not always apt to use blue for boys.  So I had to throw in some yellow and green just for funzies!  I made two of these: one for a family member and one for a friend from culinary school.

No pattern here...Just a dresden ruler and a whole bunch of fabric!

The quilting is improving!

A glimpse of the back
Not too bad for a quilting blitz this weekend, eh??  And, I managed to piece a couple more during this 2 week holiday, so I am well on my way to crossing items off the "to do" list.  One of my other craft goals is to work on scrappy quilts, as my scrap pile is getting a little out of control.  Maybe some of the "to do" quilts can be scrap built.  I will work on it.

Back to work tomorrow.  The crafting will slow a little, but I hope to work on my projects at least a couple days per week.  Let me know if you want to come over and sew with me!

Happy crafting!