Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Goals

So we all do this... hey its the new year!  Every year I make all kinds of grandiose resolutions that I rarely keep. All sorts of things from exercising more to eating healthier to keeping up with the laundry (and there are only two of us, so laundry shouldn't be that big of a deal, but it is.) It gets to the point where you wonder, why should I bother making resolutions? I never keep them. After the initial bang of excitement and bright lights, they go up in smoke. Like fireworks. Pretty while they last, right?

But lets take a step back and analyze that.  EVERY YEAR I make new resolutions. Every single year. Usually mental ones. "I'd really like to learn this." or "I want to weight lift." or "I plan to cook at home more often." But I make them EVERY YEAR. What does that tell you? That there are tons of things I WANT to do and I WORK on (if only on the short term). How is this possibly a bad thing? Working towards continual improvement in my personal, academic, and social life. So what if they fizzle? At least I'm trying.

Supposedly, in response to a reporter's question, Thomas Edison said this:

"I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."

Well, I have succeeded in proving that several methods of organizing my home and finances do not work.  Last year I created a "Master Plan" notebook based off a blog I found, with printable sheets from that blog. That is all well and good, but I don't want to have to re-handwrite my chore chart every single week without failure. I don't want to hand write everything. Some stuff is okay. But if I'm in a hurry, my handwriting is generally illegible. The problem? PDFs can't be edited unless you have a special program. 

The solution: A free online PDF editor. I downloaded organization sheets I thought might work for me from LifeYourWay and started uploading them to PDFescape. This lets me make basic changes to the PDF without starting from scratch to design my own to-do list or hand-writing everything. 

I know I sound like a bad infomercial right now, but with all the chaos of buying a house and moving this year, there are things I'm not doing (like I forget about one bill per month. oops.) Editing these to-do lists online will hopefully allow me more organization because next month I just have to open last month's and make a few minor changes. (Hint: I haven't found a "Save As" feature, so if you need a duplicate format for a different task, you'll have to upload it again under a different file name.)

The other change I'm making this year is to make my goals more specific, with deadlines, task lisks, and measurable accomplishments. A study at Dominican University proved that people who write down goals generally accomplish more than those that do not. Make a list, check it twice, cross off the ones you've completed and ADD MORE! Don't stop when you reach the end of your goals. There's always more interesting things to do! This also means that you don't have to have everything planned out by January 1. It is an ongoing process.

One of the things I did succeed over the last year is reading the Bible more. I have YouVersion on my phone. Every morning I try to get to work a little early, sit in my car, and read a couple chapters from the selected Bible Reading Plan. The app tracked my progress. I got through most of the New Testament in a year and every day that I opened it there was a little green progress bar that said "Hey, you're doing great, only x more to go!" Did I finish it? Nope. Did I read significantly more than the year before? Yep. So did I fail because I didn't complete the goal or did I win because I made progress?

I'm calling it a win. 

Friday, December 28, 2012


By Kaelyn Angelfoot

This has without a doubt been the most frustrating crafty day I've had in a long time. I found this amazing paper piecing pattern for a quilt and I'm trying to convert it into a computerized version to make it easy to print. I have so far spent approximately four hours on this (and now I'm thinking it would have been easier to do by hand, but my stubborn streak kicked in) and I need to start over and tackle the project from a different angle.

Here is the quilt I want to make, with a link to the designer's blog.
Each "block" is unique in design, so I can't isolate a few repeats and just make those. This quilt is really one large quilt block (3ft sq) and is completely brilliant in design. So I uploaded the complete pattern (found here) to EQ7 and proceeded to trace every single line and attempt to print a paper piecing pattern as a single block.

I don't really need to get into all the problems I had with it. Needless to say (but I'm going to say anyway) it was a nightmare and I finally admitted defeat (four tedious hours later.) I am going to take each of the subblocks the designer indicated and create a individual quilt block. This means... 62 separate quilt blocks. And this has just turned into a long term project. Wheeeeeee!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Still in Over My Head

By Kaelyn Angelfoot

You know, like that song... "I'm in over my head, stuck in the red, something she said, it makes me think that I'm in over my head, over my head, over my head!"

Almost completed the tabard for my nephew but the bias tape I was putting on the collar is messed up. So now I have to tear it all off and get new bias tape. It is very frustrating to think you are done with a project and then have it backfire.

 So I moved on to something much less frustrating. And I made a lot of progress. I completed the piecing on my tree skirt (yes, I know, its already after Christmas.) Then I layered the sandwich and completed basic stitch in the ditch quilting along the radial spokes. I really like the way the quilting makes the tree-skirt look puffy and 3D
 Lastly, I created some bias tape from one of the fabrics in the skirt and started sewing it on! It is almost done.  
So nothing too exciting but I'm making progress. I've had a couple lazy days, but I'm enjoying them. No work until January 2!

Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm in Over My Head

By Kaelyn Angelfoot

We don't have a tree skirt for our Christmas tree, so I decided to make one. I was really interested in making a spiral bargello tree skirt, but I have limited time and resources. (Christmas is tomorrow!).
Here is a picture of the tree skirt I eventually want to make. See the link below if you are interested.
 So in the meantime, I'm throwing together a quick tree skirt from material already on hand.
Its about half done with the piecing, but I will still need to quilt and bind it when the piecing is complete.Its a very small tree skirt, it will be about 30 inches across when completes. That's okay this time since our Christmas tree is relatively small and it will cover everything it needs to. When I make the Bargello skirt, I will want it to be much larger.

Tree skirt in progress

I also decided I wanted to make one of my nephews some medieval garb for Christmas. 

I need to have it done by Wednesday night because it gets on a plane on Thursday morning.  That is in addition to two other projects I would like to have done by tomorrow but that I won't mention here in case the intended recipients happen to glance at my latest article.

I also made a great dollar store find: little canvas drawers. They work great for storing fat quarters and patterns and I'm sure I'll find other uses as I continue to organize. In the meantime, I love my fabric closet!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


By Kaelyn Angelfoot

I was bit by a Christmas bug yesterday after reading an article on inexpensive Christmas decorating. I've never done much decorating except for the usual tree and maybe some lights in the window, but I decided to give it a shot. Off to Salvation Army I went.

I focused on red and gold items. Our family room is rustic, with a wood burning stove and dark paneling. I found several great items and augmented them with some flowers from the dollar store and a lit garland.

The garland didn't stay where I originally had it due to issues with the hooks but I think I like it better behind the decorations. It really seems to pull the whole thing together, whereas before the decorations looked a little lost on my huge fireplace mantle. 

What I really need is a large picture or something to hang on the wall over the mantle. A project for another day!

Monday, December 3, 2012

So I Guess Black Friday Isn't All Bad....

By Kaelyn Angelfoot

Jack and I spent the last three days outside in the cold patching our driveway (buku points to Cynar for dropping in to help!). Its days like those that make me turn to Jack and say "Sooooo... still sure you don't want to move to Miami?"

Let me just start by saying, finally, a Black Friday Sale I can get excited about. I hate the idea of standing out in the cold for three days and then dealing with the crowds and getting mugged to buy Christmas presents the day after Thanksgiving. I prefer a nice quiet vacation weekend.
But...JoAnn's ran the world's best sale last weekend with fleece on sale for $3 a yard. Boom! I was there first thing Saturday morning (surprisingly, no crowds). Look what I got for less than $25.

I feel like I just won the lottery. That there is enough fleece to make about thirteen blankets of various sizes! Hello Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews.

I'm basing my blankets on this picture, from Project Linus:
And I already have two of them cut out. What I did was fold the paired fabrics in half and lay them on top of each other. I trimmed as necessary to make all side even and straight. From both the top and the bottom, I cut through all four layers using my rotary blade a strip nine inches wide. From this strip on the side with the raw edges, I cut off a nine inch square. Finally, on the large piece I cut another nine inch strip off the side with the raw edges. Do not ever cut the folded side. This left me with two blankets worth of fleece, the second being the inverse of the first.

Now I have to cut out three more sets and crochet them all together. Oh, and I only have two weeks for this whole thing.

 I've completed two blankets for Project Linus, the zebra striped one and one small monster baby sized blanket. 

The blue zebra blanket was practice. My crochet skills are rusty and minimal. This ended up being three rounds: 1) foundation single crochet, 2) single crochet, 3) double crochet, chain one, in every other stitch. It gave it a very nice crinkly look, I think in part because I used a larger crochet hook.