Sunday, September 27, 2015

More Dresden Play

These Dresden plates have been what I was working on in the last couple of weeks while I wait for my quilting gloves to arrive. 

But I like them so much that I wanted to see how the reverse would look. 

Not good.

I wasn't really too excited about this result. In fact, I hated it. Hello seam ripper!

Much better. I had several leftover blades, but I think I can incorporate them into the next block.

Chances are good that none of the dresden plates will be exactly the same, so there will still be a good variety from plate to plate.

To get the rainbow blocks to work will take a lot more organization than the random ones, so I'll be putting it aside for a little while until I get a couple things off my plate. I'll need somewhere to lay them out so I will have to get the Spare 'Oom cleared of the Scattered quilt.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Skeptic's Experiments with Essential Oils

First let me say that the only reason I started experimenting with essential oils is because a couple people who I respect and whose opinions I value highly recommended them. Usually what happens when someone recommends a homeopathic remedy is that I take it with a grain of salt, remembering the family member that almost died after turning down modern medicine in favor of natural cures.

But lately I've had an interest in maintaining wellness, looking into organic food over conventional farmed produce, trying to convince myself that its not too much work to cook at home, and generally get us into some semblance of better health. My chronic headaches were really the tipping point that started me down the essential oil route. I am ready to try anything to get rid of these dumb things.

After working with essential oils for about a month and a half, I still don't believe that they are the Fountain of Eternal Youth and Wellness but am convinced that they are a valid alternative to many of their conventional counterparts.

What did I learn?


There is no magic elixir that will solve all your ailments.

If you have a medical issue, do not think that essential oils will fix you right up. I am comfortable using these in conjunction with a doctor's advice and modern medical treatment but would not rely on them to cure cancer. Maybe they can, but the science hasn't caught up with that yet and I'm not gambling my life on a maybe.

Also, unlike with over the counter medicines, your symptoms may not disappear with the first application or treatment. I've had success with using essential oils to treat my headaches but it isn't necessarily the instant fix I've come to expect with my OTC painkillers - it could take several applications over the course of a few hours.

Would I rather use an essential oil than meds? Yeah, probably.  Unless my head REALLY hurts. Then I'm still grabbing my Excedrin, because I know it works and it works in about 20 minutes. But when distilled properly, there is no toxic junk in essential oils, which makes them a better overall health choice.


Yes, it is more expensive to buy high quality essential oils but it does make a difference. I had previously picked up an inexpensive peppermint and lavender and while they smelled nice, they didn't do what I expected and I was very disappointed and ready to write off the whole thing as a crack-pot placebo belief rather than something with scientific evidence backing it up. Purchasing a high quality essential oil does matter, so if you are interested is using them, spend the extra money and do it right the first time.  I now use Young Living brand and am pretty happy with them, although I've heard that DoTerra is also a good brand to purchase.

 and do it better than Lysol or Febreeze.

This little bottle of Thieves Cleaner is my new best friend. It has oils in it that have antimicrobial properties but it is safe to use around food. That means if I spray my kitchen counters with it, I don't have to later worry about contaminating my food. Plus, it degreases better than anything else I've ever tried. My stove had never looked cleaner with the minimal effort I can put in. I'm only a couple hours of free time away from junking all my store bought cleaners - I'm still waiting to try a lemon oil/baking soda mix to replace abrasive cleansers.  Oh and on the plus side, my house smells like cloves and cinnamon when I'm done, instead of a bleachy-chemical smell.

Febreeze and other air fresheners may get the job done but I like my oils better for scents and deodorizing. You won't have to deal with all the chemicals found in commercial air fresheners or soot or fire risk from a candle. I had a candle break on me once. I left it burning too long and the glass cracked, spilling hot wax all over my fireplace. Not exactly safe. The essential oils I use to replace air fresheners have the benefit of being antimicrobial, kill airborne mold spores, and smell way better.


My house smells better, sure, but a lot of the properties of EOs seem to translate well when airborne. I really like using what my friends call an "Allergy Bomb" - lavender, peppermint, and lemon to help combat allergens and allergy attacks. (The allergy bomb can also be taken in a capsule.) I sincerely believe that diffusing this every couple of days have alleviated a lot of the severity of my husband's seasonal allergy attacks. There is still much of the fall allergy season left to get through, so time will tell.

There are also specific blends that are supposed to be good for congestion and upset stomachs and I have had at least as good of a success rate with these as traditional cold medicines and antacids. I HATE chalky Tums. Like really hate them and more often than not would rather have an upset stomach. So no more chalky nasty stuff.


They are very concentrated and can irritate the skin, produce allergic reactions, and some should not be taken internally (example: Wintergreen). Just because its natural doesn't mean it is harmless. Poison ivy is natural.

This is another one of those areas where quality matters. For example, I'd always heard that you should never take lavender internally, but Young Living Lavender Essential Oil is safe to ingest. There is a lot of documentation and several good books out there about how to use them safely.


Overall, a cautious thumbs up.

My headaches are better. Its important to note that I'm also making periodic visits to the chiropractor, so it is not possible to credit the essential oils completely. But I have had es help with pain relief, congestion, upset stomach, and stress. I think that I'm a calmer, less witchy mess since I've been using them. I'm going to look into a couple oils and blends that are supposed to help with focus and memory, because I'm easily distracted and have a hard time settling down to work on any one thing.

My husband likes the Stress-Away blend. I had him try it after a few rough days at work and he requested it in a roller ball vial so he can carry it with him.

So far, its been worth the money I've put into it and I am planning on continuing to learn about and experiment with essential oils.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rainbow Dresden Plate

Before we took off for Badon Hill I took this stack of fabric out of my stash and began to work with it. I actually scrambling last Thursday morning to get some solid crafty time in before we left. Jack was sleeping away the morning and I needed some peace and quiet relaxation time before another camping trip.

I cut out a bunch of 6.5 inch squares and about 180 3.5" Dresden plate fan blades. 

A little chain piecing on my sewing machine later and I had three inches of thread left on the bobbin and a pile of blades in need of pressing.

I was pretty proud of finishing all of my Dresden blades before the bobbin thread ran out - that is what we call a win :)

I decided to machine stitch the plates down rather than hand stitch. I like the little extra depth it gives the blocks.

I only got this far by the time I needed to drag Jack out of bed.

Most of these aren't stitched down yet but I'm really liking how its turning out. Yay for color!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sir Jack Angelfoot & Library Kittens

Yesterday Jack took his Knight's Trial for the Order of Argon Dreth, a Dagorhir Order of Knighthood. We drove out to Pennsylvania to the Battle of Badon Hill event hosted by Rome and Wargar so that he could take his trial this year. He passed the trial with flying colors and this photo was taken afterwards.

Rrucio, Trist, Laithe, Jack, and Krovax
Laithe was Jack's Knight. Trist is another squire of Laithe's and was completely amazing during the trial, making sure that Jack stayed hydrated and helped with weapon matching, in addition to helping me keep count of the number of battles Jack fought and what type of battles. I forget the exact count but there were more than a hundred and the trial took 3-4 hours followed by a 5 hour vigil in the rain.

Rrucio and Liz drove more than seven hours to support Jack and also gave me someone to hang out with while Jack was busy. Krovax is injured but showed up anyway and insisted on fighting in the trial after being awake for more than 24 hours. These guys are good people.

I'll have more photos to show soon I hope. My phone was dead all weekend but Rrucio and Liz took hundreds of photos and I'll share them when I can.

We spent about 11 hours in the car ourselves this weekend so I was able to make some progress on Library Kittens. I had hoped to finished up the orange kitten but I didn't quite make it.


Now that were are home, the car unloaded, and I have verified that we both have clean clothes to wear to work tomorrow, I think I'll spend the rest of the evening playing video games.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

September YOTA & Slow Sunday Stitching

I'm late, as usual, posting this update for YOTA but here it is. Also linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching@Kathy's Quilts

I keep finding myself getting back to Fall Fairy. I might flirt with other cross stitch projects on occasion, but this is my main squeeze ;)

Fall Fairy by Dimensions

As of 09/12/15
I plan to continue to work on this today after church and lunch. I'm creeping towards a page finish, even though I've branched out into other pages.

P.S. Drop in on YOTA and Slow Sunday Stitching and check out all the other beautiful work out there.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kaleidoscope Quilt

Last weekend we made a trip up to Frankenmuth and the Michigan Ren Fest, which apart from being fun and spawning a conversation about how Luke Evans would make the perfect Harry Dresden if we could convince the movie people to reboot as a series of movies instead of the TV show 

(a concept I was pretty geeked about but couldn't convey the excitement to my non-Dresden-fan friends sadly)

Anyway, I got sidetracked there. Apart from casting our favorite movie stars into the Characters from the Dresden novels, we talked A LOT about what projects we wanted to complete for Dagorhir and our garb kits, which of course brought up a slew of projects that I hadn't finished yet.

Which brings me to my first kaleidoscope quilt, one that was mostly pieced but never bordered or finished.

On Labor Day I took the time to start adding borders. 

I still need to add the striped border on three sides and another final round of black but I've made a very good start so far. Working on this quilt highlights a lot of the early mistakes I made quilting, and I am fairly certain it won't quite lay flat when it comes to quilting time. We will just muddle through, I still love this quilt and am anxious to finish.

There was also my dresden plate quilt. For you non-quilty people, it unfortunately has nothing to do with the Jim Butcher series but is instead a time honored classic quilt block.

This was my concept design:

This is where the project has led so far, 6.5" blocks with four petal fans in opposite corners.

I'm still considering thin borders between each colored square.

As far as garb projects in the future, I think I'd like to see this green dress with an added brown corset, either under bust or waist cincher. I'd also like to make a water bottle carrier that coordinates with my dress. 

Other projects that I want to get moving on are a couple bags to hold my essential oils and a t shirt that I was supposed to embroider eight months ago and never quite got around to doing. As you can tell, I have many ideas and little time to execute them.

Most of these ideas would make good fall/winter projects if my busy schedule will allow. Let us see where the rest of the year takes us, shall we?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Marine Corp Quilt

I had a recent question about the Marine Corp quilt that I started a couple years ago. (Denise J, I could not contact you because you are a no-reply commenter so I hope you see this.)

 This quilt is still in its barely there phases.

It was supposed to be a graduation gift for my brother when he finished basic training for the Marine Corp. Unfortunately, there were complications and he was given a medical discharge before completing his training, something which was quite devastating to him. I did ask him once if he wanted me to finish the quilt and I received a non-committal reply, which I took to mean that he didn't want it but was worried about hurting my feelings and so I stuck the quilt in a box, attempted to remove all references to it from my blog, and it has sat there for more than two years completely untouched.

It uses a block called Crossroads which involves half square triangles and strip piecing.

To make an eight inch block, you will need eight strip-pieced units and eight half square triangle units.

Strip-pieced Units: Cut strips of navy blue and gold 1.5 inches wide and stitch together. Press. Cut the strip into 2.5 inch squares and these are your strip units.

Half square triangle units: Make units that are 2.5 inches in size using your favorite method. Here is a nifty website that has several methods and tables: Blossom Heart Quilts. I like to make my HST units a little bigger than needed and trim them to the correct size.

If you would like exact measurements, here are the rotary cutting instructions generated by EQ7. The document is in PDF format.

This picture kind of shows how the units go together to make the block.

So I hope that was helpful. If needed, I can put together a more thorough tutorial after the Labor Day Holiday.

Finally, I will probably never finish this quilt, so I am going to offer it up for free to anyone interested in completing it for an American military service member. I will cover shipping to anywhere in the continental US. There should be enough fabric included (although this is not guaranteed as I purchased the materials early in my quilting hobby) to make the center of the quilt shown above. I'm going to offer Denise J first crack at it, but if she doesn't want it, I'll do a random drawing from everyone who expresses an interest.

EDIT: Denise has happily agreed to finish this quilt. Denise, please contact me directly at with your mailing address and I will get it in the mail right after Labor Day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Also linking up to MOP Monday@tweloquilting

I am still swimming away at the pebbling on the baby quilt. It's slow but beautiful. I hope to be 25% done by the end of the evening.

Also, "Scattered" is starting to come together slowly. I've been a little ADD about stitching, finding it hard to focus on one thing for too long so these things are taking a while. This one is also about 25% together.

Finally, I don't think I ever had a chance to post this finish, completed way before Ragnarok. Here I am, rocking my Akron uniform, Confessor boots, and new medic belt flag.

 It was relatively simple to make. I just took a dress pattern that fit, quartered it, and then stitched it together with enough wiggle room that I didn't need to add a zipper. To give it enough space, I added rattail loops in the side seams for lacing.

Happy Stitching!