Friday, March 26, 2021

March Table Scraps Challenge - 45 Record Mug Rugs

"Put some records on and let's dance!"  That's what my 1969 Talking PJ Barbie doll said—or at least that's how I remember it.  She didn't talk for long, though, because I had the bright idea to take her in the bathtub with me.  After that she just gargled/garbled for a little bit before her "talker" broke completely.  Wah-wah.

She was groovy, though, in her mod orange and pink outfit and blonde pigtails.  I actually think I liked her better silent, where I could supply the dialog.

Now I feel like such a geezer talking about records, but records were the thing until the 1980s when CDs came along.  Now even those are passe, along with words like burn and rip (as it pertains to copying them).  

I had an extensive record collection when I was a kid/teenager/young adult.  As a kid, I spent many an allowance on buying 45s so I could hear the latest songs by favorite artists like The Beatles, The Bee Gees, various Motown groups, etc.

One day I came home from elementary school to find my toddler brother playing with my record player on the landing of the stairs.  As he finished "listening to" (aka scratching) each record, he flung it like a Frisbee against the walls of the stairwell where it shattered to pieces!  I cried inconsolably as I riffled through what was left in my records box and took stock of the damage.

As my allowance increased with each birthday (and we got a better stereo), I started buying 33 rpm LP records.  Simon & Garfunkel, Carole King, James Taylor, and so many more, all the way through the early 1980s.  Remember Columbia Record Club, anyone?  You could get 12 albums for a penny, or something like that, when you joined the club, and then they'd send you one a month at regular prices until you canceled.  I don't know how many times I joined/canceled record clubs, but that's how I amassed a lot of my collection as a young adult.

So when I saw some cute record-shaped mug rugs online recently, a wave of delight and nostalgia rushed over me and I knew I had to try making some for the next round of the Table Scraps Challenge.

Somehow, though, the month of March almost got away from me (I blame getting shingles, which I'm still currently dealing with).  But yesterday I got it together and started making the first one.  I was trying to recall cool label designs from the days of my 45s, and one that stood out in memory was the Apple label on Hey Jude/Revolution by The Beatles.  

I had a scrap of vintage apple print, a thrift store find from a few years ago.  Not perfect, but close enough to convey the idea, I think.

For the second one, I just picked a fun scrap of bright pink and orange.  I wasn't consciously thinking of my old PJ Barbie's outfit, but may have been channeling that vibe.

These are fun to make!  Kind of like potato chips, you don't want to stop at just one.  The instructions I followed are HERE.  

I posted a picture of these on my Facebook page today, and my (curious/destructive as a little kid) brother commented that they were "cool!"  I didn't have the heart to bring up the record-flinging incident that he was probably too young to remember anyhow.  He did go on to do stints as a radio disc jockey and mobile music DJ, so he learned something from the experience, I think.  How to push his sister's buttons, if nothing else!

Friday, February 26, 2021

February Table Scraps Challenge - Two Table Toppers

Oh my, how this past month has felt like a slog.  Funny how the shortest month of the year can feel so long, not to mention repetitive, a la Groundhog Day.  I tried to stay engaged, but my attention span was hit and miss.  Needless to say, not a lot got done in the sewing department.  And with a long stretch of below zero days, the thought of hanging out in the cold basement didn't have much appeal.  Instead I did some genealogy on the computer, filed and shredded a couple long-ignored piles of paperwork, and prepared and filed my income taxes (yay!).  So there was productivity of a different sort, albeit with a huge side of Netflix.

Thankfully, it's been above freezing for several days now, so we're going on Day Four of getting back into daily walks outside around the neighborhood.  Whew, it feels good to stretch my legs and feel the sun on my face again!  What does NOT feel so good is how TIGHT my pants are after a few months (okay, most of 2020) spent baking treats and indulging my chocolate cravings on a too-regular basis.  Ugh.  I literally sausaged myself into a pair of cords to go walk outside the other day, and when a Kleenex dropped out of my coat pocket, I could not bend over to pick it up!  So, obviously, the time has come to switch back into more healthy eating mode, and move my butt more, in hopes of having clothes to wear once spring finally gets here.

Can you relate?

On to the Table Scraps Challenge.  Having procrastinated until this week to make something for it, I started by looking through a plastic drawer full of vintage fabrics.  Must've had old stuff on the brain from the genealogy work.  Anyway, I started sorting the old fabrics into coordinating color piles.  One thing led to another, and I started making some string blocks inspired by a tutorial I'd seen HERE by Amy Smart.

You only need to make four 8-1/2 inch blocks for this mini, because you then cut the larger blocks to make four smaller blocks from each, or a total of 16 squares.  Then you just rearrange them to your liking and sew them together to make a mini-quilt.  Mine measured 15-1/2 inches square when done.

I backed it with a larger piece of the pink and green feed sack fabric with pineapples.  I'd found this feed sack at a thrift store a few years ago, and it still was stitched together as a sack until a few days ago when I took it apart.  There were even a few bits of some kind of grain or chaff in the inside corner of it, even though I'd washed it when I brought it home initially.  I'm guessing this particular fabric is at least 50 years old, but in excellent shape.

I did crosshatch quilting to mirror the graphics of the pineapples in that funky print.  I don't know why, but I get a Sponge Bob Square Pants vibe from this print, even though it predates the cartoon by  decades.

This mini quilt project was a good way to get my sewing mojo working again.  Easy on the brain piecing, quirky fabrics, and small enough to finish quickly for a hit of good vibes for having accomplished something.

A day or two later I repeated the process and made another one, this time working with some blue vintage fabrics, including two other feed sacks.  One with blue and purple dots, and the other with blue and green flowers. 

I also used that blue and green fabric for the back.  Swirly quilting on this one.  I tried quilting daisies on my test run, but my free-motion skills were rusty and a bit too inconsistent for flowers.  So swirls it was.  

It felt like this sweet blue 1970 Panasonic radio—the Panapet, as it was called—needed to be in the photo shoot.  I had one like this back in the day, but it's long gone.  This is one I picked up at an antique store a few years ago.  It still works!

Linking to The Joyful Quilter's Table Scraps Challenge.

Friday, January 29, 2021

January Table Scraps Challenge Table Runner

It's the last weekend in January, time to link up to the Table Scraps Runner/Topper Challenge at The Joyful Quilter.

My goal this month was to do something with the batik strips I had left over from making a quilt for my brother's wedding in October.

For Christmas, he gave us a couple of nicely framed pictures from their special day.  Here's one with all of us siblings (me in the teal).

One of my fondest memories from that day is the couple bopping down the aisle exiting to their recessional song: "I Feel Good" by James Brown.  :)

The wedding quilt I'd made used 17 or 18 different batik fat quarters.  I had taken a chance and ordered a couple different bundles from eBay, which worked out well.

The way I'd cut squares from the FQs left scrap strips that measured about two inches wide.  That's what I used for this table runner.

My inspiration was something I'd seen on Pinterest, a braided table runner from strips (link HERE).  I started laying my strips out in the way she described.  This runner was going to be as long and as wide as it could be from the strips that were available.  I didn't aim for any specific size.  When I ran out of strips, that was it; that was going to be the length of it.  

I cut some pastel solid two-inch squares for the center.  I also tried a layout with one-color (cream or off-white) squares down the center, but that seemed blah, so I went back to the pastel squares.

Their colors remind me of candy hearts, the ones with words on them like "Cute," "Love You," etc.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any process pictures.  It all went together pretty quickly.  

Once I'd used up all the strips, I trimmed the long piece into a rectangle and then sandwiched and quilted it.  I did a meander in variegated thread, but left the center squares empty and just ditch-stitched around them.  I like that it just gives them a simple pillowy look.

In the back of my mind, I was thinking this runner might work on the dining room table, but it turned out to be pretty underwhelming for that large of a surface.  So I popped it on top of the hall table to take pictures, and, surprisingly, it was the perfect size!

So there you have it, my batik scraps table runner, with centers reminiscent of candy hearts.  A sweet little treat just in time for Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday Sundry 1-17-21

Yesterday was tech day here at our house.  Nothing high end, but tech solutions nonetheless.

Unlike many people, I have not had to do a lot of video conferencing this past year.  I didn't have a job that required it (or a job, period), so there was no need from a workplace perspective.  But as the weather got colder and the pandemic dragged on, I finally hopped on the Zoom train (and Google Duo and Meet).  I am a happy introvert most of the time, but even that has its limits and I miss face time with friends and family.

I used my tablet to video chat a few times, because my main desktop PC is older and didn't come with a camera or microphone.  The tablet works so-so, but doesn't have the best sound and some of the Android apps seem to lack full functionality.

So yesterday I installed a webcam with built-in microphone (and by installed I mean plugged it into a USB port, ta-da!).  I also bought a ring light, since my PC sits in a pretty dim corner of the dining room.  I also intend to use the ring light when I'm photographing whatever's on the design wall in the basement, another not-well-lit space.  

I tested out the webcam setup today with my sister, and it seemed to work well.  It was so nice seeing her face for the first time in many months!

The rest of the afternoon yesterday was spent hooking up an indoor digital TV antenna.  Again, installing it was simple, but figuring out how to make our TV scan for channels involved a call to Samsung tech support, and then trying the antenna in different positions for the best reception.  Much to the chagrin of my husband, it ended up having to go up on the wall above the sliding door.  That then meant figuring out how to hide as much of the thing and its wires as possible, until he was more or less satisfied with the aesthetics.

Looks don't matter as much to me as will the monthly savings on our Spectrum bill when we officially cut the cord on cable TV in the next week or so.  As far as channels, I was happily surprised to pull in 27 stations with the antenna, even though we're at least 45 miles away from the nearest major market.  And with multiple streaming apps besides, we certainly won't lack for content.

* * * * *

Today was all about putting away the rest of the Christmas decorations.  Funny how it always turns out to be more of an ordeal than simply reboxing and reshelving the trinkets.  Furniture has to get moved around, floors vacuumed, surfaces dusted, etc.  Plus I reorganized "the hole," i.e. the area behind a half wall in the basement where the seasonal decor gets stored, for the second time in a year.  But that's job done for another holiday season.

* * * * *

I finished assembling another quilt top, the second one from sampler blocks made by one of Jo's Country Junction's readers (whose name I don't know, unfortunately).  This is another foster quilt that will be sent to The Joyful Quilter for quilting and donation to Lutheran World Relief.

It's similar to the other sampler quilt top (blogged HERE), but this time I used a dark espresso brown for the sashing and border, and I cut the border a little wider, as much as I could eek out of the fabric I had available.  It ended up about 63 x 77 inches.

The rich colors and varied geometric blocks make it an appealing quilt for a man or woman.

 * * * * *

This week I started (and finished) a table runner from leftover batik strips from the wedding quilt I made in October. 

The Joyful Quilter is hosting a Table Scraps Challenge, and this is my first project for that.  She'll have a link-up the last Saturday of the month, so I'll go into more detail in a separate post, but here's a peek!

* * * * *

File this one under cheap thrills:  We swung by the local Dollar Tree store recently for some essentials, and I grabbed this BB Cream (Sassy+Chic brand in Light) as I was standing in the checkout line (which extended halfway down the cosmetics aisle due to six feet apart rules).  Oh my gosh, I love it!  For a buck, and a total impulse buy, it exceeded my expectations.  Has anyone else tried this (or another BB or CC cream)?  To be honest, I wasn't even sure what a BB cream was, but I'd heard about it somewhere.  It's like a tinted moisturizer, not as heavy as foundation, but decent coverage, smooths on easily, and feels like it's hydrating your skin.  I just set it with a little Mineral Veil translucent powder by Bare Minerals and I'm good to go.  "Go where?" you ask.  Good question!  LOL

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sunday Sundry 1-3-21

Here we are in a new year.  I like to imagine it stretching out before us like a winding path.  

What will we encounter along the way?  Will it be smooth or tricky to navigate?  Likely some of each.  

We can only see so far ahead, but it isn't always clear.

I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do spend some time thinking about the past year, what I've learned and what I'm grateful for, and noting where I can do better.  

I am optimistic about 2021, and I know that it will bring more opportunities to practice presence, patience, creativity, kindness, resilience, and gratitude.

We were able to get together on Christmas with my daughter and her partner, Chris.  It was a very 2020 Christmas, and we took precautions, wearing masks and social distancing to the extent possible.  I put all three leaves in the dining room table, and the four of us sat at opposite ends during dinner.  

It was great to celebrate the holiday with them.  Even though they live less than an hour away, we hadn't seen each other in several months, when we'd been able to meet for outdoor dining in warmer weather.

Among other things, my husband surprised me on Christmas with a vintage paint-by-number for my collection.  It's really well done, and I love it!

I treated myself to some raspberry goodness.  I added these to my grocery pickup order a couple weeks ago. 

I love raspberry flavored tea and coffee, but since I drink a special low acid decaf coffee, I thought I'd give this flavoring a try.  It's perfect!  About four or five drops in a cup of coffee (or glass of iced tea) is all it takes. 

Yesterday we ventured out to a thrift store.  We've really been limiting trips to stores, and for me this was only the second time I'd been in a store since Thanksgiving.  But I wanted to find a couple t-shirts with at least 5% spandex that I could cut into strips for making the ear loops for masks.  I'd used up the versatile gray t-shirt I was cannibalizing for ear loops, and although I don't need to make any masks right now, I still get requests from friends or family from time to time, so wanted to have supplies on hand.

I found a gray and a black t-shirt, so that was mission accomplished.  I also found some nice fabric!  I was thrilled to discover this little cache of greens.  Less than $4 for over two yards' worth.  Not bad!

My husband directed my attention to a vintage Pfaff 130 sewing machine at the thrift store.  Oh, it was tempting!  I have more than enough machines in my stable already, but she was sure pretty.

(Hutch in kitchen decorated for the season)

Today feels like the holidays are well and truly over, although I've still got all the decorations up yet.  

(Orange almond cake with cranberry curd)

The rich foods have been eaten, what was left in the fridge and pantry.  

(Pecan snowballs)

I've got some organizing type projects on my mind, as well as sewing ideas.  I've joined The Joyful Quilter's Table Scraps Challenge

(Frosty trees outside my window today)

Before I go, I wanted to mention a documentary on Gordon Lightfoot that I watched on Amazon Prime a couple weeks ago.  I didn't know much about him personally until I saw it, but I remember his popular songs back in the 1970s.  I had the album Gord's Gold (greatest hits) that I played the heck out of back in my college days.  The music in this documentary took me right back to that time, and I really enjoyed learning more about the interesting career of a talented artist.  You might, too.


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