Tuesday, July 2, 2019

~ Searching for MOJO ~

  Today I'll start down a very unfamiliar path in search of my quilting mojo.  In my 30+ years of sewing and quilting this is the first time I've needed to push myself to do what I love.  It's the strangest feeling.  Everyday I read quilting blogs, quilting Instagram post and scroll through hours of quilting on Facebook but I just can't seem to find the gumption to get back in the studio.   Maybe a quick quilt finish will help build up my mojo.  Honestly I don't even have enough in me to design my own quick quilt.  Quilt math....UGG...not going to happen.  This lack of enthusiasm has spilled over into my entire life.  It's been quick and easy meals, very little housework and absolutely no yard work.  Sigh....time to put on my girl panties, stop the whining and buck up buttercup!  Baby steps, just do SOMETHING! So I did, I pulled fabric for a new easy project. 

I'll be using these fabrics and joining The Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt Along by Julie over at The Crafty Quilter.   Her tutorials are very well written and easy to follow and best of all I don't need to do any quilt math. 

The two Elm Park by Laura Ashley charms are leftovers from a Dresden project(UFO).  This line of fabric is a couple years old but if you do an online search you can still find some of it out there.  Normally I use a bright white background.  For this quilt I've chosen to use a cream print to match the background in the charm pack.  

The colors of the Essential Dots #8654 match the charms almost perfectly.  

The slight color difference in the green and aqua shouldn't be notice able.  And if it is.....back away from the quilt until it looks better!

Of course what's a quilt if I don't include a little Lakehouse Drygoods fabric from my stash.  The pattern in this quilt along calls for 2 consistent fabrics, one being the background and the other is the center of each nine patch.  This line has hints of green in a few of the fabrics in the charm pack.  So I thought a green fabric would work best as the center for my nine patches.

Now to choose which green?  I love them both.  I could use them both. The green below is one of my all time favorite prints from Lakehouse.  I have it in every color.  So dainty and cute.

Which green would you choose?

#disappearing9patchqal #quiltalong #freequiltpattern #lauraashleyfabric #showmethemoda #pamkittyplayswell #podunkpretties #quiltmojo

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

~ Not so Pretty in Podunk ~

Hello happy quilters!   It's been a long time since my last post due to some health issues.  Thank you so much to those of you who have contacted me privately with your concerns of my absence.   That little bit of love from each of you did more for me than any medicine.  I'm feeling much better and planning to get back to my normal routine.   I know some of your are curious as to what has put me out of commission for so long.  So this is fair warning for those of you who don't care(I understand), the rest of this post is for the most part whiny about my health issues over the last few weeks. 

How about we start out talking about the best thing that has happened lately, Miss Khaleesi.  She's doing well and making great progress.  About a month ago she became very aggressive towards Mr. Podunk for no apparent reason.  Thankfully he was not injured due to my cat like reflexes...LOL!   At that point we knew we needed help to help her.  So we contact our veterinarian and asked for help.  She put us in contact with a dog trainer that specializes in reactive dogs.  Reactive means they lack social skills for whatever reason.  This could be due to being a puppy, or abused and neglected.  It's a slow process of building trust and training us to stay calm and respond quickly to any issues that arise.   

Part of the training requires we make sure she plays or exercises everyday to burn off the abundance of energy.  This means walking her daily or playing fetch.  Both require me to be outside.  This hasn't been easy due to my health issues.  Just what is the issue?  At the moment Hives.  The picture below is a mild day.  I've been tracking the percentage of hive coverage on my body.  At one point it covered about 60% of my body.  The hives would appear only at night for about 2 to 3 hours, in between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.  It was mild at first, around my ankles and back of my knees.  Over a few weeks it gradually became worse, interfering with my entire life.  I wasn't sleeping and the rash was staying around for longer periods of times and it was spreading.  But lets back up a bit.   My feet and ankles started itching with no hives about a year before my mom passed.  She passed in 2017.  My feet and hands are always cold so I chalked it up to poor circulation and didn't give it much thought.

About three months ago the hives started slowly showing up an then it happened again....For the third year in a row Mastitis has set up in my right breast.  What the heck?  Mastitis is a clogged mammary duct/gland that leads to infection.   Breastfeeding moms sometimes get this not menopausal women.
The first year of my boob infection I treated it at home with all natural remedies.  But as any woman would be I was concerned there might be an underlying issue.  A quick trip to a breast specialist to calm any fears was needed.  She was impressed with my ability to treat the infection naturally.  However she prescribed (and a I took) antibiotics.  Then she wanted a mammogram, absolutely not!  I requested a breast ultra sound.   That's right, an Ultra sound is safer and better than a mammogram.  Have you ever had a mammogram come back bad?  The first thing they do is order an ultra sound.   So I bypassed the mammogram and paid out of my pocket for the ultra sound.  Let me rant here for a little bit....why don't they just do the ultra sound to begin with?  It would save the insurance company money and the hospital time.  Our insurance will pay for a mammogram first and then the ultra sound if needed.   Last year I decided to let them do the mammogram to save myself some money.  MISTAKE!  I was bruised and sore for two weeks.  I was told my breast tissue was too dense and infected to see anything.  So they did an ultra sound a few weeks later that came back okay.  The technician doing my ultra sound said I would always need an ultra sound due to the dense tissue in my breasts even when it's not infected.  So why did they order another mammogram this year?  When I refused to let them do one they marked my chart as "patient refuses mammogram".   GRRR... our medical system is broken.

Complaining about the medical system is useless.  All I can do take better care of myself and do a little research about what causes mastitis in older women.   What I found out was it could be hormones or I eat too much junk.  Surprise surprise, that maybe why I've put on 40 lbs in 10 years.    So it was time for a change of lifestyle.  Eating better and going back to exercising.  Before moving to Podunk I was very active and thin.  I rode my bike 5-10 miles a day and I walked about 5 miles a day at work.  My diet was healthier as a single gal, cooking for one is hard so I ate a lot of salads.  Mr. Podunk likes good food, big meals and tasty treats.   All the sugar and carbs has destroyed my immune system.    I've almost all the signs of a candida overgrowth.  Which is basically a yeast infection in your whole body.  Never heard of it?  Neither had I, you can find more information about it here.  Eating well and treating it with a few home remedies should take care of it in a few weeks.   One of the biggest and hardest changes has been no sugar and cream in my coffee.  Cream I can live without but sugar... NEVER!   I've tried almost all the alternative sugars out there and Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener is the best so far. Ideally I should use no sweetener, but come on, do I have to give up everything?!

I switched out my Diet Sierra Mist to Zetia.  It's a little pricey, $4 for a six pack but I only drink one a day.  This has no artificial color or flavorings.  It's carbonated, caffeine free and non GMO, sweetened with stevia.  It comes in several flavors as well as traditional soda pop flavors.

Drinks were a big change but the biggest will be BREAD, there's nothing better than homemade bread.  It's who I am, it's what I do, I am the best bread maker in the family.  How can I give up bread, pastries, and pies!  Finding healthy alternatives at the store has not been easy.  Oh they are out there but buyer beware, check the ingredients.  Most of the time if its low carb and low sugar they have added some sneaking ingredients that are carbs and sugar but are not labeled as such.  Gotta love the FDA and Lobbyist.  Since I can't trust a label I guess I'll just make my own.  After several failed attempts at bread this one is my favorite.  No gluten, wheat, or sugar and only 2 carbs each.  Wonder bread they are not and they don't hold a candle to my homemade yeast crescent rolls but they'll do in a pinch.  

My dad is also low carb so I sent a few home with him.  The rest of these will be frozen and used as treat every now and again.

So at this point I should be on the mend, right?   WRONG!  At first the diet change was great.  The hives were fading and then about 3 days into the new diet and BAM, the hives started getting worse.  It made my symptoms 10 times worse. Why?  I'm detoxing my body, internal organs included and with that comes some pretty awful side effects.  Detoxing faster than a body can absorb the toxins causes hives.  It's looking like there might be some damage to my liver, so I'll be getting some blood work done soon. 

  By this point I'm exhausted emotionally and physically.  The one thing they say will make the itching go away is my old diet of sugar and carbs.  So that's exactly what I did.  Not just a little cheat to knock the edge off the itch I went full blown PIG OUT.   White Castle sliders and frozen Jacks pizza!   Was it worth it?  NO...All hell broke loose in my body.  Not only did the rash get worse I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  My heart wasn't just beating fast and hard, it was thumping so hard it shook my chest.  I could feel it throughout my entire body.  I needed to stay calm and do everything possible to prevent my heart from exploding.  This is where all those years of being a mom came in handy.  As moms we learn to stay calm in times of great stress.  My mind drifted back to when I was in labor with my 3rd child and the hospital didn't believe I was in labor because I was so calm and not showing signs of pain.  When they finally hooked up the monitors to my belly they freaked.  I was in the last stages of labor.  You should have seen those nurses stepping and fetching.  All the while I remained calm.   45 minutes later I delivered a baby.   Anyway....this reminded me to stay calm, breathe slow and deep a few times and then cough.  Coughing can stop a heart attack, or so they say.   Maybe it was the breathing and the coughing or maybe shear luck whatever the reason I'm still alive.  I'd like to tell you I prayed but honestly the thought never even crossed my mind.  I was too busy trying to control the situation.  Right then and there I decided carbs and sugar will never be a large staple of my diet again.  

Many of you are probably thinking "why don't you just go to the doctor?'  All I can tell you is I always try to heal myself before giving into modern medicine.  Not that there's anything wrong with those who chose to use modern medicine.   Crazy?  Yep a little I suppose and if you want to get technical I have the papers to prove it!....LOL!  That's a story for another day.  

After a little more research I think this time I've found the answer(again). 
This magical powder has kept the hives at bay for 3 days!  I guess if your brave enough to drink this muddy glass of tasteless goo you deserve some relief from whatever ails you.

Now that the worst seems to be behind me I'll be headed back into studio.  After I clear away the cobwebs that can be seen when the evening sun shines into the studio.   Thanks again to all of you for checking up on me.  I'll do my best to stay in touch from now on.  


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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

~ Assembly Line Sewing ~

Most non quilting people think quilters are patient.  That couldn't be farther from the truth.  As a quilter I know just how impatient I and other quilters can be.  I mean really lets be honest.  Almost  all of us have a drawer stuffed full of UFO's or WIP.  Why does this happen?   Could it be we lack patience?  Well of course!  We can't wait to start the next project.  We will give excuses for our lack of commitment to a project.  But really it all boils down to we don't have the patience to stay with that project from start to finish without interruptions.  You can deny it if you want, but you know deep down in your heart I'm right.  To me the ultimate patient quilter owns no rotary cutter or mat.  Their sewing machines are used only when an emergency mending is needed.  They don't keep count of how many quilts they made this year.  From start to finish these quilters take their time and use only the basic of tools.  

The rest of us however use every trick, tool and tip to get us to finish line as quickly as possible due to our lack of patience and still have UFO's hidden away.  It's hard to admit, I know.  Sure you're going to kid yourself by saying things like "work smart, not hard".  But to the ultimate quilter it's not hard to use the old fashion methods.  Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with quick tips and tricks, I quilt by them everyday.  One of my favorite fast quilt making tips is assembly line sewing, speed piecing or chain piecing.  The discovery of this magical technique many years ago changed my quilting world.  I use it to make almost all my quilts.  We have become so accustomed to the tricks that we forget the newer quilters have no clue what we are talking about.  This very thing became apparent to me last week when quilting with my friend Judy.  She's fairly new to quilting but has be sewing for years.  As we quilted together and discussed many things, she brought it to my attention that she felt many quilt patterns are written with the experienced quilter in mind.  How very true.  Even I will add to my patterns "Basic quilting knowledge is required".  

With that being said I thought it would be a good idea to share my current quilt and the assembly line sewing I used to make the quilt go together super quick.  Most of the time setting up for assembly line sewing takes very little extra effort.  This quilt however took a bit more since it's scrappy.  I needed to lay out all the pieces to make sure no two fabrics touched.  How much extra time?  About an hours worth of work putting the pieces on the design boards.  (click here for design board tutorial)  Not all speed piecing requires design boards.  The blue fabrics below are an example.  In the video at the bottom of this post you will see examples of the two types of speed piecing mention, with boards and with out.

Speed piecing is a game changer once you get the rhythm down.  I'll admit it, the first few attempts at this years ago I failed miserably. The seam ripper and I became best buddies.   But like with anything, the more you do it the better you get.  My advice to anyone trying this for the first time is to take it slow and talk yourself through it so you don't need to break out the seam ripper. Making super scrappy quilts also helps because no one will now if you didn't use the fabrics as they were planned.   As long as the same two fabric don't touch it's sewn correctly!  The idea is to cut your thread as little as possible, just keep feeding the fabrics through your machine until you have no more fabric.  

There's also a technique called webbing quilt blocks where you don't cut the threads in between the pieces.   I used this method when making my Podunk Posy quilt. (all links to the Podunk Posy FREE pattern can be found here)  Cutting the threads in between isn't necessary if you are pressing the seams to the side.  This also keeps your blocks together with no fear of getting the patchwork out of order.  Not cutting threads is also a real time saver.  Not all blocks can be done this way but most can.  However if you will be pressing your seams open I don't suggest this method, it's easier to cut the threads as you go.  

#assemblylinesewing #quilttips #quiltingvideo #makersgonnamake #quiltersgonnaquilt #podunkpretties #quilting Pin It

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

~ Buzz Buzz Buzz ~

 Podunk is all a buzz with new bees.  Over the winter 2 of our hives died. Why?  Who knows.  It happens every year, at least one of our hives die.  We have one hive left that is thriving.  It's doing so well we almost can't keep up with those busy bees.  

Mr. Podunk likes to have more than one hive.  We use honey throughout the year and he also sells a little here and there.  It's a small hobby, something for him to tinker with in his spare time.  So how do you get bees?  Well you can split a hive.  Don't ask me how it's done because I'm clueless. I'm just the beekeepers wife.  Capturing swarms is another dangerous but free way of populating a hive.  Mr. Podunk has tried this a few times with no success.  So when all else fails you can buy bees.   We have a few local Beekeepers who have mastered the art of beekeeping.  They will take their hives to orchards or anywhere bees are needed for pollination. They also make money by letting newbies like us buy their overflow of bees.  Getting the bees is a simple process.  Mr. Podunk takes his bee boxes to the bee farm right before dusk.  The bee farmer removes his bee boxes from their stands and replaces them with our boxes.   Bees navigate by the sun, so when the bees come home around dark into their hive.....or so they think!  We basically kidnap them.  The opening to the hive is covered with a screen to prevent them from flying out during the ride home.  The bee filled boxes are then loaded into the back of our truck and we are headed home.

Mr. Podunk isn't taking any chances, he suits up for safety.  The chances of bees attacking at night are rare but you can never be to careful.  He has been beekeeping for 6 yrs.  With every sting from a bee his reaction to the sting gets worse.  Last year he was stung by 3 bees while performing a visual check on the hives.  His hand swelled up pretty bad.  An Epipen would be nice to have around but you know how tough guys think. " We don't need an over priced Epipen."  So I keep an eye on him (at a distance) when he messes with the hives.

 Some hives and bees are more aggressive than others.  The queen sets the tone for the hive.  If she's a grouchy gal so are her bees.  If you have an angry hive they say you can kill the queen bee, forcing the hive to make a new queen bee.  Most of the time killing the queen will calm the hive.  The hopes is the new queen will be nice and keep her worker bees calm after she takes power.  

Mr. Podunk would love for me to become a beekeeper also, but no thank you!  I keep my distance as he prepares to open the hives.

I took a quick photo of him removing the staples from the screen and then I high tailed out of there!  Taking no chances!  I don't want to be on the 11 O'clock news.

This morning the hives are showing very little activity.  Maybe they are getting used to there new home, maybe it's too early for them to be moving around. It's going to be a sunny day so they should be out and about soon.

As I turn to head back to the house, look who's keeping her distance.  Normally Khaleesi is right there with us checking the hives.  Makes me wonder if our curious little pup might have gotten stung.  That'll teach you to keep your nose out the honey jar!

With every new day she is slowly forgetting the neglect and abusive she suffered before us.  She's loving her new freedom and has become quite spoiled.  There's still many miles to travel down this road of recovery but she is making great progress.  We can't let her roam free just yet.  When outside she is on a 30 ft lead if we can't be outside with her.  When we take her for walks she has another 30 ft lead that allows her a little freedom from us but we still have control.  She also is trained on a normal short leash everyday.  But her favorite is the 100 foot lead we use when we are working outside or playing with her.  She loves her Kong tennis balls.  We have 2 of them in the house, 2 in garage and 2 in the yard.  This is like have a pacifier for a baby, you need extras, being without one isn't pleasant.  Even when we are busy Khaleesi will toss the balls around entertaining herself.  

We're working on playing fetch this week.  It's a hard concept for her to grasp. She hasn't quite got the bring it back to me thing down pat.  Most of the time we are the ones fetching the ball....who's teaching who?....LOL!  

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