Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Exploring Croatia!

One of my greatest passions is traveling.  I LOVE to go on adventures discovering new places (well, new to me) and learning about new cultures and experiencing new things.  This summer I went to visit several friends who were living abroad in Europe and I decided to go somewhere I've been wanting to go for a long time, Croatia.  The Dalmatian coast is beautiful and after reading several articles about it in travel publications it was high on my list!

I decided to go with REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) who do a great job at incorporating the outdoors on their trips.  Needless to say this was an ACTIVE vacation and I loved it!  The Croatia multisport trip involved hiking, kayaking and cycling.  Our two tour guides, Micha and Davor, were native Croatians and did a phenomenal job of sharing the hidden beauty of their country with us.

Here's a video of the highlights of our trip.  I got a GoPro camera just before this trip.  I'm not much a photographer (I usually just take pictures on my phone) but the indestructability of the GoPro cameras was a plus and the videos in HD are great!

FYI this was my first bike crash.  Lesson learned bike + camera = disaster!
This was my first attempt at using iMovie to create a movie, I have a lot to learn!

We started in Zagreb (the capital) and made our way through the entire country hiking, kayaking and cycling on the way, and ended in Dubrovnik.  Staying in Dubrovnik was the hiking and kayaking extension for the trip but I couldn't say no to it, how can I go all the way to Croatia and not see Dubrovnik!

Here's are some other highlights from the trip.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia's largest and oldest National Park

Kayaking down the Zrmanja River
I love my chaco sandals, I wear them everywhere!

City of Novigrad, watching the sun go down

Checking out the local market in the city of Trogir

Touring Dicoletian's Palace in the city of Spit (people still live there, how cool!)

Random piece of history, Diocletian was the only Roman emperor to retire from his position.  He had the whole of Roman Empire to chose from as a retirement location and he chose the Dalmatian Coast, I can see why!

Exploring the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzagovnia

Going for a run along the Trebizat River in Bosnia, we went canoeing down it later that day!

Getting ready for a fabulous dinner in the town of Ston, which is home to the longest stone wall in Europe

And finally, Dubrovnik!  Here's a couple of views from on top of the wall surrounding the old city, which is all pedestrian, no cars allowed!
The Adriatic Sea crashing on the walls

The main street in Old Town Dubrovnik

Exploring the Island of Lopud
You can't get lost on this island!
Look at how clear that water is!

Last meal in Croatia, the seafood was amazing!

I definitely recommend visiting Croatia especially if you're an outdoor-sy person, it's absolutely gorgeous!  Croatia recently became part of the European Union (but they don't have the Euro yet) so it's easy to travel to but the prices are probably a little more expensive, it's worth it though!

Here's a picture of our group, thanks everyone for a great trip!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hokie Update!

I've been working on my Hokie quilt feverishly between studying for finals and riding my bike.  Has anyone else had lots of snow confine there bike to their living room?  I've set up my trainer in front of the TV so I can ride with some entertainment!  But I digress.....

Here's some photos on my progress.  I some how ended up with 3 ½ inch squares for my HSTs instead of 4 ½ but it worked out just fine.

48 squares all together!

I'm glad my school has a logo that is completely linear, I don't think I could have done this with any curves!

Building all the blocks has taken a little longer then expected.  I don't need to to any precise measuring but it still takes awhile to put all those pieces together!  They're not all cut down to size but once they're big enough I put them in my finished pile!

10 blocks done, yay!
Here's my stash of blocks in progress, hopefully I'll get several more done by the end of the day!


I have decided to make the quilt a little smaller then originally planned due to time constraints (who saw that coming)!  I figured I need 17.5 blocks all together.  I've got just over a week to finish it up for the wedding, wish me luck!

Don't forget to watch the Hokies in the Sun Bowl on 31 December!  Go Hokies!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Preview + DIY template

I'm trying to get an early start for our Homemade Christmas this year.  Booger posted some great ideas and I've been searching around for some inspiration as well.  Here's my pile of gifts so far (spoiler alert for some friends and family who read our blog!)
Two quilted totes, two pencil cases, one wristlet, one Christmas tree table runner and one Oh, Canada! table runner

The Christmas tree table runner was one of first things I made, I was so excited about it!  It's made from a layer cake (10" square precut) and using a wedge template it was super easy to cut out the trees perfectly!  Here's the tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company I used.  I was too excited to get started on this easy project that I didn't want to drive a ways to get a template in a store or order it online and wait for it come in the mail so I made my own! (If you would like to buy your own template, MSCQ makes a 10" wedge, check it out here)

I used the cardboard piece on the bottom of the layer cake.  The long sides of the triangle needed to be 10 inches (it's an isosceles triangle) so it was a perfect fit!
The lines show my attempt at different sizes before settling on a 7 inch base
I played around with the length of the bottom side so I could create two triangles from one square with very little waste.  The base of my triangle ended up being 7 inches.  I pieced the triangles together, added some skinny rectangle tree trunks and background and got the cutest Christmas table runner in no time! The fabric is Kate Spain's "In From the Cold" line.

You can make it as long as you like, just add more trees!

The quilted totes are made from charm packs, very little cutting required.  Here's the tutorial I used from Missouri Star Quilt Company (I really like Jenny's quick and easy classes that use precuts!).

I learned from my Etsy shop that my pencil cases were very popular so I made some more as presents!  Here's the link to the Bag Making Basics free class on Craftsy that I used to make them.

I couldn't resist the Oh, Canada! quilt pattern Booger sent me from Etsy!  Some day I'd like to make the whole quilt but just for today I made one block as a short table runner.  The finished size is about 12" x 24" or (30.5 x 61cm for the Canadians out there!).  It's a gift for one of our relatives that live in Canada.  It was my first attempt at appliqué and I am excited at how it turned out!
This also involved crazy piecing, what fun!
That's it for now, more patterns and fabric are piled up to be made shortly!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Awesome Black Friday deals Online!

Hello Friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to remind you about some super Black Friday deals- all online so you don't even have to leave the comfort of your own home! Most of these deals are especially great for those of you who like to *make stuff*.

For craft and sewing supplies, Craftsy has yarn and fabric up to 80% off until December 2nd.

Craftsy classes are also 66% off (so $19.99 or less!) until December 2nd. Craftsy online classes never expire, and you can watch them however many times you want. You can also leave comments that the instructor or other students will answer. Their classes range from sewing to cooking to cake decorating, photography and gardening. My sister and I both improved our sewing/quilting through Craftsy classes! Below are some of my faves + classes I'd like to take.

*Sewing Studio helped me get some basic sewing skills under my belt- although you have to buy Diana Rupp's book as a "textbook".

*Amy Gibsons 2012 Block of the Month club resulted in my sister sewing her first ever quilt! This class is FREE!

*my sister also mastered improv "crazy piecing" for her Hokie quilt (see below!) with Jacquie Gehrings' Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design for Quilts class.

*I'd also love to take the class on getting candid family photos.

*I know my Mom's dying to take the class on baking the perfect croissant (now's your chance, Mom!).

There are so many more classes on crocheting, knitting, fine arts, embroidery, paper crafts, jewelry making, spinning, weaving etc! Quite a few classes are also free.

Check out Craftsy's whole class selection and fabric and yarn now and let me know what you end up getting!

For a comprehensive list of online PDF patterns on sale, check out this post from Pattern Revolution and this Black Friday scoop on patterns and fabric from Sewistry.

I'd love to hear your plan of attack for Black Friday! Happy Shopping!

**we are a proud Craftsy affiliate, so for every Craftsy purchase you make through the above links or side banner we will recieve a small commission. We love Craftsy classes and products and hope you will too!**


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Sales on Yarn, Fabric, & Classes at Craftsy!

Who likes waiting in long lines in a crowded store? Not me! If you want to get great deals on your favorite yarn and fabric, look no further. Shop online with Craftsy from the comfort of your home.

Craftsy is having a brilliant Black Friday sale on all craft supplies. Yarn is up to 80% off and fabric is up to 65% off. Check out these awesome discounts here, or click on the Craftsy banner on the right-hand sidebar.

Stay tuned- on 11/29 ALL Craftsy online classes will be 66% off- that means $19.99 or less. Check back. then for the updated sale links for classes. If you've never tried one, this sale would be a great time to try one out. They've helped with my sister's and my own sewing skills immensely. (Their classes aren't limited to sewing though!)

And now for a little sneak peek, here's something secret I've been working on. After Christmas you will get more details!

And just for fun, a picture of my little girl being a goof!

**disclosure- we are a proud Craftsy affiliate. We will earn a small commission if you purchase supplies or classes through the above links. We endorse Craftsy because we love their classes and have had a great experiencing ordering products from them. Thanks for your support!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let's Go, Hokies!

What sparked my interest most in sewing this past year was Booger's idea to make a wedding gift, namely a quilt.  I thought it was a great idea so here I am creating a quilt for a wedding present.  There were so many ideas floating around it took me awhile to decide on something but I always knew it had to be Hokie themed!  I'm making this quilt for one of my good friends who I went to school with at Virginia Tech, Go Hokies!

Here are my initial plans to make a VT symbol out of half square triangles (HSTs).  Yes, that funny looking green paper is engineer paper, I came up with this idea while working on some homework...

I don't know how I would live without engineer paper!
For my first quilt I did a Block of the Month with Craftsy but I learned that you need to be VERY precise for everything to line up.  Being a beginner sewer I went looking for ideas that didn't need as much precision and I discovered improvisational piecing.  I got some inspiration from Craftsy's Improvisational Piecing Class Jacquie Gering (affiliate link).  I adapted the crazy piecing idea and ran with it!

Here's what I came up with as a design

I gave up coloring the rest of the blocks, I was too excited to get started!
All the crazy priced blocks are supposed to be offset to look like Hokie stone, if you've ever been to Blacksburg you know what I'm talking about.

Most of the buildings on campus are made from Hokie stone, isn't it beautiful!
Moving from the design phase to execution was a tough one that required lots of cutting but the great thing about it was I didn't have to measure a thing!  Thanks to my Intrepid Twin we got most of the cutting done in no time!

Booger is an honorary Hokie, we grew up in Blacksburg
Booger had come out to visit me for the weekend in small town Missouri.  She had a long weekend for Veteran's Day Weekend and we spend most of it sewing!  It was great to have her here to help me get started on my improvisational piecing.  We worked together on the first block and here's how it came out

Looks a lot like Hokie stone, right?  1 done, many more to go....
Working on my new (used) sewing machine
I'm super excited about this quilt not only because of the awesome maroon and orange colors but also because the only measurements I need to take are of the final block size.  It's really quick to piece the blocks together and it's a great way to be creative because it CRAZY piecing!

Check back for my progress on the quilt, hopefully I'll get it finished in 1 month for the wedding!
Linking up to: WiP (work in progress) Wednesday @ Freshly Pieced Quilts!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas Inspiration- handmade gifts to sew!

So right when November began I suddenly started hearing Christmas music on a few radio ads- on the FIRST of November- when did Christmas start coming so early?! I was shocked! However, when I listen to my Christmas music on my own steam, it's okay. I visited my sister in Missouri this weekend and we went to the Missouri Star Quilt Company (SO fun! post coming soon), and we sewed, sewed and sewed while busting out the Holiday tunes! It is NEVER too early to start on Handmade Christmas gifts, so below I present some handmade holiday sewing inspiration! I'd love to hear your own ideas.

For your girlfriends:

Great sewing pattern for women!
The Seafarer Top as sewn by The Girl.Inspired, pattern from Sew Much Adoanother version here, here and a cardi version 

Pleated tote from Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol. Purse review by EmmmyLizzzy via Sew Sweetness' PursePalooza-

FREE Kennedy bag pattern on Sew Mama Sew (also from Sara of Sew Sweetness).

Cookie Plate Crumb Catcher, Tutorial @ The Crafty Quilter
Cookie Plate Crumb Catcher from the Crafty Quilter
Paper Pieced Hexi - Super Quick by CreatingAtHome
Hexagon paper pieced potholder from Creating @ Home (via Craftsy).
Bella collage Quilt from luvin the mommyhood is a great starter quilt- I've made it and it's super fast to sew up (must post about it!) 

Try Noodlehead's Open Wide Zippered Pouch

For the baby/little ones! (most can be gifts for boys too, just make 'em in boy colors!)

Toms Inspired Baby Shoes from Homemade Toast, see Craftiness is Not Optional' version here

Speedy Gonzales footless baby tights from Shaffer Sisters

Kimono Top, as sewn by Made by Me & Shared with You. FREE 6 mo- 8 year pattern from Habitual

The "Bapron" from Craftiness is Not Optional to contain all those baby messes!

To help keep them occupied in church or car rides, try some quiet book ideas from Shaffer Sisters. Made by Me & Shared with You also has many Quiet Book Templates.

Sadie Grace Nightgown from Seamingly Smitten, sizes 6 months to 8 years!

Kimono Baby Shoes FREE pattern from Homespun Threads

Jumpsuit FREE pattern from DUTCH magazine Kiind

Little Tunic from This Big Oak Tree
Floppy Tie Onesie from See Kate Sew

For the Boy (or girl! Lets not be exclusive….):
Downton Duffle Coat from Peek A Boo Patterns, I love Nutta's version

Amazing Star Wars Lego inspired paper pieced quilt from Quiet Play (so I would probably want to make this for NEXT Christmas…but it's amazing, can we agree on that??).

Lunch Money Cuff From Lemon Squeezy Home

For the Girl:

Free Baby Bumble Bag Tutorial from patternrevolution.com
Baby Bumble Bag Free pattern- cuteness!

Angry Chicken's 5 minute skirt
For anyone on your list!
Travel Toothbrush kit, also from Noodlehead
Hot Mess Casserole Carrier from Sara Lawson

Since we always need more storage, a Fabric Storage Cube from Crazy Mom Quilts

Fabric covered box from Monkey Business

Zip Circle to store those pesky earbuds-Tutorial and more comprehensive Pattern from Dog Under My Desk
I've heard GREAT things about both, it's still circulating on the interwebs after almost 2 years!

Wallet Pattern from Dixie DIY

For the MAN in your life:

guys survival kit tutorial at ellison lane
Guys Survival Kit from Ellison Lane

tutorial: workout arm band || imagine gnats
Workout iPod arm band carrier from Imagine gnats

My Own list of handmade Christmas gifts to sew is:
Mystery Item 1 for Girl A
Mystery Item 2 for Lady B
Mystery Item 3 for Girl C
Mystery Item 4 for Man D
Mystery Item 5 and 6 for Girl A and Girl C

….. I'm sorry to be so vague, but readers of my blog will be some of the recipients of my gifts- can't wait to give you an update after the gifts have been delivered! I will try to keep you updated on my progress :)