wonky windows #10.

it has become increasingly evident that my internal clock does not have a special alert for wednesday. as a result, i frequently forget to post my "wednesday windows" on wednesday. in an effort to avoid avoid false advertising, while still participating in this rather entertaining ritual, i am changing the name to wonky windows. i long ago fell in love with wonky quilts...probably because i just adore the word "wonky", so it seems apropos to get to use this term anytime i feel the need to share glimpses into my wonky (heehee) little world. so, with no further ado, the first installment of wonky windows...

THEME: reasons i might be 5.
(note: none of these pictures were taken through/via a window, but they ARE windows into my world).

i LOVE sugar. this picture was taken at school. it was the friday before my birthday, so ms. pumpky baked me cupcakes to celebrate. thanks to my unnatural obsession with sugar i have been known to out-sugar my five-year-old students. when handed a box of cupcakes, i was overjoyed to stuff my face with the sugary goodness. yummy!!!

i take a school picture EVERY year. sometimes two. one of the perks of being a teacher is the opportunity to get a complimentary school picture (probably a dubious perk, but a benefit nonetheless). although i almost always loathe these ridiculous pictures, i like things that are free, so i never fail to go in for my photo sitting. these are hands-down my least photogenic moments, but i keep going back for more. somehow on this particular day i actually managed to resemble myself. sort of. i am giving all credit to pringle for adding a little glow to my world (too bad he/she did not unquirk my eyebrows).

i dress like a kindergartner. i like to think that i look adorable and hopefully appropriate. but then five-year-olds, some of whom i do not even know, walk up to me to tell me that they love my shoes, my dress, my jacket... either this means that i am uber-stylish OR (and this is more likely) that i adorn myself in articles of clothing that appeal to small children. i mean seriously, what's wrong with a baby-doll dress, leggings, purple socks, and flowery corduroy shoes?

interested in participating in wonky windows? check out the instructions.


THE quilt.

okay folks....as i am sure you have discovered, i love love love making quilts. and now that our baby pringle is happily ensconced in my belly, it is time to start planning THE baby quilt. luckily for me, i do not have to go shopping for fabric. whaaaat?!?! thats right, you heard me. i do not have to go shopping for fabric. how is this possible you ask? because you, yes YOU will provide the fabric.

chinese characters for "wish"

i am super duper excited about this project, which i discovered almost two years ago when researching patterns for my nephew's baby quilt. this project is called a "100 good wishes quilt" and is a tradition from northern china. the  basic premise is to convince 100 friends and family to send me a swatch of fabric along with a good wish written for our baby. the one hundred pieces of fabric will be combined all together to make a single quilt and the written wishes will be combined into a scrapbook for pringle to enjoy a few years down the road. naturally, if you choose to participate, you are sending a bit of love and a good wish, hence the name of the quilt. fancy, eh?? 

the patterns for such a quilt are endless, but i want to keep it simple, so i am thinking of something like these two gorgeous good wishes quilts made by the folk(s) at original quilts.

i know you are chomping at the bit to participate. have you already thought of a scrumptious piece of fabric? is it a brand new bit that you think would be just perfect? or maybe it is from a long loved shirt that you no longer wear? no matter where or how you come upon the bit of fabric, it will be perfect. now all you need are some details and you will be ready to roll...

fabric: any color, any pattern, any age, anything goes. the fabric can be used (i.e. from an old skirt or favorite shirt), but we would prefer if it is clean. and nope, it does not have to have anything to do with babies, baby animals, baby toys, or baby colors. variety is the spice of life! 100% cotton is best, because it is easily washable, but if you don't know the content of your fabric, fear not...we are super flexible. just make sure the fabric is not super thick or chunky, because i have to be able to sew with it.

size: the fabric should be a minimum of 8" x 8". don't make yourself crazy trying to be exact, because i will be cutting the piece to fit the exact measurements needed for the quilt (the fabric will be cut down to about 4" x 4", so keep that in mind when choosing a fabric). if it makes you feel better to send a larger piece, that's perfectly fine by us.

wish: your wish can be whatever makes you happy...wishes for pringle, words of wisdom, a quote, an excerpt from your favorite poem/song, etcetera. write your wish on any paper that makes you happy (maximum size 6" x 6").  decorate your paper however you like, but remember that it is going to be put in a scrapbook, so it needs to be relatively flat. make sure to attach a bit of your fabric to your wish paper, so that pringle will be able to match up your wish to your square in the quilt.

deadline: since i need time to sew this lovely quilt, please send your fabric and wishes by march 15th.  if you need our mailing address, please send me an email at pickelswimming@gmail.com.

we are so excited about this quilt and we want to thank you for helping to create a lifelong treasure for our little bundle of joy.


what the what.

every time i visit my parents' house, i am astounded by all the craziness. not my parents. they are not crazy. well, not any crazier than me, which might not be saying much, but i do not think that any of us needs to be institutionalized. the craziness is the things that they own that are just, ummm, crazy. i have no other word. their house is a gallimaufry of paintings, gadgets, books, crafting supplies, electronics, sculptures, and gardening goodies. i am sure that many of you think that either you or your kin have some crazy nonsense, but do they have...

laser-guided scissors?

wiggly knives to cut cheese in pretty slices?

irons that stand up on their own two feet as soon as you release the handle?

a psychedelic mushroom clock that chimes the hours?

and a whole host of light-up clocks that are virtually unreadable even to the experienced viewer? some of these chime every fifteen minutes. all of them chime on the hour. the top of every hour is a cacophony of chimes.

for those interested...all the clocks were made by chrono art.


wednesday windows #9.

this week's theme: the wonderful world of our condominium building.

when i moved into our condo, i was told that condo rules prohibit pets; however, there is one lady who has medical authorization to own a dog. i did not think anything of this fact. after a few weeks i met the lady and found her to be aggressively friendly. strange combination, but i have not other description. having been accosted by her multiple times over the last five years, including her yelling at me for not joining the condo board, loudly insisting that her large, growling, and barking dog (which may have been foaming at the mouth) was perfectly harmless, and running her hand down my leg at a meeting, i have since changed my opinion. she is simply crazy. after being harassed himself, even the mister, who is much less feisty than moi, finally had to agree. the lady is cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

it just so happens that her reserved parking spot #116 is right along the path from my parking spot to the building entrance. i used to cut through her spot (between her car and the column)...you know, shave a few seconds off of the journey to my house. but then pringle joined my adventures and i have had to learn to think for two. one day i realized that crazy lady technically owns that parking spot and i am not the least bit interested in introducing pringle to that world. since that epiphany, i have avoided the spot like the plague. or tried to. but occasionally when lost in my own thoughts, i find myself wandering through the corner of her spot. do i just forget it and continue? ummm...no. because apparently i am a little wacko myself. i have actually retraced my steps, as if that erases my tread into psycho territory, and walked back around the support column. anyone who observes this probably thinks that i belong in the loony bin, but i have to protect my young!

living in miami, i am constantly surrounded by people for whom english is a second language. the resulting english can be amusing. i am not gonna lie, it took me a minute to decipher the meaning of a "computer for car key," and still, i am only assuming that my analysis is correct.

interested in participating in wednesday windows? check out the instructions.


wednesday windows #8.

another glimpse into my wacky world.

taken through my car window (this seems to be my favorite window from which to take these weekly pictures). i cheated and took this picture on tuesday, but it was too fascinating to ignore. it's not that i have never before seen fog (the town in which i grew up is blanketed in thick fog nearly every morning), it's just that i have never seen it engulf miami. i have lived here for five years and this was the first morning that i woke up to a soupy fog.

this is one of the laundry rooms in our building. not much to look at, but it has machines. fancy, eh? you don't think so? i do. today is laundry day. i hate doing laundry (yes, i have complained about this before), but every time i consider wallowing in my misery, i think of my in-laws who have to do their laundry by hand. and then i thank my lucky stars that i have machines to do it for me.

interested in participating in wednesday windows? check out the instructions.


christmas completed.

clearly christmas is over and done with, but i still want to share the goodies that i made. plus, it is never a bad time to celebrate christmas!!

first there was the much pondered gift for my nephew. final decision was to make him some owl pillows. if i may say so myself, i think they turned out absolutely darling (they are about 12"). and in case anyone was wondering, as far as my nephew is concerned, i was the hands-down winner of the auntie of the year award. i also made a mini owl as an appetizer gift for ms. pumpky.

the owls' names from left to right: zeke, zeus, and zettie.

then there was the quilt that i was working on. since it was for my brother and sister-in-law, i could not tell you about it, just in case they decided to read my blog. they were married back in june and i had dilly-dallied my way through six months trying to finish up their quilt. i figured i should finish it before the end of 2010. finally finally i got it done. what a relief. from start to finish, it was definitely the most labor-intensive quilt i have ever made, but it was worth it. i totally love it and i think they do too. unfortunately my pictures are not stupendous, but you'll just have to enjoy it despite the crap photography.

the quilt is about 5' x 6'. i forgot to take a picture after i sewed on the label. oops.

hope y'all had a merry christmas and a joyous boxing day. boxing day is the mister's birthday, so that day rates a little higher in our world than it might in yours. and of course, a happy new year to you and yours!


wonky stripes quilt pattern.

hello quilters. if you are interested in a quilt that does not require gads of painstaking measuring, cutting, and piecing, this is the quilt for you. this design works well with both planned fabrics and scraps.

how much fabric should you buy? great question, but it depends on how big you want to make your quilt. at the end, i will show you how to calculate your fabric needs if you want to do a different sized quilt. the materials list is for a quilt that has 7.5" squares and a final size about 60" x 60".

  • 1/3 yard of each of 9 fabrics for the quilt design
  • 2 yards of fabric for the quilt top border
  • 3 2/3 yards of fabric for the back
  • 1/3 yard of binding fabric
  • 64" x 64" square of batting
  • 1 spool of quilting thread

quilt top:
take each of your 9 fabrics and cut along the long side of each to make 5 or 6 wonky strips (i.e. smaller at one end). to ensure that your strips are appropriately wonky, i recommend using scissors instead of a rotary cutter. you can also do wavy lines, but these are more complex to sew. see my tutorial on sewing wavy lines.

cut wonky strips.

mix up all of the long strips. create strip sets with different fabrics. sew strips together with a 1/4" seam allowance.  make sure the strip set is at least 8" wide. press the seams open, using starch as you iron. starch is your friend!!! it not only helps to create flat seams, it also acts as sizing, so that the fabric will hold its shape when you start cutting.

mix together fabrics and sew together strip sets.

cut each strip set into five 8" squares. you should end up with 45 squares. using the clear plastic quilting rulers and a rotary cutter is the easiest way to complete this task. if you do not possess these items, then find yourself some joann's coupons and go shopping. seriously. it is possible to cut these squares without these tools, but why on earth would you want to make your life extra difficult?

cut out squares. finished square.

set aside 9 squares for the quilt back. lay 36 of the squares on a large, flat surface (i use the floor), and move them around until you are satisfied with the arrangement. for this design you should use a checkerboard-style pattern with vertical-lined squares next to horizontal-lined squares (see picture - orange squares represent vertical-lined and green squares represent horizontal-lined). sew the squares together with a 1/4" seam allowance. press the seams open. again, be generous with the starch.

arranging vertical and horizontal stripes in a checkerboard pattern.
arranging the squares of a large quilt that was made with this pattern.

lay out your border fabric. you will need to cut four 7" strips the length of the fabric (i.e. 7" x 72" strips). attach your borders either with mitered corners or butted edges...your choice. trim any excess fabric.

now for the quilt back. sew together the remaining 9 pattern squares. press the seams open (don't forget the starch!). lay out your backing fabric. cut out two pieces. 16" x 64" and 40" x 64". sew the strip of squares to the long edge of one piece of backing fabric. then attach the other piece of backing fabric to the other side of the strip of squares. press the seams open.

cutting the backing pieces.
the assembled quilt back.

since this post is focused on the quilt pattern, not on teaching you how to make a quilt, i have included links to helpful tutorials for the final steps of quilt creation.
  1. make your quilt sandwich.
  2. quilt your quilt. unless you are a die-hard traditionalist, i assume you will be using a machine to do the quilting. you can do free-motion quilting (more free-motion quilting) or straight-line quilting (which also includes stitch-in-the-ditch quilting). trim the excess fabric from the edges.
  3. attach binding (more binding and more binding).
  4. create a quilt label (i do hand-embroidered labels, but that is a tutorial for another day). and sew it onto the back of the quilt.

voila!! you have a lovely wonky stripes quilt.
a larger version of the same quilt pattern.

calculating fabric for alternate quilt sizes.
the measurements in this example are the ones i used to calculate how much fabric was needed for the 60" x 60" square quilt.

quilt top design:
most fabric is 42-44" wide, but that includes selvages, so we will assume you have a usable section at least 41" wide. we want an 8" square, which means that we need 8" + seam allowances. since we will be cutting our fabric into strips, we should add in a few inches for seam allowances. to be safe, i would purchase 12" of fabric (1/3 of a yard), which will yield 5 squares. each additional 12" piece of fabric will result in another 5 squares. our quilt calls for 44 squares, so we will need 9 different fabrics (9 fabrics x 5 squares per fabric = 45 squares, which is 1 more than we need).

determining fabric requirements for quilt top pattern.

quilt top border:
this design includes a 6" border. the quilt top is to be 60" wide, so you need to buy at least 64" of fabric (this includes extra for seam allowances). buy 2 yards of border fabric.

quilt back:
this design uses 8 squares from the quilt top sewn together to form a strip down one side of the back. the rest of the backing fabric can be whatever your heart desires, just remember that the quilt back needs to be a couple of inches larger on all sides. for this size quilt, you will need 128" (3 2/3 yards) of fabric. you will have excess, but there is no way to avoid this (unless you want to piece together your backing, in which case you can create your 64" square any way that works for you).

quilt innards:
you need quilt batting that is at least a 64" square. you can buy whatever batting you prefer - personally i prefer low loft cotton batting. my standard is warm & natural, but when it is available my favorite is a 50% cotton, 50% bamboo batting.

quilt binding: 
you will need to cut 2.5" strips and sew them together until you have enough binding to go around all four sides of the quilt. the binding will be 60" x 4 = 120", plus a little extra, so you need at least 130" of binding. your strips will be 41" long (the width of your fabric), so you just need to know how many to sew together to get the desired length. 4 strips will be about 164" long. perfect. 4 strips x 2.5" wide = 10" of fabric. to be safe, you should buy at least 12" of binding fabric.
determining fabric requirements for quilt binding.


i love lunch. actually it is probably my favorite meal of the day. i am guessing this stems from the fact that i positively adore sandwiches and lunch is the meal best suited to those happy creations. strangely, despite my love of lunch, i HATE making my lunches for work. even stranger is i hardly ever take sandwiches. i like cooking and i like eating, but the joy is sucked out when i get to the part where i have to condense some food into a traveling meal.

now that pringle is with us, i am trying to make a conscious effort to have healthy lunches. not that my previous lunches were unhealthy, there was simply no focus on ensuring a nice balance of fruits, veggies, and other nutritious goodies. i was thinking variations on rice, vegetables, and salad. bento boxes anyone? have you seen the creations some people come up with? it is nothing short of amazing....

this is some bento box art featured in an article on the woman's day website:

let us be honest..these are a little bit out of my league, but at least i could have an adorable container to go with my lovely lunch bag.  so my mumsy and i went to the asian dollar store and found not just a display, but an entire AISLE devoted to traveling meals. wow. containers of every shape and size to hold anything you could possibly want to include in your lunchbox. not to mention little delights like mini molds to shape your rice into animals. somehow i restrained myself from buying everything. i got a small assortment of goodies, so that whatever meal i am trying to make mobile, i will be well prepared.

the cutest little two-tier container. it even has a space for my utensils. i created the little elastic strap to hold the tiers together.

a totally divided container with flaps! its like a de lorean, only better.

could not resist the stackable boxes. condiments anyone? yes, i have containers for my vitamins, salad dressing, and toppings.
i have no intention of creating bento box art, but i am stocked up with a versatile collection of containers that will hopefully make lunch creation a bit less painful. this week i carted around my two-tiered beauty. top tier had salad and the bottom had the lentils and rice recipe from an article in the sunday new york times. so far so good!!! let's hope i can keep this up.

how to sew wavy lines.

it has come to my attention that more sewing tutorials are needed, so here goes nothing. today's topic is sewing together wavy lines, also known as sewing a curved seam. i put this tutorial together at the behest of mrs. nipper knapp, who jumped ship from "easy" quilts (actually no quilt is ever easy, but some are less complicated) and found herself smack in the middle of sewing a "simple" quilt. ahhh, the wonderful world of simple quilts...complicated messes wrapped up in designs that scream "i am simple, try me!!" anyhow, long story short, she needed some pointers on sewing curves, so i came up with this and am now sharing it for the world to enjoy.

step 1. cut a piece of fabric in half with wavy line. assuming you are sewing together different fabrics, layer them on top of each other, with enough overlap to accommodate your wavy line, before you cut. this way the seams will line up. if you are quilting, you can put multiple fabrics on top of each other (cut them slightly larger than your desired final piece) and switch around the colors after the cut. sew them together, and voila you are on your way to a fancy wavy-lined quilt.

step 2. flip one half so right sides are together...the seams do not match - don't panic.

step 3. make the first part of seam match and start sewing with a small seam allowance (i use 1/8"). if you use a bigger seam allowance, you will need to do a lot more snipping (see step 7) and/or trim the entire seam allowance with pinking shears, so that the seam allowance fabric can "bend" around the curves.

step 4 & 5. as you sew, keep moving the top layer so that the edges stay together. make sure the needle is in the down position any time you do any wiggling.

step 6. you should end up with a semi-ugly seam.

step 7. iron the seam (i prefer to iron the seams open), cutting little slices into the seam allowance in any hard curves where one side of the seam doesn't want to lay flat.

step 8. spray with starch and iron from the top...it should be golden.

a note about starch. starch is your friend. use it GENEROUSLY, because it not only makes things iron pretty and flat, it helps them stay the way you intended, AND it is sizing, so the fabric won't stretch and buckle when you do lots of piecing. i have never actually measured, but i wouldn't be surprised if i use a half a bottle of starch per quilt. since the question came up, i use niagara. it was what was available the first time i bought starch and it worked, so i have stuck with it. i recently found a non-aerosol version at the store and i switched to that..works like a charm.

aerosol on the left, non-aerosol on the right. both work fine...

happy wavy sewing!!!


wednesday windows #7.

did you think i forgot? nope. not this week.

i took this picture while i was driving to work. this is a lotus. i love the movie "pretty woman" so i was hoping that i was getting to see a real live lotus esprit just like the movie, but no such luck. this was a lotus elise. or something like that. can't say i would mind driving one of these around town, but i am guessing it is not worth the investment, since there is no place for pringle.

maybe it is the jewish side of me, or maybe i am just a cheap-O, but i hate paying for parking. it gets under my last nerve EVERY time. naturally pringle's doctor is at a medical center that requires every single car to pay for parking. argh! i detest this so much that i park on the street and walk the two blocks to the doctor's office. not only does this save me from the irksome fees, it also gives me a modicum of exercise.

interested in participating in wednesday windows? check out the instructions.


pringles anyone?

happy new year!!!

the first post of the new year! clearly this post should be about something thrilling and important to start the new year off with bang. i have been trying to think of something that might fit the bill, but i seem to be coming up short.

i ♥  grapefruit juice.

hmmm...i could tell you about my recent switch from apple juice to grapefruit juice. let us just say that i am obsessed. i drink a LOT of grapefruit juice (averaging a quart a day). or perhaps we could marvel over my lack of interest in sugary goods. that's right...my gigantic sweet tooth seems to have shrunk. i mean seriously, i used to be a cookie monster and now i could take them or leave them! i also developed a fondness for pringles. i always liked them, but i did not typically purchase them. and then one day i did and i went home and ate the whole can. this repeated itself a few times, before i finally lost interest.

original pringles. yummy.
but none of that is exactly "start the new year off with a bang" kind of news. perhaps instead i should tell you about the enlarged belly i am experiencing as a result of eating a ridiculous amount of pringles. or perhaps my belly is growing because it is home to pringle....the newest (and youngest) member of our family. that is right folks...the mister and i are cooking up a little bundle of joy. actually we have been cooking the little one for over four months (which explains all the weird food habits) and cannot wait until its expected arrival in june.

our little pringle at the end of november.

three cheers for lots of excitement, new adventures, and boundless joy in 2011!!!