Saturday, January 28, 2012


I spent the entire afternoon shoveling dirt out of a huge planter box that has been infiltrated by gophers. The plan is to replace the 10-year-old wire mesh at the bottom of the box and hopefully get a few more productive years out of the bed. It was HARD, and boy am I proud of myself! But it doesn't make for a very pretty picture (neither the pile of dirt or ME), so I decided to share this with you instead.

I ended up with a ton of extra hexagons while working on my hexagon quilt. These ones just didn't fit in for one reason or another, so the other day I decided to sew them together into... something. Of course it would have made more sense to work on one of the many other unfinished projects I have laying around, but whatever. I'm always most excited about the new project that pops into my head. I'm thinking of this as a sampler of sorts. It was really good practice for me in terms of sewing hexagons together, and I am planning on hand quilting it, which is what I'd like to ultimately do on my real hexagon quilt. This little thing is a much less intimidating piece to learn on.

This was my first time ever basting with clothespins - this is the bag I received from my Grandma a few years ago. I usually use straight pins and routinely jam them into my fingers while machine quilting whatever I'm working on. It's just part of my process. Somehow, though, that didn't sound as trivial when paired with hand-quilting. I'd like that experience to be as relaxing and pain-free as possible, so I braved the clothespins. I've always avoided them because it annoys me to have to close them. Basting is my least favorite part of quilting and I'd rather bleed all over my quilt than close up a few clothespins - it seems to take too long. This was easy, though, because my tiny quilt is only about 12" square. I'm thinking it would look cute under a vase of flowers or something. Of course there is no wall space to speak of on which to hang it, and maybe it is too crazy and weird for that anyways. I'll probably just tuck it away until I have a real sewing space to put it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Waste Free Lunch

Yesterday the sun came out from behind the weird misty fog that has settled on our hill and I was able to take pictures of some new products for the shop - reusable snack and sandwich bags! I'm excited about these mainly because they are something I came up with for just us, so I know they work and are sturdy and super usable. I decided to switch to reusable snack bags because I was tired of buying things that were just getting thrown away. In Moses' lunch I was using 4 bags each day, and then at least one or two for snacks or a lunch for Titus. Seemed like a huge waste of money as well as an unnecessary generation of trash. So I spent a weekend afternoon designing these and am really happy with the result. I made the snack pouches nice and roomy and with a gusseted bottom which allows them to stand on their own and stay open really easily. They close with kid-friendly velcro, which has already been very helpful since Titus still hasn't figured out how to open or close a ziplock bag.

Oh, and I did a little research on the "waste free lunch" idea that has sprung up. On the official web site there is a really cool chart comparing the cost of a regular lunch to a waste-free lunch, which includes no packaging whatsoever. They say that the average person who switches to a waste-free lunch saves $246.60 per year per person. Holy cow! I'm hoping to get us to that point eventually, but I figure switching to reusable snack and sandwich bags will save us at least half that amount, not to mention the number of plastic baggies that won't be headed straight for the dump.

The sandwich bags also have a gusseted bottom because I didn't want all our sandwich bottoms to be smashed. I've purchased a few reusable sandwich bags from the store and have been disappointed with their size - I can only fit small-bread sandwiches in them. That's fine for my kids, but Brett and I can't fit our big-bread sandwiches in there (do you know what I mean? The loaves of bread that have rectangular slices instead of tiny square slices,) and we put enough produce on there that they are pretty fat. Our sandwiches never fit into the other reusable bags I had, so I made these a tad bigger, and the gusseted bottom eliminates squishing.

I spent quite a while figuring out the lining aspect of these bags. I initially wanted to line them with something waterproof, but after lots and lots of research I was unable to find a waterproof fabric that was bpa-free, pthalate-free, AND food grade. Even the products that seemed like they wouldn't leach toxins into the food weren't approved for food packaging, so I opted for a completely natural lining: unbleached cotton muslin. This is super minimally processed fabric - no dyes or bleaches or any other chemicals, so I felt it was the healthiest option for the part that will actually be touching our food. Admittedly it is not wipeable, but in my experience it is just as easy to toss a fabric snack bag into the washing machine as it is to turn it inside out and wipe it. Most days I'm putting dry snacks in our bags, so I just shake out the crumbs and use them again the next day. But they are thick enough to hold up well to apple slices, and after those I just wash them.

SO, there you have a lot of words about the snack and sandwich bags that are now available in my shop. I'm working up a batch in all organic fabrics and hoping to add more designs soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Scrap Attack update and an experiment

Last night I finished the last of my scrap attack blocks. I made 36 5 1/2" squares and plan on joining them into nine 10 inch squares. I would have liked to make more, but I felt myself losing steam and I am running out of scraps that work for the color scheme I'm going with. I'm hoping the end result will be a nice sized throw, so I'll probably add size with the sashing. Here is my pile of scrappy squares - I just love the look of a pile of squares waiting to be turned into a quilt.

The other fun thing that happened was that I received a package of awesome teas from my cousin Jen of International Tea Moment. She receives tea samples from all over the place and was doing a destashing of her tea cupboard - it definitely pays to have a famous tea reviewer in the family! She asked me to take a picture of myself drinking some of the tea, and here it is:

Don't I look great? Yep, that's because I photoshopped off all my zits and digitally whitened my teeth, then brightened my complexion using the levels tool. I don't really look like that. Here's what I really look like:

I'm sure there is some sort of profound conclusion I could come to at this point, but I'll let you do that. I was just surprised by how EASY it was to make myself look like I had actually had a full night's sleep and didn't spend the entire morning chasing a three year old through IKEA. No wonder I always feel so bad when I look at those pretty magazine ladies - they have had the life airbrushed right off of them! Speaking of which, its back to real life for me, yellowed teeth and all (maybe I should stop drinking so much tea? haha.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monkey Wrench Quilt

I finally finished my first quilt! It is so funny to say that when I have completed dozens of quilts, but this is the very first one I ever started, and the only patchwork quilt I've ever made for myself. Being the first-ever, it certainly isn't my "style," nor is it in colors that I would choose today. It is a huge mish-mash of fabrics that were lying around 11 years ago when I took it into my head to make a quilt. If you looked at it up close you would be scandalized by how poorly the corners line up and by the obvious lack of planning that went into the whole thing. But in spite of its many imperfections, I absolutely love it.

I love how all the different fabrics remind me of various projects that I did with my mom and Grandma. There is the striped fabric that was left over from the pillow cases my Grandma made, the floral print from the dress my mom and I almost finished making together, the tiny duck print from fabric used to make me a jumper when I was a baby... even though nothing matches, it all reminds me of the history of crafting that those lovely women passed on to me. It reminds me of what a Little House on the Prairie quilt would have looked like - pieced together from precious tiny scraps of what they already had. I also love all the purple and pink in this quilt. Folded on the back of the couch, it is like a tiny oasis of femininity in the midst of all the wrestling and burping I am surrounded by.

Oh, and by the way, it is pretty hard to hide a 6-foot-3-inch guy behind a quilt on a windy day. Happily, my brother is a patient guy and stood in the freezing cold for a long time while I tried and tried to get the perfect shot. I never did, but these are good enough. And no matter how nostalgic you are about your quilt, it might not be enough to cheer up a 3 year old who has just been awoken from his nap and is unhappy about being outside in the cold. Oh well.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Growing up

Turns out I made a few bibs before Christmas and completely forgot to take pictures of them and list them in the shop. Silly me. They are there now, waiting for new homes. This astronaut one makes me smile - I love the retro feel of this Michael Miller fabric. I've been working in "the studio" (you know I'm talking about my kitchen table when I say that...) on some prototypes of new products, which is super exciting! When I started Junie None Designs I was in the baby phase of life, what was wonderful and necessitated lots of bibs and little blankets and things like that, which is why I was so drawn to making and selling them. Now I am easing into more of a "big boy" phase of life, and am hoping to start selling some things that are useful for what we are doing these days. Of course I won't stop making quilts and bibs - just hoping to add some new stuff to the mix. I'll keep you updated. And now I'm off to take my nap - a luxury that I reserve for
Sunday afternoons.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Scrap Attack Quilt

Have you seen that Rachel is hosting a Scrap Attack Quilt Along? I tried to resist it, but then I saw this tutorial on how to piece your super tiny fabric scraps, and my last shreds of self control were destroyed. I have a huge overflowing drawer of teeny tiny scraps that I don't have the heart to get rid of, and a quilt is just where they need to go.

Happily, I just finished up one of the other quilts I've been working on (pictures coming soon), which freed up a little space in my sewing cabinet and brain to add this new project. I sorted through all the scraps trying to pull out things that wouldn't result in anything too riotous. I'm thinking blues and purples with pink and grey, give or take a bit. Thankfully, Rachel talked about the importance of incorporating solids into the mix, which has been a huge help. I usually ignore the ever growing pile of solids in the scrap bin, but they definitely help ground things when working with so many different colors and patterns.

Well, these blocks are super addicting! I love making them and they are fast. The lack of planning and cutting definitely appeal to the rebellious part of me that always wants to measure everything and make it symmetrical and perfect. Speaking of which, I am still trying to decide whether I will use sashing or just sew all the blocks together into a huge happy mess. I'm supposed to be finished with the quilt by the end of March and think that's a realistic goal. I'm envisioning backing it with something different, like Anna Maria Horner's velveteen and not using any batting to give it some more drape. Happy Friday everybody!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January on the farm

What a lovely weekend this has been. Crisp outside, cozy inside, lots of projects to work on, plenty of sunshine to run around in...

Things outside are finally settling down into a pre-winter type of rest. We had to scrape ice off our windshields for the first time the other morning, and the piles we crash through on our way back inside are of old leaves rather than new.

The boys discovered "The Dirt Pile" yesterday and spent hours playing in it. I don't have a picture of The Dirt Pile, but it is so big that it is its own landmark, just like the barn or the chicken coop. Concerned because I hadn't heard the kids making much noise, I walked outside to check on them. Brett assured me "Oh, they're playing on The Dirt Pile," and I was immediately relieved. (Of course, after that I had to wonder what that says about me - being relieved that your kids are playing in and on a gigantic pile of dirt is probably not a normal response.) But The Pile is in the middle of a plowed field - no critters or ticks or nails or anything else dangerous to worry about. Just beautiful healthy dirt. They were so sweet playing together down there that I didn't want to get too close in fear of breaking the spell. As I snuck up on them with my camera, Moses saw me, and with a huge grin said "Mom, look at all these dinosaur bones we found!!!" while indicating the stack they had made of dirt clods. Man, my heart about burst with joy and thankfulness right there on the driveway. What a great life those boys have.

And when they came in it was hot baths and cozy sweats, a dinner of left-overs and a few games of Connect Four. Simple, unplugged, healthy. I love it. Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend as well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Late New Year's Ponderings

Just before Christmas I had a health scare. The kind of health scare that can cause your imagination to take you to all sorts of scary places. And while I had a wonderful vacation and great Christmas, the whole time was underscored by anxiety - waiting for the appointment with the specialist, waiting for the test results, waiting... and while I was doing all that waiting, I found it hard to plan for the new year. I know most people roll their eyes when they hear the term "New Year's Resolution," but I have always liked making plans for a fresh new year, hoping to do a better job at life. But this year I felt more like I was bracing myself for whatever might be ahead, unable to think beyond the test results, and certainly not able to make grand plans for bettering myself.

Well, yesterday I met with the specialist, got the test results, and all of the BAD possibilities were scratched out. Just like that I was in the clear - the new year became a happy reality. But rather than skipping right by what was a very scary and uncomfortable two weeks, I've been taking time to look back rather than forward. First of all, I am so grateful to God that I am healthy. Yes, I have a few minor health issues, but I am not gravely ill, and I am incredibly thankful. Secondly, I am thankful that God draws near to us when we draw near to Him - he promises to do that in the Bible, and I have seen it to be very very true in the last few weeks. That peace that "passes understanding?" - yep, it's for real.

So yes, I have made some plans for the new year, but they are less about what I want and more about what I already have. My marriage. My family. My level of stress and how it affects my kids. Huge things like that which are thrown into the spotlight when you have a scare that puts everything into perspective. I am thankful for those scary two weeks, thankful for a new year, and looking forward to what God has in store for me.