May 27, 2015

Psalm 19 Mini - Finished!

I finally finished my second Psalm 19 mini quilt!
I made this for Gail, who blogs at Notion Nanny, as a Craft it Forward gift. My first Psalm 19 Mini Quilt is available in my Etsy shop.

I did very simple quilting in the center since I wanted the embroidery to be the focus. I stitched in the ditch and outlined each flower, then echo quilted once around each flower.
The rest of the quilting shows up much better on the back. Loops in the inner border and wishbones in the black border were quick to stitch, and I'm really pleased with how it looks with the red strips of fabric I used to stretch the backing fabric I had on hand. A couple of hanging triangles in the corners and it was finally finished!
This is my second finish for this quarter of the Finish-a-Long (the first was Renee's quilt). Hmmm, only two of five...I guess I better get sewing!

May 25, 2015

Just a Little Bit

Devotion for the Week...

I love spending time in the kitchen. I enjoy chopping things, mixing, tasting and creating something yummy. I love when people walk into the house and say, "Mmmm, smells good in here. What did you make?" Whether it's spaghetti sauce, brownies or peanut butter blondies, I like making food to share.

I do most of my baking from scratch, stirring flour, sugar, cocoa and more together to create the chocolate cake I've made so many times I don't need the recipe anymore. I've given up on making a single batch of muffins because 12 just doesn't stretch very far when you're feeding a family of 5 and we all love muffins.

I love making breads too. I don't make our regular everyday bread because...well, we're a family of 5 and we love bread too! I don't even want to think about how many loaves I'd have to make to keep up with the demand. I do make the bread we use for garlic bread, though. I make our pizza dough from scratch every week and I make challah bread (which is delicious as toast).

Have you ever noticed that Jesus used regular, everyday examples of things when He taught? He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough" (Matthew 13:33). A woman making bread. Every person listening to Him would have either made bread themselves or they'd have been around a woman making it. It's easy to see, isn't it? I do confess I have trouble imagining needing sixty pounds of flour at one time, though! It wouldn't have taken nearly as much yeast, of course. My pizza dough recipe calls for about 2 1/2 cups of flour, but only 1 tablespoon of yeast. Yeast is quite amazing, when you stop to think about it. Such a tiny amount, and yet it makes the whole batch of bread dough rise so beautifully.

How is the kingdom of heaven like yeast? First of all, let me say that the kingdom of heaven is, right now, within the hearts of believers. We who have the Holy Spirit living within us, who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are the kingdom of heaven. Being compared to yeast makes me think of the influence yeast has on the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. It's only a little bit of yeast, but it is enough, and it makes the whole batch rise. Without the working of the yeast, the bread would be hard, dense and not at all something we would want to eat.

As Christians, our influence should work like yeast, lifting and raising the society around us to look more like the God we serve. We influence the people we are around each day, the ones who see how we handle different situations, what sort of language we choose to use and how we talk about other people. Are we, by our Christ-like behavior, being a positive influence on those around us? Though believers may be outnumbered, we, like yeast, can change our society for the better if we truly follow Jesus' teaching to the best of our ability.

Unfortunately, there are some Christians who feel the need to badmouth anyone who doesn't agree with them, or who doesn't follow the same set of rules they follow. Some of those Christians are so loud and disagreeable that they have given all Christians a bad reputation for being judgmental, narrow-minded and arrogant. That's not at all the influence Jesus wants His followers to have.

Jesus compared that sort of religious people to yeast too, but that comparison had a different tone. "Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16:6). The Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of Jesus' day, were very strict. There was only one right way to do things and it was their way. Their way had no compassion for people, no grace, no kindness. Jesus' harshest words were directed at these people who should have been closest to God, who should have been the first to recognize Jesus when He came, but who were actually the farthest from God because of their self-reliance.

Just as the kingdom of heaven (believers who live the way Jesus intends) can positively influence society, so those who profess to believe but cling to man-made rules (and insist everyone else must follow them too), can influence negatively. Either way, it takes only a little influence to spread throughout a whole family, or church or community. The question is, which sort of influence are we spreading?

May 20, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Here and There

I've been working on a lot of different things this past week. Here's a quick summary of it all.

The weather has finally turned beautiful, warm and spring-like, so the snow is all gone from our yard! That means I've been able to get the old leaves and debris out of my strawberry bed. This picture shows before and after the cleanup. It's nice to see that all of my plants are growing. I can't wait to have an abundance of fresh-from-my-own-garden strawberries!
One day last week I sewed four sleeves for quilts that have been waiting in the cupboard while I put off adding a sleeve so I could actually hang them. I spent time over the weekend hand stitching the sleeves, and so far I have two finished and I'm about halfway through the third. It will be good to get them all finished so I can finally create my mini quilt display.
Also last week, I received Chelsea's Round Trip Quilt. Chelsea blogs at Patch the Giraffe and she requested solid colours with low volume backgrounds for her quilt. So far I have made these two blocks.
I have the paper piecing foundations printed for the other two blocks I plan to make, so now I have to decide which colours to use and then I'm good to go.
 I've also started work on a new embroidery project (because I needed something new, right?)
I'm using the dark green to embroider the main feather and I'll use the light green for the background feathers. There are a lot of background feathers, so I have a feeling this one is going to take a loooong time to finish.

So, no big amounts of progress on any one thing, but lots of little bits of progress for this week. I hope you're making progress on your projects too, whatever they may be!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday, Let's Bee Social, NTT, I Quilt


May 19, 2015

2015 New Blogger's Blog Hop

Last year I participated in the New Quilt Blogger's Blog Hop, hosted by Beth at Plum and June. It was a great experience. Not only did I learn a lot about blogging, I met a lot of great women who make beautiful quilty stuff. Many of those bloggers are now the ones I follow most regularly.

This year the hop is being hosted by a couple of alumni from last year, and the sign ups are now open.

 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Button (300px)

2015 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop Sign Up

If you are interested in participating in the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop and have been blogging
  1. mainly about modern quilting*,
  2. for less than 2 years,
  3. writing at least 4 posts a month,
  4. are willing to agree to be actively involved in the blog hop through visiting and commenting on the other blogger’s hop posts,
  5. and have or are willing to open a Facebook account to participate in the group discussions,
Please visit and fill out the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop Sign Up Form.

You can find more information about the hop by visiting those who are working together to host it:

If you meet the criteria for the hop, I highly recommend you participate!

May 18, 2015

In Its Time

Devotion for the Week...

We live in an impatient generation. We want what we want and we want it now. Credit card companies are flourishing because we have lost the art of saving for big purchases and simply buy whatever we want, whether we have the money for it today or not. Fast food restaurants are big business and there are instant versions of many of our favourite foods, from oatmeal to pudding to rice. You can even buy pre-made Rice Krispie treats rather than taking the 10 minutes required to make your own! And, to be completely candid, I complained, while writing one of my Blogger's Quilt Festival posts, that my computer was driving me crazy because it was so slow that it couldn't keep up with my typing. Waiting is not our strong suit anymore.

We are often just as impatient with God. Even with Him, we want what we want and we want it now. We think we know how things should work out, whether we're praying for healing or salvation for someone we love or a new job, or whatever it may be, and we can often be tempted to think that God works too slowly. That's why I was struck by this verse in Isaiah when I read it a few weeks ago: "I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly" (Isaiah 60:22b).

To give you a little context, this verse comes when the people of Israel have returned from their exile, but they are facing a lot of problems. Things aren't as good as they imagined they would be and they're discouraged. God is promising them a glorious future, but they can't see any of it at that moment. "In its time I will do this swiftly," He tells them. Not when you think it should happen, or right away when you ask for it, but at the time that I have set for it, when it is the right time. Notice God doesn't tell them when that time will be, nor does He give them a date to look forward to. Instead, He simply asks them to trust in His promise and believe that this glorious future will come - in its time.

We must trust and believe too, no matter what it is we are waiting for. We have been told "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). That's our promise of a glorious future, just as the Israelites had been given, but this doesn't mean it will happen on our timetable any more than it was going to happen on their timetable. God doesn't give us a date to look forward to either.

Waiting is hard, we certainly don't like it, and our culture seems set on making us ever more impatient, but God's timing is guaranteed to be the right timing.

May 17, 2015

Renee's Quilt - Spring 2015 Blogger's Quilt Festival

Again, thanks to Amy of Amy's Creative Side for organizing the Spring 2015 Blogger's Quilt Festival. My second entry for the festival is the quilt I made for a private swap with Renee of Quilts of a Feather, which I am entering into the Home Machine Quilted category.
The quilt top was all sewn together by hand, using english paper piecing. You can read about the inspiration for the quilt, and see the beautiful quilt Renee made for me, in my previous post, here.
I loved planning the quilting for this one (as I seem to love it for all my quilts lately!). I will admit I was a little stumped by the corner triangles for a little while though. At first I wanted to put a flower in each corner, or even part of a flower, but it just didn't seem to work. Once I settled on just pebbles and swirls I was good to go!
Even though every little wobble shows up with the red thread on the solid white backing fabric, I do love how all of the quilting stands out so much on the back.
Thanks for stopping by to see my entry. Be sure to check out all the other entries in the Festival...there's a lot of quilty inspiration there!

Twirling Star - Spring 2015 Blogger's Quilt Festival

Thanks to Amy, of Amy's Creative Side, for organizing the Spring 2015 Blogger'S Quilt Festival. There are always so many wonderful and inspiring entries, and this year is no exception! All quilters are welcome, whether you've just finished your first quilt, or you've been at this for decades, so head on over and link up your fabulous quilts!

My first entry into this Festival is Twirling Star, which I am entering into the Original Design category.
I love star quilts and pinwheels, so this was such a fun quilt to design and make! You can see my original post from when I finished this quilt here. The pattern for this mini quilt is available in my Etsy and Payhip shops. You can also see the version Kitty (The Night Quilter) made here.

Planning the quilting for each section was fun too. I love the difference the quilting makes!
 
 Thanks for stopping by to check out my entry!

May 13, 2015

Renee's Quilt

Now that Renee of Quilts of a Feather has received her quilt, I can share the whole thing with you. Secret sewing is hard! I kept sharing little sneak peeks, but now here is the whole quilt.
Like so many quilters, I love starting new projects, but I've been trying to keep that to a minimum because I have so many things I want to finish. So, when Victoria (@sewgoclimbing on Instagram) posted a beautiful picture of an epp block she had made based on the woodworking of William Brad Davidson (@wbraddavisdon on IG) I really, really wanted to make one like it, but I tried to resist because I didn't need to be starting something new. But then I remembered the swap I would soon be doing with Renee. Since I don't think Renee does epp, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a new block and make something Renee wouldn't make for herself.

Renee said red is one of her favourite colours, but it doesn't often make its way into her quilts, so I used four different red fabrics and a solid white. Along with lots of sewing at home, the epp went with me to Nova Scotia for my brother's wedding, so I could stitch on the plane.

Once the top was finished it was time for some fmq! I have to admit that I was a little nervous about doing the fmq on this one. Have you seen Renee's fmq skills?? If you haven't, then I highly recommend you check out her blog. It was Renee's fmq that first drew me into her blog, with this post from almost exactly two years ago. My fmq skills were in their infancy and Renee simply blew me away.

Victoria's block finished at 10 1/2", with 1" hexagons, but I wanted mine to be bigger so I'd have more room for quilting. I doubled the size, making 2" hexagons, which gave me room for flowers, lots and lots of pebbles and a few little swirls.
I added corners to the block to make the quilt a rectangle, and continued the many, many pebbles and swirls in the corners. If practice makes better, then my pebbles are now several hundred better than they were a month ago!

I also had fun choosing different designs to go in each of the four red fabrics.
The red thread really shows up on the solid white back! I love how well the different designs stand out on the back too.
 
Along with the quilt, I sent Renee this little pincushion. Grey and teal is her favourite colour combination, so I had to send something using those colours!
When Renee's package to me arrived in the mail, walking home from the post office was torture because I didn't want to wait to open it! The quilt she made me is perfect, and her quilting is just as beautiful in person as it looks on my computer screen. Just look at that feather wreath - isn't it gorgeous?
Now I just have to get a dowel so I can hang this beauty on the wall where it belongs!

May 11, 2015

Happy (Belated) Mother's Day!

Devotion for the Week...

Did you enjoy your Mother's Day yesterday? I certainly did. We went to Paul's sister's house for the weekend, and then Paul's entire family, along with a few others (22 people in all!), had lunch together after church yesterday. It was great to have everyone all together!

Being Mom (or Dad, but yesterday was Mother's Day so we're going to focus on Mom here), is a great training ground for living a Christian life in the world at large. Christians are called to be and do many things, most of which are also part of raising kids. Let's look at a few of them.

* Servanthood. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 12:45). Though mothers have been tempted to shout, "I'm not your servant!" since time immemorial, the truth is that mothers are servants to their children. Not to the extent that we never require them to do anything for themselves, but mothers serve their children daily by such things as preparing meals, helping with homework, doing laundry, playing the games they love and we hate (I'm so grateful my boys have all outgrown needing me to play dinkeys) and many other things. The question is, what is our attitude while we're doing these things? Are we doing it willingly? Or are we grumbling and complaining the whole time, even if it's all silently in our own thoughts? And how well does our servant attitude extend to those outside our homes?

* Selflessness. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3,4). This is probably second nature to most moms, at least most of the time. Mothers in general are famous for putting their own needs last and caring for the needs of everyone else first. Again, how well does that attitude extend to those outside our homes?

* Forgiveness. Kids mess up. There's no doubt about it, and there are times we need to forgive them. Moms mess up too, and there are times we need to ask them to forgive us. Both giving and receiving forgiveness are great lessons for kids (and adults) to learn, and both will help them understand God's forgiveness a little better. "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us" (Luke 11:4). And what about other people in our lives who have messed up and need our forgiveness? Are we able to forgive them too?

* Sharing the gospel. Somehow it's easier to talk about Jesus with children. There's little reason to fear they will make fun of you, or think you're crazy for talking about God all the time. If we've been doing it since they were babies, then they think it's perfectly natural and don't question our tendency to relate just about anything to God. Adults, especially those who don't share our beliefs, can feel like a much tougher audience. Of course, that doesn't mean we should limit ourselves to only sharing Jesus with our children. Paul, especially, provides us with an example we should follow. Though people beat him, tried to kill him and imprisoned him, he never stopped telling people about Jesus. "So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders" (Acts 14:3). Who do you find it easier to talk to about God - children or adults?

* Making Disciples. Just because our kids believe in Jesus doesn't necessarily make them disciples. Google dictionary defines 'disciple' as "a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher." A believer agrees that the facts about Jesus are true. A disciple is one who studies those facts, who tries to understand how Jesus lived and how to be more like Jesus themselves. Sharing the gospel - making new believers - is one part of the process, but Jesus calls us to do something much deeper. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19). We are called to make disciples, to tell people about Jesus in such a way that they want to know more, and then, of course, to help them in their quest to learn about Jesus and the Christian life.

Being Mom gives us so many opportunities to practice living as God wants us to live. But our Christian living should not stop when we walk out the door of our home. How well do we do at living out these principles with the people we don't live with?

May 04, 2015

Comfort

Devotion for the Week...

One day last week I spoke with a new mom who has suffered some baby blues these first couple of weeks after her baby was born. I couldn't really relate, because I never went through that, but there was another mom with us who had gone through it and could relate. She could tell that new mom, "I understand. I was there too. I know how you feel."

It's a phenomenon I've seen a lot. Whenever moms gather, no matter how varied the ages of our children, we share stories. Inevitably, there are struggles with discipline, or feeding, or sleeping schedules or whatever it may be, and some of the other moms offer their own stories of how they got through that same sort of problem. Moms are really great at encouraging each other through those tough times, and at offering hope that it is possible to get through them while also preserving your sanity! As I know from experience, sometimes it helps just to know that someone else has dealt with what you're dealing with.

It works for non-childrearing problems too. In fact,the Bible says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).

This world is full of problems. Some are small in the grand scheme of things, like 'my child is a picky eater' and others are much bigger, like 'I've just been given a scary diagnosis.' No matter what we are facing, we sometimes feel alone in it. We feel like no one understands what we are going through, that no one has been where we are. Feeling alone can make the problem feel even bigger, and scarier, than it already is. 

But God doesn't leave us there, feeling alone. He sends help, in the form of another person who does actually understand, who knows what we are going through and offers us hope and comfort. You see, no matter how much you feel like no one understands, odds are that someone else has gone through a similar enough situation that they can offer you help and hope. 

 Maybe you're not ready to talk yet, though. That's fine. Maybe you'll never be ready to share your story with everyone. That's fine too. Some things are just too personal to share with the general public. But if you are able to talk, even to only a couple of people, then I am willing to bet you will find comfort and hope in the process of sharing your situation. And, eventually, your story will probably be a source of comfort and hope for someone else too.

As our verse says, God plans it that way. He loves to work through people, offering encouragement to those who are discouraged, comfort to those who are hurting, a listening ear to those who just need to talk. Really, no matter what form of comfort you need, God can use another person to offer it. And then, sometime down the road, it will be your turn to take the comfort you've been given, along with the hope and encouragement, and pass it on to someone else.

May 01, 2015

Flower Box in Make Modern Magazine

I am so excited to finally be able to share my Flower Box cushion, which is in the newest issue of Make Modern magazine! This issue (their 5th) is now available from Make Modern's website.
I hesitated about submitting this design because my style is rather traditional and I didn't know if it would be considered modern enough, so I was especially thrilled when it was accepted.

The cushion is made with one 12" block and uses both traditional piecing and applique. Apparently I like to make mixed technique projects, since my Twirling Star pattern is made with traditional piecing and paper piecing. Do you like to mix techniques in you projects?
When I needed to submit the pictures, I didn't actually have a 12" pillow form and the only form my local store had was a rather pathetically stuffed 14". It fit in my cushion cover, though, and made it look nice and full. I have since bought a properly stuffed 12" pillow form and it looks exactly the same, so I guess now I can make another cushion cover :)

Cushion covers are quick projects that give that gratification of a finish almost as soon as you start! Plus, they're small enough that you can practice your machine quilting without committing to a huge quilt.
If you make a Flower Box cushion, or use it as a block to make a larger quilt, I'd love to see it! Send me a picture or a link to a blog post, or tag me on Instagram (I'm @devotedquilter).

In celebration of my first publication, I'll be linking with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, TGIFF and Finish it up Friday.
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