Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Elna Carina Sewing Machine

One of the unfortunate side effects of going to the quilt expo each year is that I leave wanting to upgrade my sewing machine to a fancier one that can do cooler stitching or better quilting.

My current sewing machine was built in the 80's and is a hand me down from someone in our family. I've used it for the past 15 years or so and it's always done the job. But after helping out with one of the quilt workshops I was even more convince that I should maybe start saving for a new machine.

There were just all these nifty attachments that made quilting so much easier!

However, this past weekend I pulled out this little container with attachments that came with my sewing machine. I started playing around with some of the attachments and discovered that I can actually do many of the techniques that these fancier machines can do!

The two attachments I'm most excited about is that I have a quilting foot (this lets you do free motion quilting) and then a seam guide (this attaches near the foot of the machine and adjusts to whatever seam allowance you want).

Who knew? I've had these attachments for years but since I didn't have an instruction manual...I never took the time to research what all these attachments can do or how to even attach them to the sewing machine.

That was kind of nice to find out because I really didn't want to start saving $2,000 for a new sewing machine.

So my hand me down sewing machine that is 30 year's old is actually pretty cool.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rio vs. Barbie

Babysitting this weekend I had the chance to view two movies I hadn't seen yet: "Rio" and "Barbie in a Mermaid Tail". I had been curious about Rio and had never heard of this particular Barbie movie.

Sadly, I have to admit that I think I enjoyed the Barbie movie more than Rio. All I can say is that the Barbie manufactures sure have done their homework on how best to market to a girl's heart. I mean come can a blue bird that can't fly ever compete with a hip surfer teenager from Malibu who finds out that she's a mermaid princess and as a result gets the chance to save the sea kingdom from an evil aunt and spend at least 10 minutes of the movie shopping for new mermaid tail outfits while singing a catchy song? Sorry just couldn't compete.

What's even sadder is that the kids I was watching actually sat through the whole Barbie movie enthralled. While within 5 minutes of Rio, they were distracted by their toys.

I wonder how much research does go into kids movies like Barbie. Cause, they sure do know how to keep the attention of not only a 4 year old girl but an 8 year old boy and a 30 year old woman who should know better than to get sucked into clever marketing movies.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Pumpkin Spice Latte....check
Apple Picking...check
Apple Sauce canning...check
A little bit of fall cleaning...check
Curl up with a blanket watching the rain...check
Pull out the fall brown boots to wear with my brown plaid skit...check
Start a fall quilt...check
I think I'm ready for fall.

Quilt Expo Favorites

As I mentioned last week, I helped out as an exhibit docent at the quilt expo. One think I enjoy about this volunteer position is that it forces me to be around the quilts and study them a bit closer than I would other wise. These were some of my favorites from the show.

These were the most interesting and something about these quilts caught my attention. But they are probably a style I'd never try to make:

Sunday, September 18, 2011


So to promote an upcoming Dave Ramsey course at church, this video was shown at church last week. I have to preface all this by saying that I enjoy Dave Ramsey's materials and I think he's helped a lot of people rethink their finances. And I want people at our church to go through his material. However, as I watched this video, I couldn't help but feel like there was something missing. I was tracking with the commercial until they got to the point of trading in the $6,000 car for an $11,000 car. I just kept thinking "what's wrong with the $6,000 car? Why trade that in if it's working just fine? And just because we 'save' the money, is it right to buy the newest and best?"

Now I know the video was making a point about how much better it is to save for a car than borrow money from the bank...but I still wonder if that's the right message for us as Christians.

I might need to dwell on this a bit more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quilt Expo 2011

I love the quilt expo. I secretly live for this event each year (ok, this may be an exaggeration...but I do enjoy it).

This year I volunteered again as an exhibit docent which was quite fun and then I tried something new - I volunteered as a workshop assistant. That was a lot more fun than I anticipated. I helped out with a Cotton Theory workshop. In short Cotton Theory is a way to make a reverseable quilt and a way to quilt as you go. So by the time all your pieces are sewn together, you're done. I've seen these types of quilts before and but haven't figured out how to make them. We'll after helping 25 other ladies make a small sampler, I think I got it down (picture above). I was pleasantly surprised with my first go at this small quilt. I need to work on my stitching on the machine...but I think it turned out ok.

I'm very much in a quilting mood now. I found three new patterns I want to try which is making me anxious to finish up a smaller baby quilt I'm making for a friend. I'm grateful that it's fall now and that the garden is just about over. I can turn my attention now to this fun stuff.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Later - 9/11

With all the 9/11 media coverage this past week, it's been hard not to reflect on that day's events and how they intersected with my own life.

Ten years ago I was crashing for the night at a former roommate's apartment. It was a week before my senior year of college was to start and an InterVarsity weekend leadership retreat was scheduled to begin later that afternoon. I had just returned from a summer urban project in L.A. and was excited for what the year would hold.

I don't remember the exact details of how I learned about the event, but I do remember a neighbor came over and told us to turn on the TV. We watched reruns of the footage (I think we found out about an hour after it happened) and tried to understand what it all meant.

I remember how uncertain everything felt in that moment: What does this all mean? Is it safe? Do I know anyone in NY? Is family ok? Is the leadership retreat canceled? Where is God? Are we at war? Is there more coming?

We did have the leadership retreat later that day but I have to confess I don't remember much of it and was probably fairly distracted for most of it. It's hard to focus on the vision that God might have for the ministry at UCSB that year when you're grappling with what in the world God is doing and thinking with your country.

Out of all the media coverage this week, the most powerful documentary I stumbled upon was a Front Line documentary called Faith And Doubt at Ground Zero. It basically looks at spiritual elements surrounding that day and to sum it up in one word, it's haunting. Haunting both in the questions it leaves unanswered, but in the many testimonies of faith: faith and hope in a God when everything around you doesn't make sense.

I think questioning my belief in God will be the lasting legacy of 9/11 in my own life. To say I believe in a loving, just, and righteous God after such an event takes a lot more conviction for me now than it did prior to that day. If anything 9/11 forced me to reconsider if I really believe such verses as Job 19:25-17 or James 1:2-8.

I will never fully understand where God is in events like 9/11 or any of the hundreds of other acts of terror that happen during a single year in our world, but I do believe God is present even in such events and that he is not only mourning right along with us but at work in ways that we do not see or comprehend.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Jalapeno Regrets

A few weeks ago I decided to try canning salsa to try and use up all the extra tomatoes from the garden. I found a recipe online and was very careful to follow the recipe exactly. I know that with canning it's important to follow recipes as closely as possible. However there was one instruction that seemed a bit extreme: "we recommend wearing latex gloves while chopping the jalapenos".

I've chopped up one or two jalapenos in the past and never had any problems so I thought, that's great advice but not necessary. So I went ahead and chopped up 8 jalapenos without gloves.

An  hour later, my hands were on fire. I washed them, I scrubbed them and went about the rest of my day trying to ignore my pulsing hands. 8 hours later as I sat in bed trying to ignore my hands that seemed to only heat up even more as I laid still trying to fall asleep, I thought there has got to be something to make it stop.

I turned to google and tried everything. One site suggested trying lime or lemon juice. So I rummaged through the fridge and found some lemon juice and rubbed it all over my hands. It helped for a little bit but within 10 minutes my hands were heating up again. So it was on to attempt number two: heavy cream. One site suggested using a milk product to help stop the pain. We head some heavy cream in the fridge and so I soaked my hands in it for about 5 minutes.

To my amazement, the pain actually started going away. Just to make sure, I put some aloe on my hands and took some Tylenol too. 20 minutes later the pain was still gone from my right hand and only slightly there on my left (I think my left hand touched the jalapeno's more than my right).

All I can say is that next time, I'll pay more attention to the seemingly pointless instructions in recipes.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Homemade Brownies

The other night we were craving brownies but we didn't have any brownie mix on hand and neither of us felt like driving the .25 miles to the grocery store. I don't remember why, but I wondered if there was a way to make brownies from scratch. And low and behold, brownies don't have to come from a box. Who knew.

Here's the recipe we tried based on a quick google search:

I don't know why I thought brownie only came from boxes. But brownies from scratch are pretty good. I followed the recipe exactly. They were a bit on the buttery side so the next time I substituted the butter for oil and they tasted a lot more like the brownie box mix brownies. (Matt liked them better with the butter however.)