Monday, May 30, 2011

Twice the Shine in Half the Time

Here's a confession. When I was growing up, I loved to clean my bathroom. It probably helped that it was my own bathroom so I didn't have to clean someone else's mess, but there were often times when I would volunteer to clean my mom's bathroom, too. The thing I loved? That the cleanliness was so evident by all the shiny porcelain and chrome. The bathroom more than any other room sang of my cleaning gusto. I grew up in a culture of instant gratification and, for me, bathroom cleaning was it. I remember my mom on several occasions telling her friends that I was the best bathroom cleaner that she knew. I even used a toothbrush to clean around the faucets. I'm afraid my mom might have been ashamed of me until my most recent discovery.

My husband on the other hand probably has a very different view of me and my bathroom cleaning skills. In fact, when we decided to split up our house cleaning duties by floors (he upstairs with the bathroom and me downstairs with the kitchen), I was more than thrilled. See, when we moved into our fixer-upper, our bathroom was pretty nasty. There was a giant concrete river through the floor where someone had decided that was an easier solution than replacing the tiles after a pipe leak had caused them to rip up some of the floor. And our sink was that old fake marble and it would never shine. No, bathroom cleaning was not a pleasure. Then we updated our bathroom and refinished an old claw-foot tub. But the new coating on it seemed to collect soap scum and "dea"(the Korean word for skin slough), as we call it in our house, and it took more than a decent amount of elbow grease to get it anywhere near clean. I was glad to be relieved of the job.

No shining this old thing, bleh!

Slowly though, things started to change. My husband has a real gift for Swiffering and he started doing the downstairs floors which I wasn't going to complain about. But then it came up that maybe I could clean the bathroom from time to time. Oh, and there was the mildewy shower curtain that I had promised to try to clean. After a few weeks of procrastination and then a few weeks of a cold, I realized I couldn't put it off anymore. In an attempt to find a way to clean off that stubborn mildew I came across this website, 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar.

Best friends a bathroom cleaner could have.

While the vinegar did a decent job on the shower curtain, I can't rave about the results. It was still a bit mildew stained, but really, it was a lot better. But what I've come to tell you today is that my love for bathroom cleaning has returned. My husband doesn't even have to ask.  Perhaps this is a trick that our grandmas knew a long time ago, but now-a-days the scent of most bathroom cleaners sends me over the edge. Toxic, nose-burning, headache causing, totally not necessary. Three simple ingredients are all you need and I bet you might have them in your pantry; distilled white vinegar, table salt, and baking soda. These will clean up a porcelain tub, sink, and toilet in a jiffy with little to no elbow grease and will make them shine like new. I just bring a little bowl of each with me as I clean.

For bathtub and sink:
Wipe down with a vinegar soaked paper towel or soft cloth. Now put some baking soda on a sponge and wipe it on. It will fizz a bit as it reacts with the vinegar. I really don't scrub much at all, just make sure you get it all over. Now rinse. To bring it to a shine, dry it with a soft towel.

For chrome fixtures:
Mix a bit of salt and vinegar. Rub over fixtures. Rinse and dry.

For toilet:
Wipe toilet with vinegar. Pour 1 cup vinegar in the bowl and let it sit a few minutes. Then put in about 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda (I usually just dump what's left in in my bowl after cleaning the sink and tub) and let it fizz. Brush it with your toilet brush and flush. So simple!

I really think that you will be surprised at how easily and effectively these everyday ingredients tackle soap scrum, tub rings, and germs. I'm sure I won't be buying anymore chemically bathroom cleaners if I have anything to say about it.

Let me know if any of you try this out or if you have any other vinegar tips!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thanks and Upcoming Project

Is May a crazy month for anyone else? Between graduations, camping trips, and weddings, my May has filled right up. That's not a bad thing. I like being busy, but that leaves too little time to quilt and blog. Sorry if you feel neglected. June is a new month.

First, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Carla over at Lollyquilts for featuring my Modern Cross Quilt on her blog. Carla is so sweet and was very excited about my quilt. I feel so blessed to be in such a supportive quilt-blogging community! So go check out Carla's blog and check out her new post featuring other modern cross quilts. I love the scrappy cross quilts made by Jenny at Cut, Sew, Iron, Repeat! Don't you want to try one? Check out the tutorial.

Now for my first June project. Remember these beauties?

They have just been sitting patiently by while I finished up my Zoo quilt. But now, their patience is waning. They want to be made into a gorgeous, summery quilt. Okay, okay. I'm listening!

I had been planning some kind of pendant quilt for these fabrics when all the sudden I saw Joel Dewberry's new quilt for the Aviary 2 line, and there it was! I think I'm going to use his pattern for my second Modern Meadow Quilt (this time in Berry). Though, I tend to use patterns somewhat loosely so I may not follow it exactly. Or maybe I will for a change. But either way, this is a gorgeous quilt pattern and I can't wait to get started on another quilt. Thankfully, June is just around the corner.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bloggers' Quilt Festival

I'm so excited to be a part of the Bloggers' Quilt Festival! It's fun to see so many wonderful, creative quilts. Welcome to those of you who are visiting my blog from the Quilt Festival!

For those of you who already read my blog, you've seen this quilt before. I just finished up this baby quilt for my sister's friend. My sister called me a few months ago with great news that her friend was pregnant. I was not only excited for her friend, but also for myself. "Yes! I can make her a baby quilt!" I shrieked into the phone. Thankfully, that's what my sister had in mind, too. See, I'd already made quilts for my family members and was looking for my next victim. And honestly, I was hoping someone I knew would get pregnant soon so I could make a slightly smaller quilt.

I was thrilled to be able to pick out adorable, "I-want-a-baby-now" fabric. It was fun to shop around. When I found Alexander Henry's 2-D Zoo print, both my sister and I were sold on the spot.

I learned a lot of different things about quilting while working on this project which I've detailed in my post about this quilt. But I also learned a few things about myself like, if something stresses me out (arr, Perle 5), put it down and wait until the morning. My morning ideas are always much better than my after-10:00 p.m., tired and frustrated ideas. Those ideas tend to make big, ugly messes.

I also learned that sometimes simple is better. I love the simplicity of the front. I usually want to do too much and need to learn how to edit my creativity (this is where my husband often comes to the rescue). I think this was a good example of simplicity working really well. I need to remember that.

And finally, I realize that having a boy wouldn't be too bad. I always hoped for a girl because they have so many cute little things. But this boy quilt is pretty dang irresistible. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.

Thanks for dropping by! Now go check out some other amazing creations by clicking on the button below...

Amy's Creative Side

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Modern Cross Quilt

It was a whirlwind week. I finished up my Day at the Zoo quilt and started right away on a cross quilt for my father-in-law. He graduated from Seminary this weekend and while we've known about this for awhile, we didn't think much or plan much for this visit. But when we started thinking about gifts, I knew I really wanted to make him something and I'd seen some interesting cross quilts on blogs and I thought that would be a good direction to go. I did a little research and came across this tutorial for the liberated cross block over at Lollyquiltz and then I hit the road running. I started the wall hanging on Monday night and finished it in the car on Friday. Then I snapped a few shots of it on the side of the highway. So yes, that is a corn field and a barbed wire fence.

About this Quilt:
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton
Binding: Kona Cotton in Paprika
Size: approx. 30" x 30"
Pattern: liberated cross blocks
Quilting: Free linear quilting with multiple colored threads

You can see the quilting a bit better in this picture, but it may be hard to see the different colored threads. I used 5 different colors and changed them every few inches. At first I thought it might make the quilt a little too busy, but it actually drew everything together and the texture of the quilt was just wonderful. I especially love the way the back looks with all the uneven lines.

I also embroidered a Bible reference on the quilt, hoping to encourage him in his current ministry overseas. My father-in-law is Korean, but for those who can't read this, the reference is Hebrews 12:1-3.

A lot of Koreans tell me that I have really "cute" handwriting when I write in Korean. I'm pretty sure that just means that I write like a 3-year-old, which is probably true. I'm okay with that.

I'm really proud of myself for producing this entire quilt in less than one week and though I had some mixed feelings about it as it was coming along, I love the final result. This is certainly the most "artsy" piece I've done so far, but it was fun to do something a little more experimental.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day at the Zoo Quilt Finished

After weeks of working on this quilt and looking at the adorable Alexander Henry 2-D Zoo prints, I'm finally finished. This quilt makes me so proud and I hope the little yet-unborn baby boy will love it! The colors are so playful and fresh set off by the bold zigzags.

I don't want to give this quilt away. I might have a little boy someday...

About this Quilt

Fabric: Alexander Henry's 2-D Zoo and Teeny Tiny Zoo
and Robert Kaufman's Kona Cotton in Ash, Cyan, Olive, Cadet Blue, and Turquoise
Binding: Pop Parade by Metro
Size: approx. 40" x 50"
Pattern: Zigzag
Quilting: Machine Quilted in a zigzag pattern using coordinating thread & hand-quilted using contrasting DMC Perle 5 Cotton thread

Since I'm still in the learning process (aren't we always?) there were a few new techniques that I tried with this quilt. This was my first time playing with half-square triangles and I think these big 5" squares were a great place to start. Since the HST is the foundational block for numerous fun and beautiful patterns, I'm sure I'll become very familiar with them. Practice makes perfect!

This was also my first time hand-quilting. You can read all about that in my Tuesday Tips #2 post. I also used coordinating thread for my machine quilting which really makes the hand-quilting pop. This idea was inspired by this scrumptious quilt over at Red Pepper Quilts. I love the effect of the hand-quilting and colored thread. I am using colored thread on my current project, too, straying from my usual white. Ekk!

The pioneer points on the back detail were also new to me. I wanted a funky border that would make the pinwheel stand out a bit more from that busy back and that would tie in the zigzag pattern. However, I'm not sure I would have added them if I were to do it again. I'm not convinced that they added much and they were difficult to quilt. My advice? Save pioneer points for quilt borders. Though, they do add some youth to the quilt. I also think that they would look very cute on a dinosaur-themed quilt. Just throwing that out there.

This quilt is going to my sister next week so she can gift it at an upcoming baby shower. I hope this quilt is well loved and will last for many years to come. I also made it a bit bigger than some baby quilts in hopes that this little boy will be able to tote his quilt around well into his elementary years.

Sister, bring a crowbar, you may have to pry this one out of my fingers. You've been warned. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Tips #2

Last week I was raving about chunky hand-quilting accents with Perle Cotton, but I was ranting about the thickness of Perle 5, which turns relaxing hand-quilting into finger pain and frustration. However, after writing that post last Tuesday night, I woke up on Wednesday and had a little time to quilt before getting ready for work. My hands were slightly clammy making the tugging war simply impossible to win. Then…ding…light bulb. Sitting on my sewing desk were my quilting gloves (which really are all-purpose work gloves from Home Depot, but they work great) and as soon as I put one on my left hand and got to stitching, I was pulling stitches through with only little resistance and a firm grip. While I would still suggest using Perle 8 as recommended by most quilters, Perle 5 works pretty well in a pinch assuming you have a left-handed rubberized glove to pull you through. My hand-stitching came along very quickly after that discovery. Perhaps now all my leftover Perle 5 won’t go to waste. Phew! This tip was just too good to keep to myself.

Three cheers for the rubber gloves!

Check back tomorrow to see the finished product. I can't wait to share!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Tips #1

So here I am, ready to give you a quilting tip (I feel so under-qualified!)

Use Perle Cotton for some very cute chunky hand-quilting detail. I love the way it's made my Day at the Zoo quilt look even more fun and cozy. It's especially well suited for baby quilts because it reminds me of Crayon lines. Not perfectly even, but bold and playful. I just love it, especially with the contrasting colors. Plus Perle Cotton has a shiny, silky quality that gives the quilt some nice texture. Try it out on your next quilt. You will love it!

But learn from me here, don't use Perle Cotton 5 like I did! Use Perle 8 like all the sane quilters of the world. Once again my laziness (and frugality) got the best of me and I just grabbed the Perle 5 that I could easily find at Michael's. They didn't have Perle 8 in the colors I wanted and I wasn't keen on paying for shipping. So I just went with Perle 5 totally ignoring what Nova (I love that name!) over at a cuppa and a catch up wrote after she had a rough time quilting with Perle 5. Let me tell you, I totally agree with her. I can't feel the side of my left index finger after all that tugging on the needle just to get the fatty thread through. It is not pleasant to quilt with! Listen to Nova! Listen to me! It may look cute, but by the time you finally thread your needle (~5 minutes of utter frustration) and start yanking away at your thread, you'll be regretting that you didn't just pay the shipping and wait patiently for Perle 8. Do your poor little index finger a favor and learn from my laziness (I sense this might be a theme for Tuesday Tips).