Saturday, September 13, 2014

"A Woodland Wish"

My copies of the Just CrossStitch 2014 Special Christmas Ornament Issue arrived yesterday afternoon, and I am pleased to share my contribution to the magazine with you. My ornament is titled "A Woodland Wish" and can be found on page 75...and this year, I included my recipe (well, really my mom's recipe) for Mommy's Muffins (which I will also share later in this pre-holiday post). My 2014 ornament complements my woodland ornaments from the past several years - and as usual, combines cross stitch over both one and two linen threads. I stitched the model on 40-count Mocha linen from Weeks Dye Works (same as previous ornaments in this series) and used Weeks Dye Works cotton floss. I opted for a flat-finish with two-tone cord as an embellishment....and as a little finishing tip for those of you using the 40-count linen - I used standard hotel room keys padded with cotton batting (or you could use fake or expired credit cards) instead of the padded mounting board that the magazine suggests...they are the perfect size! My ornament doesn't have an individual photo in this year's publication and I have been informed that some of the symbols in the magazine are hard to read (the published chart symbol choices are those of Just CrossStitch and are different than what I submitted), so I hope the clear photo below will give you a good reference.


Now normally, I would spend my evening curled up in my cozy stitching nest, savoring each and every page and admire this special publication...but unfortunately, my packaged arrived with the enveloped destroyed and taped back together and my magazine copies were terribly damaged (a BIG boo hoo!)...but all was not lost, as somehow, my ornament survived whatever mishap happened in transit - for that I am very thankful.

...as promised, I will now share my/my mommy's recipe for a family favorite breakfast treat:

Mommy's Muffins
2 English muffins
1 tomato
Fresh basil (dried, if fresh is not available)
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
4-6 slices of cooked bacon

Slice each English muffin in half and lightly toast. Place one slice of tomato on each half of the toasted English muffins. Sprinkle each tomato slice with fresh basil (and I like a little fresh ground pepper, too). Place a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on top of each basil/tomato/muffin and put them in the toaster oven or under the oven broiler to melt the cheese until it starts to bubble. Remove from the oven and place several half strips of bacon on each. Makes 4 delicious half muffin servings. Enjoy!

I hope you make a little time to stitch or create this weekend...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Feeling Blessed

It has been a couple weeks of steady work since we returned from our mini vacation - I feel blessed to be keeping busy and I am so grateful for the creative opportunities that have been coming my way! I have been completing multiple quilting projects for customers - a huge pile of needlework finishing for another client - and several AccuQuilt projects are ready to start this weekend. I also have been working on some quilting designs for a major quilt magazine and several cross stitch submissions for another publication. I have been steadily looking for employment outside of Blue Ribbon Designs to supplement my income, but this last month gave me some hope.

Five House of Hope
I have also been getting in tons of training for the Komen 3-Day in Dallas in less than two months. Schatzi and I have been walking 6-7 miles every morning...and then I get in a couple additional walks later in the day. My fit bit is currently showing an average of 22,000 steps per day (over 10 miles) - I feel healthy and ready for November (which will be here quickly). I still need tons of help with my fundraising if I am to reach my goal...so please help me spread the word about my exclusive fundraising design "Five Houses of Hope". All proceeds from this very special design benefit the Komen 3-Day - and your donations are tax deductible. You can find all the details by reading my blog post from August 20th...or by clicking on the photo to the right. I also still have the exclusive design from last year available ("Red Rosies and Pink Posies"), should you prefer to receive that design chart instead. I hope you will consider making a donation and help me reach my goal this year...

Here are a few photos from the last week or two...I hope these will make you smile or inspire you...

First of all - we recently entered a photo of Simba and Schatzi in an Instagram PetSmart grooming contest - we absolutely adore our groomer and have been visiting her for almost 10 years. We were hoping to win her some prizes and win some grooming funds for us as well, but alas, we never received a winning message; however, I thought you would enjoy seeing our kids with their bandanas posing on the deck. This was hard work - you should see all the outtakes - it was quite comical getting them to photograph well together!


...and here are several photos I snapped on my training walks this last week...




..and here are some of the fun machine appliqué quilting projects I have been working on for a customer...these are “Garden Patch Cats” by Helene Knott from StoryQuilts.com....these adorable wall hangings each measure 18" square...

"Catus Romanus"

"Podcats"

"Purrsimmon"

"Pepper Puss"

....and here is a little peek at some of the needlework finishing I have been completing for a very special customer/friend....


On a final note...the software for my website had a large update recently and I have noticed a few small glitches - if you have difficulty placing an order, please e-mail me and I will get you taken care of promptly...and to make things more convenient, I am currently adding all my website items to my Etsy shop, so you will have another option for your shopping needs...please be patient, it takes quite a bit of time to add all the information....I am adding 20 - 30 items per day. Yes, both my website and my Etsy shop will stock all of my items. Thank you all for your patience and understanding while the new website is in the development stages - it will be running perfectly soon!

I'm off to run errands and take Simba to the groomer...then I will be back working in my studio later today... Wishing you a creative and productive weekend!

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Owls in Moonlight"

Can you believe how quickly the summer months have passed?? - I can't believe it is already September...where does the time go?! Halloween items are popping up everywhere...and stores are already getting out their Christmas holiday displays...personally, I'd be content to keep the summer months here just a little bit longer...but it is time to start working on Halloween and holiday items, if you want to have them completed in time to display this year...

The current issue of Just CrossStitch Magazine (October 2014) features a Halloween Ornament Spooktacular that includes ten ornaments to stitch up and decorate your Halloween tree....and yes, you can find Blue Ribbon Designs in this feature. My Halloween ornament this year is titled "Owls in Moonlight" and is a fun, quick stitch!  You can locate my ornament and all the details on page 55. The entire ornament is worked in cross stitch...and I used Weeks Dye Works linen (Confederate Gray) and Weeks Dye Works cotton floss (a DMC conversion is also provided). There are TONS of fabulous ways to finish your Halloween ornaments - for this particular ornament, I chose a flat-finish....and I used two-tone twisted cord in orange and black for a special touch. This is the autumn issue, so there are a plethora of fall designs, as well...including a Quaker Acorn Etui by Praiseworthy Stitches and Give Thanks by Hands On Designs. You can find this issue of Just CrossStitch magazine at your favorite needlework shop or on newsstands now...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Take A Little Trip With Me...

A view of the Paris Hotel Eiffel Tower
from the Bellagio Hotel
As some of you may know, I took a short vacation this past week...which is pretty much unheard of...it had been over five years since I took some time away that didn't involve a work trip or walking 60-miles for charity. My husband, close friends, and family pretty much had to *force* me to go - I felt extremely guilty taking time away and I knew we couldn't afford it - but truth be told, it did lighten my load a bit. I wasn't quite sure how to relax, as I have such a set daily schedule and I am pretty much on auto-pilot at home...and although I was up and ready to go each morning before 6:00 AM and I still got in a training walk each day, I do feel like a had a little time to just breathe. My husband had made arrangements to take me to Las Vegas for a few days....we stayed on the strip at the beautiful Aria Resort & Casino...and I didn't have to take care of work obligations, cooking, cleaning, the yard, or dogs for several days. We rented a car, so we could go out and do some exploring - the lights of Las Vegas are wonderful, but there are so many beautiful things to see in the area...

We arrived on Monday afternoon - enjoyed a leisurely lunch - explored some of the resorts/casinos on Las Vegas Blvd. - including the Bellagio (it's not a trip to Las Vegas without visiting the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)...and we had a light dinner and cocktails at Javier's.

Our hotel room with a view at Aria...

 Fiori di Como chandelier by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly - Bellagio Hotel Lobby

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Javier's in the Aria Hotel - Tequila Tree (my new favorite thing!) - I enjoyed
several AMAZING hand-shaken jalapeno margaritas during our stay...

Tuesday, we traveled to Grand Canyon National Park and although it rained off and on for most of the trip - we really enjoyed the day! It was quite a bit of driving, but we felt it was completely worth it....especially since my husband had never seen the Grand Canyon before. We went to the south rim...and spent almost a full day exploring this beautiful National Park. We got in quite a bit of walking on several of the trails...including one that follows the rim of the canyon. We saw elk, mule deer, and quite a bit of wildlife...including (you guessed it) a squirrel! Then made a stop at In-N-Out Burger (another first for my husband) for a quick bite to eat on the way back to the city.










Wednesday, we explored some more hotel/casinos in the early morning, met Travis's cousin for a late breakfast/early lunch, then made our way to Red Rock Canyon for more amazing Nevada scenery, hiking, and walking. Afterwards, we made the drive to Mt. Charleston Lodge (on of my favorite places on the planet). We took the more scenic (longer) drive to the top of Mt. Charleston, then enjoyed a delicious dinner outside on the deck at the lodge - the view is spectacular...and hummingbirds were buzzing around...it is a magical place and a "must visit" every time we are in the area. Afterwards, we drove back to Las Vegas, where my husband played in a poker tournament (he won!) and I did some exploring/walking on my own...

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

The deck from Mt. Charleston Lodge - view from my seat...

The view from Mt. Charleston Lodge...

The view from Mt. Charleston Lodge...

Thursday, we decided to make the drive to Death Valley National Park - another all day excursion, but worth the drive. It was a balmy 115 degrees (better than a humid 90 degree day in Iowa), but we still did some walking/hiking and had fun visiting quite a few of the scenic stops. Once returning to Las Vegas, we enjoyed a quiet dinner and did a little bit of gambling, before it was time to rest up for our very early morning flight.


Death Valley - Zabriske Point

Death Valley - Zabriske Point

Travis exploring Death Valley -  Devil's Golf Course

Death Valley -  Devil's Golf Course

Badwater Pool (yes, water in Death Valley!)


Death Valley - Badwater Basin - 282 feet below sea level...

Yes, we crammed in as much as we could in such a short amount of time...but I wanted to see as much as possible...especially since it may be years before we can take another vacation. I hope you enjoyed my photo journey of the Las Vegas, NV area...it was an inspiring trip...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Five Houses of Hope"
My 2014 Komen 3-Day Fundraising Design

"Five Houses of Hope"
As many of you know, I am participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day this November – I'll walk 60-miles in Dallas, TX over the course of three days with my fabulous "Twinkle Toes" team members and hundreds, possibly thousands of other women and men....all of us with a common goal to raise funds for breast cancer research, scientific programs and community-based breast health and education programs. I started my journey last November, fundraising and training before the 2013 3-Day event in San Diego was even complete. I have already logged almost 1,000 training miles to prepare for the event this year...and I plan to take every single step of the 60-miles in 3 days this fall! All walkers are required to raise at least $2300.00 to participate...but my goal is actually $8,750 - it's $750 more than my goal last year...and I know it seems outrageous, but I believe it is totally doable...and truth be told, my REAL goal this year is to pass the $10,000 mark (that would make me completely giddy with delight)!

So, here is where my new "pink" Cross Stitch design "Five Houses of Hope" comes into play...it is an exclusive Blue Ribbon Design, available only to those who donate a minimum of $15.00 (USD) to my fundraising page (all proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen 3-Day)...my gift to you for supporting me and this incredibly worthwhile cause.

First I will tell you how to get this very special design...please read the instructions carefully:
  1. Visit my fundraising page: http://www.the3day.org/goto/Belinda.
  2. Make a minimum donation of $15.00 or more - yes, it is tax deductible.
  3. Send me an e-mail (designer @ blueribbondesigns.com) with "Five Houses of Hope" in the subject line. The body of the message can be as simple as "I made a donation".
  4. I will verify your donation and reply to your message with a PDF attachment of the design. It's that easy!

    NOTE: If you are overseas and have difficulty with the Komen website or making your donation, you may send your donation to me via PayPal (same e-mail address as above) and note in the comments it is a Komen donation for "Five houses of Hope" and anything special you would like noted on the Fundraising Honor Roll - I will make the donation on your behalf (in your name) and send you the chart as a thank you. E-mail me for more details or with questions.
If you made a donation before I posted this information, I have already sent the design to you (to the e-mail you listed when you made a donation) - you are not required to make an additional donation. If you have not received it, please check your spam and/or trash folder - if it is not there, just send me a message and I will get you taken care of promptly.

Please note, it is not feasible for me to sit at the computer all day and respond immediately - please give me 24-hours to reply to your message - I promise to respond to your e-mail as soon as possible. If you haven't heard from me within a couple days, please check your spam/junk folder (remember, this is a large quality file), then, if still needed, follow up with me. Also, this gift is only available as a PDF file via e-mail, following the instructions above - I will not be mailing printed charts.




About this exclusive design:
"Five Houses of Hope" is a needlework sampler, that was finished into a quilted wall hanging. The PDF chartpack is set-up like all my printed Blue Ribbon Designs and includes: a color photo, charting for the entire sampler, stitching instructions, stitch diagrams, basic finishing instructions, and an alphabet/numbers for personalization - it is a high quality file. You will need Adobe Reader to view/print the e-mailed chart and contents.

I chose an autumn theme because the 60-mile walk is in November...and because November is the month of Thanksgiving - and I am so very grateful for your encouragement and support. Last year I did a more traditional "pink" design, so this year, I wanted to do something a little different - I hope you are pleased!

The entire design is worked in Cross Stitch over-two linen threads (or one Aida fabric square) and Back Stitch. The model was stitched on 40-count hand-dyed fabric (Cocoa by Weeks Dye Works) with Weeks Dye Works cotton floss...and a DMC conversion is provided. Floss colors include: Bubble Gum (minimal, for HOPE banner only - choose your favorite pink or alternate color), Cayenne, Chestnut, Curry, Day Lily, Hazelnut, Molasses, Monkey Grass, and Sweet Potato.

One more thing, please remember: "Five Houses of Hope" is protected by copyright law and is meant for personal stitching only by the donating recipient. I kindly ask, please do not share, email, or post the PDF file on the Internet; if your friend(s) would like to stitch this design, please encourage them to visit my fundraising page (http://www.the3day.org/goto/Belinda) and make a donation to the cause...after-all, ALL proceeds are benefiting the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Thank you for respecting my copyright.

Finally - please help me spread the word...if you like the design or think your friend(s) would like it, please share a link to this post on your blog, Facebook, message boards, or other social media...I would really appreciate it!



You can read some of the reasons I decided to take this journey on my fundraising page. I'll be keeping all of my donors in mind, and in my heart, as I walk 60-miles in Dallas in November....in fact, I plan to have a complete list of all donors with me for motivation - if you are making a donation honoring a loved-one or you are a fighter or survivor, please note that in your e-mail - I would be proud and honored to walk for you! Thank you so much for your love and support...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Flowering Snowball With A Twist
AccuQuilt BOB Blog Hop

Hello everyone and welcome to the AccuQuilt BOB Blog Hop - I am so extremely excited to be the very first stop on what is sure to be a very inspiring two weeks! First, let me start by introducing you to BOB - BOB is amazingly creative, super convenient, and can easily add more hours to your quilting day...and BOB has quickly become an AccuQuilt favorite. BOB stands for "Block on Board"...that means, all the shapes needed to make to make a particular quilt block are included on one die board! There are a wide variety of BOBs available, including the following favorites: Ohio Star, Log Cabin, Dunkard's Path, Winding Ways, and Double Wedding Ring (just to name a few!). So grab your favorite AccuQuilt fabric cutter and let's spend some time with BOB....

Today, my focus is on the GO! Flowering Snowball die - it makes a 12" finished block...and although it may look complicated with the curved seams, it truly is quick and easy when working with my new best friend BOB. The gentle curves and notches make this a great block for a beginner wanting to try curved piecing....and the each shape cuts perfectly and swiftly. First, let's take a look at this particular BOB (compatible with the GO! Fabric Cutter...and the Studio Fabric Cutter if you have the GO! Die Adapter):


As you can see, I have labeled the die board shapes with the letters A, B, and C...this makes it quick and simple to cut and assemble the block...and of course, all the shapes you need to make this block are on one die, making it easy peasy!  When you purchase the GO! Flowering Snowball, the free pattern that comes with the die is the GO! Rings of Tangerine Quilt (shown below)...and it comes with exact instructions for how to build this dynamic block. For a limited time, you can download this pattern and instructions for FREE, just visit the following link: GO! Rings of Tangerine Quilt.

GO! Rings of Tangerine Quilt

For my Flowering Snowball project, I decided to mix things up a bit! If you are a regular visitor of my blog, then you know I love to combine traditional piecing and appliqué in my projects...so, after creating my Flowering Snowball blocks, in true Blue Ribbon Designs fashion, I decided to add some floral appliqué. I actually started out thinking that my project would be a wall hanging (and it still is/could be), but after completion, I decided it would also make a lovely table topper.

I started out with a base of four 12" Flowering Snowball blocks that looked like this...


...and then used the GO! Round Flower die to cut the floral appliqué. I fused the flowers in place and completed the machine appliqué, then added my borders before quilting and binding...it's a Flowering Snowball with an appliqué twist!





I hope you will spend the next couple weeks learning all about BOB (he's really interesting, once you get to know him!)...make sure to visit all the AccuQuilt Blog Hop stops to find out more of BOB's capabilities...I promise these unbelievably talented quilters will motivate and inspire you...

August 18th – Samplings from a Blue Ribbon GirlGO! Flowering Snowball - you are here!
August 19th – Strip Quilter – GO! Ohio Star
August 20th – Freemotion by the River – GO! Log Cabin
August 21st – A Quilting Life – GO! Dresden Plates
August 22nd – Pleasant Home – GO! Blazing Star
August 23rd – Living Water Quilter – GO! Hunter Star
August 24th – Ray’s Sew Crafty – GO! Double Wedding Ring
August 25th – Blue Feather Quilt Studio – GO! Rob Peter to Pay Paul
August 26th – One Stitch at a Time – GO! Double Wedding Ring
August 27th – Beaquilter – GO! Log Cabin
August 28th – Sew Incredibly Crazy – GO! Rob Peter to Pay Paul
August 29th – Sew Fresh Quilts – GO! Ohio Star

Spend a little time with BOB, he's worth getting to know...and make a little time to be creative!