Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End Of the Year Housekeeping

What haven't I finished... hmmm... My sister posted a pinterest board of all of her unfinished projects... It inspired me to post my own. My goal is to only have 10 projects roll over next year instead of 38! lol

My unfinished Projects Board 

My Sister Becki's Unfinished Project Board

I then thought... hmm... what did i finish? so i updated my 2013 finishes tab (look at the top of the page)

What are my goals for 2014

Ralph and I have been working on a bubble project. We both feel stuck and unable to move forward with our current situation... so we started with what we are doing now (for him horseshoeing, for me sewing) and we then drew a line, another bubble and what else we could do or want to do, adding bubbles out from our current situation... (for me, sell new fabric as well as upcycled, get a long arm machine, sell at trade days... and for him, start a horseshoeing school, train and start cutting or stock horse showing, breaking colts, ect)

We are still working on them but the plan is that we each are going to choose one of the where we could be and start DOING it. That is our goal for 2014!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sewing with Certainty - Free Motion Quilting

I priced getting my first quilts done by a local long arm quilter... yes it is "quilting with your checkbook!" and at the rate I was kicking out quilts it would have to be a BIG checkbook. (I started with a goal to make quilts for 16 of my family members!) I quickly decided that if I was going to quilt... I was going to have to learn how to quilt them on my home machine.

I am the queen of "straight line" quilting.... notice the quotation marks... there is really nothing straight about the lines I quilt as I'm cramming half of a king size quilt through the tiny neck of my machine... but if you squint your eyes when you look at them you can see where i intended for them to be straight..... my husband sees straight lines.... at least that is what he tells me.... and why I love him so much!!

I have tried FMQ with a free motion foot... I have not figured out the tension problems yet... it is still on my list of skills to master. But... for the most part I'm happy with my straight lines... so I'm not in that big of a hurry and may wait till I buy a better machine.

So... If you do not quilt your own quilts... here is my list of things i have learned along the way.

1. You don't need a walking foot...I'm sure it might make it easier... but since I don't have one... I don't know.

2. My first few quilts looked terrible... but i finally figured out that the basting of the quilt was my problem.

I baste my quilts on my hard surfaced floors. The first thing I do is tape the backing to the floor as tight as I can. Lay the batting down and smooth it out from the middle. Then lay the quilt top down and smooth it out from the middle. I start pinning in the center and smooth more out as I go. (I don't stretch it like the backing, just smooth) I try to figure out how Im going to quilt before I pin so that I can put my pins between where my lines will be. (I confess my quilt tops are rarely perfectly ironed when I pin them... so maybe I wouldn't have as much smoothing out to do if I did that... i just hate ironing big things!)

 Invest in good big safety pins for basting... and put them no more than 3-4 inches apart. I buy the bag from Walmart that are less than 6 bucks for 50 or 60 of them. I have two bags and usually can have one big quilt and one small quilt pinned at one time. I do use more than one bag on the queen and king size quilts.

I then trim any excess backing fabric and quilt batting to 4 inches. (if I have more than that I tend to get it folded over somehow and sew it to the back of the quilt.)

3. Take the time to roll up the excess quilt on each side and have support to the left of your chair for it to rest on. When I get lazy and don't roll up the excess or the shoving through side, i end up with wrinkles. I use a stack of tubs (2 large and one under bed is the right height for my desk) to rest it on.

3. Quilting lines.... I have drawn my lines on the quilt with tailors chalk once. (and my knees ache enough after pinning... I just don't want to stay down on the floor that much!) Usually I follow some pattern in the piecing and eyeball it.

I have three different MO's for my quilting....

first choice and easiest.... I quilt on both sides of my seams. I like the look it gives. (Christa suggested wavy lines across it and i may try that on a quilt soon)

second choice on small things like table runners -  the straight line or matchstick quilting... I think I mentioned in my last blog post this is therapeutic for me, sew a line, lift the foot swing it around, lift the needle, put the foot down, put the needle down... sew a straight line. do it again and again and again. Honestly my table runners use as much thread as i use on a throw or twin size quilt!!

third choice is diagonal lines. I eyeball these as well and sew from one corner of the block to the other... works best eyeballing if your squares are smaller than 6 inches!

and of course.... combining them...

Really it is not hard to quilt on your machine. Afraid to start with the big stuff... make a table runner!

I am linking up to Quilty Habit's Sewing with Certainty series

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 looking back

sometimes you have to look back to see where you are going!

In January 2013 my husband and I sold our restaurant to his daughter. I was tired, it was doing ok, but not good and we were tired of fighting the fight.

Although we are both still helping her out by working there once in a while... i haven't regretted the decision, I think Ralph has... he keeps talking about opening another restaurant... I've been there done that and have no desire for a stick and brick store. I decided that i was going to find a way to make money doing something with sewing...he decided to grow his horseshoe business back to where it was. The first couple months were tough financially... but we soon got to where we were making more than we were at the restaurant....and we were both happier!

My first commissioned quilt

As if that wasn't a big enough change in life.... its been a rough year emotionally....

Two of Ralph's sons started doing hard core drugs. It nearly tore their families apart and destroyed their careers. Although neither of them are doing the drugs anymore... they are still struggling to put their lives back together. We have had custody of one of our grandchildren for most of the year... and a family of 5 moved in with us.... their struggles have also been our struggles...

I fell in love with straight line quilting on table toppers and runners... i think it is therapy for me.

At the end of July, shortly after our 1 year wedding anniversary, I wondered what else could go wrong! That is when everything pretty much fell apart. We had 5 children (or children in law) arrested, one of them twice; Ralph had a heart attack, i had my appendix out, a daughter in law was diagnosed end stage renal failure and one of the boys was hurt badly at work. If it wasn't for bad luck, we would have had no luck at all!

A quilt for a friend.

But... month by month things have been getting better. Ralph went back to work... I have found my peace with what i am doing... the kids cleaned themselves up and started doing the right things... our daughter in law is still sick, but we continue to buy her more time.... his son healed and is back to work... he has passed his drug tests and we no longer have custody of our grandson.....

A pile of UFO's I wanted to get thru this year... that are still UFOs!!

The remaining challenge is the family of 5 living with us... I love them with all my heart but i really really don't like living with them... I don't see an end in the near future so for now we are doing the best we can to cope.

Little Sophie... one of the three grandchildren still living with us. 

I honestly believe this has been the hardest year of my life.

But... i do have a wonderful husband and i love him more today than ever before. We have made it through these things together... and are still madly in love. I love that he supports my desire to work from home (even when i don't want to BE at home! lol) And the best thing... he makes me laugh... I worried a few times during this year if we had lost that ability... but we find it again... and we laugh and we get thru the mess....

I think this was last year...

I have high hopes for next year... and i know i will keep on sewing! Thank yall for reading during the past year...I have been pretty hit and miss as we went thru this. I know I have a few new readers after the giveaway too... thanks for joining. I will do my best to keep showing my works in 2014.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

a sunny day and a donation quilt

Its christmas time... am i making homemade gifts for every family member... nope. I gift those all year long and I dont feel pressure to make them anything now. But... we aren't that big on gift giving here anyways, a few for the grandkids (ok there are 16 but our rule is we have to SEE you in order to give you a present.. so we dont buy for all 16 every year, this year it is 7)

I finished those tshirt quilts which drove me crazy and I couldn't imagine jumping in to make the other two a customer wants after christmas... so... charity quilts. Christmas makes me feel like making quilts for charity...

I got this box of fabric from SEWonderful Quilts They are an organization that I found online and their mission statement spoke to me....

Our Mission is Threefold:

To gift SEWonderful Quilts to children in need
To recycle fabric into SEWonderful Quilts with help from Volunteers
To keep discontinued fabric out of landfills

I am all about the upcycling of fabric!! I emailed a wonderful lady named Francine who promptly sent me a box of fabric....

Now... looking at them... it is not for the faint of heart. They were decorator weight fabric. I have used small bits in a quilt here or there of scraps, but not in this scale.... but i dove in.... and here is my flimsy...

It is now quilted and I expected it to be heavy and stiff... but its not, it is soft and fluffy! I did throw in a few other fabrics... mostly the bright red. 

but... charity quilt # 1 finished.... I have 2 more that have been in the "to be quilted" pile that im going to pull out and send along with it...

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Who are the lucky ones???

I have had so much fun this week reading and commenting on where yall were from. (and ok, i spent way more time than I want to admit entering giveaways and I'm sitting here by my little gmail box waiting to rake in the loot! lol) But how cool! The quilting community is such a global community. I think I posted just a few posts ago about feeling a part of something here online that I don't get from my local community and yall made that sink in just that much more.

so... what yall are waiting for. The winner of the vintage sheet bundle is #10

taniab said...

I live in Burnaby BC Canada. I love the views of the mountains and the fact that we are close to beaches too. 
The winner of the upcycled mens shirts is # 51
Born4Travel said...
I live in rural Ortonville, Michigan. I live on 5 acres with a bog in my back yard. The thing I love the most is hearing the frogs sing in the summer. Thanks for the chance to win!!

I will email yall after this is posted to get your address so I can get those out in the mail.
What I was working on this past week when I wasn't entering giveaways are these... OMG I didn't think I was ever going to finish them. I delivered them just a few hours before her Christmas party started today! akk. In fact the pictures are in HER driveway, before I would let them have them, I had to take at least one shot of them! lol.

And the piece de resistance.... were the labels. she wanted me to use this very thin gauze shirt that her mother bought in france in the 1930's. (and she gave it to me after one was already finished!) I couldn't imagine a prettier use of it.

I have learned alot from the tshirt quilts. These were my first. I have 2 more for a customer and as I am working on those, I decided I am going to write a tutorial from all that I learned in this process. I have used 6 different kinds of interfacing... i quilted all three differently and one was easier and i like the look of better... i just learned alot.

I left room for her to make her own statement on the labels. Woo hoo i was done... umm.. but now she saw these little flowers and asked if I had enough shirt left to make more (this woman was tiny... my 2 yr old granddaughter could have worn this shirt) so now by christmas I have to make 8 more frameable flowers with her mothers name on it...

lol I told my husband I am now the curator of the Tarver family historical textiles.

I have some other finishes to show but since it was icky and I HAD to give her the quilts... I took these pics, mud in the background and all... the others will have to wait for sunshine!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


How cool is this... a whole week of giveaway posts!! I just HAD to join in. go check it out... my blogs are loaded with lots of goodies that you can win!

For those who are new... welcome! My name is Tamara and I hope that yall will look around and come back for another visit soon.

Lets get on to business. I use upcycled fabric in most of my projects. So... fitting that I am giving away your choice of 6 vintage sheet fat quarters!

In addition I will send an equal amount of scraps from other projects! total of 3 yards of vintage sheets... enough for most small projects or to combine with what you have for a big one!

As a bonus I will give a 2nd place winner a bundle of shirt backs and a bundle of scraps...

I love this red bundle and the textures in this bunch are fantastic!

I will ship internationally... so it is open to everyone!

I have moved around alot in my life and I am always fascinated by where everyone is from and that as a bloggy community we are everywhere. So for a chance to win leave me a comment telling me where you are from and what you love about where you live.

Me... I live in Deep East Texas. My favorite thing about this place is the smell of spring, its this deep earthy smell that lets me know the winter is almost over!!

For a second chance to win either be a follower or become a follower of my blog... and leave a second comment.

I look forward to getting to know some of you better! thanks for visiting and good luck this week on all the giveaway goodness.

this is open until December 13 at 5 pm and I will announce a winner on Saturday!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Finished for my Dad

I finished this last week. I started it 2 years ago cutting 4 inch squares from my left over plaid fabric. I had alot at the time, and not sure what to do with it since I had finished the 4 quilts for the grandbabies... so i cut and cut.... then sewed them into 4 patches.... and it stalled.

Beth at Love, Laugh, Quilt inspired me to get it out again and work on it with an idea for the border. It was waaay to plaid and needed something and she had the answer. So... I just put 3 borders on using the pieces I had... and voila... a plaid quilt for my dad!

(The adorable little girl in the picture is grandbaby Sophie. She was in EVERY picture but the corner one... she LOVES having her picture taken! lol.)

(sorry about the bad pictures, its cold and wet outside and the kids playroom actually was picked up and I had room to lay it out!)

I have not seen my dad in almost 4 years. He doesn't travel any more and I haven't gone up to Michigan. He now has Korsakoff Syndrome which is like alzheimers disease. He sometimes remembers he has a daughter named Tammy, sometimes not.

But he is my other man in plaid... I used to steal his flannel shirts as a teenager... they were so comfy. My dad wore darker plaids than my husband, but I think he will appreciate the plaid quilt!

My sister posted this picture of him yesterday on facebook. Hes 86 now.

I am linking to A Passion for Applique Nothing but UFO's and Finish it Up Fridays

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sewing with certainty - perfection

Ohh the dreaded perfectionist is all of us rears its ugly head!!!

I tend to beat myself up for my lack of perfection. the last couple months because I was not putting in the time i needed to "grow" my etsy stores... because i was not spending disciplined time on sewing... and because i have a UFO pile that out numbers my finished quilts pile!

I think my great epiphany that i recently had was to stop beating myself up! initially i thought it meant to lay off sewing for a bit BUT... When I let that go of the guilt that i wasn't doing everything perfectly the creativity and desire came flooding back and Ive been busy, I've enjoyed myself, and I got out of my "creative" rut. Im still not doing it perfectly... but... its ok, i said as long as this family of 5 is living with us... im not going to expect perfection! (and i think i should learn from this lesson and never expect it again... but alas... i do know it will rear its ugly head again!)

I have wanted to make quilts (like my mother) since i was in my early 20s... at 45 I finally did it! well, I had started the quilt tops 4 years prior... and I finally quilted them at 45! I honestly was afraid to start and that fear came from wanting it to be perfect.

9 patch quilts, I finished 2 for my twin grand daughters.

Even today i struggle with this. I have this project that has stalled for almost a year because it has applique, I'm not sure about that!! but i will get to it.

I think the immediate thing i need to work on is my confidence with Tshirt quilts, they are taking too long to complete because I'm afraid I am going to mess up. I have two due next weekend and another two that I would like to finish before Christmas. These are orders i will get paid for!!! what is taking so long... just insecurity so... I'm gonna start right now... Tshirt quilts here i come.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sewing with Certainty - my goals for my quilting

I saw this series a few weeks ago but figured I didn't have time to participate... but... i'm going for it anyways! I like that its designed to improve my skills and the skills of others... not just a show off what i made party! lol... i do like showing off what i made though! lol.

What are my sewing goals... i have actually put alot of thought to this for the last month so here it is...

1. I have a wonderful husband and due to him I do not have to get a paycheck.. for the first time in my adult life.... however being the work a holic I am I can not stand that I am not contributing to our finances... so my big goal is to make 1000-1500 per month with my sewing, vintage sewing patterns and fabric. Now I have decided to take some pressure off myself and just kinda work on this on the side because we have a house full of grandchildren (and their parents right now) but it is still my goal. So for this goal Im going to work on time management and doing the online stuff I need to do to continue growing those etsy stores.

2. This is a big one and one i haven't said on my blog yet.... I think I want to write quilt patterns. I dont ever USE patterns... probably because i hate authority and have never followed directions well... but I do think i have the creativity and the understanding of the math and geometry (and the writing skills although my blog tends to ramble i can be concise when i need to be) to write them. So my immediate goal is to write some tutorials so I can see how i do at that! I have two in mind that I want to write up and put on my blog for tutorials. A table runner and a quilt.

3. I want to make some quilts that show my ability to select color. I tend to make really scrappy quilts without alot of regard to color (and i LOVE them) but I think i need some work on putting fabrics together to make unified and pleasing quilts. I also want to do this without buying a collection of fabric from a designer... matchy matchy is not my thing either. So.for this one I want to use my stash for a quilt that has regard to color!!

4. FMQ... I've tried it... I have gotten mediocre results but I want to keep practicing to where I can use it.

5. Curved piecing... I want to make something with curves...

There are my goals for the Sewing with Certainty series... I dont think its too late... join us!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

what have i done? and a local quilt show.

the big fundraiser here is Relay for Life. There are several teams that throughout the year raise huge amounts of money. We have won awards for how much they raise per capita. Not bad for such a small town I think. We have several customers that are on the Fire Department team called the Cancer Kickers, so we end up donating alot of pizza and things to them each year.... Well... they are having a winter extravaganza on December 7th and they asked me to put a booth there with my items to sell... and I said yes! what was I thinking??? I dont have enough stuff for a booth!!

So just when I decide that Im not going to put pressure on myself to create.. i need to create! opps... lol.

My plan is to do enough christmas ornaments to cover a tree, maybe a couple denim tree skirts, (I'm going for a cowboy themed christmas) my table toppers, I might do some easy tote bags... we will see. I have to finish 2 tshirt quilts before I can start though because they are due on the same day... so... my plan was to make tshirt quilts this weekend! opps.. before I could finish them though I had to finish the plaid monster I am making my dad because it has all the safety pins in it. I refuse to buy more because I will just end up with alot of pinned quilts and never quilt them!

and well being an attention deficit disorder quilter... i couldn't just work on the quilt and finish it... i had to take breaks so here are the ornaments i finished this weekend.....

I have several others started but to get the frayed edges you have to wash them so they are in process.

Saturday Ralph and I went to a local quilt show. the flash is broke on the camera so I couldn't take pictures but honestly, there wasn't much that wowed me. I am not a part of a local quilt community mostly because they are well.. snotty. I tried to start a conversation with one of the long arm quilters that was there and she was very stand offish. We dont have a local quilt guild, just a bunch of women that gather at the quilt store so my kind of quilting is looked down on. I use recyced fabrics... i use sheets on the back.... lol... they dont ever use solids (because the quilt store doesn't sell any), OH and I quilt my own which really puts the 6 long arm quilters in the areas nose out of joint... for some reason. I do try to support the local quilt store because the owner is nice, but I do my best to avoid her other customers.

Ralph however came away from it excited and determined that i am going to start entering quilt shows. He said my stuff is better than theirs any day and I could win. (he is so sweet... and charming) I explained that if the person i made the quilt for loved it... thats all the recognition and reward I need... who knows maybe someday i will, i just dont feel the need right now.

But I guess thats why I blog... to be a part of SOME community because I dont have one locally. I have considered joining the Guild in Nacogdoches, but its a 45 mile drive each way... maybe this spring I will have time.

It was a rainy day saturday... this is what the driveway looked like when we got home from the quilt show... our fall colors in texas. I think this will have to be inspiration.... I love the scrappiness of the picture and can see a scrappy quilt with those colors just thrown about it! (and yes that is my boot toe in the picture... it was a perfect day to sport the cowboy boots)

I have to hand sew the binding on my dads quilt (which i plan to do while working at the pizza shop today since its slow on sundays) so pics of that once its finished!!! (and since i have to work all day... opps the tshirt quilts are exactly where they were friday!)

I also want to say thank you for the kind words Michelle sent me (you are a no reply blogger so I couldn't email back) I often avoid talking about personal life (partially because all i want to do right now is complain! lol) but I appreciate you encouraging me to keep blogging and talking about... just life.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ive been lost in thought

Have i shared with yall that I have a wonderful and supportive husband? yep i do! I am at another one of those crossroads in my life, (did i have any idea at 21 when i declared what I wanted to be when I grew up that I would come to so many crossroads where I had to make that decision again??)

Im on the left - at 21

I had determined I want to do something with sewing, fabric, quilting, something that I love from home. Etsy is the place for me right now... but I was getting frustrated because I was not being disciplined (as i usually am) and I was not doing what I wanted to do. I have been struggling with this for about a month and then I realized that with his son, daughter in law and 3 additional kids in the house... the place for me is NOT working a stay at home business... i HATE being at home. I know, hate is such a strong word... but i do mean hate. We are both miserable with this arrangement and we are biding our time till they leave. That is not to say that I don't LOVE them or our grandchildren. I do very much... i love the little zombies to death. I just HATE sharing my home with anyone...

Waylon and Tristan... my superheros ...  that is the first quilt i finished on the bed!

So... for now, Im working at home when I can stand it.. I'm making a few sales... I'm sewing when I just can't stand that I haven't been creative in a while... and I'm going to post when the spurts of creativity happen... but, for now... im not really WORKING at what I want to do. Ralph and I have discussed it, for now I am going with him horseshoeing when I am needed (and when I'm not because I enjoy being with him) and I'm going to continue to work for his daughter at the pizzeria. Most importantly I'm going to quit beating myself up because i didn't accomplish what i wanted to do yet.... Im going to enjoy what I am doing.... 

Today I didn't have to work anywhere else and i was itching to be creative so I worked on some Christmas items to sell. I rarely buy novelty or seasonal fabric... but the denim was calling me.... here are my creations for today. (ralph and i ended up babysitting the kids so I managed to accomplish something with kids! I'm happy!)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A quilt for Audrey and works in progress

This beautiful little girl is my Great Niece Audrey!

She is 4 months old now... and just the cutest little thing. Since I made my great nephew a quilt, I needed to make her one too! I enjoyed this one... I love the colors. Her mom decorated the nursery with jellyfish, I decided to do the chevron and on pattern from quilty because, they kinda look like Jellyfish in a modern sort of way! lol.

I used a vintage sheet with big roses on it for the back and bound it in the pink polka dot. I had planned an orange, not thinking about how it would go on the back... the pink went with the roses much better!

I quilted with straight lines with the teal color.... this fabric was just my favorite and I dont know where it came from! I want more of it!

Its off in the mail to Michigan to cuddle the sweet bundle of joy!

For the works in progress I have a couple things im working on...

first are these. Im making rice bags for Christmas presents. I have been looking for projects to practice FMQ on and these are perfect. i am getting better... believe it or not! lol. I am using orphan blocks or pieces of them for the blocks and using scrap batting.

I am also quilting a few flimsies that I have finished. I haven't decided where this one is going. Its either for our bed or I'm going to send it to my Dad for a christmas present... Dads probably gonna win.

Here is a stack I have ready to quilt... i need to get busy!

I am linking up to Quilt Story: Fabric Tuesday and Works In Progress Wednesday on Freshly Pieced

Monday, November 11, 2013

For the Boys

Thank you Madame Samm and Amy  for letting me participate in my FIRST Blog hop!! I have been so excited about this post, my husband thinks I'
ve lost my mind!

I know a little something about making quilts for boys. I have 4 step sons, 2 son in laws and 9 of my grandchildren are boys.... and my husband of course. He is very opinionated about what he likes and doesn't like in my quilts!!

But in honor of veterans day, I'm going to begin with the quilt I made for my husband for our bed. Because it is by far my most patriotic quilt.  It is called "Lonesome Dove" because I stitched the binding while watching a Lonesome Dove marathon one Sunday.

I think the belief that you should not use florals in a man's quilt is crazy. They appreciate flowers too and as long as its not predominantly flowers. I see no problem. Lonesome dove was my first HST quilt and surprisingly not my last!

I also quilt outside the box in that I rarely (in fact only 1 quilt I have ever made) use all quilt shop fabric.I like using upcycled fabric in my quilts, its what my mom did, my grandmothers did and I'm sure all of my ancestors before that. They used what they had and what they could afford.... and so do I. So, most of my quilts use mens shirts, yardsale fabric, and of course stuff from the clearance isle at my LQS. and i usually use vintage sheets on the back.

I made 4 different quilts from 2 different patterns out of mostly my husbands shirts. These were called Paw Paw's Puzzle and Paw Paw Kisses. Landon, Trevor, Waylon and Wesley use these every day. Its nice seeing a grandchild wrapped in something you made!

For the 6 Men (sons and son in laws) I made a series of Denim quilts. I started to make rag quilts but they were just too messy for me. I decided to peice the 6 in squares and double stitch them. Each quilt back had a different pattern on them... depending on the recipients personality. I think one of these was the ugliest quilts I've ever made because it was my interpretation of camo.... but he loves it!

This one is being enjoyed in Alaska by our grandbaby Kegan. We haven't met Kegan but he does have a quilt where I used fabric from my clothes, my husbands and some of our parents! 

I made this one to sell, it is from striped shirts and I loved it... so did our grandbaby Tristan and it is The Quilt he uses at our house! lol.

Ok.. bad picture... but i did one to include this one. Its called Cowboy and it was a donation to the local Cowboy Church. 

Finally my most recent... and the only quilt I have made entirely from quilt store material. It is called This way (pattern in Quilty called Chevron and On) and it is for my first Great Nephew Joey.

Thank you for visiting today and I hope I provided some quilty inspiration. I hope yall enjoy the blog hop and be sure to go check out the other great posts today!!!