Thursday, July 30, 2009

A snippet of my daily life

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. I called him as I was leaving work to find out if he wanted anything special for dinner. When he answered the phone, he said, "Erin, I think we have a problem here," and proceeded to relay this story:

"As I was shaving this morning (remember, this is my husband's story, not mine), I glanced out the window and saw the biggest pile of dog poop ever (we have a yellow lab with a hefty appetite). As I turned back to the mirror, however, it moved! I looked again, and realized that it was a turtle. So I rushed outside to get it and put it in a shoe box so I could show the boys when they got home. The trouble is, I just got home, and the shoe box is still here on the bookcase where I left it, but the turtle is nowhere to be found!"

I had to laugh as I first pictured my city-boy husband handling a turtle (turns out, he armed himself with leather gardening gloves), and then his horror when he thought that it could be ANYWHERE in the house. He found it before I arrived home with the boys - it had crossed the living room and was hiding in a corner behind the furniture. You will see from these photos that there were some dust bunnies in that corner; I'm pretty sure that I've shared before that I am not a model housekeeper. It looks like the poor little guy has whiskers!

Obviously, the kids were thrilled with this discovery. After that excitement died down and they reluctantly put him in the garden (might as well, nothing is growing in there anyway), I directed Jason's attention to the mail he had received - squishy mail! I was so covetous! One of the lovely ladies on this blog saw that he had won a ribbon in the quilt show and sent him some fabric to start his stash. You can't tell how thrilled he was in this picture because I caught him in mid-sentence, but THANK YOU, KIM!!! You made his week!

He told me that he needed a place to keep his stash. Eventually, I'll probably just get him a little plastic chest of drawers (I told him he could just add it to my stash, but he didn't fall for it!), but in the meantime, there was a box in the car that he could use. He dashed out to get it, then carefully folded all his fabric into the box.

Fast forward to this morning. After seeing the turtle covered in dust from my floors, I got up early to sweep and mop the downstairs before work. As I wandered into the kitchen for a glass of water to fortify me, I noticed that my passenger side car door was open. I knew in an instant that it had been open all night. It also rained all night. I am always fussing at the boys to close the car doors when they get out, and apparently, I forgot to close my door when I got out my purse yesterday. It is a perfect teachable moment, right? As the kids and I were driving to work and the entire inside of the car was moist and smelling a bit like cat (I found one of them on Donald's car seat when I went out to close the door), I told them what I had done and that even grown-ups make mistakes. After all, I want them to be able to own up to their mistakes. After a few seconds, Jason spoke up. "Actually, Mom, remember I came out and got that box for my fabric last night? The box was on that seat. The car door was closed when I came out here, but I don't think I closed it when I went back inside." Huh? Well, lesson learned, I guess.

I love my kids.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More GGG blocks

I didn't go to karate. I didn't take the kids to the pool. I didn't make a trip to the grocery store. Instead, in a major deviation from my usual routine, I came straight home after work and sewed. Aaahhh! It was great! It is not often that I get to sew when it is still light outside.

First, I started sewing together two of my last five Pick and Choose blocks. I didn't finish them, but I plan to finish them tonight. Then, I sewed together 4 more GGG blocks (great great grandmother's quilt), bringing my total to a whopping 8. I keep telling myself that it was the turtle who won the race in the end.

I have pretty much convinced myself that I will need to include some new fabric in this quilt to help stabilize things. This fabric is so old and threadbare that it stretches out of shape at the drop of a hat. I think I will like it better anyway with the blocks framed, either with sashing or put on point with setting squares. We'll see.

I leave for vacation (again! I LOVE SUMMER!) on Saturday. At this point, I don't have a hand project to bring with me, and there is no room for my sewing machine in the car (we are going to the Outer Banks and we are bringing the dog with us for once). Hopefully I can pull something together quickly, maybe work on my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. However, if I don't sew on vacation, it will be OK. I plan to swim, read, nap, ride bikes, and just RELAX!!! Oh, and there is wireless in the house where we are staying, so hopefully I can also get caught up reading everyone's blogs!

Monday, July 27, 2009


A friend and ex-coworker got married this past weekend. Jason was a ringbearer:

Donald was excited to get dressed up, too:

The venue, the ceremony, the bride - everything was BEAUTIFUL! Here is where the ceremony took place:

There was even a beautiful old log cabin quilt in the main house, framed and mounted on the wall, but I couldn't get a good picture because of the reflection off the glass.

So, another weekend down with NO QUILTING, but I had a great time. Oh, and on the way home, we needed a break, and pulled in at a place called Ellwood. It was an old, remote 18th century farmhouse that was taken over as headquarters for Grant's army during the Battle of Wilderness(?). It turns out that that cemetery on the property is where Stonewall Jackson's left arm is buried. (The rest of him is buried here in Lexington, VA where I work).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whirlwind week!

Tuesday: My mom met me at work and came with me to the quilt show at the fair while I served as hostess (greeting visitors, making sure no one had food or beverage, handing out gloves to those who wanted to touch quilts or see the backs). Imagine my joy when I saw that Jason had won second place in the youth division! (I promise, this is the last photo of Jason and his quilt.)

After checking out all the quilts, I sat down and did some more deconstruction of my great-great-grandmother's quilt while my mother and I had a nice visit. Since my hubby had the kids at the park and pool, I took my mom out to dinner - I didn't want this grown-up evening to end!

Wednesday: I wasn't feeling very good, but after work, I took the kids to the county fair. We started with the quilt exhibit, but then moved on to the rides and the food, and finally the livestock. Three and a half hours later, I was exhausted but giddy - I love the fair!

Thursday: Woke up SICK!!! I had strep throat last month, and this felt very similar. I went to work, but made a doctor's appointment in the AM and lo and behold - strep throat AGAIN!!! I went home to rest because I had to go to New York City the next day for work - ugh! There were some bright spots in the day, though. At the doctor's office, I finally sewed the hanging sleeve onto my challenge quilt from last year. It still isn't on the wall, but that is coming. I also shaved all the hair off of my head. Maybe that doesn't seem like a bright spot to some of you, but I am a simple gal, and all that hair was driving me CRAZY! I feel light-headed now, free to swim and sweat and nap, etc, without worrying about what it will mean to my hair. Guess I need to change my avatar now...

Friday: Feeling better, but exhausted. Drove 2.5 hours to the airport, flew to NYC, did my program and fell into bed.

Saturday: Surreal day - woke up and wandered around the Upper East Side looking for breakfast before hopping on a bus to LaGuardia Airport. When I got home that evening, I built a campfire in the firepit with the kids and made smores. Aaahh, home!

(yes, that is a large cooking fork we are using to roast marshmallows - necessity is the mother of invention)

Sunday: As much as I wanted a day of rest, it wasn't in the cards. First, we had to go pick up our quilts from the fair. Jason was surprised again when he found out that not only did he get a ribbon, but he got PRIZE MONEY! Yup, he has already started picking out fabrics for next year's quilt...

We also went to karate, then to the pool. Guess what? Both my kids can now jump off the diving board into the deep end! This is going to completely change my pool-going experience! No more standing knee-deep in the kiddie pool for me. So glad I cut my hair!

Back at home, I watched 4 episodes of Gilmore Girls while I finished taking apart my great-great-grandmother's quilt. Now, all I have to do is put it back together...

Monday: I'm so glad I had the foresight to take the morning off. I got the kids off to camp, then went for a short run before spending a couple hours with my quilting buddies at City Hall. I forgot to bring an iron, so I was pretty limited with what I could do, but I did sew all of the trimmed down pieces of my great-great-grandmother's quilt together into two-patches. (I need an acroynm for that quilt; that is too much to type - GGG perhaps?) Then I treated myself to lunch and coffee with a new paperback before going in to work. After work, the kids agreed to skip karate and go clothes/shoe shopping with me - who says you need little girls to enjoy those things!?! I love shopping with my kids - they are brutally honest about things that don't look good, but when it works, they rain down the compliments. Plus, they give me permission to buy anything I want - I got a purse, a dress and THREE pairs of shoes!!!

The cherry on top of this day was the squishy mail waiting for me when I got home from This-n-That Fabrics. I think they are my new favorite online quilt shop. They have great $3/yard fabric and they ship immediately!

TODAY: I have to work, and then karate and a work-related gathering, so I'm not going to have much time to sew, but I am determined to get something done, even if it is just pressing the two-patches I sewed together yesterday. I am feeling the need to CREATE! First, though, I need to catch up on what you all have been doing...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Done is so much better than perfect

I'm off to drop my quilt and Jason's quilt off at the fair. After I finished the hand stippling (never again!), I decided to quilt some flowers inside the basket/cake stand. Since the quilt is so scrappy and colorful, I decided to put to use all those colored quilting threads I recently inherited. I'm not sure it was the best move, especially since some of the lighter colors don't show up, but oh well. (Who was that from who sent those my way? I am drawing a blank. Anyway, thanks again!).
And it is DONE! Can you tell that I am excited to be free to focus on other projects?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Jason finished his first quilt, and I am just so proud!
It will hang in the county fair from Tuesday until Saturday. I have my fingers crossed that he'll get some type of recognition, because he worked so long and hard on this. Besides, it's cute! I love the buttons he picked out to tie it with. Check out the haunted house and ghost,

and the bat flying in front of the moon.

My quilt is a different story. I didn't even it touch it today. I'll be sewing like a woman possessed tomorrow. I went to my quilt guild meeting this morning, and we worked on comfort quilts. We also received the instructions for the first round/border of our challenge quilt. Which reminded me...I hadn't yet made the center block for the challenge quilt. I worked on that while Jason finished up his quilt. The idea is that it is a round robin mystery quilt that we work on alone and don't let anyone see until it is finished. Last month we were given 4 blocks to choose from for the center. (I chose the easiest - Star of Virginia.) This month and for the next two months, we will receive instructions for each successive round/border. We should be done piecing the top in October, and are supposed to unveil our "masterpieces" in December, fully quilted. Then we'll have a display of challenge quilts at next year's quilt show.

I think only 1 person from my guild reads my blog, and she's the program coordinator who set up the challenge, so I can post my progress on here. Here's my center block,

and here it is after my first round.
This round had to include at least one triangle, but that was the only stipulation. Again, taking the easy way out, I simply squared up the half-square triangles that I cut off while making the center block, and made pinwheels with them. I'll all caught up until next month, waaaay ahead of the game. Now, if I could just finish this quilt that needs to be turned in at the fair on Monday...

Oh, and I also decided on colors for my Celtic Knot Mystery - black, red, green and white. Here's a layout (unsewn) of chunk #1.
I'm not going to sew it together until I gather some darker greens. And I'm not going to gather greens until my fair quilt is DONE. Better get to work.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New to me

1 week of vacation + 1 week of single parenting while spouse is on business trip = 1 exhausted quilter who is too tired to quilt

I was really dragging at work today. Then a fellow quilter delivered the perfect 'pick-me-up':

The magazines aren't the latest issues, but they are new to me. Now that the kids are in bed, all the housework can wait - I'm off to snuggle down in bed with my new magazines. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - quilters are the best!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lost in blogland

After work yesterday, I told the kids we were just going to go home and relax. Every day, there is something going on - swimming, karate, a movie, a birthday party - and I am pooped! Plus, I haven't even turned on my sewing machine in two weeks! The plan was to help Jason finish his quilt and put the last couple stitches into mine since the fair starts on Tuesday.

Entering something in the fair every year is important to me. I'm not at the point where I expect ribbons, and I doubt I will ever be, but getting objective feedback from someone who doesn't know me is useful. My friends are very nice and supportive, and I need that as a novice quilter, but I doubt they would point out all the flaws in my work. I need that, too, just in much smaller doses. So that is one reason I enter my quilts in the show at the county fair. The other reason is that I love going to quilt shows and seeing lots of quilts. I feel that I am setting an example by entering my quilts. I can't complain about a show with very few quilts if I'm not willing to enter mine, now can I? Also, I hope that by entering my amateurish attempts at quilting, others will feel emboldened enough to think to themselves, "now, I can do that!"

Anyway, last night, we got about half of the buttons tied onto Jason's quilt before I could see his interest flagging. It is hard for him to tie the thread (although if you put a Transformer into his hands, suddenly he is Mr. Nimble Fingers!), and as much as I itched to do it for him, I knew that would be wrong. So, we'll work on it some more tonight. While he was tying, between "I need some help here, Mom"s, I thought I'd catch up on what my friends have been doing in blogland. HOURS later, I finally stumbled off to bed without having even touched my quilt. My, you guys have been busy. And I kept seeing interesting names of other blogs on your "Blogs I Follow" lists that I just had to check out. And then there were all the links you guys added. STOP! How's a gal to get any quilting done!?! I think I'm caught up now, and as long as I never go away without internet access again, I might be able to avoid the Blogland Black Hole that I disappeared into last night.

I did decide to do a Celtic Knotwork Mystery - see Lynne's blog on my sidebar. I've never done a mystery before, I've been wanting to try a Celtic looking quilt, and this one uses scrappy 2 1/2" squares, of which I have two tins already pre-cut. I know I shouldn't be starting something new, but this will at least give me just one or two blocks to work on a week so that I am still using my machine while I am focusing on getting more hand quilting done.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do fish have testosterone?

On the way home from vacation, we stopped at my in-laws where my boys became the proud new owners of 2 Betta Fish Kits. Their first words each morning since have been, "Are we getting fish today?" They are good boys - I couldn't say no. Off to the pet store we went. All you can get there are male Bettas. And they can't be put together or they will kill each other. Great. A husband, two sons, two tomcats, a male puppy, a father-in-law for half the year, and now killer fish. I need a little girl to balance out all the testosterone in my house. But look at the grins on my boys' faces. I am sure the fish will be worth it. (While previewing my post, I just noticed the title of the book laying sideways on the bookshelf. How appropriate! I'll have to check it out...)

It is hard to photograph fish. Here is Colorful, Jason's fish.

And here is Mr. Red Red, Donald's fish.

Would it be insensitive of me to grill tilapia for dinner? I guess it is chicken, AGAIN!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Squishy mail!

No matter where I go for vacation or whom I am with, I always love coming home. As much as I like adventure and change and new places/people/things, I am a homebody. Even when greeted with a horrendous smell of food gone bad and faced with the onerous task of cleaning out the fridge before bed after driving all day, I was thrilled to come back to my little piece of the world on Sunday night. But it was made even better when I checked the mail and found 3 squishy packages!

The first was the fabric I ordered from This-n-that Fabrics (Oh, how I hope I win the Singer Featherweight, but regardless, the prices couldn't be beat!). Then there was the ducky fabric from Trina to hopefully help me finish off that Rubber Ducky UFO. And finally, there were 2 6" purple fabric squares for a Purple Charm quilt QUILT TREE that a friend of mine sent me.

***Hey, does anyone want in on this QUILT TREE? It involves sending two 6" purple fabric squares to 7 quilters, 3 who will already be listed and 4 more of your choosing. Supoosedly, you'll end up with enough purple squares to make a quilt. Let me know and I'll pop some in the mail to you.***

I'm trying to maintain the momentum I gained exercising with my sister (have I mentioned yet how in awe of her I am? I am gasping after running a mile, and she has run a MARATHON!!!). I went for a 2.8 mile run yesterday morning before work. Let's just say that it was much harder and much less fun running alone. Needless to say, I didn't quite run the whole way, but hey, walking works, right?

The County Fair and quilt show is next week. Jason and I need to get moving and get our quilts done. Nothing like a deadline to motivate me. Gotta get going. But I'll leave you with a photo from vacation, me and my boys (and the back of my sister's oldest son).