Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sure sign of a GREAT vacation

(note: I started this post on June 29, but didn't publish until July 4 - hence the discrepancy between dates - sorry if you find my post to be confusing!)

We've been on the road since Wednesday, June 22nd. We've been to New York state visiting colleges while my husband recruits. We've been to Pennsylvania visiting my husband's family. We spent a week in Massachusetts staying with my twin sister and her family while my husband and the boys worked/attended basketball camp. We spent a day and night visiting a college roommate on her farm in Vermont. For the last two days, we've been in New Hampshire at my younger sister's and mom's new house, celebrating not only their move, but also my sister's 34th birthday.

We have ridden bikes, gone swimming in ponds, exercised (ick!), eaten VERY well, played basketball and baseball and every board game ever made. We've gone to the movies. We've read books. We've driven seemingly every back road in New England with the music blaring and the windows rolled down. What we HAVEN'T done is get on the computer. Having too much fun to stop what I'm doing and write a blog post is a sure sign that I'm having a great vacation. And to top it off, I still have a week of fun left!

I have gotten some stitching done. I finished hand quilting my ELLA quilt for the daughter of a high school friend. I can't trim and bind it until I get home.
I've also about half completed the May Birdie Stitches BOM. but I don't have photos yet.

And now some photos from the week at my twin sister's house:

The kids wanted to wish their Grandpa a happy birthday, so they made signs and we posted this on his Facebook Wall (the new generation and all, you understand)

My knitting sister showed me some lovelies she has made for her daughter (hopefully just miniature versions of stuff she has in the works for me (hint, hint, hint):
a tank top
a lovely dress
and here is the said niece wearing that nightie I made her

Ericka also took me to the high school to see a community quilt that a class had produced.
Check out the clever 3-dimensional doorknobs:
And some of my favorite pictorial blocks - do you see the clever use of that red toile(?) fabric?
I think this is Emily Dickinson
Farms are perfect to render in patchwork

Anyway, I can smell bacon, a siren call to get me off the computer and back with the family. Today, we head back to Pennsylvania for a few days before making our way back to Virginia to see if my pets still recognize me. Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans! And happy belated Canada Day to my northern neighbors! And if you are reading from some other part of the world where you haven't been graced with a holiday weekend, happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weekend in Connecticut

First of all, I have to tell you all that I have finally joined the ranks of people who have cameras on their cell phones. I'm late to the party, I know, but how exciting to be able to take photos anytime without carrying along extra equipment! So, of course, while I was in New Haven this weekend presenting at a conference at Yale, I had to snap some photos.

Saturday's conference was LONG and I had some down time in between presentations, so I escaped outside to get some iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts and catch up on blogs on my iPad (still love it!!!) on a bench in a courtyard. I glanced up at this gaggle of students, and do you see what I see?

Lots of blue Half Square Triangles on that girl's white tank top! (Unfortunately, I don't think my camera has a zoom and I didn't want to get right in her face to take the photo, so you may have to click the photo to make it larger and see the scrappy HSTs.)

The conference went too late on Saturday for me to fly home that night, so I booked my flight home for 6:15 AM on Sunday so I could be with my family for Father's Day. At least, I THOUGHT I did. It turns out, I booked a 6:15 PM flight, and wouldn't get home until after midnight. Yup, I'm an idiot. Not only was I missing all of Father's Day, but I was in New Haven on a Sunday with no car and nothing to do. I asked for late checkout at the hotel, but that only took me until 1 PM. What to do with the next 5 hours?

I decided to WALK to the airport. I noticed on the taxi drive from the airport on Friday that it was in a residential area, and Google Maps told me that it was only about 4.5 miles away, so I strapped my backpack on my back (I travel light!) and set off, looking for adventure.

It started out great. I enjoyed walking through Yale's campus, and through the retail district that surrounds any group of youngsters in possession of their parents' credit cards, and found this shop where I just had to stop and browse.

Check out the neat little sewing machine in a case:

And these feedsacks that I forced myself not to buy.
There was also a TON of beautiful embroidery floss along one wall, but I didn't buy that either since I have more than I will probably ever use already.

Once I'd checked out every cool thing in there, I was on my way again. Things were pretty dull for the next 2 miles or so until I came across a Dunkin Donuts, where I stopped for a frozen lemonade and a Boston Kreme. Yum!

At this point, I was starting to rethink my decision to walk, since I only had flip flops and heels (I opted for the flip flops) and my feet were getting not only tired, but filthy. But I soldiered on, and arrived at the airport a mere 2.5 hours before my flight. If you ever need to go to the New Haven, CT airport, BRING A BOOK! And a snack! It is the smallest airport I have ever seen, which, of course, means no refreshments besides a do-it-yourself coffee dispenser and a Coke machine, and absolutely nothing to do. People watching isn't much fun when you are the only person in sight.

Anyway, I got home safe and sound and now I'm back at work counting the minutes until vacation, which starts at precisely 3:00 PM on Wednesday afternoon, and not a second later!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another milestone!

I haven't done much sewing this week because I've been focused on preparing for my Advanced Pre-Black Belt test. After suffering that torn calf muscle 5 weeks ago, I've been worried about not being ready, as I haven't gone to class as often, and when I did go to class, I avoided doing certain moves in order to let the injury heal. The test was last night, and I am happy to report that I DID IT!!!

(Yes, I'm short. Just 5 feet tall. If I stand up REALLY straight.)

This belt means more to me than any other because I had to work harder to get it (never mind that the test itself was so much longer). Last night I felt a nauseating mix of relief/pride/exhaustion/euphoria. Today, only the euphoria remains.

Wanna see me break some boards?

It's a short video, just 41 seconds. These are actually breakable boards (think of all the lumber we'd go through if we used actual boards every time!), but the force required to break them is the same as a regular 2.25 inch (5.715 cm) pine board (over 200 lbs of force if I remember correctly). For our black belt test, we will be using real boards.

So now that the stress of the test is over, back to sewing! I will be doing lots of hand quilting on the Pick and Choose quilt in the coming week, but I also want to make an iPad cover!!! Perhaps this one from One Shabby Chick:

Or perhaps this one from My Patchwork:

I love her humor on this one with the PEAR instead of the APPLE:

And this one from Smashed Peas and Carrots is so cute!

But don't be surprised if the case I make is this lovely envelope one from Dixie Mango:

Hmmm...I may have to make more than one, whaddaya think?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Something for you (Debbie) and something for ME!

The Random Number Generator choose comment #10 from the 17 comments on my Wanna Win the Traveling Stash post - Debbie from North Carolina, send me your address and I'll do my best to cram everything into a box to send your way this week. Thanks for playing along, everyone!

Speaking of playing, yesterday the family traveled to the big city to make a purchase - and iPad2. I see lots of great times in my future with this little gadget. I've already bookmarked some tutorials to try, and how easy it will be to bring that down into my sewing room to follow the tutorial instead of printing out the directions. Plus, when I just have 5 minutes to spare, I can easily be online in moments and check someone's blog, rather than waste those 5 minutes waiting for my desktop to boot up. I LOVE IT!!

Unfortunately, so does my 8-year-old son, so he's been on it much more than me.

That's OK, though, because I'm supposed to be sewing, right? I finished my first block on the Pick and Choose quilt...I think. (click on the quilt photos to see them larger and in more detail)

As I mentioned before, I didn't have a plan before I started hand quilting this, just sat down with a needle to see where it would take me. It was terribly angular, so the quarter circle curves in the neutral triangles are my attempt to balance it out a bit. Opinions, anyone? Is it quilted enough, or does it need more? One thing I considered was making the curve a double line, but is that overkill or unnecessary? I'm trying to keep in mind that there are 24 more blocks, sashing and a border to quilt, so I don't want to do more than I'll want to do 24 more times over.

Here's the back.

See how many of the lines just stop? Is that problematic? Should I connect those interior points?

I think I'm going to sit on this before I decide if I need more quilting in each block, but feel free to chime in!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Another night with not a stitch of sewing done...pooh! But the good news is that my end-of-the-year office party went well at my house last night - about 30 people, lots of good food, Air Hockey, Bananagrams, and a new game that I've never played but will definitely buy now, SmartMouth.

Once all my guests left, I "remembered" that I had 3 overnight guests - my good friend (and co-Den Leader for Cub Scouts) had a birthday yesterday, so I started the day by taking her some homemade Apple Crisp and ended the day by picking her 3 kids up from school and bringing them home with me to spend the night with us. They are great kids, so it is a pleasure to have them stay over, but last night, when the last guest left and I called the kids in to get ready for bed, look what I saw:

(they are all saying, "We're filthy!" except for Donald who is mad at me because I said he has to take a shower)

They had been making "adobe" to patch bricks. Oh, my! My sparkly clean pre-company bathrooms were completely transformed as we scrubbed the dirt away. And then, little did I know, there was the post-shower hair de-tangling routine for the girls. Holy macaroni! If I had girls, they'd be bald-headed because that was an ordeal! But, they all went to sleep very dutifully after story time, and I was asleep not long after.

Tonight, though, I'M SEWING!!! After school and a doctor's appointment, we are going to the pool to cool down (and soak off any dirt we may have missed last night!), and then I'm going home and sitting down and that's IT! After all the house cleaning this week in preparation for this gathering, my house is both cleaner and tidier than it has been in a long while, so I will feel no guilt about sitting on my behind for a few hours. Tomorrow, hand quilting photos of the Pick and Choose quilt, I promise! There will also be a new recipient for THE TRAVELING STASH. If you haven't put your name in the hat yet, there is still time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Stuff!

June's materials for the Bee that I belong to arrived on Monday - chili pepper fabrics!

We could make any block we wanted but had to include some white fabric signed with our name and location. I wanted to highlight some of the larger individual peppers, so I came up with this log cabin configuration.

I'm hosting the end-of-the-year gathering for my office at my house tomorrow, so I'm spending much more time tidying up than sewing, but I did get started hand quilting the Pick and Choose quilt. I had no real idea how I wanted to quilt it, and was poring over books and still coming up with nothing, so finally I just hooped it, put it on my lap, and started stitching. I think I like what I'm doing, but I'll reserve judgement until I put a few more stitches in tonight before bed. I promise photos tomorrow, but in the meantime, be sure to comment on my last post if you want to be included in THE TRAVELING STASH drawing on Friday evening.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


On Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day, I won THE TRAVELING STASH and it arrived yesterday. It is a USPS Large Flat Rate box that is making its way from home to home, delivering smiles and picking up new passengers along the way.

Here's how it works: when you receive the box, you take out what you want, put in some of your own stash that you are willing to part with, and send it on its way to another home. Take a peek at all the photos below, and if you want a chance to win THE TRAVELING STASH, simply leave a comment below with your STATE. On Friday, June 10, I'll pick a winner around dinnertime, and get the box out over the weekend or on Monday, depending on when I receive the winner's address. (Sorry, only open to those living in the USA - the box costs $14.95 to ship in the US, but $35.50 to Canada/Mexico and $58.50 everywhere else, and I'm not made of money.)

Here's what I took out yesterday for myself:
Cute little panels of quilt-y sayings

An assortment of pins, two rolls of giant white RicRac, some red bias binding, some COFFEE iron on transfers, a BOM pattern

Two yellow prints on a stiff canvas-like materials (I see a BAG in my future!)

Assorted fabric and Joann's FQs

I added the following to the box:
3 Machine applique patterns and 2 simple, little wall hanging patterns

2 quilting stencils and a Triangle square up ruler (I love this ruler, but I found that I had two of them)

2 books, 1 felted wool flower sampler pattern, harvest cross stitch pattern, folksy christmas items patterns

Stack of FLANNEL Strawberry Shortcake squares and scraps leftover from a quilt I made (I'm guessing the squares are somewhere between 8 and 10" - I'm blogging from work so can't measure them)

5 of my many blue Robert Kaufman Kona Solids FQs (I still haven't used ANY of them, so I guess I should start sharing the wealth)

Some scraps of my many novelty prints

1 yard of this Joel Dewberry (if I remember correctly) pink plaid-ish fabric plus a scrap of this black zigzag fabric, neither of which I can ever figure out how to use in a quilt

And here's what is left in the box from before:
A stack of PSALMS panels

Assorted size (and quality) fabric

A hand quilted block, ready to be made into a pillow or something

Debbie Mumm "Creative Woman" panel and scrap of coordinating fabric

Christmas items to sew - a Santa apron, a snowman Advent Calendar and Poinsetta placemats

Super cute coordinated bright florals - I almost grabbed this, but I know I won't use it anytime soon...

18 Cheep Talk 2.5" strips, assorted Jo-Ann's fat quarters and other fabric

Many patterns including Fig Tree Quilts and Green Fairy Quilts

Cute embroidered bunny cube, some orange-ish bias tape and some blue lace stuff, thick cream lace, pom poms

Two gray machine embroidered dogs

The box is WAY too full to close right now, gonna have to try some creative packing techniques! (C'mere, son! Sit here for a minute, won't ya?)

Monday, June 6, 2011

The problem with puttering

I putter. I start this, get distracted, start that, take a quick break, see something else that needs doing, and so on and so on. This happens around the house all the time. Yesterday, I got a lot done - weeding, mulching, purging clothes we don't wear/fit anymore, purging kitchen items to get rid of, sweeping - but I didn't FINISH anything.

The same is true in the sewing room, but for the month of June, I am committed to finishing some things. I've joined up with Rubyslipperz (see the button on my sidebar?) to get some things done in June. Each finish gives me another chance to win her giveaway, but even if I don't win, at least I'll have accomplished something. I hope to:

finish the ELLA quilt for my high school friend

get caught up on the Birdie BOM - I still haven't done May or June

put a sleeve on my Great Great Grandmother's quilt - this is my entry for the quilt show at the county fair this July and it needs a sleeve

and make a couple covered dish/casserole carriers for some friends from a pattern I found in a magazine.

Last night, I actually did finish the quilting items on my to-do list for the weekend. The first was to finish the April Birdie BOM - this one is one of my favorite blocks so far, so simple. I left off the Easter eggs that were sprinkled around on the block to simplify things:

The second item on the weekend to-do list was to sandwich the Pick and Choose quilt that I sold at the Old Middlebrook Village Day last month which needs to be hand quilted this summer. I've been looking forward to the quilting, but I can't stand basting! And ironing all of the backing was misery, even with my BIG ironing board. But, it is done and in a hoop and ready for me to put some stitches in every day (that's the plan, anyway):

Of course, first, I need to come up with a plan for my quilting...