Saturday, July 30, 2011

Keeping the postman busy

First of all, thanks everyone for your support on my last post. I see that I am not alone in needing some alone time to keep me sane and civil.

Quilting time also keeps me sane and civil, and I've been doing a bit here and there. I finished my Bee Block for July (hey, it's STILL July!). She asked for a star block with the red, white and blue solids that she sent. I enjoyed making this Morning Star block:

Then, Christina of A Few Scraps is calling for donated quilt blocks for the Black Rock Stitchery project at the Burning Man Festival in August. I don't really grasp the concept, but I was thrilled to throw together some orphan quilt block pieces to make some pretty random 12.5" blocks for her.

Random block:

Even more random (but look how I mitered the corner - boo ya!)

Totally random

So I'll be giving the postman some outgoing business, but check out what he has delivered for me lately:

My first completed Bee Block from the red, white and black fabrics I sent out with the little quilt sayings - I can't wait to see the blocks everyone comes up with and what I end up with when they are put together - definitely going to be a quilt for ME:

An awesome postcard from Joe Tulips to use as a sample for a project I want to do with the cub scouts this year (when it is not BEAUTIFYING my sewing room):

Oh, and a couple of fabrics that I accidentally bought one day during my lunch break when I forgot to bring lunch...(I've been bad, very bad)

But truly, I needed some more black and white and reds since I sent most of what I owned out with my August Bee fabrics

Everyone can always use a neutral

And I want to make a baby quilt with pieced airplane blocks, and this fabric is perfect to coordinate, right?

And I couldn't resist the name of this line - Surfing Monkeys. Ocean waves, heat waves and starfish - cute, cute, cute!

Green and yellow are colors that are pretty slim in my stash

And sometimes random stuff grabs your fancy.

I will say that everything was on sale...

OK, I admit it, I need an intervention...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Evil ogre mom?

It is Friday, but my mood is much more reminiscent of a Monday morning. Here's why:

Today, my husband turns 40. I'm going to be volunteering at the drive-in movies tonight, meaning I won't have time to make him a nice dinner, so I did that last night: cajun-spiced baked fish fillets with fresh homemade mango salsa, brown rice and fresh corn on the cob. YUM!

Then, I woke up early this morning to bake him some banana bread for breakfast. As I was letting the dogs outside for their morning constitutional, I heard someone stirring upstairs - it was Jason; he keeps waking up earlier and earlier; today it was 5:45 AM. His alarm clock usually goes off at 7:15, so this is really early for him. He showered and was downstairs ready for the day by 6 AM. He asked to watch TV, but that is out of the question; it would be a bad morning habit for him to get into. Instead, I told him he could read, or play, or he could sort and bag the recyclables for us to take into town today. He chose to help with the recyclables. Good kid.

So there I am, mixing up the banana bread and stepping over my son, who is sorting plastic and cans and paper and glass, right in the way. I get the bread in the oven (toaster oven because my real oven STILL doesn't work, even though I ordered a new heating element online, removed the old one and installed the new one, all by myself), washed the dishes, and began sweeping all the floors. During this time, Jason decides to he must find one of his toys and is walking around everywhere looking, getting in my way again. There is a reason why I sweep the floors first thing in the morning when the dogs are outside and everyone else is asleep.

I finish sweeping and cut up a fresh pineapple to go with the banana bread for breakfast. It turns out, Jason doesn't want either, so I get cereal down for him to eat that instead. (kids!) I pack the boys' lunches as well as my own, then call the dogs in to give Rosabelle (whom I believe we are now calling "Deuce", although the jury is still out on that) her medications. By now, the banana bread is done, so I put it on a cooling rack on the stovetop to cool. Donald comes downstairs and starts eating the pineapple, but he doesn't want banana bread either. He wants cinammon toast. (there is no accounting for taste!) I get him situated, and head off to my room to shower and dress. I'm actually going to be early to work this morning!

Halfway through my shower, Jason knocks on the door and asks, "Are the dogs supposed to be eating the banana bread?" During the process of coming to ask me that ridiculous question, he wakes his father, whom I was trying to let sleep in on this anniversary of his birth. What ensued was me fussing at the dogs, Adam fussing at Jason, and the whole exhilaration of a Friday morning, and a birthday at that, crumpling into a cranky funk reminiscent of a Monday morning.

I know it is just food, that I can easily sweep up the floor once again, and that I should have known better - our new dog has obviously never been in a house before, and I'm sure she didn't know that what she did was wrong (although I'm pretty sure she realizes it now!), but I am just so bummed.

While finally getting dressed, I realized that part of why I am feeling so off is that the ONLY time I get to myself all day is the hour or so before the kids wake up. Even though I am usually doing housework or paying bills during that time, it is still MY time. I don't have to talk to anyone. I don't have to do anything for anyone. I can do something from start to finish without being interrupted. I can just be. Having my son unexpectedly underfoot this morning threw me for a loop.

So, when I dropped him off at summer camp, I let him know that I wasn't mad at him, that nothing was his fault, that I knew he was just trying to do the right thing, both by getting up early and by coming in to let me know about the dogs and the bread, and that I loved him. In the future, however, if he wanted to get up early, that was fine, but I'd like him to stay upstairs in his room until 7 AM. I explained that I need some time to myself every day so that I am not such a grouch.

My question is, is that wrong? Is my request selfish and unreasonable? Am I an evil, ogre mom?

(And if I am, do you think Adam and the kids will forgive me if I make some Apple Crisp tonight before the movies?)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Who has time to sew?

All my good intentions have gone down the tubes! First, we brought Rosabelle home on Thursday. She is a sweetheart, but will definitely need some time to acclimate to living in a house with people. Adam calls her my fourth shadow - between the two dogs and the two kids, I can't turn around without bumping into something or someone. But it is understandable; she's been through a lot lately. I'm just glad she seems to like and trust me.

Thursday night, after spending a couple of hours with Rosabelle, the kids and I went to the county fair. The boys' Cub Scout quilt won 2nd place in the Youth category:

This year's quilt show had a lot of variety, from a crazy quilt to a scrappy Double Wedding Ring to baby quilts to a whole cloth quilt to a quilt made with watercolored baby wipes (no joke! it was pretty incredible!) and everything in between. I took very few photos because my kiddos were anxious to get to the rides on the midway, but I was duly impressed by this paper-pieced quilt by Judy Glick:

And my vote for Viewer's Choice went to this quilt called Count Your Blessings by Marcia Vehrs.

I just love the concept, the sentiment, and I love the use of applique plus embroidery.

Doesn't that family look cute? And I adore the sign with the name on it!

In addition to the usual midway rides, there was a "ride" that looked like a human sized hamster ball that you get inside and then you can walk on water. Well, if you can walk, that is. I let my kids do it and they were falling every which way and had a ball! (while I had funnel cake - YUM!)

On Friday, I headed up to Washington DC after work to spend the weekend with my two college roommates. This September, we'll have been friends for 22 years and we all turn 40 this year.(how is that possible? I don't feel a day over 27!?!) We ate (Vietnamese, Middle Eastern and Ethiopian), we swam in the hotel pool, we went to a yoga class (pure hilarity! I'm surprised we weren't ejected - our instructor was a nutcase and some of our contortions were not very well executed, but we managed to do the silent, tears-streaming-down-the-face, pinch-your-lips-together-so-no-sound-escapes laughs), did a bit of shopping, and spent a lot of time talking about the things that matter (being a wife, mother, career woman; getting older; reminiscing about being younger; plans for retirement; book recommendations; losing parents and mortality; old friends; staying -or not staying- fit; should we go out for ice cream for a second day in a row? - YES!). Some friends are just meant to be friends for life. My college roommates are that kind of friends.

(there are 3 of us, but only 2 in this photo, obviously)

So, while I got a little bit of hand quilting done during some of the talks, I've not made nearly the progress I should have at this point. I foresee lots of quilting in the next few weeks. I must go to the library to get a playaway to listen to while I stitch and stitch and stitch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Christmas in July

I'll admit it - I got caught up in the Christmas in July hype! First of all, I picked up a Cleo Coyle book, Holiday Grind, that our library just got in.

I've enjoyed the other 7 Coffeehouse Mysteries by this author, so I jumped right into this one. (It is no surprise that my coffee consumption skyrockets when I read these books!)

And then, to see Mrs. Quilting in my Pyjamas working up that Flurry pattern, which looked so quick and easy and cute, well, I couldn't help myself. I spent some time in my sewing room this weekend with my bag of Christmas fabrics. Although the Flurry pattern is awesome, it doesn't make up for UGLY Christmas fabrics!!! I have inherited most of my Christmas fabrics from others, and of course, I am grateful to have them, but they aren't the gorgeous fabrics you see out there today. I'm less than impressed with what I have so far, and in true Erin fashion, I have had to modify the pattern to fit my limited fabric supply.

Maybe once it is sewn together I will like it better. Maybe once it is quilted. Or (gulp) maybe, I will never like it.

At least my machine and iron and rotary cutter got a little workout.

On a more satisfied note, my husband and I got the over-the-range microwave installed last night - yippee! I've banished my little countertop microwave to the basement and reclaimed my counter!!! (It's the little things that make me so happy!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Delay, delay, delay

This weekend was going to be a weekend of sewing, remember? Well, I did get some sewing done, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. And while I'd love to show a photo of my progress, I forgot to bring the cord to my camera to work with me. We'll have to delay the quilt in progress photos. Which kinda goes along with the whole theme for my weekend - DELAY!

First of all, my husband finally came home after a month of being on the road recruiting. I'm so thrilled to have him home, I was a bit distracted from my sewing... (can ya blame me?)

Secondly, I also had some "fix it around the house" goals for myself.

  • I needed to buy a replacement shutter for one that came off in a storm and install it. Unfortunately, it is a custom size, so that needs to be ordered.

  • I needed to buy and install a new bottom heating element for my oven. Unfortunately, after dismantling my oven, I was informed that those need to be ordered online, not bought at the store. I put the oven back together again so we can still use the stovetop and the broiler.

  • I needed a new over-the-range microwave, as mine has been on the fritz for months now and we've been making do with a little countertop spare. I want to reclaim that countertop space! We bought the new one, but installation was thwarted because our tile backsplash interferes with the mounting plate.


Finally, we are planning to adopt another dog into our family. Poor Biscuit gets so lonely when we are gone during the day, and we think he needs a canine companion. We went to the SPCA Shelter 3 times this weekend to audition dogs, and I've fallen in love with Rosabelle, this year-and-a-half year old hound who is as sweet and calm as Biscuit is rambunctious. They seemed to hit it off when we introduced them, and I think they would complement each other well.

Plus, she gave us "the look". When I heard that she's been in the shelter since JANUARY, I knew I'd be bringing her home with me, the poor thing! But first we need to have our adoption application approved, and then she needs to have her girlie operation done, so she hasn't come home with us yet.

I feel like everything I tried to do this weekend was delayed in one way or another. Here's hoping that this week will be a model of productivity!!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I have not put in a stitch in 2 days. Why? Mostly, because we've been sparring in karate which WIPES ME OUT!! So, after work, then karate, a trip to the pool to cool off, a short stint of blackberry picking in the yard for dessert, and then dinner and bedtime with the kids, I've got nothing left. This weekend, however, I am determined to not only finish the top of the baby quilt, but also finish hand quilting a third block in the Pick and Choose quilt and fire up the sewing machine to piece at least 1 block of something, anything!

I'm going to KICK my inertia to the curb!

(this is me kicking during Kama Kata at my Advanced pre-Black Belt test last month. I didn't know I could kick that high...)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dear Jane comes to town

Saturday morning was our monthly quilt guild meeting. This month, a group of 4 women in the guild shared with us their Dear Jane quilt journeys. It was a wonderful presentation - part history lesson, part technique workshop, part getting to know each other better. Two of the presenters "just" have some of the blocks done, two of the presenters have completed their quilts.

This is Kerry. Her top is done, and she is currently working on hand quilting it. For some reason, the whole photo turned out a bit orange-ish, but take my word for it - her quilt is stunning and her hand quilting is a marvel!

This is Marcia. Her quilt is completely finished. She shared with us her FIVE YEAR JOURNEY as she completed this entire quilt BY HAND, piecing and quilting. It is amazing! And like the original 1863 Jane Stickle quilt, each block is made from a different fabric.

Here is her signature block in the corner. Do you see those stitches??? Just BEAUTIFUL!

I could have admired these quilts for hours!

You would think that this eye candy would have inspired me to come home and quilt, but no, I spent most of the weekend reading. But finally, on Sunday, Jason got me down into the sewing room because HE wanted to sew something. He wanted to make a shirt, but I let him know that I had no idea how to begin making something with sleeves, so we settled on a vest. His school has a Western Wear day every year, so he used the cowboy fabric that he picked out for himself last time that we went to a quilt store together, and lined it with a plaid fabric that he picked out for himself from his grandmom's stash while we were visiting last week because, "Mom, cowboys wear plaid!" We had no pattern, and the only clothing I've ever made was that pleated skirt and that pillowcase nightdress for my niece, but his vest actually turned out pretty darned well!
(no buttons, though, because I have no idea how to make button holes. Gotta do some research on that. Besides, a cowboy vest deserves some cool buttons, don't you think? Or better yet, maybe some pearl snaps like so many western shirts! Hmmmm.....)

I'm particularly impressed with his control over his speed with the foot pedal - I remember when he first started how he couldn't help but go from a standstill to 60 mph and then to a stop again. He's becoming quite the sew-er. Now, of course, I have to help Donald make a vest, too - he wants to use that pirate fabric that I picked up for the boys when I was in California in May.

While I was down there helping Jason out, I finally got the lead out and started piecing together the baby quilt for my co-worker's newborn. I added a pieced wonky star to eliminate some of the plain-ness, and am now working on appliqueing down the initials using needle-turn.

What I really need to be doing is hand quilting the Pick and Choose quilt. I should go do that now...

Hanging on with both hands

I don't want this vacation to end. I am so relaxed, so happy. I've been getting done what needs doing, but not stressing about the rest, and I am so proud of myself! Plus, I've been getting some wonderful sewing time in.

First up, the binding is on my Ella Quilt, and it is in the wash. (please come out of the wash unscathed and wonderfully crinkly!! Do any of you worry about your colors running or stitches not holding or some other catastrophic event taking place between the time you put your quilt in the wash and the time you take it out?) I will be ready to send it off to my friend on Monday.

Secondly, I finished the Birdie Stitches BOM for May (yes, I know it is July - just smile and nod and be happy for me).

As usual, I modified the block a little - there were too many flowers in there for my liking, so I took some out.

And finally, I've been trying to come up with a quick and easy baby quilt for a co-worker who became a father for the second time this past week. I have been seeing lots of quilts with panels of a focus fabric, so I wanted to do that. Plus, I wanted her initials (we weren't clued in on the name until she was actually born). But it turns out that I don't have much fabric that I feel coordinates with the fabric I want as the focus panel. Be honest - is this too plain?

Do you have any suggestions for me? I haven't sewn anything yet, just played with things on the floor. Unfortunately, being the scrap quilter that I am, I only have limited quantities of the fabrics I want to use, so the quilt will be quite small, but then, so are babies, right? In all the time I've been agonizing over making something simple, I could have pieced a top!

Other than sewing, I've been alternately hanging out on my bed watching Brothers and Sisters (I'm on Season 2 now and still ridiculously addicted to that show!) and hanging out on my porch, reading, drinking iced tea and eating these beauties that I picked in our yard before breakfast.

Oh, how I don't want this vacation to end! I am hanging on to each second of it with both hands!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


The kids and I pulled in at about 5 PM yesterday after picking Biscuit up from the farm where he boards when we go out of town. After spending the last 14 nights in 9 different homes and hotels, it felt GREAT to be home!

My own bed - aaahhhh!

Getting clothes out of a dresser or closet instead of a suitcase - aaahhhh!

My own well water - aaahhhh!

I was so excited to be home that I didn't know what to do first. Some of my mail looked promising so I started there. I was thinking that I'd received my fabric and instructions for Let's Bee Together for July, but nope. Instead, I was surprised with these two packages:

A sweet little notebook with my name on it from Mrs. P of Quilting in My Pyjamas - thanks, Shay!!!

And I won this book from a Sew4Home giveaway - I'm hitting the thrift store TODAY to find a wool garment that I can felt and make one (or more) of these little cuties!

Next, I went down to visit my sewing studio. I kid you not, a walked through a cobweb going in the door - BAD SIGN!!! I swept the room out, lit a candle, and fired up the machine to finish up my sample Let's Bee Together block for August when I get to send out the fabrics and the instructions. I hemmed and hawed about what I wanted (I was pretty sure I wanted a basket quilt but I wasn't sure which fabrics to use), but just before leaving for vacation, I realized I wanted something made with those cute little quilt sayings that I got from the Traveling Stash. I pulled out my black and white fabrics, added a touch of red, and voila!

(It reads, "A quilt on the the bed is worth two in the head.)

I have all my kits ready to go

and I'm going to ask Bee members to make whatever block they'd like - modern, traditional, pieced, appliqued, whatever. I can't wait to see what they come up with!

Then, I started unpacking, and came across some of the fabric that my mother-in-law (who first introduced me to quilting 8 years ago) gave me while we were visiting her earlier in the week. I'm most excited about that neutral on top - I go through neutrals faster than I can keep them in my stash!

While at her house, I snapped a few photos of quilts she had around. The kids slept under this quilt, the first quilt she ever made.

Her 90-year-old mother sleeps under this quilt.

And here is a quilt her mother made.

She amazes me - all of her quilts are not only hand quilted, but also hand PIECED! Wow!

Anyway, the kids and I are taking it pretty easy today. We slept in, had brunch on the porch, and now I need to go hang some laundry on the line to take advantage of this gorgeous day. It is so nice to visit with others, but it is even nicer to come home again!