Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If only I had a 22" waist!

I finished my niece's circle skirt! For some reason, the last row of gathering wasn't so onerous last night.

I made a binding for the bottom hem...

Added an elastic waist and tied a ribbon in the front...


And I swear to you, if my waist were only 22 inches, I would keep this for myself! Wouldn't it be fun to flounce around in this?


Perhaps I need my head examined, but I am seriously considering making an adult-sized one! And I will not lie, I tried to squeeze into this one...it looked mighty cute around my knees!


I hope she likes it - ONE Christmas present done!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Can we rewind to the weekend, please?

I could tell it was a Monday morning without even looking at a calendar. I took the dogs to the vet this morning for check-ups and Rosabelle vomited in the car. While washing it out at a gas station, I was wondering to myself if I was going to smell like vomit at the office all day when it occured to me that I forgot to put on deodorant this morning in my rush to get both kids and both dogs out of the house on time. Great, I am going to smell like vomit AND sweat today. Can we just rewind to my wonderful weekend, please?

Hurricane Irene brought us some wind and rain, but nothing we couldn't handle. More importantly, she brought us BEAUTIFUL post-hurricane weather! No humidity and temps in the low 80s during the day and low 60s at night - and it is supposed to be like this all week! I'm in heaven! (in case you didn't know, "almost heaven" is in West Virginia, "heaven" is in Virginia)

Saturday was busy with quite a bit of running around and volunteering accompanied by the blustery weather, but Sunday was wonderful and relaxing. I didn't even shower and dress until right before bedtime when I put on clean pajamas! It was Jason's 9th birthday, so I made him some banana bread for breakfast, we opened gifts, and we lounged about for most of the day. For me, lounging includes sewing. I made a pillowcase dress/nightgown for Anika from a 50 cent pillowcase she helped me pick out at the thrift store this summer. I am much happier with my stitches and construction with this one than with the first one I made a couple months ago.


(note: this is a child-sized headless mannequin, NOT my 6 year old son. What kind of mother would ask her son to model a dress for his cousin!?! Although most 6-year-olds will do almost anything for chocolate...) I'll be sending this off to her once I whip up the other pillowcase that we bought into a nightgown. I would have done them at the same time but the other one needed a different thread color, and there is a limit to how many times I am willing to change the thread in a single day.

I also started working on a Christmas present for my niece - a patchwork circle skirt. The tutorial can be found at http://indietutes.blogspot.com/2007/05/patchwork-circle-skirt.html. I love the dresses in the tutorial, but wow, I had no idea how challenging it is to "gather". Each successive row has 1.5 times the number of patches, and you somehow have to sew them together. The first two rows were a struggle, but I powered through. When it came time to add the third row, I thought, "No way is this going to work!"

But it did.


I was hoping that 3 rows would be enough, so I tried the skirt on my "child-sized headless mannequin" (no photo), but realized that if I didn't add another row, my niece would be getting a lot of unwanted attention everytime she bent over. The 4th row of blocks is over 10.5 feet long!

I called it a day once I got the blocks sewn together and a binding sewn onto the bottom of the row - I won't be attempting to "gather" that row until I have been fortified by a good night's sleep, a cup of coffee and a soothing fragrant candle. All I have left is to sew on the 4th row and sew on a waistband. (I have elastic in there now, but I'm in the process of taking that out because I thought of a better way to do the waist, I think.)



I would love to make one of these for myself - how fun would it be to flounce around in one of those? - , but the effort might just put me over the edge and into the looney bin. Maybe if I used rectangles instead of squares so I wouldn't need so many rows... (not that my legs are that long to begin with) It bears considering, and wow, what a stashbusting project!



To calm my nerves after all the "gathering", I started watching McLeod's Daughters on Netflix. I have found my new Netflix addiction! First, it was Gilmore Girls, then Brothers and Sisters, now, I can't wait to see what happens next on that beautiful spread in South Australia. And there are 100 episodes - woo hoo! I'm only on number 5, so lots of viewing pleasure ahead of me. I was watching on my big 110" screen in our home movie theater (which still isn't painted, by the way - wasn't that my grand plan for my summer vacation?), and the scenery was BREATHTAKING! Was that filmed anywhere near where any of my Australian friends/followers live? If so, prepare a room; I'm coming to visit!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Inspired!

Yesterday, with a whole afternoon and evening spreading out before me with no plans, I felt inspired - inspired to let some of you know how much you inspire me!

When I started blogging, it was to chronicle my quilts: the process, the dates, the fabrics, the techniques, the ideas, the finished products, the frustrations, the triumphs. I had no idea there would be this awesome community of people who would greet me, challenge me, encourage me, support me and INSPIRE me. Thank you!

So armed with some quilt magazines and the materials I have collected to make postcards ALA Julie Tulips with my Cub Scouts this fall, I started playing. Here's what I have come up with so far:



More to come, for sure!

Nellie, all stuffed and ready to nap, sat guard over my workspace.

When Donald saw Nellie, he immediately reached out his arms for her.

I think he was disappointed when I told him that I made her for me. Perhaps I should make one for him, too!

Last night, after nearly gluing my fingers together making postcards, I decided to go downstairs and make one quilt block. After all, there I was cutting up quilt magazines - I couldn't help but be inspired to sew! The one quilt block I made was a log cabin block - a 44" square log cabin block. You know those quilts, usually baby quilt size, that are made of just one block.

That is what I was going for, but as it now stands, I'm not really feeling it. It needs more. What next? Ideas are most welcome!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy, Scrappy, Nappy

She's HAPPY!

She's SCRAPPY!

She's NAPPY!


She's...not done, but done enough to give you a sneak peek. Introducing NELLIE! My happy, scrappy, nappy (nappy-headed AND her eyes are closed so it looks like she's sleeping) RAG DOLL!

All she needs is some stuffing, which I will pick up this afternoon. I will sew her up and we will snuggle down and wait out the soggy Hurricane Irene weather together in my bed with a book and a cup of tea.

After successfully qualifying to receive my first degree black belt in American Freestyle Karate yesterday (the actual test and belt ceremony is not until October 22, but you have to qualify by completing the entire test in a private test before you can participate in the public test), I wanted to do something fun and quick and something that didn't require much thought. Beth's rag doll tutorial at LoveLaughQuilt fit the bill perfectly, and I made Nellie to resemble me:
happy - to have passed the test!
scrappy - I was throwing my uke (partner) all over the dojo floor yesterday with a vengeance despite the fact that he outweighs me by at least 50 pounds!
nappy - I am so tired I could sleep standing up!

But alas, I must stay awake for now, and get through this work day. Thank goodness it is Friday! Not only do I NOT have any afterschool or evening plans today (what!?!), but I also already have dinner in the crockpot (vegetable curry with chickpeas). I can't wait to get home this afternoon!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's shakin'?

Well, Virginia, for one thing. Yesterday's earthquake, with the epicenter just 85 miles from me as the crow flies, was my first ever. What a surreal and unsettling experience! I admit to being a bit excited, too, and thankful that our quake was puny compared to those that seem to create devastation in other parts of the country and the world. When I picked my kids up from school yesterday, just an hour after it happened, my 8 year old told me that he was in science class when it happened, and they followed emergency procedures and all hid out in the bathrooms until it was over. His comment, "Mom, it was great! We never had a science class like that in third grade!" (Note to science teachers around the globe - wanna excite your kids about science? Plan for something "scientific" to happen during your class time!)


Since I work at a university with an active Geology department, we have a seismograph here on campus. Here's what the quake looked like here:


Another thing shaking is our (the kids' and my) fists at the movie screen last night. We've been reading The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks every night for a couple weeks now, and just finished it last night. As a capstone to that lovely story that I remember fondly as a kid and was determined that my kids would read (they loved it!), we decided to watch the movie, too. Ugh! Why must they always take a perfectly good book and mangle it when they make the movie??

Which has me wondering, right now I am reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and was thinking that I'd watch the movie when I am done. Has anyone read the book and watched the movie? If so, am I going to be disappointed again? What about The Help by Kathryn Stockett? I'm waiting for that book to become available at the library so I can read it in advance of watching the movie. If you have read and seen that one, am I going to be disappointed?

Are any of YOU disappointed that there hasn't been much quilting on my quilting blog lately? I'm so sorry. I've been a little disappointed in the slow nature of my hand quilting, and how little time I've spent in the sewing room lately. Most of my efforts have been towards karate lately - tomorrow, I am scheduled to go through the entire 1.5 hour Black Belt test with my instructor, demonstrating everything I have learned in the past 2.5 years. If I don't pass, I have to take the test again, and again, and again until I do pass, else I can't participate in the official Black Belt Test in front of the public on October 22, when I am hoping to receive my Black Belt. I am SO nervous. I've been practicing for HOURS every day. Wish me luck!

Actually, speaking of luck, I won a giveaway while I was on my staycation. The prize hasn't arrived yet, but this book should be in my mailbox any day now:

Perhaps there will be some applique in my future?

Monday, August 22, 2011

How I spent my summer vacation

It's over. The lazy days of my staycation - waking up late, eating whatever whenever I chose, taking little day trips with the kids, watching Netflix shows to my hearts content - it's over. For the past two weeks, I have just gone into the office on Wednesdays (so as to not get too far behind) in order to enjoy the last two weeks of summer with my kids before school started today.

They were thrilled this morning:

(Glad I took a picture of those white sneakers, because I'm sure they will never be white again. And if anyone doesn't want to make a Jack O'Lantern this Halloween, you can borrow one of my gap-toothed kids.)


I, on the other hand, can barely keep my eyes open and am mourning the end of summer vacation. Here's what I did for those two, glorious weeks:


QUILT, QUILT, QUILT!
My callouses are coming along quite nicely, as I have spent hours upon hours hand quilting the Pick and Choose quilt. Yet, I still just have 10 of the 25 blocks done. I love hand quilting, but seriously, could it go any slower? I am anxious to work on something new, but I fear I will never finish this quilt!


WATCH, WATCH, WATCH!
While quilting, the iPad was rarely far away, and I finally finished all 87 episodes of Brothers and Sisters available on Netflix. I thought that was everything, but apparently, it is still a show that is shown on TV, who knew? So, that final episode on Netflix, where I thought everything would be resolved - WRONG! It ended with a horrific car crash! Luckily, the next season is available on DVD tomorrow. I hope that Netflix makes it available soon, because I want to know what happened! (If you know, don't tell me!)

READ, READ, READ!
Some of my "reading" was auditory; I listened to UP FROM SLAVERY by Booker T Washington on a PlayAway from the library. Good thing I was listening and not reading it, because I might not have finished otherwise. When I read it as a kid, it was as a school assignment, and I didn't put much thought into what he wrote. As an adult, I was disappointed with his writing style that included so much hyperbole "there was never a group of people more thankful/gracious/hardworking/whatever" (really? Has he met everyone out there so that he can make such a claim?), so many value judgments "the best people from Richmond were in attendance" (who is HE to determine who the "best" people are?), and so many falsehoods "the Klu Klux Klan is now nonexistent" (um, hello, it still exists TODAY, so I KNOW it was still in existence when he published his book in 1901). Needless to say, I did NOT enjoy this book. I know the man did great things for himself, for the South and for African Americans, and I agree that industrial education is a valuable thing, but I am convinced that he had an agenda when writing this book, so I suspect that the "autobiography" has more spin in it than reality.

Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville let us know a while back on her blog of a free eBook, Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae. I downloaded it onto my iPad (I swear, that thing is the best invention since electricity!), and really enjoyed reading that. I love the idea of women making a business and a living from a craft that they enjoy, so these types of stories really appeal to me. Plus, I love mysteries. I plan to read the other books in the series.

I got Dark Road Home by Karen Harper from PaperBackSwap.com. An Amish quilting mystery - right up my alley. There was some rather stilted and predictable romance, but the rest of the story appealed to me. I recommend it, and I'm glad to have it in my quilting fiction library.

FUN, FUN, FUN!!
I was determined to DO things with my kids during these last two weeks of summer vacation. One day, we went canoeing.

(my husband was not thrilled with this choice of activity, but he is a good doobie and came along for the ride)

One day we went to the skatepark.

video


One night we went on the Ghost Tour of Lexington, VA.


We spent a day with my brother and his family at their city pool.

(walking the half mile or so to the pool)

(hanging out on top of a car(!?!) eating Andy Capp Hot Fries after spending the afternoon at the pool)

We pulled out the Slip N Slide one day.

We went to the drive-in movies several times (of course!).

In short, we had FUN!


Back to real life...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's that time of year!

You know the time of year to which I am refering, right? The time when you are spending half of your waking hours in waiting rooms as your children visit every doctor imaginable to prepare for the school year? Earlier it was the pediatrician. Yesterday it was the eye doctor. Thursday it will be the audiologist. Next Monday it will be the dentist. My kids were picking up on how ridiculous this is, and starting asking me silly questions in the car.






Is there a foot doctor? - Yes, actually. A foot doctor is called a podiatrist. (they thought that was funny)



Is there a nose doctor? - Yup, there's one of those, too, called an ENT because they look at your ears, nose and throat all together since they are all connected. (they thought that was hilarious, which, according to my children, is one level funnier than funny)



Is there a BUTT doctor? - I didn't even get an answer out because they were howling with laughter - just the thought was hysterical, which, of course, is one level funnier than hilarious.





The good part about all the doctor visits is all the hand work I get done while waiting. I finished the July Birdie Stitches BOM today, with my own modications, of course:






The bad part is that there is so much running around that personal hygiene takes a back seat. Donald was talking to me a mile a minute today while we walked in the door, and I opened the door for him and held it open with my arm raised high for him to walk under it. Both he and his mouth stopped in mid-stride so he could exclaim, "Mom! I didn't know you had UNDERARM hair!?!" Great, just great. I'm sure this will come up again in the line at the grocery store or when he is doing show and tell at school or at the office Christmas party.





When I got home from work today, the only day I am going in to the office this week (woo hoo!!!), there was squishy mail waiting for me. Thanks, Linda, for my Let's Bee Together Bee Block! I love it!






Now, with all this time off of work, I'm planning some fun activities with the kids to take advantage of the remainder of their summer vacation, but I also need to quilt that Pick and Choose Quilt! Keep me on task, will you?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ticker Tape - in the nick of time!

It was a super fun, yet super exhausting, weekend. Saturday morning we were out of the house by 7:15 to set up our yard sale/tag sale/garage sale (depending on where you live). If you recall, these are my answer to my kids' seemingly constant requests for money. They help me clean up and get rid of things from the house, plus help me at the yard sale and we all split the profits 3 ways. Easy money, right? And kinda fun. We do our yard sales at a friend's shop (since we live on a dead-end dirt road with only 2 families that live past us) so even when there are no customers, we get to hang out with friends.

Saturday afternoon, the hubby took the kids sneaker shopping and to the movies while I had a spa day with some girlfriends. There were supposed to be 9 of us, but many people had things come up, so it was just 3 of us, but we had a ball, nonetheless. First, we had facials and she put some make-up on us. Hilarious, since I don't wear make-up nor know how to apply it. Yup, (nearly) 40 years old and I've had make-up on my face a sum total of about 5 times in my life. Here we are all dolled up.

I am still not a convert, but it was fun. Oh, and see that necklace I am wearing? I made it from fabric and batting scraps a few weeks ago when I was procrasting from hand quilting. I'll never make another, but it was a fun enough diversion.

Anyway, after facials, it was on to hands, and then feet.

I promise you, my feet have never been this soft since I started walking!

Sunday was the birthday party for the woman for whom I was making the Ticker Tape Quilt, so I worked on that nearly all day. This was truly a quick and easy project, and I will definitely be making another. I pulled it out of the dryer on my way out the door to the party - just in the nick of time. I like the way the back looks:


And I'm pleased with how the front turned out as well:



She seemed happy with it as well - here she is pointing out to those assembled that the colors represent the colors of the belts we earn in karate.




We had to leave the party early because I was volunteering at the drive-in movies last night. We saw the Zookeeper and Winnie the Pooh. My brother and his family came over the mountain to join us, so it was a great time. I've said it before, but I LOVE the drive-in; it is such a family-friendly and inexpensive GOOD time!


So, I got home about 1 AM, and here I am up relatively early this morning because Rosabelle/Deuce has to go back to the vet to get her stitches out and get a couple more shots. This afternoon, the kids and I all have eye doctor appointments and karate, but there should be a good 5 hours in there where I won't have to do ANYTHING! You can bet I'll be sitting on my tush, quilting and watching Netflix on my iPad with a glass of iced tea by my side. Aaaahhh! Vacation!

Friday, August 5, 2011

PRESENTS!

Thursday was all about PRESENTS! In the mail, I received my heart in the form of a necklace from my soul sister, Em - thanks, love!


I also received another of my Let's Bee Together blocks.


I started working on a present for one of karate instructors, whose birthday party is this Sunday evening. It is a quick and easy Ticker Tape or Mosaic Tile quilt. I just hope it is quick enough to complete by Sunday at 5 PM. The R is her initial, and I'll be making 9 bands of color to correspond to the nine colors of the belts we earn in karate.



I also finished making and sewing together my modified Flurry blocks for my Christmas quilt. Now for borders...I think I'm going to do a braid on either side, partially to make it wider but also to use up more of these hideous Christmas fabrics.


And finally, this has nothing to do with a present, but I finished my second Pindrop block.


Today, I worked only half a day, then met my kids at the city pool and swam 20 invigorating blocks. Now I'm sitting on my porch, enjoying a refreshing breeze and the gorgeous views while I shuck corn and snap beans for dinner. What a great start to the weekend!

Que pases un buen fin de semana!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Running out of time (and bread!)

Even though I am stitching a bit on my Pick and Choose quilt a little bit every day, I was dismayed to spread it out this morning and note that I am only working on my FIFTH block of the quilt. There are 25 blocks PLUS sashing and a border to quilt. I am NEVER going to finish!!! My goal was August 15, but I'm starting to think that isn't possible. Phooey!




So, did I sit down and stitch on it some more? Nope! I went down to the sewing room to piddle around a bit. I wanted to practice mitering some more, so I pulled out some border strips that I had inherited from someone cleaning out their stash and added them around this leftover stencil block. Not perfect, but I think I'm getting the hang of mitering.





While doing that, I also sewed a couple of FLURRY rows together.

I removed the extra rows of background fabric in between the rows of gifts so I can make more presents and make the quilt bigger. (remember, I am using up stash, not buying, so I have to make my background fabric stretch as much as possible)



I also started making another of my Pindrop blocks - I'm really feeling compelled to bust some scraps now that I've added a bit of yardage to my stash.



I'm feeling a bit euphoric because I don't have to do ANYTHING after work today. No karate, no pool, no shopping, no nothing! I'm going home to read and sew!




(OK, not exactly true. Last night, while we were watching a movie in our movie theater, the new dog, Rosabelle/Deuce, got a loaf of bread off the counter that I had just bought and ate the WHOLE thing. Ugh! So I have to buy bread so my kids can have sandwiches for lunch at camp, but that's IT! I'm not doing another blessed thing!)

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Summer Sunday

No quilting photos today. I've been plugging away at hand quilting my Pick and Choose quilt, but it is slow going. Especially in this heat! Yesterday was borderline uncomfortable sitting under that quilt while I worked on it.

But there are some things this heat is great for:

TOMATOES! I made this bowl of fresh salsa/pico de gallo yesterday with homegrown tomatoes and jalapenos (the cilantro, red onion, garlic and lime were from a store). My 6-year-old said he "didn't like my salsa...he LOVED it!"


DRYING CLOTHES ON THE LINE! I remade everyone's beds yesterday with sheets fresh from the line and man, did I sleep GREAT! I love air/sunshine dried sheets! While at the clothesline, the dogs stayed cool in the shade nearby. I love seeing them play together and just hang out together; it was nice to be able to rescue a dog from the shelter, but also nice to be able to provide a compatible playmate for Biscuit.


WATER FUN! I was tempted to take Donald to the pool yesterday, but I've been running around so much, I just didn't want to leave the house again. Instead, I set up a slip and slide type toy he received for his birthday this year, much to his delight.


ICED TEA! I love iced tea in the summer! Growing up, we always had Salada tea in the house, and I loved seeing what my saying would be every time I had a cup of tea. As an adult, I continue to buy Salada tea and continue to enjoy the sayings. Here are two of the three from yesterday's batch of tea:



What does the heat bring that YOU are thankful for?