Friday, April 26, 2013

A perfect afternoon

After a whirlwind week at work, I was thrilled to have an afternoon and evening with no prior obligations.  I spent time on the porch in the sun and breeze, finishing up the hand quilting on the rainbow rail fence.  This weekend, I hope to put the binding on and start on the quilt for the second twin.

Then I spent some time playing ball with my son.  I think the game is supposed to be called "Catch", but for us, it is more like "Throw and Chase."

As the temperatures cooled, I retreated inside to finish up making the blocks on my scrappy spiral log cabin baby quilt.  This one doesn't have a recipient, but it is taking up space on my design wall, so I wanted to finish it up.  The blocks aren't sewn together yet, but I like the way it is turning out.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lessons learned

I really shouldn't wait so long between blog posts.  So much happens in even just one day, that waiting almost a week means I'm bound to leave things out.  Perhaps you readers don't mind, but my blog is my online journal, so I hate to leave things out.

Anyway, last Friday's memorial service was painful, as expected.  My entire office shut down for several hours and walked over to attend together.  I armed us with "mourning tissues", made in black, but with musical notes lining the inside to honor my late friend's love of music.
the raw materials
The finished product.  I was kinda bummed that you couldn't really see the musical notes.
My tissues were almost gone by the time we left the church.  I'm going to miss him.
On Friday afternoon, Jason left for his first camping trip as a Boy Scout (as opposed to Cub Scout) - 3 days of fishing further up in the mountains.  He came back on Sunday half-frozen and reeking, but smiling from ear to ear.  Then, later on Sunday afternoon, I caught him practicing his cast in our yard. It is safe to say he is hooked! (pun intended!)

While he was gone, I had hoped to get lots of sewing done, but of course, I didn't.  Friday night I didn't feel well, and neither did Donald, so we cuddled together in my bed watching Mrs. Doubtfire on TV until we both fell asleep.  On Saturday morning, I felt better and took him to the doctor for some medicine to make him feel better, too.  Then, it was off to the Cub Scouts' annual Bike Rodeo.
Donald has the red helmet, blue sweatshirt and green bike.
Next, we delivered the baby quilt and bib to my co-worker.  Good news, Ella should be able to come home this week!!!
All washed and ready to welcome the new babe!
It'll be a while before she is big enough to wear this, but I wanted her to have it anyway.
Finally, we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying crafts and food with some friends as we prepare for another friend's baby shower. By the time we got home, it was all I could do to brush my teeth and crawl into bed before falling asleep.

Sunday, we picked up Jason and drove him to the gym at the university for a shower, since I wanted to take them somewhere before heading home for the day.  After a quick lunch of Mexican, we drove out to Cabin Spring Farm where they were having a two-day sheep shearing and fiber arts celebration. What fun!  My kiddos really took to weaving.  In fact, on the way home, we stopped to buy an old picture frame from Goodwill for Donald to make his own mini loom, per his request!

I thought the peg loom was fascinating and watched for quite some time.  She was making rugs out of cut up wool clothing.  She had another basket full of "t-shirt yarn" that I was coveting!

There was wet felting...
This is going to be a gorgeous rug!
As well as a woman needle-felting, but when I found out she was from Maine, too, I got to talking and forgot about taking her photo.  She made the neatest needle-felted dolls - fairies and mermaids and all manner of creatures.  I know next to nothing about yarn and wool and what can be done with it, so it was a true learning experience for me.

I had the opportunity to fondle some alpaca fleece, too.  Oh my goodness!  I just wanted to roll around in it, it was so soft and luxurious!

But we couldn't stay forever because I start back up with the after-school program this week.  This time, it is only 4 weeks long.  I learned some valuable lessons from last time:

  • limit the class size: I only have eight K-2nd graders this time - yay! 
  • set realistic goals: I ordered 14" square pillow forms, and the kids are each going to design their own patchwork pillow. We are using 2" squares and designing on an 8 x 8 grid. (yes, I know that makes 12" finished pillow size, but this was the pillows will be nice and plump!)
  • keep everyone's work separate: I bought 8 new, sturdy pizza boxes from a local pizzeria, and inserted a 14" square piece of batting in each.  Each child will have a box to keep their project in.  Hopefully we can be more organized this way.

Here's my sample pillow top (E for Erin, not yet quilted).

I'm going to mock up some more on paper grids for them today.  I kinda wish we had an odd number grid (7x7 or 9x9) because sometimes you want to have a center for your block, but oh well.

It's going to be a crazy work week for me this week, too, long days with a ton to do.  Two more months...only two more months. Then I'll have more time to enjoy this...

This was taken on the road to my house this weekend.  My house in the one on the left at the tree line.  I LOVE living here!  So quiet and pretty and peaceful...paradise!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bullet points

No, that doesn't refer to today's Senate vote.  All I'll say about that is that I looked up the votes online to make sure my Senators voted the way I, their constituent, asked them to.  I encourage you to do the same, not just on this issue about gun violence, but about any issue about which you feel passionately, and hold them accountable when they don't.  Enough on that.

What I mean by bullet points is that I have been wanting to blog, but haven't found the time.  To expedite things, I decided to blog updates in bullet point format today.

- I knew we'd owe taxes this year, so I waited until Sunday to work on them.  I set the stage for an enjoyable experience - pulled out the teapot, put on some music -

but it didn't work.  We took a major hit this year.  Ouch!  Rice and Ramen Noodles for the rest of the month!

- To make myself feel better, I made something for myself.  Two somethings, actually.  Check out my new Business Card Holders,! (I used this tutorial.)


They sure beat the rubber band I usually have wrapped around them!  I was so tickled after my presentation today when people asked for one - I may have brandished my new Business Card Holder a bit more than necessary while extracting the cards...

- Now I want to make a matching bi-fold wallet, using the tutorial here, and whip up this Jean Pocket Purse to put them in on my casual weekend jaunts!

- Dinner has been hit or miss in the Hutchinson household lately.  Tonight it was Chinese. Last night it was Subway.  But wherever we are, they must have fruits and veggies.  And my sure-fire way to get my kids to eat veggies?  Let them build their own kebabs to put on the grill!
Donald liked the red onions best!
Jason pretending to eat a raw shrimp.  Grossing me out is one of his favorite past times.
- Have you heard of the Bunkhouse Giveaway for a Quilter's Texas Getaway Weekend?  If I tell you about it and you win, will you promise to invite me to your 3-day, 2-night quilting retreat?  Check it out at!  (I can't wait for Marie's new book to come out - I think I'll go pre-order it from my local bookstore tomorrow.)

- Most of you have received your Hurricane Sandy Quilt Project Thank You postcard by now, but I still have some where I don't have a complete address.  Could the following people, if you are reading this, please email me with your mailing address?  I don't want to leave you out!

H Heyes, VA (yours was returned as undeliverable for some reason)
N. Gilbert, New Zealand
T. Macomb, not sure where you are from
A. McElroy, United Kingdom
P. Dungar, not sure where you are from
Lane from TX
I think there are a few others, too, but wouldn't you know I left everything at the office today!  If you participated in the project but haven't received a postcard from me, would you please email me your mailing address?  Thanks!

There's more to say, but I'm tired.  See you around the blogosphere!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Goodbye, old friend

My friend and co-worker of 10 years died today.  I was going to visit him last week, but I didn't.  I was afraid of being an emotional windowpane, afraid of being unable to mask my emotions while there, and afraid of doing more harm than good.  "This week," I told myself, "I'll go see him this week."

I'm not going to make the same mistake with his wife, a talented and prolific quilter that I've known for just as long, albeit in a different context.  I will go to see her, and hug her tightly,  and if I wet her shoulder with my tears, so be it.  Being strong is for the birds.  I waited until I was strong enough to say goodbye to my friend, and I waited too long. I hope he was able to tell from my card how much he meant to me and how much I will miss him.

Goodbye, Russ.  I'm happy that you are no longer in pain.  I'll see you again on the other side.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Birds, best friends, bindings...

On Friday morning, looking down the barrel of the weekend to come, I was unsure if I had the stamina to make it, but here it is Sunday night, and I am happy to report that I survived.  Adam and Jason went to Atlanta for the Division 3 Men's Basketball Championship (yay, Amherst College, national champs!), so it was just me and Donald at home.  I had to do something to make up for him being left behind with mom, right?

Friday night was stay at home and relax night to rest up for the weekend.  My plan was to sew, sew, sew.  But when I got to my sewing room, my machine didn't work!  The needle wouldn't move, and there was an error message on the screen!

Mind you, my oven has not worked for TWO YEARS and I'm OK with that, but I went into a near panic when I couldn't sew.  I took the machine apart, cleaned and oiled everything, and put it back together again.  I don't know what the problem was, but I got it working again after about two hours.  Whew!  I made two April Block Lotto bird blocks just to be sure.

By then, it was too late to do much else, so I went to bed.

Saturday morning we led the Pledge of Allegiance at the MS Walk with the cub scouts, then walked a couple of miles with the other walkers.  We ran errands, and then I hopped on the highway to travel the 150 miles roundtrip to Donald's best friend's house to pick him up for a sleepover.  They've been friends since the infant room at daycare, so it was rough on both of them when Evan moved away two years ago.  We try to still get them together a couple times a year.  They are so cute together, picking up right where they left off, talking a mile a minute, and never getting into disagreements.  Evan is welcome at my house anytime!

When we got back to town, we went to the First Annual Monacan Round Dance - native american drumming and singing and crafts and regalia - it was cool!  Then, back home for a couple of hours in the spring sunshine before heading out to the Drive-In where I was volunteering for the evening.

Today was not the day of rest I had wanted.  While Evan and Donald played all morning, I packed an enormous box for Goodwill (trying to clean and purge), and then treated myself to sewing on the binding on baby Ella's quilt.  I'm only about a third of the way done sewing the back down, but I hope to finish tomorrow afternoon.  Yay, I might even have something for Show and Tell at this month's Guild Meeting!

I had just enough of this pink to make a binding.  I love using up odd pieces of fabric!

I'd been waiting for the right quilt to use this big busy print as a backing, and this is it!
After Evan went home, it was off to lead a cub scout den meeting.  Today, they earned their Marbles belt loop - I had forgotten how much fun it is to play marbles!  Then a quick visit to a friend who was purging some fabric (I promise, I didn't bring home even a fraction of what I took to Goodwill!), and then dinner with my friend, Michelle, and her family.  We have a standing invitation every two weeks, and I love going because not only is the food always amazing, but it is nice to spend time with another woman who is also surrounded by boys and men, an understanding ally in the friendly battle between estrogen and testoterone.  Today, it was especially wonderful to go because I had to come home and do even more cleaning.  Our house in on the market - since I have given notice at work, we MAY need to downsize.  That saddens me because I love my house and because moving is such a pain, but the house hasn't been this neat since we moved in nine years ago!  Anyway, there's someone coming to look at it tomorrow, so as much as I despise housework, it had to be done.  Right now, I'm exhausted, but happy.  And tomorrow, Adam and Jason will be home again. 

A clean and full house, can't beat that!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


My co-workers have been besieged with a whole host of illnesses and misfortunes in the past year.  It is frightening and emotionally exhausting and just sad.  But times of trouble also tend to pull people together, and I've witnessed that over the past year, too, all of us pulling together to support one of our own.  The latest is a retired professor who works with us in Admissions part time for part of the year, who just found out that he is riddled with cancer.  From what I understand, he is not going to be pursuing treatment and he is deteriorating quickly.

When he is gone, we will have lost a gem.  He is generous and funny, compassionate and brilliant, creative and dedicated, and one of the easiest people that I've ever had the pleasure to work with.  I want to visit him, but I'm afraid of breaking down in his presence and doing more harm than good.  I want to give him something, but what?  I'm a lousy cook, and besides, my oven STILL doesn't work.  His wife is a gifted and prolific quilter, so he certainly doesn't need a quilt.  Hmmm....

I decided on a quilted card.  Quilting is what I know, what I do in times of stress and trouble.  Perhaps he doesn't need a quilt, but if I can just think of what I want to say, then a quilted card seems to be the best delivery for me.

I got some cardstock and some solid scraps, choose a decorative stitch, and made a crazy quilt block card.  Now, if I can just think of what to say on the inside...

Much easier to write are the Hurricane Sandy Thank You Cards.  More went out in the mail today, and I have nearly finished addressing them all.  Whew!  But so worth it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stitches and stamps

My co-worker's baby came 2 months early.  Ella Clare is a cutie with LOTS of hair. Her APGAR scores were great, so the prognosis is good, but she'll be in NICU for a while yet.  I've been wearing my fingers out trying to get her quilt ready to welcome her when she gets home, and I think I'm going to make it.  I bet I have only one or two evenings left of quilting, and I hope to bind it this weekend.  This was such a fun quilt to make - I feel certain I'll be making more with different color schemes.  I love making baby quilts - they come together so quickly! 

I've addressed and about 110 Hurricane Sandy Relief Quilt Thank You postcards - halfway there!