Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fresh Start

New projects are so much fun! After three months of UFO's it is way too fun to cut into "fresh" fabric and start something new. I got the beginning of my first 5 blocks done for the pineapple quilt. I needed to do something soothing to settle my nerves after a particularly stressful day at work. I need to write a new version of the test I gave today before morning, but then maybe I can get another round or two done before bed. Most of my students will be gone on field trips tomorrow and then Thursday is grandparents day and Friday has 15 minute periods before the break, so it really is the home stretch now. I am planning on sewing into the wee hours of the morning and reading the new Jennifer Chiaverini book.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Familiar Conversation

Him: That's a pretty bright quilt. What is it for?

Me: It is for being a quilt. What do you think it is for?

Later the same day....

Me: I am finally done with my quilt.

Him: Which done is this? The top done, the back done, the layering done or the real done?

Me: All done

Him: Wow, even the quilting?

Me: Yes, even the quilting.

Him: That's great, what was this one for again?

I just finished putting the binding on Buttons and Bowties. This is my second charity quilt for the Girl Scout project. I used up a bunch of random Hawaiian prints on the back. I'm not sure why, but I thought having a theme would tie it together better. These were gifted from my neighbor who moved away, and she would appreciate having them used in a charity quilt. So that is my March UFO officially done with a full day to spare! Three months and three UFO's finished forever. I'm liking this resolution.
I checked Patchwork Penguin to see what the UFO for April is. It is #4. For me that is the Pineapple in Brights. Yea! I have to admit that I cheated on this one. I didn't have 12 UFO's so I put one NSY (not started yet) on the list. I saved all the extras from my Elm Creek Quilt because I really liked the way they looked together. I had planned a much larger quilt when I started that one. I guess that is part of the fun of 6 inch blocks. Anyway, I loved the pineapple block and wanted to make a whole quilt out of it. I have not done a ton of paper piecing, so this will be good practice. Since this is a new project, I think I'll keep it small. A 6 x 7 setting will fit nicely on the quilt hanger by the front door. That's 42 blocks. Thankfully spring break is next week, maybe I'll have time for some power sewing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frugality or Futility?

Sometimes I wonder if being frugal is truly worth it. OK, if I were really struggling to stretch the budget and couldn't afford to go out and get new batting, I could see the utility in piecing together all of the odd scraps to make a new quilt bat. However, I stocked up on batting when it was on sale after Christmas, and still have 3 bags stashed in the laundry room. Why do I torture myself by insisting on using every last scrap? Something in me just abhors waste. I spent all afternoon puzzling together a batting and a backing. I truly don't mind the time. If I wanted a hobby where I could accomplish things quickly and efficiently, I probably would not have chosen quilting. If I had been happy with the way it all went together, it wouldn't have been an issue. As it was, the batting ended up a little lumpy and wonky. I got it all laid out and ended up muttering under my breath when I realized the batting had a swerve to it, leaving one corner completely unstuffed. More muttering followed as I whacked off the protruding section and handsewed it behind the offending corner.

So that took most of the afternoon. Alternated with loads of laundry and the usual weekend stuff, I got my quilt layered and pin basted. Kurt voted for read quilting thread, assuming I have some of that, I'll get a start on that as soon as the kids are in bed. Today was the last OM practice before the big state competition next weekend. Ryan is going to be a newscaster and announce what is happening from this TV he made out of cardboard boxes. The boys are going to be dinosaurs destroying a cardboard city while the girls drop weights on the structure. I think everyone is ready for it to be over. We'll have a final dress rehearsal on Thursday and then it's off to Orlando on Saturday.

Slow Going

It's slow going around here, but I got the Buttons and Bowties blocks put together and bordered yesterday. I'm still not thrilled about the colors. I think it's just too many brights and not enough contrast. Still, it's done, and I'm in the midst of piecing some batting right now.
Sydney has had the stomach flu this weekend, and I'm struggling with a head cold. The menfolk were supposed to be off camping, but a big thunderstorm was in the forecast so they were all sent home again.
I worked through some more happy blocks while I was at the machine. These are simple and fun to do. Unfortunately I only had one charm pack of the monkey fabric, which isn't enough for a whole top. I found some more of the same fabric at the fat quarter shop though, and put in an order on Friday. I'm always torn when I buy something just because I like it. I hate to buy enough of everything for a new quilt that I may or may not get to, but if I do end up turning the little bits and pieces into a quilt, I never seem to have enough of everything. I guess i could only buy the things I know I will turn into a quilt in the very near future, but where's the fun in that?
Anna was at a sleepover last night, I'm going to pick her up now and then we're all going to see Monsters and Aliens in 3-D. Hopefully I can layer up my quilt this afternoon.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Not a lot of sewing went on this week. I did finish the block for buttons and bowties and got several more happy blocks put together. Most of the week was spent getting ready for Camporee. Our troop took 8 girls for one night of camping and a full day of outdoor fun. We started the day with canoeing followed by crafts, track and field events, archery and engineering (building things with spaghetti and marshmallows). The day ended with outdoor cooking, a dance party and the obligatory campfire songs.

Sydney's Daisy troop came for the day, and because she was on the same rotation as our troop, I got to at least see her events as well. She really wants to camp out, but it wouldn't be fair to our troop to have siblings tagging along. We'll have to try a family camping trip soon so she can sleep in a real tent in the woods.

The girls have been doing this for three years now and are getting pretty good at it. They know how to set up a tent, organize a campsite and practice "leave no trace" camping. Our new skills this year included using matches, outdoor cooking and washing dishes outside. We even made an outdoor hand washing station out of an old laundry detergent bottle, a pantyhose leg and a bar of soap.

They badly wanted to spend two nights camping, but I'm not sure we are quite ready yet. Miss Sheila was a true godsend. The mom who had volunteered to help out was busy for most of the day and there was no way I could have handled it all alone. She is so patient with the girls, and always ready to offer a solution or a helping hand.
Everyone went home on Sunday filthy dirty and exhausted, but after a long hot shower and a nice long nap, all was well again. I keep telling myself how good it is for the girls to learn these skills and gain independence and self confidence. It is such a small window of time that they are interested and willing to participate. By the time they get to junior high and high school most of them will want to move on. I am glad I get to have them now while they are still eager and willing.
Today was back to work again. We're studying solutions in Chemistry and blood spatter patterns in Forensic Science. They managed somehow to spatter fake blood all over the room and still leave it shiny clean at the end of the period. I was amazed! I found out I'll be teaching Anatomy, Chemistry and Biology next year. Best of all -- for the first time in 6 years, I'll have my own classroom! I'm so excited! I will be able to unpack my cart and settle in. I'm going to get a stapler and a roll of tape and have a proper in-basket. For once, when someone asks to sharpen a pencil, I'll know where to send them. I'm a little sad to loose the Forensic Science, but I think it will come back again later.
I hope everyone had a good weekend. I'm sure lots of good quilty fun happened while I was playing in the dirt.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Blocks

I'm in the early stages of another project. I don't remember if I've already mentioned that another Girl Scout troop is helping out a local women and children's shelter for their gold project. I, of course, couldn't help asking if they needed any quilts. After the fun of our 40 nursing home lap quilts for Christmas, I felt the need for a new project. Mary has directions for happy blocks on her blog, and I was thinking of kitting some of these up and trying to get lots of other troops involved in the project. Each troop who participated could sign up for a kit. The brownie troops could use a meeting to put the blocks together and then send them back to me. The junior troops could make the blocks and then put them together to make a top. I think the older girls could even layer and tie the quilts before sending them back. It's all in the planning stages, but I'm mulling over all the options now. Each quilt would need 80 9 inch happy blocks, which should be easy enough for a troop to do during a regular meeting. I'm going to put one together for practice and give it some more thought. They have 23 beds they are trying to cover. For I'm taking my Scrappy Irish Chain to donate. I guess that's 22 more to go! No time to ponder right now, Camporee is this weekend and wild preparations are under way.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I just polished off the quilting on Yes We Can. I doesn't show up at all in the picture, but it is fairly detailed. I did a meander with blue in the blue parts, and red in the red parts. Then I put waves and loops in the red borders, outlined the stars and put stars in the blue star border. The striped part got a little zig zag effect. I still need to do the binding. I think yellow will work. There isn't any outer border because the size was just about right as it was. A stopping point for the eye would have been nice, but it already has that border after border look to me.

Shuttle Launch

Almost forgot about the shuttle launch! The kids were watching a movie and I had dozed off in my favorite comfy chair. I heard the countdown on the Florida Today web site and ran out the driveway just in time. Kurt took this shot just as the external fuel tanks seperated. That usually happens about the time the sound hits us. The sound on take-off is just a low grumble. When it lands again there will be huge window-vibrating sonic boom. Anna was just a baby the first time I heard one. I was up feeding her at 3 a.m and had just dozed off (I'm sensing a common theme). I thought something had blown up next door. Kurt jumped out of bed and we both ran around trying to figure it out.

3 B's today

I got the Yes We Can quilt bordered backed and basted. If things are calm tonight I'll get at least some basic stabilizing quilt lines put in. I got all my school work finished on Friday, so for once there is nothing hanging over my head even though it is a Sunday night. I have a lab all set up for Forensics tomorrow, but the physics teacher needs the room, so I think I'll have them share and compare a web quest they did on Thursday. Chemistry is in the depths of gas laws right now, so it is just problems and more problems. Add to that some time to pass back papers and organize binders, and we should be good to go.

Anna has been engrossed with some new "pet" frogs that she found in the yard. Here she is with Bubbles and Uranus. She had another one named Goliath, but he peed on Sydney and so they let him go. There was also a lizard named Liz, but he bit Ryan and got let go as well. Kurt took all the kids out today to shoot off model rockets they have been building while I finished painting the bathroom. I started it eons ago, but left the part that needed a ladder for later. Later took a while to get here. This afternoon was OM again and tonight we are going to watch a movie with our pizza.
I hope everyone else had a productive weekend. I know Amy had power chord issues and Amanda is in the midst of moving. Julie is busy with and injured daughter, but hopefully other people had quilt related progress.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Week Gone

I don't know if it's the economy, or job uncertainty or just general anxiety, but everyone seems grumpy. Friday was an inservice day, and several of the faculty forums turned into general gripe sessions. Work hasn't been my happiest place lately, so it's easy for me to fall in with the crowd. I've even been too discouraged to quilt! I always try to be a glass half empty-try to make the best of it sort of person, but I'm just feeling tired I guess. I stayed at work late on Friday to get everything finished up for the end of the quarter, so I felt good about taking some time to dive back into something quilty this weekend.

I had decided a while ago to put some more words in the borders of my inauguration quilt. I was virtuous though and finished of my January and February UFOs before hopping back in again. I've got some mile a minute blocks I'm going to try out for the cornerstones, and then maybe a skinny yellow border to wrap it all up. I don't want to make it much bigger, it's about the right size for the foyer spot right now. Kurt is a little concerned about making a big political statement so close to the entryway, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Monday

Nothing quilty today. Grades are due at the end of the week and I'm working on finishing everything off. I got a nice head start today because such a large proportion of my students were gone in forensics that I showed a movie. They thought that was great and I got lots of papers graded. Then I went to the butcher to try to get blood for a serology lab. They thought I was a vampire and told me it was illegal to sell blood. Seriously -- do I look like a vampire to you guys?
Tonight was the Girl Scout team meeting and I got home just in time to kiss the kids goodnight. Maybe I can get a little done on the b and b quilt tomorrow. I'd like to get to a point where I can pick it up off of the floor. So close.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Big Sigh

I don't know why Sunday always ends with a big exhale of exhuastion. I don't feel like I accomplished much, but I've been frantically busy. Such is life I suppose. I got a bit of cleaning and laundry done. Sydney and I planted some herbs and flowers in the yard. We had a series of playdates. When there were a few down minutes here and there I got some sewing done on the buttons and bowties. I'm hoping to finish off my March quilt before April arrives. Most of the blocks were already cut and the circles were prepped, so I don't have that much more to do. I just sewed everything that was ready to go and I'm almost finished. I've laid it all out and I think I only need 5 more blocks to make a twin sized quilt. If things stay calm for a few more minutes I can pull some more nickel squares and pair them up for circles.
While I was puttering, I found a charm pack at the bottom of my 5 inch square box from the sock monkey line of fabric. I had completly forgotten it existed. So I pulled some coordinating 2.5 inch strips to turn those into happy blocks. Honestly I need to pull out my school work and power my way through some grading. I gave tests on Friday and collected labs on Thursday. The quarter ends midweek I think, and everyone wants to know where they stand. And of course, the same thought hits me every Sunday about this time, I'd better figure out what I'm teaching this week. Big sigh as the cycle continues.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More of the Same

Sydney had a field trip Friday to a petting zoo about 45 minutes away. She was so excited and walked around for days talking about all the things she was going to do on her "best day ever".
She rode a pony and held a chick and a duckling, and is apparently quite adept at milking a cow now. Not bad for one day.

Every time the weekend rolls around, I think about what a nice break I have to look forward too after a busy week at work. It never seems to work out that way. Yesterday Kurt's parents got into town for a quick overnight on the way to a cruise. This morning, he took Anna to ice skating while I dropped off the cookie paperwork and took Sydney and Ryan to a beach clean-up. Then he went to drop them off at their boat while I supervised assorted playdates. Tonight Anna is having a friend sleepover and we've just gotten back from taking them all to see the school play. I did have time though, to finish the handstitching on Happy Chains, and to pull out my March UFO.

It's fun to pull out something that has been sitting for a while. It all looks so happy and neat sitting in it's little project box. Stacks of finished blocks, and pre-cut pieces sit there, just waiting to be turned into a finished quilt. Trying to remember exactly what you had planned before it all got put on the back burner is always a fun trick. Sometimes the thought process is obvious, but often it just makes you wonder exactly what it was you were thinking way back then. More often than not, you get a glimmer of why it all got stored away for a rainy day.
This one is called Buttons and Bowties. I started with some circles that I pieced to try out a technique I had seen a couple of times on Simply Quilts. I was having so much fun I decided to build a quilt around those blocks. Not just wanting circles, I combined it with a combination of two sizes of bowtie blocks. The bowties are all dimensional, even though I used two different techniques . The big ones use a nifty folding technique that I also saw on simply quilts ages ago. Not that I can find those directions anymore. I'm not sure how I'll do the quilting without sewing through all the 3-D effects, but I'm sure I'll think of something. I followed a link a couple o days ago for a one seem 3-D flying geese block. Maybe I should make a border of those to fit the theme.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Remember This?

One of the fun things about being a Girl Scout leader is revisiting the games and crafts of childhood. I get to play and make things and get messy as I introduce the girls to all of the fond memories of my youth. Last night we learned to make friendship bracelets. I had to find a youtube tutorial to remember how they worked, but I got the hang of it pretty fast, and so did the girls.

Look at the concentration of Phoenix's face as she works on hers. I had the girls all put their strings in rainbow order so that I could use the colors to give directions. "Everyone pick up the red and make a 4 as your cross over the orange. Now pull the red under the orange and back up through the loop. Pull tight, good. Do it again. Now put down the orange and pick up the yellow." Some of the girls got it right away and even started to anticipate the next step. We didn't quite get finished, but I told them I'd have a special treat for anyone who brought back a finished bracelet next time. Now I'd better think of a special treat.

Nothing quilty last night obviously. I am going now to dig up some scrap binding for the Happy Chain quilt. There is a division meeting this afternoon and then I promised one of my students I'd come watch the softball game. The house is a mess and the laundry needs folding, but I guess that's all part of life as usual.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Day Late

If this were a leap year I would have been right on time with my February project. Still, I'll take one day late to be able to check off a finish. The grid quilting took a little longer than I thought, but I'm happy with the way it looks. I tried some feathers in the border and they are well.... interesting. I still have to put on the binding and I will be officially done with my second UFO of the month. I think I'll pull out buttons and bowties for March. It is also full of bright, random colors.

Any suggestions on a name? I've been calling it Scrappy Irish Chain, but that isn't a terribly creative name. Maybe something simple like Happy Chain or Happy Scraps? For some reason Just the Scraps Ma'am pops into my head, it must be the pun wars we've been having at dinner.
Anna has broken out with some sort of hives, maybe an allergic reaction to a different bodywash I bought. If it isn't better by morning she'll have to stay home from school. We've given her some benadryl, which helped the hives, but made her pretty sleepy. I'll get some sub plans together just in case. I hope everyone had a great weekend.