Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marathon Photos

My marathon photo CD came in and I thought I'd post some pictures. It makes me feel tired just to look at them. Aren't the girls cute at the finish line though? Ryan wouldn't come run with me, but the girls were pretty excited to get finish medals.

Plugging Along

I got all the Irish Chain blocks put together to the flimsy stage tonight. I'll see what I have for backing and batting so I can get this puppy put together by the weekend. I think I'll quilt with diagonals thru the chains and maybe a little design of some sort in the open white space. I don't think I'll do a border, but I'll check the size first to make sure it looks OK on a bed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blocks Done

Say yay to me! I finished off the blocks for my leader and ender Scrappy Irish Chain. I think I could have finished quite a while ago if I hadn't made twice as many blocks as I needed. I guess I need a quick math lesson -- or a stern reminder not to do math after 1 a.m. Still, the blocks are officially done. I'll get them picked up into rows so I can chain the top together tomorrow. Check out the subtle variations of light medium and dark -- impressive right? The four patches are medium and dark with two patches holding them together in a medium and light arrangement. Then another pair of two patches are joined with a dark square to hold those two rows together. I think I could have strip pieced these puppies lickety split, but that would have defeated the idea of leaders and enders I guess. And on the bright side, I've got enough four patches to make at least one more quilt, I saw one in a catalog with poison green sashing and thought about trying that out. I'm still pondering the shelter quilt project, if I do end up taking it on, this one could be number one out of 23.
Today was a busy day at school, I was getting obseved for my anual evaluation. The student were a little edgy to have someone else in the room. As much as you try to do things the same way you usually would, it is hard to do when you know someone is watching. Kind of like trying to breathe normally while thinking about breathing. There are some goings on at school that might impact the scheduling for next year, I'm not sure how it will all work out yet, but it could result in some changes in my course load. We've got a short schedule for Ash Wednesday tomorrow and all the seniors are gone on Thursday for a field trip, so the week is almost over even though it's only Tuesday. 5 more weeks and 3 more days 'till spring break, not that anyone is counting of course.

Monday, February 23, 2009

February Goals

My UFO for February is this scrappy Irish Chain that I started ages ago using Bonnie's leader-ender system. I started with just 4 patches in darks and lights before deciding to do a double Irish Chain that needed 4 patches in dark and mediums. I wasn't exactly consistent with the value placement, but I decided I should just go ahead and get it done. Maybe a simpler pattern would have been easier to keep track of. Or maybe I should just limit my leader-ender escapades to one quilt at a time. I have 3 different block sizes going, and each is a different pattern, thus requiring different combinations of colors and values. Maybe I should make a little post-it note and stick it on the side of my machine. Anyway, I've got all the chain blocks done with plenty to spare, I just need to whip up a few of the alternate squares, which go together in a hurry. It's the 23rd today, so I should be able to get this put together some time in the next week. February has been a little hectic and it's been interesting trying to fit this in. I haven't even started on the Garage which is supposed to be my room this month, I might switch to an easier room so I can feel like I'm making some progress. I think I'll choose a quilt that is further along for March so that I can find some time to work on something that isn't a UFO. As much as I want to get my old projects finished up, I don't want those to be the only things I'm working on.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quilt Show

I was surprised when my mother-in-law wanted to go to a quilt show together, but I was happy to oblige! had so much fun looking at all of the beautiful patterns, colors and techniques. "Mom" seemed to be having a good time too, and asked questions about the different methods we were seeing. Before long she was able to tell the difference between the hand and machine quilted tops and separate the pieced blocks from the applique. She seemed drawn to the earth tones and didn't care for the "art" quilts at all, preferring the more traditional blocks. I found myself drawn to quilts with careful value placement that gave shaded effects. I liked the way the different yellows and golds made this quilt seem to glow. I think the green contrast adds nice movement and the reversal of the color placement in the sashing strips is a nice touch. It was quilted with lots of straight lines following the diagonal.
This one had fabulous quilting in each of the stripes and gave a cool woven effect. I keep thinking I'll try a bright and black quilt sometime, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Ryan was anxious to have an OM practice today to begin preparing for the state competition, he even volunteered to make the snack and worked diligently on blueberry muffins for everyone. They got a little carried away with the spray paint today, but started working on a box city for their dinosaurs to demolish.

Last night I got busy organizing and putting away all of the scrap squares I've been producing lately. I've used lots of two inch squares, but I still seem to have more to spare. I went ahead and sorted everything into colors because I've got a leader ender thing going that's called crayon box. It's a 16 patch with a solid ring around a white center. I am thinking about alternating it with a yellow and green square of some sort to suggest a crayola carton. I made good progress on the Scrappy Irish Chain, but in the wee hours of the morning realized that I might have made a small math error causing me to make twice as many blocks as I need. I looked up the size of a standard twin quilt, and compared that to the finished block size to determine the number of columns and row. However, I think I forgot about the fact that their are two types of blocks, thus requiring only half as many of each. I think the mistake is still recoverable, as I only got about half done with the blocks. I can put the two halves back together and end up with about the right number.

Anna and Sydney both came to cookie booths with me this morning and then wanted a picnic for lunch. I'm not sure how they managed to eat their lunch on the swing set, but they were having fun and playing well together, so I can't complain.
I was planning to stay up tonight and watch the academy awards while cutting some more scraps, but I 'm tuckered out from my late night. I think I'll curl up in bed and watch the arrivals until I fall asleep.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Home Again

We are back, rested, tanned and 5 pound heavier, from our cruise. We had a lovely time doing not too much of anything at all for 4 days. The kids all got along great at home with Nana and did not seem disturbed at all by our departure. We were scheduled for two stops, one on the Royal Caribbean private island which is called Cocoa Cay, and one at Nassau in the Bahamas. We've been to Nassau a couple of times already and didn't really have any plans there, but were very much looking forward to the private island, which was one of our favorite parts of an earlier cruise. The seas were too rough for tender service on the first scheduled stop, but we were able to rearrange our schedule and make it through on the way home. Most of the Royal Caribbean boats have rock climbing walls, so we made sure to try that out. I've actually been quite a bit recently, but Kurt hasn't been in ages and was a little rusty. Other than that, I read a couple of books, enjoyed the movie matinee and watched the evening shows. We even managed to stay up for the midnight comedian on the second night! It was way past our usual bedtime, but lots of fun.
Dinner each evening was our favorite part of the trip. I know everyone eats way too much on cruises, but it is such a luxury for parents to sit through a nice long meal with no spilt milk, without having to fetch anything from the kitchen, and then have someone clear away all the dishes and whisk them out of site. Pure bliss!!

No cruise would be complete without towel animals, we had a monkey, and elephant and a stingray. The kids all got such a kick out of the towels on our last cruise that they even went to the class and practiced folding them when we got home. I gave them a lesson on the stingray when we got back and they were all very impressed.
We got back home yesterday morning and Kurt rushed off to work, trying to get everything ready for customers who are in town next week. His mother had saved a flier from the paper advertising a local quilt show, which she thought we could go to together. What a sweet idea! She's not even a quilter, but thought I might like it. I took lots of pictures, which I'll share tomorrow, and bought just a couple of things. One was called a "Moda Bake Shop". Has anyone seen those yet? They are highly adorable -- just like little mini jelly rolls. Instead of being 2.5 inch strips, they are 1.5 inches, and just so completely adorable. I thought I'd make up more tiny little 9 patches for some doll quilts. They also had scrap bags for $1 each, so I picked up a few of those. It is so much fun to play with other peoples scraps! I ironed them last night while dinner was cooking and started cutting dishing them out into the square drawers. Several of the fabrics were from quilts I had seen at the show. I'm focusing on 2 inch squares right now for my Irish Chain. It's coming along nicely, I'd better do the math so I know when to stop.
Today brought a return to the usual weekend fare. Kurt drove his Mom back to the airport while I took Anna to Ice Skating. I paired my little two inch squares peacefully while she practiced. When we got home she wanted to sew a pair of guards for the blades of her ice skates. We whipped up a pair of those and finished up just as the rest of the gang got back from their trip. Kurt is off puttering in the yard now, and Anna has volunteered to wash my car. Sydney wants to go see Coraline this afternoon and Ryan is finding a friend to play with. The cruise was a beautiful departure from reality, but being back to reality it pretty good too. I hope everyone had a great time this week. I'll check in on everyone after our movie.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend Full of Fun

This was one of those weekends that had to be carefully choreographed to make sure that everything happened with the right people at the right times. Friday evening Kurt took the girls to a father daughter dance at school and Ryan and I had cookie duty. We went to pick up our first re-order and then got ice cream on the way home. The girls all danced their hearts out and were all very excited to wear pretty dresses and real flower corsages!
This is Sydney with some of her class mates. Kurt thought it was too funny that their were 5 girls at the dance all wearing the same dress. (I wonder if they all got theirs off the clearance rack at Kohl's?)

Saturday morning was supposed to be the beginning of cookie booths,but my girls all seemed to have other plans. I ended up cancelling it, because everyone else seemed to be fully booked as well. Most of our day was devoted to the Odyssey of the Mind competition.

This is our team. Their task was to build a balsa wood structure to hold as much weight as possible. Then the team created "shockwaves" by pulling spacers out so the weights slammed down on the structure. While this was going on, they were performing a skit that was supposed to tie into what was happening with the structure.
.The kids chose a dinosaur theme and made their own costumes out of green clothes, cardboard, spray paint, and lots of bungee chords. The boys danced around being dinosaurs and going extinct while the girls handled the weights and spacers. Then the judges quizzed them and talked to them about the structure and the skit. They are all very into making sure the kids did all their own work and ask lots of process questions to make sure the kids know what is going on.
They performed in the morning and then returned in the afternoon for a spontaneous problem, where they had to turn one of the team members into a monster using common household items. We were lucky enough that the venue was just a few miles from home, so we came back and rested between events.
The evening brought the awards ceremony. Most of the team made it back, but Anna decided to skip the awards to go to a sleepover birthday party.

I think Kurt was very hopeful that the team would score well enough to feel good about what they did, but not well enough to go onto the next level. We were all surprised (pleased?) that the team took second place in their division and qualified for the state competition!! The kids are all pretty excited to have a chance to add to their skit and build an even stronger structure to hold lots more weight. Ryan is cooking up some scheme about making a city out of empty Girl Scout Cookie boxes.

Sunday brought Girl Scout Cookie Booths! We signed up to stand outside a local 7-11 and try to hawk cookies for two hours. Things went fairly smoothly for that, although the business seems to be slower than in years past. The weather was lovely, not too hot or too cold. I was especially happy about our timing when the rain hit just as we arrived home after our shift.

Then this afternoon, Kurt went to pick his mom up from the airport so that we can leave tomorrow for our cruise! We're leaving the computer here, so I'll be completely cut off for the next few days. I hope everyone out there is healthy and safe, I'll check back in a the end of the week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crazy Person

It's been crazy busy around here, and any sane person would have buckled down and started working on the list of things that must be done now. Instead I'm puttering away on this and that, as if I had no deadlines ahead. My school (for the first time ever) is taking a winter break next week. Just like spring break, but this year we get both. My husband and I scheduled a cruise, and my mother-in-law has been wonderful enough to volunteer to come and stay with my kids who don't get the week off. Vacations should be relaxing, but instead, I'm trying to get everything finished off before we leave --thinking that the house should be in some sort of reasonable shape before I hand it over for the week. The guest bedroom has started collecting everything, not just my quilting, but now the OM junk as well. I had it all beatiful, and then we started doing stuff again. That's always the problem. The doing stuff makes the house a wreck.

I've been plowing steadily through my scrap basket during the odd down moments this week. I got a bunch of stuff ironed last weekend and started slicing it. I was lucky enough to inherit bunches of scraps from our neighbor who moved away recently. I'm focusing on 2 inch strips to go into my scrappy irish chain. I've picked this one as my February project. I think I will make it into a twin size quilt because I'm contemplating a new charity project. Another Girl Scout troop is working on their gold award and helping to get a local shelter ready to open again after a recent transformation. They are cleaning and painting and decorating. Before I even knew what I was thinking, the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, "Do they need quilts?" We made 40 lap sized quilts for Christmas, how hard could 23 twin sized quilts be? This one is still in the planning stages, but I've been turning it around in my head for a couple of days now. I have some vauge idea about kitting up a bunch of happy square blocks and hosting an intermediate quiltmaking session for the girls who enjoyed the first quilt making experience.

I am seriously a crazy person. I've just lost a girl scout leader at my school, another troop is having a crisis, my own cookie mom dropped out on me, so I'm frantically arranging all of that while trying to get ready for a cruise and a visit from my mother-in-law. I'm giving two tests tomorrow and I'd better get those written or my students will be seriously disappionted. So how did I spend my evening? Any reasonable person would have been handlling the urgent list. I was peacefully ironing some yardage so that I could get it put away before the weekend. I'm not just crazy, I'm also oblivious. Not exactly an effective way to deal with stress, but I guess it's better than freaking out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Today was the big day. Finally, my marathon. The weather was beautiful, just perfect really. Chilly at the 6:45 start and just starting to get warm by the finish. I ran with my partner Meisje for the first 18 miles, by which time she was running really strong and I was starting to get tired.
It was a double loop race, down by the river, over the causeway and then up on the barrier island before heading back over another causeway to do it all over again. The race was a combination full and half marathon with a separate 5K as well. The first loop was just packed with people, all running along at a good pace. We came up over the causeway at about mile 11 and the half peeled off for their finish. It must have been about a 100 to 1 ratio as almost everyone turned peeled off to the left. I looked ahead and saw one lonely little person going strait up ahead as we resisted the urge to turn and call it a day. The second half was a much lonelier loop, especially after I said good-bye to my partner. My other running partner Tom met up with me again at the last causeway and ran me in to the finish. I was not very talkative by then, but he kept my mind busy as we finished up the last few miles. Kurt was bringing the kids to see me cross the finish line, and when I got to the end, there they all there, waiting to cheer me on. The girls hopped up to run across the finish line with me and even got their own medals. I crossed over the line holding hands with Anna and I hope somebody got a good photo of us together, because it was a very cool moment. The announcer called our names and all three of us posed for a finish photo with our new medals on. I'll be curious to see me split times. I ran a good pace for the first half, but lost considerable steam as the race got closer to the end. I think my final time was about 4 hours and 35 minutes, although I forgot to stop my watch, so it's hard to be sure.

We got our post race massages and then I came home for a very long shower and a short nap. My feet are in pretty bad shape, and I'm not walking very fast, but I think I'm doing pretty well for someone who ran 26.2 miles this morning. I must say that I think this is my last marathon for a while. I'd like to focus on the halves next season and maybe (finally) break the two hour mark. It's good to have a goal, and I think I'd rather work on shorter distances for a while. Maybe it's one of those things, like childbirth, that you swear you will never do again. Then the memories fade and you think it wasn't so bad after all. We'll see how it goes I guess. This was one of the last Boston qualifiers of the season, and so marks the end of our running season around here. I'll see how often I get out and run without something specific to train for.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Knit One Purl Two

It's been bitterly cold here and I have not got much in the way of winter wear. I also needed something relaxing to do while hanging out on the couch and watching TV. I had some soft suedy blue chenile yarn that I found on sale at Joann last week and decided to turn it into a scarf. I think it will be quite cozy as I brave the freezing winter wind during my morning car loop duty. I've never been much a knitter, but I think I'm doing it right. My first try turned out about a foot wide, so I tore that out and tried for something narrower. I haven't got a pattern, but I'm going to keep going until it seems long enough and then maybe put a fringe on the ends. Sydney is already requesting one in pink, so maybe I'll let her pick out some yarn and whip one up for her as well. I know knitting socks is really popular right now, but I'd never put that much work into something that was meant to go on my feet.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Done Done

I finished up the quilting on Old Hurricane Road this weekend. This is my first experiment with sybolism in my quilting. The swirls in the pinwheel and four patch area represents hurricanes and the spikes in the bricks represent palm trees. I haven't had tons of time to work on it (work, kids, cleaning, laundry, meetings, girl scouts, LIFE) but I did manage to finish the last of the handstitching on the binding this afternoon.

I even got it put onto the bed in the study/guestbedroom/sewing room. It took a bit of reorganization to find the daybed in there under all of the fabric, but a little sorting and putting away made a big difference. It will all need to be cleared out in a couple of weeks when my mother-in-law comes to visit, so it's good to get a start on it. I love the way the big flying geese are flying around the edge. I think the daybed shows that off nicely.
Only 7 more school days until winter break. We are all feeling a little grumpy right about now so I hope the week off will restore our spirits! It may be just my imagination, but everyone seems to be a little stressed right now.
I spent a big chunk of the day shopping for new insurance. I had to get the new car added on, so I thought I'd go ahead and get some more quotes while I was at it. We've kept our car insurace with State Farm because they have our homeowners. They are now plannning to pull all of thier homeowners insurance out of the state of Florida, so I might as well shop around. Finding car insurance was pretty easy, but I'm struggling on the homeowners. Everyone seems to think our house is worth twice as much as we paid for it even though the market has seriously crashed and we'd be very lucky to be able to sell it for what we owe right now. There are 13 houses for sale on our block, 5 of them are short sales, and then there are three forclosures that I know of that haven't come back up for sale yet. I guess I'll keep shopping, it's still a long time before hurricane season comes again.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Weekend Fun

Boy does buying a new car take a long time! It's not like you can just walk into the dealer and say, "Give me one of these in blue, I'll take it to go." It took two days of driving and testing and debating, but in the end, I got a new Kia in blue. I got everything squared away yesterday and just had to send Kurt in today to sign so his name could be on the title too. It had 14 miles on it, but then I used it today and it is already at 34 miles. I'm sure eventually I'll stop checking. I haven't got everything all set up yet, but there is a plug for my I-pod and plenty of nooks and crannies for things to fit in. I did some cleaning and organizing in the garage today to make sure it doesn't get dinged up when people get in and out.

Yesterday morning was the Girl Scout rock climbing. The bigger girls seemed to spend more time worrying about whether or not they could do it than the little ones on Wednesday. They started with a lot of being scared, but soon got over that and worked on getting up the walls. I saw one of my girls this morning already and she couldn't wait to tell me how much fun she had and that she wants to go again.

Today was spent trying to get the house recovered from me being gone the past two weekends. Kurt did a good job trying to stay caught up with everything, but it was feeling a little neglected from the general activity level lately. One of my cleaning tasks was getting OHR finished so that I could get it up off the floor and turn the dining room back into a dining room again. I got carried away with car shopping yesterday and missed my January deadline by one day. It is almost done now though. The binding is on and ready to get some hand stitching during the superbowl tonight.
I need to find the list of my UFO's so I can pick a project for February. I also need to get a border for Double Delight and for The Inaguration Quilt.
The kitchen got a little extra attention this month, although I still have couple of small projects I'd like to take on as time allows. I think the garage will be the room of the month for February. We are in need of a garage sale followed by a trip to goodwill. I've amassed quite a collection of stuff, and I don't care what happens to it, as long as it can disappear. I'll also have to spend some time turning the study back into a guest bedroom before my mother-in-law shows up in two weeks. The Old Hurricane Road quilt is meant for that bed, so that works out well.

Running Update for February:
Miles this week: 16.5
Miles this year: 80.92
Average per week: 16.2
One week to the marathon