Thursday, July 30, 2009


As summer winds down and I know I should be putting away my summer projects. Finishing up loose ends. Tidying away the sewing room. Instead I suddenly decided that I didn't want to miss a month of the UFO challenge and that I should really take another look at the July project. I had 8 blocks from a BOM many years ago. I picked a more challenging pattern than I was ready for and was not happy with the way the blocks were coming together. It got put away, and by the time I took it out again, the room it was being made to match had been redecorated. And so it sat and languished. I didn't want to devote a lot of time and energy to a quilt that I have no earthly purpose for anymore. After playing with the blocks, I decided I could stretch the existing blocks by whipping up some Irish Chain blocks to alternate them with. I did that yesterday, and just finished putting them together in a 3 x 5 setting. With the blocks finishing at 12 inches, that only makes it 36 inches wide. Not enough to comfortably snuggle with (unless you are really skinny I guess). So now that I have put this much time into it, I'm thinking that I could make 2 more star blocks of some sort and three of the Irish Chains to bring it to a small snuggle size. I could also just start randomly adding the extra four patches to the sides until I run out. I guess I'll sit here and stare at it until inspiration strikes. Inspiration better not take too long though, there is only one more day in July!

The kids have all been adding their own chaos to the mix. They are tearing up the house to pack for their trip while trying to make sure they play with every single friend and every single game and toy before they leave. Sydney had our new neighbor over yesterday and they played Clue, Sorry, Trouble, Kerplunk, Connect 4 and Martian Matter all at the same time. If only I had waited one more day to mop the kitchen floor! It truly is insane around here. All in a good way though.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Switching Gears

It is hard to switch from full blown summer mode to back to school, but I am looking forward to a new school year. Kurt was nice enough to entertain the kids on Friday with trip to Universal while I went in to work on my classroom. It has been 6 long years since I last had a classroom of my own and I am SO looking forward to it. I wasn't sure if I would move my Marine Science quilts into my new room or leave them in the lab with the aquarium to keep the marine theme going in there. While checking e-mail last week I learned that we hired a new science teacher to fill the part-time slot, so she will be using the lab as her "office". Therefore I hung those in my room to represent the Biology portion of my course load. I also hung up Anatomy posters as well as displaying the models for that prep. Then of course I had to find a spot for the periodic table for Chemistry. I sorted supplies into the storage boxes I made from the Crazy Mom quilts tutorial, although I switched to a sturdier cardboard and used some tape to keep the sides together. They match the little curtain I made to add some color above the outside door.

I had already spent several days going through everything that had been left from previous occupants. I found business cards from a guy who left before I started teaching there, and occupied the room three teachers ago! Untold hours were spent cleaning, organizing, purging, arranging, you get the idea. It isn't done yet, but I do think it is starting to look more inviting. While I am not exactly obsessive about organization, I do enjoy knowing what I have and where it is. Along with all of the physical organization, I also began the planning of courses and curriculum, with rewriting of syllabi and such. Again, I'm not done yet by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like I at least got a good solid start.
The weekend was spent on usual weekend things, birthday party, ice skating, yard work, laundry. Kurt is taking all three of the kids to see his parents next week during pre-planning, so this marks the official last week of summer vacation. Yesterday we had an outing to buy school supplies, and we are trying to make sure that everyone gets to chose at least one outing to finish off the break.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Today was a Phyllis day. That is what we call every other Thursday when our housekeeper, Phyllis, comes and works her magic. It is a lovely thing to have something done in my house that I do not have to do myself. I have long ago gotten over the guilt of having help and learned to enjoy every moment.
So the kids and I went got up bright and early, ran some errands, saw a free movie, had lunch out and visited the fabric store. We went to Target to look for new backpacks, and not finding the exactly the right kind, were headed out when I saw that Janet Evanovich has a new book. I've read all of her books, even those goofy "written as" books that they always republish when an author hits it big. They are a funny, quick read with no literary qualities at all. I'm finishing up Emma on my i pod right now, so there is some sort of ying and yang there I'm sure.
Here I sit in my sparkling clean house, listening to my fabric in the dryer, getting ready to dive into a brand new book and thinking, life is good.
Oh, on a side note, I saw one of, my students at the fabric store and she said she tried to get into my first period Anatomy class, but couldn't because it was full. So that is two new bits of information. My Anatomy class is first period, and it is full. I am slowly starting to work my way back into school mode. Maybe I'll log on later and see if my rosters are posted yet and go through e-mail. Slowly, slowly.......

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two Havles, Not yet Hole

I just finished sewing together the blocks for the 2nd half of Sister's Choice. Wow did that take a long time! I really haven't done much else yet today. The second half still doesn't have a border, so I'll take care of that tomorrow. I'm not sure what to do with the corners. Usually my quilts hang shorter than this. Is the corner of a bedspread supposed to be rounded or squared up or what?

Half Quilt

I got half of Mom's quilt put together last night. I don't have quite enough green for the other half of the first border, so I'll either put the other half together and add the border later or run out today for a bit more green. The final border will be enough of the green to make it the right size. Anna's bed is queen sized, so I'll take it up there to see how it hangs. It is supposed to fall to the ground, so the exact dimensions are somewhat important.

I also got a few blocks cut out for my next quilt while supervising swimming yesterday afternoon. I sent those through as leaders and enders while making the top. This is a quilt for my niece Paige and the colors are based on some sheets that my sister gave me to make a dust ruffle. Dust ruffles seem to be a recurring theme around here lately. I'm also supposed to make one for my nephew Zach. If I were a really good sister I'd get those put together and off in the mail ASAP. The kids are standing patiently by the pool waiting for me to come out, so I'd better grab my fabric and go watch.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blocks Done

Finally finished the blocks for the Sister's Choice quilt! Mom decided that she like the green lattice after all, so I'm using the yellow as corner stones. I made it 8 blocks by 8, so that leaves room for about 6 inches of border all around.

I initially thought that I would use extra squares, but it seemed to blend in with the yellow corner stones. Then I thought about breaking the squares up into patches with some green strips.
It seemed pretty busy, so I also considered using 4.5 inch strips instead, again breaking them up with the green where the cornerstones are.
The other option is a simple solid border. I could also give up on borders completely and just make another row of blocks to make the quilt finish at 108 by 108. I'll let it simmer overnight and see how it looks in the light of day. Tonight I think I'll cut out the rest of the yellow squares and call it a night. Hopefully I'll be ready to sew the blocks together tomorrow. The kids want to go to the zoo, so maybe in the afternoon.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I spent most of last week sorting through the scrap basket and turning everything into squares and strips. I'm trying to get the study and laundry room organized again. I'm getting very close to being done with the Sister's Choice blocks, but I got sidetracked.
Kurt has decided he wants to work on redoing the toy room. We've moved out the very scary old couch and replaced it with some chairs for the kids. Now that I think about it, we ordered that couch from Montgomery Wards for our first apartment 15 years ago. When we moved into this house(5 years ago), I had intended to make cushions for the top of the toy shelves. I made a prototype, but Kurt thought it was too flat, and so we've only had the one sad little cushion for the last 5 years. So when the couch made its way to the curb, I grabbed out the cushions and cut them to fit the top of the shelves. Then I spent yesterday sewing covers for them. I was pretty happy with how they turned out, but Kurt constantly fails to be impressed with my abilities. He just looked at them and said, "Yea, but I've seen you make things lots of times." So anyway, there they are, 14 linear feet of unimpressive matching cushions.
Next on the agenda, to do something about the curtains he doesn't like because they are too hard to open and close. I wish getting the kids to pick up all the toys was on the list somewhere, but that seems to be a losing battle. We spent hours up there on Thursday and it was perfect, now it looks (again) like something exploded.

This morning we went to church to watch Anna sing her songs from VBS (vacation bible school) last week. They had a picnic afterward and Sydney has now decided that we should go to church all the time because she likes cotton candy and snow cones, even though she didn't want to sing all those songs about God.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shuttle Launch (Finally)

We got to watch the shuttle go up tonight. If they hadn't managed to get it up on the next two tries, it was going to be scrubbed, so I'm glad it finally went. It wasn't a fantastic view this time, we barely saw it clear the rooftops across the street before it ducked behind clouds. Sydney is still bummed that she didn't get to see the separation. We turned on the news to see it on TV, but it is not the same at all.

Morning Chuckle

I woke up this morning to find this cut out and placed at my spot on the breakfast table.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Valence or Dust Ruffle

We call these dust ruffles, but Amanda says they are called valences "over the pond". Either way, I made a skirt for the bottom of Anna's bed yesterday. I used bleached white muslin and sewed it right over the top of her old ruffle. It is lightly pleated. I need to get to work on a new quilt for her bed, but for now, she has commandeered the toy room quilt which is called The Shirt off my Back. It is made of shirts and is so soft and comfortable. Her room and furniture are painted and reassembled now, all that remain are the decorative touches. That is the part she is most interested in, of course, but I am happy to have the room fully functional again.
I am getting very close to having all of the blocks done for Sister's Choice. The star points are ready to go, it is just a matter of putting the pieces together now. I would love to have that part done today, we will see how much attention the kids and house and such all need today. Kurt has been at work extra hours lately with a big deadline looming and customers in from out of town. They are hoping, along with the rest of us, to see a shuttle launch in the near future. It has been postponed five times now I think, but maybe today will be the day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Last Party of the Season

I'm sure some people have social seasons and have rounds of society soirees to attend on an annual basis. At our house we have a rash of summer birthdays which require a series of cake eating and pool splashing birthday parties. I put a lot of effort into the girls parties in May, so Kurt took the initiative on this one. I picked the time, and then he sent out an e-mail and handled RSVPs. We were expecting 7 kids, but somehow ended up with 14. Everyone seemed to show up with a sibling or a friend, and then the neighbors joined in too! When it comes to birthday parties, the more people, the more fun I guess. We should have made a bigger cake though, they ate every last crumb! So no next day leftovers to enjoy.

Most of the time the kids all splashed in the pool and tried to attack each other with squirt guns and water balloons. Kurt jumped right in and wrestled with them. He used to be a camp counselor, so he is good at fending off multiple kids at the same time. We even managed to keep everyone outside almost all of the time, so the house remained company clean and shiny.
Today, the kids were all happy to hang out at home and play with new birthday toys. I took advantage of the quiet time to work some more on Sister's Choice. All of the nine patch units are done now and the rest is cut out and partially put together. I have it all spread out on the ping pong table now so I can lay the blocks out as they get done and admire them. I'm so glad we got the new table, I just hope nobody wants to play ping pong right away.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Basting Table

Oops, I mean new ping pong table. Ryan and I wandered past a garage sale on Thursday and they had a ping pong table for sale. The kids had really enjoyed playing with one at the 4th of July party, so we picked up this table with delivery included. (The teenage boys carried it around the corner to our garage.) It will live in the toy room, but we have it in the formal living room until after Ryan's birthday party tomorrow. Kurt has always wanted to use this room for a pool table, but I feel strongly about having that NOT be the first thing people see when they walk in the front door. I've already got a few quilts pulled out and ready to baste on that huge flat surface. Maybe I can get to those tonight after the kids are in bed. It will be nice not to have to crawl around on the floor quite so much.
I've been working away on the Sister's Choice quilt for Mom. Everyone seemed to agree that they liked the green sashing strips best. Everyone except Mom of course. She really likes the yellow, so yellow it is. She wants the quilt to be 9 feet by 9 feet, which is 81 blocks. I might make it 8 by 8 and use the same flying geese border from Old Hurricane Road. Mom commented that she really liked that quilt. I think I am about halfway done with the piecing, although it is hard to tell, because I've got blocks in various stages of construction.
Kurt volunteered to take Sydney to camp yesterday morning so that I could stay up and sew into the wee hours of the morning. I pulled out the overflowing scrap basket and several stacks of recently acquired fabric, and ironed and cut and organized for hours on end. I've been pulling from the 2.5 inch bin a lot recently, so the 2 inch bin is heaping. I'll see if I can pull my next project from there. Maybe another Scrappy Irish Chain? The last one went to charity and I kind of miss it.
Summer vacation is going great. I think it will be very calm for a while after Ryan's party tomorrow. Everyone has finished their camps, so there will be less running around for the next couple of weeks. I need to start thinking about getting ready for school next year, vacation is more than half over already! I've gotten a lot done on the house though, so I guess that is a good thing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yellow or Green

Here are some Sister's Choice blocks with yellow sashing:
Here are the same blocks with a green sashing:
Any opinions? I know what I think, and I have a vote from Kurt. I guess Mom should get a vote as well. Any other suggestions?

I continued cutting out blocks for Mom's Sister's Choice quilt today. After a bowling trip this morning the kids accompanied me to the fabric store to pick up some fabric for sashings and backings. I got 8 yards of green and gold backing fabric from the half-off clearance shelf for $2 each! Also some fat quarters and remnants jumped into my cart while we were there, and I found the buttery yellow that you see in the first photo.
The kids kept me busy most of the day, but I did get some fabric ironed and put away as well as working on tidying the study and laundry room some.
Anna went over to her friend Sierra's house for a play date this afternoon. They hang out for hours and days on end, so I didn't expect to hear from her until after dinner. When the phone rang at 4 it was Anna in tears. After getting her calmed down enough that I could understand what was going on, I learned that she and Sierra had given their Baby Wets and Wiggles dolls a bath and they were broken. The girls have been taking care of their dolls like real babies. They brought them fireworks so they could play together. They put them in matching outfits. I don't think Anna could have been more upset about a real baby being hurt. So when she got home, we did a little baby doll surgery and took everything apart to let it dry until morning. She put all of the broken bits and pieces into a pillow-lined basket and took it to bed with her.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sister's Choice

I spent my spare time today cutting out pieces for the Sister's Choice quilt. I have a serious lack of buttery yellows in my stash, so I will have to think about getting some more to throw in the mix. I feel like a chef standing at a big soup pot saying, "Hmm, not bad, but it could use a little more curry." I think I should use some sashing to give the blocks a little room to breathe.
There never seems to be as much time in a day as it seems like there should. Sydney is at zoo camp this week from 8 to 12. The two bigger kids wanted to go to the store this morning, then it was home for long enough to get some laundry started before picking up again. After lunch Anna and I worked on painting the furniture from her room. It has a pickled oak finish which is pretty beat up. So we sanded and painted until we were so sweaty and sticky from the heat in the garage we couldn't stand it anymore. My arms still ache from all the painting this weekend. Even lifting the iron is painful. I'm sure it will be worth all the effort when the room is finished.

Butterfly Quilt

Amanda was searching for butterfly patterns, which made me think of a cute quilt I made with Anna and her friend Skye several years ago. I can't find the pattern for the life of me, but I did find this block in my orphan stack. It uses a flip and sew technique that was really easy for the girls to do.

Fabric requirements for each block
Background fabric (blue in this case):
4.5 inch squares = 2
4.5 by 8.5 inch rectangles = 2

Wing color (pink in my sample)
4.5 inch squares = 4
2.5 inch squares = 2

Body color (black)
4.5 inch square = 1
1.5 inch square = 1

Place one pink square right sides together on top of the back ground rectangle at the left end and sew corner to corner. (If you've never done flip and sew, let me know and I'll take a quick photo) Flip the pink square back and cut away the corners below (double sew if you would like "bonus" HST units). Repeat the same process, this time placing the square on the opposite edge to create a mirror image. Next take the two 2.5 inch pink squares and use the same flip and sew technique on opposite corners of the 4.5 inch black square. Last, but not least, make the head by sewing and flipping the 1.5 inch black square to the 4.5 inch square of background. Arrange the blocks as shown and sew together. The girls used a sharpie marker to draw antenae, but it would be very cute with some embroidery detail here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fabric Choices for Mom

My Aunt Brenda loves to do jigsaw puzzles. Mom likes to get them framed and hang them up around the house. She has several Norman Rockwell puzzles that usually hang in the family room.

These two puzzles of little girls hang in the guest bedroom at her new house. Mom wants to plan the colors of the room around these two puzzles and asked me to make her a quilt for the bed. She wants it to be bedspread sized so that she doesn't need to use a dust ruffle.
I was thinking of using Bonnie Hunter's Sister's Choice pattern with green, blue, brown, yellow and creamy background colors. I pulled these potential fabrics from the 2.5 inch strip bin and put together a few squares to try out the pattern. I didn't see many buttery yellows in there, so I will go to the stash to look for those. Then I thought I would use a consistent green for the star points.
So, Mom, take a look at the colors and the pattern and let me know what you think. (Mom reads my blog because I put pictures of the kids in here) Also, if you could measure the bed for me, that would be a big help.
I think I'll call it a night before I go any further in case Mom wants something different. Also, my arms are so tired from painting today. Also, I got in a run this evening for a change. Only three miles, but at least I got out there again. All in all, I'm pretty tired, but it is for lots of good reasons.


Today I am seeing blue. It took all day long to paint Anna's room. I ache in places I forgot I had.
The kids helped for at least 15 minutes and had much fun. Kurt even visited for a good half hour. The rest of the day it was just me with a drop cloth, a ladder and an abundance of paint fumes. It is all done now, and I think it looks pretty good. I'm glad we talked Anna into a lighter shade of blue. The one she had picked out was very dark. This one seems cheery I think. Kurt is in charge of stars. Maybe tomorrow I will get the baseboards done.
I think it has stopped raining and I am going to try to go for a run.

Full Day

We started yesterday at a neighborhood barbecue/pool party. There was a water slide and the kids had a blast. We had to drag them away so they could rest for a bit before our trip to a Cocoa Beach Park.

We go every year to play in the fountain, listen to the symphony and watch the fireworks. We met up with several friends including my former running partner and her family. (We used to do a long run every weekend until she got tendinitis and I got really lazy.)
Sydney had the most fun of all. She is still at that stage where everything is exciting and fabulous. She took close-ups of everyone. Here is her picture of the two of us.
She gave a running commentary on the fireworks. About halfway through she figured out that why they were called fireworks and thought that was hilarious
Anna had a terrific time playing with her friend Sierra, and Ryan was sword fighting with two boys who were part of our group.
Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I've been skipping over giveaways lately to give other people a chance, but this one at Sew Fun Quilts looked like fun.
Happy 4th of July! We have a neighborhood pool party to go to this afternoon and and then tonight we are headed out to watch fireworks and listen to the symphony. I hope it doesn't rain.

Tucker Sling, Check

My nephew is supposed to sleep in an inclined position to help with aspiration. My sister sent this picture of a wedge shaped thing with a pouch kind of dealie on the front and asked me to make one. She said it was no problem though, because she already had the wedge part, I just needed to make a cover and pouch of some sort. No problem, right? I couldn't quite get my head around how I was supposed to make a 3-dimensional fabric object with no measurements or model. I took measurements while I was visiting and got started as best I could without proper equipment. I brought the rest home to finish and finally sat down tonight and came up with this:

Imagine it covering a 3-D wedge and holding a wiggly 2 year old in a semi inclined position. I have no idea if it will work or not, but I'll send it off in the mail and hope that my mom can do some adjustments if they are needed. Ordering the official one is always an option, but it is apparently quite expensive, so maybe this will work.
Next on the list is the sun shield for a ground penetrating radar machine. I'm not sure why I keep getting these requests for oddly shaped sewn things, but I'll keep winging it and take it as a compliment that people have so much faith in my sewing abilities.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spewing Ears

When we traveled to Georgia recently I didn't take any projects along because I felt like I had a real handle on everything. The loose ends were fairly tidy and nothing was hanging over my head.

Now I have projects spewing out of my ears.
My sister sent fabric for dust ruffles and wedge covers. No problem there, those should go quick. Poor little Paige is the only one of her children that does not have an Aunt Angie quilt. (I made one for her doll, but not one for her.) The cute pink and brown polka dotted fabric made me think that whilrygiggles would be cute and simple. That goes on the someday soon list. My girlfriend has a husband with a machine that needs a sun shade, I can give it a try, that goes on the list. Mom has a new guest bedroom and wants a quilt to match a jigsaw puzzle. Sounds good, I decide on the Sister's Choice pattern and add it to the list.

Then Anna decided to redecorate her room and requested a star quilt like Starlight Starbright. But with blue background and yellow stars. The list is getting longer, but she is my daughter after all. Wait, don't forget the painting and decorating, add those to the list. (Kurt is not to be trusted with a trim brush)
Then Kurt decides that the drapes in our room have to go and I start browsing catalogs for new window treatments. The window treatment ideas lead to quilt ideas, and both of those go on the list. I have this happy hour pattern that I have been saving just for that purpose. Mabye those better be at the end of the list. I think the paint is OK though, so that is spared from the list.

Now July has rolled around, and UFO #9 goes on the list. I'm halfway through now and hate to break a streak.

I think I'd better prioritize. Because if I start at the beginning and go through the whole list, it will be a while. I'm thinking that the UFO might need to be the first to bite the dust, because nobody wants it. When I started it in 2002 it was for our bedroom. We've moved houses and changed colors since then, so I don't know what I will do with a purple and green quilt. I could try to rework it into something else. Still, I keep coming back to the idea that nobody needs it.

I did finish up the binding on Tea Rose Sampler, so I guess that one can get crossed off the list. Instead of sitting here pondering, I think I'll go try to go finish something else. The list beckons.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I have been getting better at FMQ with each quilt that I finish, but I have to pat myself on the back for this one. Not a single pucker or pleat on the back, it lies flat as a board, and the stitch length is somewhat even. As my British friends would say, I'm somewhat chuffed with myself. The binding has just been cut out so it is almost officially done. I was planning on making this a charity quilt, but I'm liking it better and better as it goes along. Maybe charity will have to get a different quilt.

Anna has decided that she wants to redecorate her room. Today she asked for permission to start pulling off the wallpaper. Her BFF Sierra was over for a play date and they thought destruction would be way too much fun.

Now I wish that I has stopped her for long enough to get a "before" pic. She had a lovely lavender bedroom in a princess theme. The bottom half of the wall had castle brick wallpaper with "stone" columns flanking the bed. The headboard was shaped like a big crown and covered in purple satin. Apparently 10 year old girls, "are not so much into princesses anymore". It was all a little tired after 5 years, so I guess it is a good time to redo it all, but I will miss the castle wall.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blasted Basting

A massage would feel really good after an evening of crawling around on hard wood floors to baste the Tea Rose Sampler quilt. It is done now and ready to be quilted. Maybe I'll settle for a celebratory soak in the whilrpool. My sewing room is a bit of a mess, as is the living room where I lay out my quilt tops. A bit of putting away and organizing is probably in order before I start in on the quilting. I think I'll go see what I have for thread and stencils while I think about how ambitious I am feeling at 10:02 in the evening.
Kurt has just gotten back from his event. Another person from his company was retiring and he was recruited to sing at the party. He used to sing with a group when we were in Chicago, but it was barbershop with lots of other people. I guess he did sing with some quartets, but never alone, and never with musical accompaniment. They rewrote the words to Take This Job and Shove It along with some other country ballads. I was a little sad that I wasn't invited to come along and watch, but he said it went well.

Missed it by THIS Much

I actually had fabric in my stash for the Tea Rose Sampler. I don't usually have big quantities on hand, but sometimes I will order backing fabric if I find a good sale. This Anna Griffith print was almost big enough, so I just added a few of the extras in the middle to make it fit. Kurt had a thing tonight, so I've promised the kids McDonald's for dinner (!). We are going to go grab that now before the rain comes back and then I can get this puppy pressed, layered and pinned.