Tuesday, May 31, 2011

{Virtual Coffee} 2

Good morning! 
 (Although by the time I finish this post, it will be afternoon, I'm sure.  And you know what, I don't like coffee in the afternoon.  I only like it-- love it, need it-- in the morning.  How about you?)

Memorial Day--
honoring those who have served for our country
   I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend with friends and family (and for those of you in the UK, hope you had a nice long Bank Holiday weekend).  We had a great weekend.  Lots of time spent outside, both in our yard and at the pool club-- with beautiful weather.  We spent time with my husband's side of the family on Saturday and mine on Monday.  The kids were thrilled to see all of their cousins.  Lots of good, fresh food. and in the evening, we sipped wine outside on our front patio.

   We did have some new visitors this week:
Ring-necked snake hatchlings
   Sadly, there were three total-- but the two you see in the photo were crushed (not too badly-- no blood) by the garage door.  The other one slithered away.
   The ferns have grown from fiddleheads just a few weeks ago to lush and full:

   I love ferns.  And they have been growing on the earth since the time of dinosaurs-- did you know that?

   And after working on some small sewing projects this weekend, my suspicion has been confirmed:  the time has come for me to need a pair of these in order to read or do detail work:

my very first pair of bifocals, purchased at WalMart

   Wishing everyone a great week ahead!  After the long holiday weekend, I am going to have to keep reminding myself which day of the week it actually is because it feels like Monday, but its actually Tuesday.  (Does that happen to you to?)

Carpe diem!


End-of-the-school-year Giftapalooza

   Here in Connecticut, we are still in school.  My son attends a small preschool for which the last day is June 7th.  And my daughter is in 2nd grade at our local elementary school-- and she doesn't get out until June 24th!!  (We had quite a lot of snow days this winter).
   There are a lot of people I want to give gifts to: many teachers, bus driver, speech therapist, etc.  I wanted to do some easy homemade stuff for them, so I came up with little drawstring bags (tutorial from Thread Head blog here).

and tissue cozies (tutorial from Skip to My Lou blog here)

Here is a reduced selection of this weekends production:

   I've already managed to give away five of the tissue cozies (missing from photo) to friends and family just over the weekend!  (Does this happen to you, too?)  Good thing there's still a week to make more!
   Allegedly, it takes an experienced sewer about 15 minutes or so to whip these out-- but for me it takes at least 40 minutes for each drawstring bag.  I worked on them in little fits and starts over the weekend, between activities.  But although my productivity is relatively slow, at least I had the time to spend and I enjoyed getting back to my sewing machine and making them!  And I'm getting better as I go.  I hope the recipients will like them!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

   I've seen plenty of "Wordless Wednesday" posts-- and I enjoy them.  But today I present you with a different variation.
Columbine, my favorite native wildflower

We waste so much energy
   trying to cover up who we are
When beneath every attitude
   is the want to be loved.
And beneath every anger
   is a wound to be healed.
And beneath every sadness
   is the fear that there will not be enough time.
Our challenge each day
   is not to get dressed to face the world.
But to unglove ourselves
   so that the doorknob feels cold
   and the car handle feels wet
   and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being--
      soft and unrepeatable.

Mark Nepo, Poet
from Awakening Rights

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Virtual Coffee

Good morning!
   This is my first time participating in the weekly Tuesday virtual coffee post, conceived by Amy at Lucky Number13.   I really like this idea, and I've enjoyed reading the posts from it.  Head on over (link above) and take a look at some of the other posts and contributors-- you might make some new friends!
   It is 5:34 am and I am a morning person.  I've found that the vast majority of people are NOT morning types. What type are you?

I'm a Starbucks kind of gal. 
   If we were having coffee, I'd normally want to invite you to sit outside on the deck with me, but everything is wet from the rain and its very foggy now.

View from deck
   While my coffee brews, I sit on the couch with a comfy afghan and my trusty MacBook Air and check my blogger stats and new posts on my reading list.  I am addicted to blogs.  Mostly quilting ones, but I am rapidly expanding my repertoire.
   Beep. Beep.  Coffee's ready!  I fill my mug and add a few drops of half and half.  How do you take your coffee?  Or do you prefer tea?

   Through the open window, I hear birds calling.  We have a pair of cardinals nesting in a big shrub outside our guest bedroom window.  From the room inside, you can hear the little chicks peeping and begging for food.  Chip Chip Chip!  Speaking of... Hello, Mr. Cardinal, who just came to the feeder for some seed.  He's been very busy lately.

   We had an exciting little visitor this week.
Gray Treefrog
   This little guy (or gal) spent half a day in the same spot on our deck.  I discovered him by almost stepping on him!  When the kids got home from school, I carefully showed it to them.  They were concerned about whether or not it was alive because it was staying so still.  But I could see his throat pulsing, so I knew he was okay.  I pointed out the little round pads on the tips of his toes, which help him grip the trees.  During the day (when the photo was taken), he was a very light gray.  But I read that their color gets darker in cooler weather.  And sure enough, just at dusk, when the air was cooling down a bit, I checked on him again and he was darker!  The next time I checked on him, about a half hour later, he was gone.  Must have gone back to the trees.  Goodbye, little friend.

   And on that note, I suppose it is time for me to start making the kids' lunches for the day.  Do you make lunches the night before, or the morning of?

   We're off to a field trip at Lighthouse Point Park with my son's preschool class to explore the beach and tidal pools.  It should be fun!

Hope you have a good day, whatever you have planned!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Quilting Update

1)  A Win!
   Last week, I was the very lucky and excited winner of this awesome pincushion:


  I am a follower of Cindy's blog Live a Colorful Life.  A couple weeks ago, she launched a new series entitled The Name Game here.  The selvage pincushion was her giveaway in celebration of this new series.  Her second weekly installment, which appears every Monday, features Crazy Mom Quilts (link here).  Cindy's photo of the pincushion does it much more justice than mine, you can see it here.  Thank you soooooo much, Cindy!! :0)   I am loving the pincushion (but actually using it for needles instead).

2)  A Do-Over:
   Some of you may remember this from a previous post here:
   This slightly oversized "postcard" was originally intended for my husband for Valentine's Day.  But I was dissatisfied with the quality since I had explored some new stitches and techniques without really practicing first.  I came up with a different idea for the border, so I went ahead and ripped out the edges (satin stitch).  Then, I found it was very hard to re-work and embellish since I had already ironed it to some stiff fusible interfacing.  So now I  have just decided to make a whole new one for Father's Day (see below).

In preparation for the do-over, I have been reading this book:

It has given me lots of ideas:

stitches for applique edges

I like the beads along the bottom

instructions on technique!
   So I am learning the proper methods to go about making an art collage/quilt with embellishments, and being the perfectionist that I am, I want it to be technically "right".   My original "postcard" is now my practice piece.

  The new version is larger (12"x12") and this is what I have so far, before embellishments:
   As part of the "process pledge",  I'll keep you posted on how it evolves.

3)  A stab at 15 Minutes Play (from Victoria at Bumble Beans Inc.)  [The description for the 15 Minutes Play exercise is in the sidebar of Victoria's blog]]
   I'm not too excited about how it turned out and it's not finished, but at least I gave it a shot.  Maybe I'll stick in a drawer and forget about it for a while and re-visit in the future.

   In order to improve my photography,  I purchased this little flexible and portable tripod from Target:
 Kind of looks like a robot, doesn't it?

Wishing everyone a very happy Memorial Day weekend!!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Scrappy Signature Block

   So I've been browsing the quilter blogs and bookmarking some simple, easy projects to do in order to get some momentum going on my lost quilting groove.  (If you find it, will you please tell it to come home).
   I came across Victoria's request for blocks for the Bumble Beans Signature Block Blogger Quilt.  [You can visit her blogspot here and see some of the blocks people have sent her so far here].  Here is my contribution:

   Victoria is a very creative, off-the-cuff (meaning she doesn't usually follow patterns) kind of quilter with a Fine Arts background.  I admire her quilting style, which I would describe (in my own, unsophisticated words) as modern and wonky with bright colors.  She has an additional blog that you can link to from her main blog called 15 Minutes Play... in which she challenges you to simply "play" with your fabric scraps and see what evolves.  I like that idea a lot because there is more spontaneity and room to explore without a focus on a set outcome.  It becomes about the process rather than the product, and helps you to discover your own artistic voice.  I love to see what other quilters come up with when they "play".   Originally, Victoria used 15 Minutes Play as a warm-up exercise.
   Another big source of inspiration for me lately is this book:

  I have put it in our guest bedroom bathroom (the one that the kids don't use) and when Mommy needs to go potty, I escape for a few minutes (making sure to LOCK THE DOOR because everyone knows a curious 3 yr old certain someone will follow you everywhere!)  I read little snippets each time I'm in there.  The book has some great quotes, and some great exercises to try and is filled with many beautiful examples.   (Don't worry, I am fanatical about washing my hands after I go-- the book is sacred).
   I apologize to those of you who I may have offended by talking about the "bathroom".  In our house, potty talk is inescapable.  My kids love to say "butt" and "poopy".  My 3 year old son's favorite joke goes like this:
   Sammy:  "Guess what?"
   Mommy:  "What"
   Sammy:  "Chicken butt!!"
and he thinks its the funniest thing EVERY time.  I think its cute, but we are trying to work and limit our potty talk to appropriate times and situations.  (I'm open to suggestions on how to properly manage this issue!)

Have a great day!