Friday, May 29, 2009

Teachers You Remember

Remember the teacher you first truly loved? The one who made books come alive, or who introduced you to heroes throughout history and made them into real people instead of homework assignments?

Mine was my 3rd grade teacher. I remember learning cursive writing and starting our multiplication tables. I still have the big children's dictionary that came with her class, and I remember the freedom she gave to look up any word we wanted during reading groups - we could just get up out of our seats and go look!

Gracie had a year like that this year. Ms. B. and Mrs. K. are both fairly new to our school (while I'm an old timer after nine years), and it was a breath of fresh air try new projects and learn new things along with them. Their passion for social studies and out-of-the-box learning made everyday subjects so much more fun.

I wanted to thank them in a special way, so I decided to make them a Summer Survival bag. I used the Schlep Bag pattern - a quick and easy favorite - in patriotic colors for Ms. K. She is retired Air Force, and the proud mom of two little boys, so I thought this would suit her. I used jewel tones for Ms. B., who has a beautiful daughter just a bit older than Gracie. I'm know how daughters might like to "borrow" Mom's things from time to time, and these fabrics would work for either of them.

I added a great summer paperback for each of them: The Memory Keeper's Daughter for Ms. B. and Certain Girls for Mrs. K.Then I threw in a Frappuccino,
...some purse sized hand sanitizer, sunblock, gum, etc. It was pointed out to me (by whom I won't say!) that a key summer survival item was missing; however, I wasn't sure if I was allowed to bring alcohol into the school so they will have to provide their own!

I am so grateful to these two wonderful teachers for making it a great year. We were a little anxious to say goodbye to the previous second grade teacher who taught my sons, and whom we loved, so we feel extra blessed that the school found someone to fill those big shoes. How did we get so lucky?

It was a bittersweet goodbye today, but we know that we will always remember this very special year. I hope everyone has a terrific summer!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Graduate

Tonight we went out to celebrate my 8th grader's graduation. As a surprise, I booked The Captain's Table at P.F. Chang's. It is a table behind the bar, practically in the kitchen, where you get to watch all of the action. It is one of B's favorite places, and he loves to cook, so it was a very cool experience. It was also very LOUD. I'm not sure I'd want to sit there every time since conversation was tricky, but it was fun to do at least once. This was our view:
After we ate far too many dumplings and everything else on the menu, it was present time. He was excited to get a trip to NYC this summer with one set of grandparents, and the lacrosse goal he'd been saving for from the other. Then it was time for the big box from Mom and Dad. I figured he knew what it was, since he had been in and out of my room while I worked on it a hundred times.

But no, when he saw the matching pillowcase on top he said, "You got me sheets?"

We don't call him Captain Oblivious for nothing, you know.
Finally the light bulb went on, and he was so appreciative of the quilt. He couldn't believe I had made it for him, and went right up to put it on his bed when we got home. It was a great night.
Here's what the finished product looked like:
I'll try to get the rest of the tutorial written and up soon. It was a super easy quilt to make and went together in no time. It only took 6 yards of fabric for the front, and would be great for shopping out of your stash.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Nest

For those of you who get my posts in a reader, you might not have noticed this new button in my sidebar from The Toby Show:

They have robins nesting in their front porch planter, and Jonah Lisa is documenting it via "Nest Cam." You can click on the link to see the daily updates which, so far, amounts to a beautiful, perfect, new, blue egg a day. So far there are three, and the family has gone to some great lengths to keep the area free from any stress for the robins. This makes me smile every time I click on it, especially as my own nest is going through some changes.

Yes, I dropped off my 8th grader at school for the last time today. Graduation is Tuesday evening after nine years in the same old carpool line. It feels like only yesterday that I strapped a very newborn Gracie into her carseat and took him to his first day of kindergarten; now he is registering for high school (Driver's Ed - EEK!). Where does the time go?

It's a race to the finish on his Bento Box quilt, of course. I've quilted all the cross hatching, all of the border half-squares, and 7 of 17 of the middle squares. I made my binding and realized I am a little short, so I need to add a strip. Hopefully by Sunday it will be done, although I want the label to include the picture from his first day of school and one from graduation.

Yes, my nest is feeling a little dusty and quiet. Spring sports have ended and summer break is almost here. We are due for a big clean, but not today. No, today I think I will listen to the baby birds out my window and take some time for a little quilt therapy.

How about you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Better tUesdays

One of the best blogs I read is Joshilyn Jackson's Faster Than Kudzu. I literally laugh out loud, adore her husband and kids (no, I've never met them), wish I could write like that, and find myself nodding along with her bouts of crazy.

I also need to lose weight and, as my 40th birthday nears, grow increasingly frantic - while at the same time paralyzed by the impossibility of the task before me. So when Joshilyn mentioned the Go Red for Women program to make healthier choices, she got my attention. When she said it didn't start until June 1, AFTER graduation and the rest of the current chaos in my life, I was very interested. And when she added that it was just a kickoff to a healthier lifestyle, lasting only 6 weeks, I was sold. Guess what is exactly 6 weeks after June 1. No...guess. My 40th birthday!

I'm joining Joshilyn's posse, and I invite you to do the same. I'm not revealing any actual numbers here (except that my blood pressure was a very nice 112/ 70 when my allergies were killing me last week, and that should count for something!), but hopefully posting weekly progress will go better than last year's Healthy Habit Mondays. (Shut UP!)

Who's in?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It Might Leave a Mark

I've already blogged about what I hate most about quilting.

Here's the thing that...well, I don't exactly hate it, but I'm generally lazy and don't bother to do it right:
Yep, basting a quilt and then marking it (or vice versa) is so tedious and slow when I just want to get to the quilting part that often I just skip it and free motion quilt or eyeball my - ahem - "straight" lines.

And normally when I have a very geometric pattern, such as the Bento Box, I lean toward a more curvy-swervy-fluid quilting design (yes, that's the technical term) to break up all those lines. For some reason, though, this one seemed like it needed more lines, just going in different directions.

I saw this quilting design, which I've never used, while flipping through an old book that I've used once and have considered selling or giving away. And, upon further thought, I realized that this was not something I could just eyeball or freehand and have it come out looking right. Good thing, because when I sat down to mark the quilt I couldn't even draw it freehand, much less quilt it that way. It took a ruler and some contemplation and a LONG time.

I hope it is worth it.

Now I'm going to see if I can find a nice variegated thread to use, because the basic tan I had planned to quilt with seems a little boring after all of that. The Wanna Bees are meeting tomorrow, so I hope to make some progress.

Also, I have to brag. I have blueberries!
There are only about 8 of them, but I am so excited! I have always wanted blueberries, ever since an older gentleman at a nursery once told me that they are the perfect plant: drought resistant native to GA, with flowers in spring, so-good-for-you berries in the summer, lovely colored foliage in fall, and evergreen in winter. My mom bought me two plants in February, but Daisy kept digging one of them up (but left the other alone - no clue why). We are down to this one little lovely with her 8 berries so far. I can't wait to taste one.

Anyone know when they are ripe?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Going to Guild - May

Monday was guild night and time once again for our Quilt Olympics. We divided into teams to make pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer. Everyone brought 1 1/8 yards of fabric to toss into the mix. Then we divided into teams - I was a "Swifty Seam Ripper" - and started stitching.

These pillowcases are so easy to whip up! They would make a great scout or Junior Beta project - perfect for any service hours needed or sewing class. If you want to make a few for yourself as well, I have to say they make for very "green" giftwrap.

I like to shop from my stash and find 1 1/8 yards of 3 fabrics that look cute together. Then cut each one into three pieces: 27", 10", and 3", all by the width of the fabric. Press the 3" pieces in half lengthwise. Mix and match!

Lay the 10" piece RIGHT SIDE UP on your workspace. Lay the 3" folded piece on top of that, matching raw edges. It should look like this.
Then lay the 27" piece RIGHT SIDE DOWN on top of that, again matching your raw edges. You can pin at this point if it makes you feel better. I usually do, but lots of my fellow Stars made fun of me.
Then you are going to roll up the 27" piece like a jelly roll to keep it out of the way of the pin line. It doesn't have to be perfect, just away from the pins.
Fold the 10" piece up and over the whole thing and match the raw edges. Now you have to pin for sure.
Stitch down this line with about a 1/2" seam allowance. Pull the tube inside out and VOILA!
Then clean up the side edges so they match up. If you have a serger, you can finish the pillowcase edges with that. I do a French seam. Sew the last two edges of the pillowcase with the RIGHT SIDES out using a 1/4" seam allowance. Flip inside out, press, and stitch again WRONG SIDES out using a 5/8" seam allowance. This method gives you a beautifully finished pillowcase with no raw edges. Super easy!

Carol was flipping for us and yelling and screaming and cheering us on, so I had to take her picture. She is our biggest cheerleader even though she claims not to be a quilter.
Our busy guild members made over 70 of these in less than 2 hours!
Aren't they beautiful? It is amazing how much one personal touch can mean to a person who is suffering. Going to guild these nights is always a decision - I have so much to do and it would be so easy to skip it. But I'm also always glad I went. Thinking about the people we are sewing for helps me put my little "to do" list in perspective and remember how blessed I truly am.

When I look around at how many other members showed up - more than some nights when we have a great speaker! - and I know they all are just as busy and made the same decision I made, I know that the world is full of caring people. I am so lucky to call a lot of them my friends.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wool Felting

Have any of you ever done wool felting?

I saw an episode of Simply Quilts about it years ago, and have always wanted to try it. Since I am not a huge applique fan, and since my mother is allergic to wool, I have never had a reason. Still, the idea of applique without having to turn under the edges intrigues me.

I can't find a link anymore to the show I saw, so I'm going purely from memory here (EEK!). I do specifically recall that the guest searched thrift stores for brightly colored wool clothing to cut up and wash in HOT water. I can hear dry cleaners and garment sewers shuddering.

Here's what I found at the thrift store:
Aren't they lovely? I know you are just crying that I am going to cut these up! That green one would be perfect for your yearly pilgrimage to Augusta! And, though you can't see them, the blue one has some really pretty stains right down the front.

I decided to start cutting just one in case this didn't work. Plus, who knows if the color will run? I jabbed my pointiest scissors into the green one first. It was a gorgeous day out on my deck in the sunshine, taking out my frustration on a blazer.

I decided to save the lining and button for embellishments later:
Daisy came to investigate:
I was left with the corpse of the jacket...

...and this pile of perfectly good wool. I'll let you know how everything turns out in the wash.
Enjoy your weekend!
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