Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby for Parker's Pack was this afternoon. Parker won first place in his Den and third place Overall. He is very proud!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mystery Quilt Progress

My husband and son went skiing today so I have been busy sewing. I've got all the block sections together and pieced borders on the top and bottom. I thought it wouldn't need a pieced border on the sides, but once I put it on the bed I realized it does. Oh well! I'm pretty pleased with it and it's worth the extra effort. But I am ready for this project to be over and have mentally already moved on.

Friday, January 29, 2010


These photos were taken yesterday afternoon of icicles hanging from the roof outside my sewing room window. Both shots are of the same icicles, just from different angles.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


This photo was taken after last weeks snow. Parker doesn't have much opportunity to be buried in sand, so we have to make do!

It has been snowing lightly since about 10 am. We got between 1 and 2 inches of snow last night in addition to whatever we have gotten today. It shows no signs of letting up. We'll see how much I have to shovel tomorrow morning.

Since I've no place to go, let is snow, let it snow, let it snow ...

I got the fourth and final section of my king size mystery quilt together today. And I'm done sanding the laundry room walls. I may be able to prime the walls tomorrow - if it's not a snow day - and then paint this weekend. After I paint I'm going to go shopping for new flooring, probably just vinyl. Still have to figure out what to do about the ceiling.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Parker's Nose

Both Monday and Tuesday mornings this week began in tears. On Monday, Parker hadn't even got out of bed yet and he was crying about homework. I don't think he was fully awake yet. But seriously, his homework is usually read his AR books and study spelling words. On Thursdays he also has to find something to take for Show and Tell. What ya' crying about?!

Yesterday morning he tripped and fell on his way to the bus stop and scraped his nose. We didn't even make it to the corner (half a block) before this happened. I didn't want to put him on the bus crying so we went back home. I checked his knees and nose out, cleaned him up and drove him to school. Luckily he was wearing mittens so his hands didn't get hurt. The photo was taken after school yesterday.

Today is my "go to work" day. So far, things are going better in my classes than last semester. I think I did a much better job describing what the course was going to be like on the first day than I did last semester. I hope the upward trend continues!

I did manage to get the third (and smallest) section of the king size mystery quilt assembled this morning before 9 am. One section left then borders, assemble the sections and piece the backing. I have decided to get this one professionally quilted by long arm quilter.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Parker did this picture recently. He is in to Mario Brothers and his new DS right now. I thought the picture was really cute and fairly accurate too.

I have started putting the blocks together for my king size mystery quilt. I am using the first photo layout from yesterdays blog entry. I like to put my tops together in sections instead of rows. I have two out of four sections together and the third is up on the design wall waiting to be assembled. I haven't started cutting out the border yet. I need to get the sections together so that I can move the stacks of fabrics from the cutting table back to the ironing table. Then I can cut out the border. I've already spend quite a bit on fabric for this quilt so I am planning to do a pieced backing using up the left over fabrics from the front.

Monday, January 25, 2010


FINALLY, I have all the blocks completed for the mystery quilt which will become our new bed quilt. I cleaned the floor upstairs yesterday so that I could lay out my blocks today. I think I like the first layout best, but I did a second one just to be sure. In the second the diagonal four patch blocks are turned 90 degrees. I liked this layout (the second photo) better for the original design of the mystery quilt. But I had to add blocks to make mine bigger. In the second layout the design seems to "fall off" the quilt. The diagonal four patches lead the eye off the quilt while in the first layout they seem the contain the design. So I think I'll be sewing them together using the first photo as a guide.

I'm still working on the borders. I plan to add some four patches and browns to continue the diagonal four patch lines. Then I'll put a skinny brown border and finish it off with a wider border out of my focus fabric - the centers of the star blocks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I'm done stitching the crop circles. I think it needs a border though. I am auditioning various fabrics right now. I'm also itching to use my new Chubby Markers that came in the mail yesterday. These are marking tools that are removed with a steam iron. They are white, so perfect for darker fabrics. I've already tested them and they work great.

Here is a photo of my view from the sewing room today. Snow! It's been snowing most of the afternoon and the forecast calls for the snow to continue through tomorrow sometime. Parker is getting his snow gear on to go play in the backyard as I type this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Trip to the Beach, Part 2

Yet another favorite photo, also from our trip to Hobbit Beach along the Oregon coast.

Today was the first day of my Spring courses. It was hectic. I hope things go better this semester than they did last semester. I think I did a better job of describing my expectations of the students to them though. One person got up and left about 10 minutes into going over the syllabus, shortly after I said that they would need to spend an average of 9 hours per week working on the course and if their schedule would not permit them to commit that much time to this course then they should change to a different section.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Trip to the Beach

Another favorite photo. This was taken July 19, 2007 along the Oregon Coast. The name of the beach is Hobbit Beach. It is just north of Heceta lighthouse. You park on the side of the highway and walk for about 1/2 mile through the forest down to the beach. Just before you get to the beach the trail goes through a sort of tunnel. The sides are sand and the bushes have grown together creating a tunnel. The entrance is round, like a hobbit house. You have to walk about 10 yards or so through the tunnel and then you come out onto the beach.

I love this photo because Parker was so thrilled to be at the beach. I think it captures the wonder he must have felt seeing the ocean for the first time. I particularly love that I got his reflection too. That was just luck!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Favorite Photo

I guess everyone has a few favorite photos of their kids. This is one of my favorite photos that I have taken of Parker. It was taken March 27, 2004 in our backyard in Macon, GA. Parker was 22 months old. He is standing on a stump at the top of the slope in the yard. He had just fallen off the stump and tumbled down the slope bit. If you click on the image to make it larger you may be able to see a scratch on his nose and his face is a bit dirty. The flower pot he is holding has dirt in it that he was playing in. We were all outside sprucing up the yard because we were getting ready to put it on the market. We moved from that house here to Alamosa at the end of July 2004. He tumbled down the slope and before either Tony or I could do anything, he jumped up and ran back to the stump. We asked him if he was alright and he just gave us that smile as I snapped the photo.

I've been looking through a lot of older photographs recently. I try to make a scrapbook for each year and I had gotten a bit behind. I'm glad to report that I am starting on the album for 2009. So I'm caught up. It feels good!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's here!

Our newly reupholstered sofa arrived this afternoon. We have to play with the furniture arrangement now. The new sofa is definitely going to live in the room, but we have to decide if we are going to have two sofas in the room or one sofa and two chairs or just one sofa. If we decide on two sofas then I will get the other one recovered, probably in the same fabric as this one or something similar. Ahhh!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stitched Crop Circles, Part 3

Here's a photo with all the fields completed. I've added backing and rebasted it for the quilting to go outside the fields. I have not yet decided how I want to quilt it, other than I will be defining the nine patch by quilting the drawn blue lines that run between the fields. I also don't know how I want to bind this. I'm considering a satin stitch or blank stitch or possibly couching some yarn along the edge. I've got time to think about it.

I really like this idea. It has the effect of stitched applique or piecing. I am already thinking about how to incorporate this technique into other projects. I have too many ideas now to list.

My sewing time is most likely over for today. Next on my list is doing a bit more sanding in the laundry room. Then shower and lunch. I need to do some laundry. I have to meet a student at 2 pm and then turn in some final grades for students who have finished up the ALEKS course I was teaching last semester. They got extensions since they weren't quite done at the end of the semester. Then Parker comes home along with his friend Jamie. I've already got dinner in the crock pot, Taco Soup. If there is time I have to continue working on my syllabii for the courses I'm teaching next semester. Yes, I'm teaching two ALEKS courses beginning next week. We'll see how this goes. Last semesters course didn't go as well as I would have liked. I am making some significant changes to the syllabus based on my experience last semester. If things don't improve this semester, I may not have a job after this semester.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stitched Crop Circles, Part 2

I'm making slow but steady progress on my stitched crop circles. In the bottom right field I used two different blue threads. The vertical stitches are in rayon and the horizontal stitches are metallic. I had better success sewing by hand with the metallic than I have had with the machine. I think the metallic would have sparkled more if I hadn't paired it with a rayon thread. Next time! In the top right field I used a solid green and a Sulky Ultra Twist in green and gold. I really like the Sulky Ultra Twist!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Home Improvement project

The laundry room walls are on my agenda for today. This picture was taken yesterday and I've already done several sessions on the walls today. I can only work for about 45 minutes before my shoulders, neck and back need a break. I'd take another picture to post but I don't think you'll be able to see much difference at this point.

The project is to prepare the walls to be painted. The problem is that the walls are in really bad shape. When we bought the house all the walls along the exterior of the house had been crudely framed, insulated and covered with paneling. We ripped all that out the first week we lived here. Most of the walls were fine underneath with a really nice texture that has been impossible to imitate. But the laundry room walls had yellow and green peeling paint underneath. My dad scraped all the peeling paint off and then my husband slapped joint compound onto the walls. Unfortunately, he applied it too thick in places, so it cracked as it dried, and he textured it too much so it is impossible to paint. After 4 years (or more) of waiting for the walls to finish themselves, I'm just going to have to do it myself. The quote in the header of my blog is from the Lord of the Rings and is "it's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish." Around our house we don't have trouble starting things, it's the finishing! I am hoping that 2010 will be the year we finish all the projects we have started, or at least the laundry room.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Parker's First Cross-Stitch

Parker has finished the first stocking in his cross-stitch project. The pattern he is using has about 7 stockings in a row. I'm not sure how many stockings he is planning to do but the first one is finished. It's not perfect, but he is very proud of himself! As he should be.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stitched Crop Circles

I was able to make a bit more progress this morning on my weekly art project. I am considering this a sampler of sorts, making notes about the type of thread used for each "field" and the weight of the thread. I am even thinking about trying to use one of my metallic threads to see how it hand-sews.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Back to weekly art

After reading this last night I decided it was time to get back to doing some weekly art. I liked the idea (scroll down to the last two photos in the above link to see the stitched sawtooth star) and decided to use it as a second in my crop circles series. Below is the progress I've made so far today.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cross-Stitch Buddy

Parker has become my new cross-stitch buddy. He is working on a line of stockings using a pattern from one of my many cross-stitch books. His Nana gave him some 11-count cross-stitch fabric for Christmas. It is much easier for him to use than the 18-count I use. When he gets one of the stockings finished I'll have to show you his progress.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Life for an old Sofa

I've been threatening for months and today I finally did it. I am getting this old sofa reupholstered. It was my parents sofa for many years while I was growing up and has been reupholstered several times already. I used it in college when my parents bought a new sofa and for the last several years it has been the "playroom sofa." It is a Flex Steel sofa and my mother has told me on many occasions that it will last forever if properly cared for. I'm not sure we have properly cared for it, letting kids jump on it and off it and over it ... It has a silly putty stain on the right hand side arm and many other mysterious stains. There are probably even a few toys hiding inside. All of that is going to change next week. Here is a stack of beautiful fabrics for me to choose from.

The circled one is my choice. The name of the color is Cocoa - its a medium brown color. I have put in my fabric order and they will pick up the sofa next week. I can't wait!

Of course I will post a photo of it when it comes back. Now I need to find some fabric for new pillows!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Playing with Paint Sticks

Above, my birthday gift to myself - a set of iridescent paint sticks, stencil brushes and brush cleaner - along with a photo copy of an hibiscus that I outlined with a Sharpie. I traced the hibiscus onto freezer paper and then cut it out (a painstaking process but hopefully worth it). Below is a photo of the stencil ironed to my fabric as I am stenciling.

Below is what I ended up with. I used silver as a base color but it looks more gray to me, at least on this fabric. On top of the silver/gray I used a green on the leaves and a dark blue on the flower.
The image is now curing (i.e. hanging on my design wall drying). The directions say to let it cure 3 to 7 days, depending on how heavily you applied the paint. I think I put it on pretty light so I think I'll wait until Thursday or Friday (3 or 4 days) before proceeding. The next step is to heat set the image by pressing it with a hot iron. Then I am going to quilt this somehow.

So far I have learned: (1) I need to test the paints on a corner of the fabric to see what they will look like before using them on my image; (2) the cutting out process of the stencil is not fun and takes as long or longer than the painting process; (3) cleaning the brushes is also time consuming so painting several pieces at the same time would be a better use of my time (and I may need more stencil brushes for this).

I think this was a good investment. It's a way to create custom fabric and is not as messy or time consuming as dying fabric.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Calico Bean Soup

This is the best bean soup we have had in a long time. I received the dry ingredients as a gift along with the dry ingredients for corn bread. I wish I had taken a picture of the jars. They were so cute, old fashion canning type jars with glass lids. Just beautiful! Here is the recipe:

1/3 cup each of yellow split peas, green split peas, dry lima beans, dry pinto beans, dry kidney beans and great northern beans
1/4 cup dried minced onion
2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
(These were the ingredients I was given in the jar)

Other soup ingredients: 8 cups water, 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped stalks of celery, 2 pounds smoked ham hocks. (I used a ham bone instead, left over from our Christmas ham)

To make it on the stove: Bring bean soup mix and water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Cover, remove from heat and let sit 1 hour. Return pot to heat, stir in carrots and celery. Stir in ham hocks, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, until beans are tender, skimming fat as necessary. Remove ham hocks from soup. Remove meat from bone, chop and return to soup. Heat through and serve.

I made it in the crock pot and here's what I did. Bring bean soup mix and water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Put ham bone in the crock pot and pour boiling bean mix and water over the top. Turn on crock pot to high and cook for a few hours (about 2 or 3) until the meat on the ham bone separates from the bone. Remove ham bone from the soup. Remove meat from bone, chop and return to soup. Stir in the carrots and celery and let cook on high until dinner time (about 4 to 6 hours).

The only complaint my family had was that there wasn't enough stuff in it. So next time I will add some more dry beans (I'll probably just use a bag of the 15 bean mix and add 3 cups of beans instead of the 2 cups called for) and double the carrots and celery.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Most of the day is over and it's been a good birthday. Here is what my mom and sister sent me. The card on top of the chocolate covered cherries is a gift certificate to my local quilt shop. I used it today when I purchased the present I ordered for myself. I got to spend the afternoon playing with my new purchase. I'll post photos of that project later this week.

The pin cushion my mom made for me is so cute! Here is a close up shot of it. She put some sand in the bottom so it is heavier than it looks.

She is so talented! I asked her for the pattern. I've got a whole box of wool someone gave me in addition to a small drawer of scraps.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year Cleaning

Yesterday's blocks are done, the tree is put away, some Christmas decorations have been carried upstairs and I've done some vacuuming. Tony and Parker are working on cleaning/organizing Parker's room. I'm using my new crock pot for the first time. I've got a ham and bean soup cooking and will make corn bread to go with it.

Busy, busy, busy today. I'm taking a short tea break before tackling some more.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Mystery Continues

Still working on my mystery quilt. I made a little more progress this morning before I had to turn my attention to more mundane tasks - laundry, grocery shopping, taking the ornaments off the tree and packing them up for storage. The tree will come down tomorrow and I'll begin carrying items upstairs for storage until next year. I like to just pile things on one of my basting tables for a few days to make sure that I have found everything that needs to be put away. If I put things away too soon then I usually forget something and wind up having to get all the bins out a second time to put it away.

Hope you had a good New Year. We did. Parker played at a friends house for the afternoon and then we went over and had a very nice dinner before coming home about 8 pm. We were too tired from skiing all afternoon on New Years Eve to do anything. I went to bed at 9:30!