Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Bright Future

Last week and Easter weekend were a little rough. First the tornado scare, then Mark was sick with strep throat and had a penicillin reaction, Maggie got the stomach bug on the eve of Easter (and didn't make it to sing at church or wear her lovely dress), and my back was completely out of sorts. But, so it goes...I began to feel my momentum shift a little today as I thought about all of the bright things on the horizon.

Soon...

:: Firstly, May brings vacations!! Yes, 2...aren't we lucky? In just a week, the kids will hopefully be doing some of this. And just two weeks later we'll be heading west for some fresh mountain air. Can't.wait.

:: So, this is fun...I finally got around to joining our local modern quilting guild just in time to see that they are doing a field trip this Sunday to Spoonflower. I had no earthly idea that Spoonflower was right down the road in Durham. What a treat!

Countertop Quilt Basting

:: Speaking of quilting, I FINALLY got around to starting to baste this one...my very first biggish quilt ever....today!!!!! This quilt has been a very long work in progress for me and since I hurt my back I've been waiting for "the right time" when I felt comfortable enough with my back to lay it all out on the floor and baste it. Yeah, that right time isn't coming any time soon. There is no way I can possibly justify getting down on my hands and knees on the floor for an hour, two, whatever to baste this quilt. So, I decided to just baste it on the countertop, and it will work perfectly fine (ahem)! I cannot wait to finish it up!

KCWC Pile

:: I'm already thinking a little about the Kids Clothes Week Challenge I signed up for over on Elsie Marley. I did this last year...sort of. This little pile will hopefully turn into a few wearable items for the kiddos for summer. I'm thinking of a simple skirt or 2 for Maggie, some shorts for Joe. I have no idea what to do with that knit fabric on the bottom...hmmm.

:: Shifting from sewing to music, we have tickets to see Mumford and Sons in early June. From what we've heard they put on quite the live show!

:: And, as simple as it sounds, I can't wait for strawberries. I have two very capable pickers this year and I plan to put them to work. : ) I even have a small patch growing in our own back yard.

Nothing is better than a bright future, eh?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feeling Thankful...

Just a quick post to say today, right now, I especially love these three.

LOVE THESE 3

Of course, I always love them. But lately, I've been overwhelmed by how patient, kind, and caring they all are. And, I've appreciated the way those little two keep themselves happy with the simplest of activities. I feel so very blessed to have them!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Dress

Unlike the unloved pillow, Maggie LOVES the Easter dress I made her! Hooray!!! It began as just a simple skirt, but evolved over a week into this lovely little dress.

She Likes It

I didn't use a pattern, but rather referred to a few I have and sized it off a current dress of Maggie's. Consequently, I made this dress about 3 times over again. I spent most of last Saturday waiting on the storm "stress sewing". But, it was worth it!

Little Folks Easter Dress

It fits her perfectly, not just in size, but in style. It's pretty enough for Easter, but comfy enough for a stroll around the woods...which she's already done. I didn't even iron the darn thing after washing it and before taking these pictures!

Pondering

The only, slightly glaring, issue with this dress is that it's a bit of a squeeze for her to get on and off. I planned for elastic around the waist, but when I put it in, I just didn't like the look (it was too bulky). So I made the bodice more fitted and just decided to make it work with 3 buttons on the upper back. A longer zippered back or side or more buttons would have been much better, but I didn't plan for that. So, instead I've taught her how to wiggle into and out of it...something that every little girl should learn (ahem).

Little Folks Easter Dress Back

This was fun and I definitely learned a lot from putting it all together, but I think I'm officially dressed out. Maggie would wear this dress everyday if she could. And, as far as I'm concerned she can!

Sitting Like a Lady

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Reflections

It has definitely been a week to reflect on. Yesterday we witnessed some pretty wild weather, with the massive storm system and tornadoes that came through Raleigh. We are so thankful that we are all safe, but our hearts go out to those that did not fare so well.

Although a tornado didn't touch down close to us, there was definitely a point in the storm that we knew we needed to go to a safe spot. So, we huddled down in our crawl space for about 20 minutes during the worst of it. Maggie was really confused about going down there, so I told her it'd be fun and "we'd tell stories". She was so excited she begged me to go down right that minute. Once we got down there, we played that little game where someone starts a story and someone fills in the blank...or, something along those lines. I think the story of "Pierre the prince" who "lived in a kingdom" and rode a "donkey named Lightening" who had two friends, "Lisa the horse" and "Oinky the pig"...will forever remind me of this day. I keep with it in my mind a little picture of us sitting under the house...huddled all together.

A very different type of memory for sure than this beautiful morning I spent with the kids down at the lake just two days earlier. It was so quiet and relaxing and it felt almost surreal at moments. Like when I began to notice that there were butterflies everywhere...as in 20 or 30 of them flitting around us.

Trail to the Lake

And the enthusiasm of the kids running down the trail to get there, laying their "friends" on the tree to watch as they played in the sand.

They Brought their Friends

And searching for sparkly rocks.

Sparkly Rocks

Climbing trees...

Climbing


And reflecting a bit.

 Reflecting

Watching

But for some reason what I remember most about this day is another story. When we were walking back up the trail to the car, I said "see ya later lake..." which sparked a slew of bye byes from the kids...."bye bye butterflies", "bye bye birds". Then, there was a long pause and I noticed Joe had stopped and was staring back at the lake. Then he said "bye bye sticks". It was so cute and so like Joe.

By the Water

Here's to a new week of stories....

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Kids and Pillows and a Contest...

Today was kind of a blah start to the week. I woke up with sciatica pain again, after feeling a little better last week (sigh). That leads to a fairly low key day in which my brain goes a hundred miles an hour about a million things that I really can't deal with. I find myself looking down at the parts of my life and days that require bending and grumbling about them. And because I'm neurotic and can't let them go, I pick at them bit by bit...which is at least doing my mind some good. Twenty minutes of weeding in the garden is better than nothing. Then I lay on the heating pad for a while and try to write a nice composed blog post, but since my brain isn't working, it ends up something like this...

  • Joe is still sleeping on his chair every night.
  • He says he's "scared" in his bed.
  • There are a lot of jokes about the fact that he started sleeping in the chair the very day I introduced to him a "very special pillow" I made for his bed.
  • I'm not gonna lie, he hasn't exactly warmed up to the pillow.
  • But, scary...a pillow???
  • What do you think??? Don't answer that...

Joe's Pillow

Joe's Pillow Closeup

  • It says "fly" because his room is full of airplane-y kinda things.
  • Maybe he is taking this literally and "flying" to the floor or the chair at bedtime
  • Earth to Laurel, he's just 2 1/2.
  • I also made Maggie a pillow and she does not like it one bit.
  • I know because she said "I don't like it" and made this face when I gave it to her.

Hmph

  • I admit, this scene was re-enacted.
  • It went something like, "make your sassafras face, the one you made when Mommy gave you the pillow".
  • She is sweet as can be, but she knows what she likes and what she doesn't, and she makes it clear...often by poking out her lips like that.
  • She is so much like me, sometimes I think she is me.
  • I stole that line from an episode of Parenthood.
  • I wish it were Tuesday so I could watch a new episode. One of my favorite, relaxing parts of the week are Tuesday nights of Parenthood, with a glass of wine and a knitting project.
  • Anyway, back to Maggie's pillow...Since I know you're dying to see the pillow that invoked the pokey-lipped response, here it is...

Maggie's Pillow

Maggie's Pillow Closeup

  • I ordered that little ballerina fabric at the last minute because she was into ballet at the time and I just knew she'd love the little dancers.
  • She strongly dislikes the color red, which is the color of one of the little ballet girly's skirt.
  • Good gravy...
  • Before I forget to give credit where credit is due, I shamelessly copied these pillows when making Maggie's....well, more or less. Among other things, Anna makes lots of fantastic pillows.
  • Anyway, Joe's pillow was my own creative endeavor...so much for that!
  • Did I mention there is a pillow party going on right now?
Blogger's Pillow Party

  • Rachel, of Sitched in Color, is hosting this fun monthly contest.
  • There are SO MANY FANTASTIC PILLOWS...go check them out!
  • I am entering Joe's fly pillow.
  • Here's hoping it gets better reception!
  • I've been planning on making each of them quilts, but I think I'll hold off for a bit.

Patchwork Pillows

  • Even after all of the work involved, the whole pillow conundrum has given us a lot of laughs.
  • That's a good thing.
  • I feel better now.
Pillow details: Both pillows are standard size (20" x 26") with an envelope closure on the back. I appliqued the "fly" letters on the center panel of Joe's pillow, then quilted concentric rectangles around the panel. Maggie's pillow has straight line quilting slightly offset and on both sides of the patchwork seams.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The table needed a little something...

to brighten it up a bit! So, I made these...

Quilted Placemats 1

I had the idea a while back when I was working on my first quilt (yet to be finished...but soon!!). The quilt starts with 9-patches. We have some round placemats from Kohls that I love, so I had the idea to cut a circle from the 9-patch and make patchwork placemats. They are done with fabrics from Denyse Shcmidt's Hope Valley line, which coordinate really well with our new and improved kitchen! I admit I didn't love this fabric line when I first bought some prints from it a year or so ago, but now all of a sudden I love it!

Quilted Placemats 2

I quilted them with straight lines on a diagonal at 1" intervals. I was pretty intimidated about sewing the circular binding on, but it was no big deal at all.

Quilted Placemats 3

The backs are Kona Coal, perfect for spaghetti night. : )

Front and Back

For what feels like forever now, I've been testing myself with smaller quilting projects...potholders, pillows, and now these. I think I'm ready to take on a real quilt now...I think...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our Home : : The Kitchen

Would you like to take a tour of our new kitchen?? Oh, good, I thought so. This new and improved kitchen has been a year in the works. There are several things I love about this kitchen:

  1. It's bright and cheery...we really went out on a limb painting our cabinets a bright robin's egg blue and our walls a cheery yellow...and we're so glad we did!
  2. It has some very special pieces that have been handed down from both Mark's and my families.
  3. The floors are grey, the countertops are grey. OUR CATS ARE GREY! Those fur balls that they deposit throughout our house - can't see em! You have no idea how happy this makes me.

So, here is the most lighted view I can get in our house (which isn't much). The table was Mark's parents' dining room table. I'm sure I ate at this table the first time I went to visit Mark's home in NJ. And now his parents eat at it with us when they come to visit - pretty neat! It was passed down to his brother and wife and then to us. It is perfect for us! It fits well, it's really great for kids and artwork and huge messes, and equally great for memorable meals. I will admit, we're talking about painting it (or part of it) white. It is a little dark with the darker floors, but we are definitely keeping it around for a while.

Looking In

The floors are cork tile. They are really groovy (and were apparently big in the 70s). I think I came across them when I was browsing "green kitchens". They look like tile, but they're soft and textured, and eco-friendly.

Kitchen 2

Here's a decent closeup:

Kitchen Colors Closeup


I get so many comments on these kitchen chairs. I recovered them with an oilcloth fabric by my favorite quilting fabric designer Anna Maria Horner. The fabric is from her Little Folks line and I have bits of it scattered throughout our house...in curtains, bags, baskets, soon-to-be Easter dress (maybe...), and hopeful quilts. In fact, our paint colors were mostly derived from this line of fabric. Anyway, back to the oilcloth...it is AWESOME! Why, you ask? Wipe-able kitchen chairs. Even Sloppy Joe's messes can be cleaned up. And, of course Lewis approves.

Cat Chairs Apparently

This is a nice little side work/storage area. Both the butcher block island and shelf are from Ikea.

Butcher Block and Shelf 2

It has all the obvious kitchen-y things and then a few nostalgic pieces. That clock is our "Mountain Moose Coffee" clock Mark and I bought on our trip out west when we visited Jackson Hole. It reminds us of the great adventures we had on that trip.

Butcher Block and Shelf

This is our cookie jar. Duh....Were it not for its history, I would have nothing to do with this piece in our kitchen. It was our cookie jar when I was a kid. Knowing my family, it was often full and quickly emptied. When my parents moved out of their house and downsized, they had a "giveaway" (or 2) to pass along things of theirs they didn't really have room for. This was one of those "someone HAS to take the cookie jar" acquires. I love that he has joined our kitchen.

Best Cookie Jar Ever

Just down from the cookie guy, is another piece of history. This one, I adore. This is a spice rack built by my grandfather (I think, ack?!) and embroidered by my grandmother. The embroidered part opens up to more spices. At some point in the process of painting our kitchen and cabinets, I had a random vision of this spice rack hanging on our wall. I knew the colors would match perfectly, and they do. I called my Mom on the phone, assuming it had been passed along already and she said she had just seen it days earlier. And so it became ours...

Grandma's Spice Rack

Being a crafty person now, I'm often amazed at the detail of the embroidery and I stand and stare at it. Another reason why I love handmade.

Spice Rack Closeup 2

Spice Rack Closeup

This is where I hang most of the time. I made the cafe curtain over the kitchen sink with some fabrics from the Little Folks line.

My Kitchen Spot

I have to say, this kitchen of ours is a much improved place to hang. It is comfier on my feet, easier on the eyes, and finally done! And, Joe's little toes approve of it too.

Kitchen 1

Friday, April 1, 2011

He can be pretty creative too...

I didn't mean to dis my sweet little boy by referring to his sister as the creative one. He's creative alright. Just take his new sleeping style. Every night this past week has been the same. We tuck him into his bed, turn out the light and say Goodnight. A few minutes we hear the thump, thump, thump of him wandering around his room trying to find just the right spot...to take a rest. It has become one of our favorite parts of the evening to wander upstairs and see what spot he's chosen and whether he decided to leave his pajamas on or off. Last night it was right by the door and clothed...

Joe's New Sleeping Style

Cute, huh?

He Prefers the Floor

And he was holding onto "pidaman" for dear life.

Spiderman

Such a sweet, sweet boy. And, fortunately one of those kids you could practically drag by the ear to bed and he wouldn't budge an eye. Of course, my favorite part is picking his limp self up and putting him safely back in his cozy bed...often wanting to pause for a few and sit and rock him, pretending he's not just 3 months shy of turning 3. He's my snugglebug, no doubt.

And he's not just creative at bedtime...

Dr Joe

Mr Independent