Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another quilt...

This is one of the quickest large quilts I've done.  I started it after I finished the other blue/green quilt, so it has all been in the last few months.  My Mom asked for two twin quilts for her blue room, so this is the second.  It very well may be my favorite quilt i've ever made.  I don't want to give it up!

The pattern said it was twin size (this was a Connecting Threads kit), but it came out HUGE.  I cut out a row and a column, and it is still larger than twin batting.  (Also- a row and a column were A LOT of work. Grr.) I wish I had realized that before I pieced the back, as I would have set them into the back.  This is the first quilt I've done in awhile that has a solid back (except the label, unlike baby quilts, I've been labeling these.)

See, boring, non-pieced back
I originally started quiting a motif in each square, but ripping the paper off (that the design was traced on) was very time consuming and the designs didn't show very well.  If I am going to that much effort, I want them to show.  So I ripped out all the ones I had done, and just meandered.  That way the quilting on this matches the quilting on the first quilt.

Hopefully this is "blue" enough for my Mom, and she doesn't mind that it doesn't match the other perfectly.  Then again, if she doesn't like it- I want it back!  I really don't want to part with this one!

Since we aren't going back to Texas anytime soon, I need to find a box to mail it in.

All the obligation quilts are done, so now it is time to get into projects for me.  I am working on a Dresden plate that will end up queen size.  I think I will have to do quilt as you go, because I have no room to baste a queen size quilt.  I also got a shadow trapunto pattern from Leah Day, so I am going to work on that.  It is snowflakes, so I have until Christmas to get it done!  It is quilt as you go, so that could be practice for the Dresden.  I have all the plates made, and most appliqued onto the blocks (I ran out of fabric and have more on order), so I hope to put pictures of them up soon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dress for Josefina

(Modeled by Jess)

So I recently decided I needed to downsize my American Girl collection.  I have 11 dolls, and no room.  However, deciding which doll to get rid of was a nighmare.  I finally decided on Josefina- I got her at the end of high school (I think? Maybe even in college...) and we never really 'bonded'.  Even some of the newer dolls have 'stories' or 'play' to them that is more than her.  So I decided she would go first, and then I'd figure out who goes next.

However, I couldn't just give her to goodwill or put her up on Ebay. I decided to send her to my Uncle.  He has 6 children, including 4 girls.  I think a free American Girl doll will be much appreciated in that household, and he is so amazing, fostering, and then adopting 2 of the girls.  I packed Josefina and realized she only had 2 outfits.  So I gathered some homemade clothes to send too, and saw that I had cut out the pieces for this cute denim dress while I lived in Ohio (6 years ago...) but never sewed it together.  Since I left the hems as raw edges (with a line of stay stitching), it was quick and easy. 
The dress was too plain without decoration, so I added daisies to the neck and hem, and then when I tried it on Jess, it was way too short, so I added the eyelet lace.

Although the sewing is a bit 'eh', I think the dress is very cute.  I tried to put in an invisible zipper, but I mut have done it wrong.  It is fairly visible...
Photos are courtesy of Kevin, with no guidance from me.  I was out running errands, but he is wonderful, as he took great ones and even posed his model!  (I used to take pictures of my dolls in scenes, so he must have remembered that.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quilt Done!

Let me tell you a story about a quilt.

Some time ago, probably around April 2011, I decided I wanted to really get into quilting.  We have a twin size bed in our guest room, so I thought I'd make a quilt from that.  Move beyond baby quilts.
Enter Quilt Magazine.  I found a design I love, with a name I hate: Skinny Dip. I've since learned that I adore these designers.  They make the most beautiful fabric (which, being Moda, is too expensive for me.)

I didn't use the suggested fabric, but instead ordered strips from Connecting Threads (who I also love).  They arrived in May of 2011.

In July of 2011, I started working on the quilt.

In August, something big happened.  My little Kenmore got traded in for a major upgrade: my beloved Bernina!  And I finished this quilt top!

The time span of this quilt represents a lot of progress for me. 

I learned to free motion quilt, I learned to bind a quilt "properly" (well, I still don't do it well, but way better than what I did before).  I learned to do pictorial quilts, and made some art quilts.  I made my first mini-wholecloth and started dabbling with machine embroidery.  I've completed the majority of my master's degree (which also required making a quilt!)  I made a baby quilt and a twin size quilt as gifts.  I made dresses for our cruise, and did some other garment sewing. And I did all of this while neglecting this top!

I actually don't know when I started quilting this quilt.  It was before I made the twin size quilt for my Mom, but this got set aside for that. I clearly didn't blog the progress well!  I decided since it was so colorful I would do the quilting with every color of thread I have (and actually ordered some more from Connecting Threads to up the variety). 

I quilted with tons of different designs, making it a sampler of sorts.  I used pink thread on the back, and the edict to use the same color on top and bottom is there for a reason!  I had lots of "dots" of dark thread on the back...but luckily they blended in while washing.

Now that it is done (I woke up at 5:30 this morning to bind it...), washed, and photographed, it is on our guest bed and I just love it.

There is only one conundrum.  I love the backside more than the front.  The quilting is just SO pretty (not to toot my own horn or anything.  It is flawed, but pretty.)  Thiis happens a lot with my quilts- I'm clearly meant to be a quilter, not a piecer.  I love the quilting look.
Should I display it upside down?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spring Vacation: Final Day (April 21, 2012)

On Saturday, we drove up to Fort Worth to see my sister and her family.  I wish we had more time to spend there, but luckily, we were able to catch one of C's baseball games.  (We got to play with L and B a bit too, but they actually were napping for a good portion of the day we were there.)

We didn't head out too early because Courtney's family was walking for March of Dimes, so we met them after the event.  Our timing of the drive was perfect, and we got there just as they were getting home.

Elsa went on a quick walk around the neighborhood and then was put into the upstairs bedroom where she stayed all day :( - we didn't want any repeats of the last visit, so the two sets of dogs never saw each other!
We didn't manage to get many pictures of the little boys.  Here is L.
After a quick lunch, the little boys went to bed, and Adam, C., Kevin and I went to Academy to get C. a new bat.  We also owed him a birthday present, and despite trying to talk him into a ball return net (the kind you can kick or throw into) he really wanted a Catcher's mitt!  C. has wanted to be a catcher/umpire for a LONG time (I made him umpire bags quite some time ago), so there was no persuading him to get anything else.  We also got him an umpire set with a counter, a brush to sweep the plate, a real umpire bag, and a pen. 
Rhonda gave C. a real Big 12 baseball (our other nephew C. has a collection from UT games). Since TCU is joining the Big 12, it was a huge hit.
As soon as we got home, we took the new toys outside to play.  C. had to try his bat to get ready for the game that afternoon, but the umpire mask also got some breaking in.
C. took turns with his bat, and all the adults played too.

I even managed to hit the ball!  (You can probably tell from my stance that I'm not a pro! I think Adam was being nice with his pitches to me.  Kevin managed to hit his first two, and then the pitches got much tougher.)
Kevin managed to catch my big moment.  This is the one I hit!
C. got suited up for the big game, but posed with the bracket Kevin made him for Christmas.  It was designed to hold a bat, a cap and mit, and has holes in the top to hold four baseballs.  The "C" was done in the style of the Ranger's T.
Then we went to the game. Adam is coach, so he pitches too. 
The kids get 3 pitches, and then they use the tee. 
C. didn't need the tee and had some great hits.  There is a 5-run rule, so apparently most games end with the home team winning after 4 innings (I'm not really sure what was being explained- tie goes to home? maybe?), as everyone gets all the runs, but C's team is one of two in the league that can make plays to get outs, and they did on this game, winning 20-10.  They actually had some really good plays, pretty impressive for five and six year olds!
During the game I got some insight into my sister's life and played twin chaser. 
Still coralled in the stroller, B. enjoys a snack.
The little boys just run all over the place during the game, with the other Mom's helpfully telling her when C. is up to bat!  Wow! She has a lot to handle.  They aren't crazy wild, as the boys are well behaved, they just seem to be everywhere at once.  We did get to stop and watch for a second.
Looks like something serious is happening! 
C. idolizes the Ranger's players, and he is very "into" the game.  While some of the little boys play around in the field, he is always focused on what is going on, and in down moments will crouch or stand like a major leaguer does.  I'm guessing it is concious, as only one or two of the other boys does that, the rest wander off into dreamland a bit.  C. also has the bad habit of spitting (only allowed during baseball...) because the Ranger's do it.

Kevin played sports photographer during the game and got some good shots, but because their last name is on his Jersey, most of them are going on facebook.  I love this one, but Kevin was disappointed it wasn't framed perfectly.
After the game we went out to eat and had a great burrito, then back home again.  C. read me some poems for bedtime, which was really nice. He's doing a pretty good job of it.

The next day we woke up not-yet-bright and early to drive back to Iowa.  It is nice to start the drive in Fort Worth, as it cuts about 4 hours off the drive, but I hope next visit my sister is more than just a quick stopover.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spring Vacation Continues: April 20, 2012

The next day we started out at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center.
 Although the bluebonnets were still blooming along the roads, I think we went between blooms- there were many flowers, but the weren't incredibly impressive.
However, the goal was to get some good family pictures of Michael, Rachel, and V.
I think Kevin did a pretty good job (infants are tough!) and we all had a nice time walking around.
Michael also took a nice picture of us with V.
And we did find this adorable little acorn:
We then all went over to Nan's house for brunch. Everyone was able to come except Kelly (Jill's husband, who we actually didn't get to see at all, unfortunately).  I think Nan may have been expecting approximately 40 people, rather than 9 plus kids, as she had prepared a feast: an entire ham, waffles, biscuits, hash browns and more.  It was delicious.

We got to play with V. more, as well as R. and C. 
Rhonda wanted a picture of her children with their children.  I think Jill should have shared one of hers with Kevin.  He looks lonely in this picture.

Nan and I are planning on going to the Houston Quilt Show together.  I never got to do something like that with my grandmother, so I really hope it works out that I'm able to go.  It will be so much fun to take classes (though I think her quilting taste runs more traditional piecing, and mine runs more to art quilting and free motion quilting, but honestly, I'm willing to take any classes.)

I really have no idea what we did after that until it was time to go over to my parents house.  We joined them that evening for dinner. Having had ate enough to feed a small country over the course of the vacation, we suggested a small meal in, rather than a big dinner out.  We had spaghetti and salads and then had a game night.  We played Quiddler and Trivial Pursuit.  Despite playing against my mother and Kevin (both trivia whizzes) I managed to win both games.  I think everyone had fun.  One lesson was learned though: if Jessica is not the pink game piece, she gets very confused!  I kept moving other people's pieces.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring Vacation: Day ? April 19, 2012

So, our vacation story isn't over yet.  I just got tired of writing it :)  (It was more fun to take.)

Next, we woke up bright and early, grabbed some breakfast and headed down to the World's Bar to wait to be called for disembarkation.  We decided to self-assist, so we had all our luggage with us.  We got to the elevators when no one else was there, but as more families with children, or seniors stood behind us, we decided it would be easiest to just carry the luggage down the stairs.  I wouldn't say it was "easy", but it wasn't difficult either.  Don't pack more than you can carry is a good rule of thumb.

Our floor was called shortly, and we walked off and joined the long line for customs.  Despite having more than our allowance for duty free, we weren't charged anything extra (we were barely over), and went to find our shuttle bus.  Lighthouse parks ALL THE WAY at the end of the terminal, but it was easy to find.  We waited for a few more passengers and were taken to the parking lot, just by our car.

Then, rather than heading straight to Austin, we took a short detour through College Station.  Driving to C.S. always makes me happy- heading there from Austin or Houston, I did both drives so much, they are familiar and say "home" to me.  Which is funny, if I really think about it.  C.S. wasn't really my "home" for all that long.

While we were there, we caught up with my good friend Shanna, and I met her girls.  I last saw her when she was pregnant, and they are already so grown up.
We then drove to the Bonfire Memorial. 
Kevin had never been, but was pretty deeply connected to the accident for a Longhorn, so I think he was really moved by it.  I have been three times now (including the dedication) and this time it really got to me.  I think as I get older, it just gets so much more tragic.  When I was that young, I don't think I ever really appreciated how young most of the people who died were.  Now that I'm older, I can't imagine what it must have been like for the families who lost kids who were just in the first semester of college. The memorial is really nice though.  The doorway shown points towards Austin.
Afterwards, we stopped at my favorite College Station location: Texas Avenue Freebirds!
And then, we headed back to Austin.  We showed off our trophy haul, and had a family dinner.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Carnival Triumph Day 5 (April 18, 2012)

Our cruise closed with a fun day at sea. This was fantastic, as the last cruise ended after a port day and you didn't really get "closure" on the cruise.  Or something like that... anyhow- I liked the way this cruise was laid out. I was worried about a 5-day cruise, but I won't hesitate to take one again.  It was fantastic.

We slept in a little later this morning (still not late...) we woke up around 8:00.  The blackout curtains in the balcony cabins work very well- if you don't want light coming in it won't.  Today, we chose to eat in the main dining room for breakfast.

Unfortunately, this wasn't as good as it has been in the past.  I really enjoyed my pineapple juice and danish, but the entree was a little disappointing.  Kevin loves eggs benedict, but ended up picking his apart.  It was clear that the egg was fried, not poached.  I think he ate about half the egg, and then moved it off the english muffin and just ate the rest of it.   I had waffles with strawberries and turkey bacon.  The turkey bacon wasn't crisp enough, so I only ate a few bites (we make turkey bacon at home- you really have to cook the heck out of it to make it crisp. Microwave is best. This was probably on a grill top.)  The waffles were good though, and I liked the strawberry sauce.
After breakfast you'll be shocked to hear we went to Trivia.  Up first, at 10:00, was "Ultimate Mind Games" which is usually of the type of "a rooster lays an egg on the top of a steeple roof. Which way does it roll" brain teasers, but instead this was just the regular mixed trivia we'd done all week.  We did fine, but that was kind of a bummer.
We skipped Towel Folding and went back to the room to have a nap.  This is my favorite cruise activity.  Kevin sat out on the balcony and said there were tons of flying fish.
Then, at 1:00 was movie quotes trivia.  Kevin played and I spent some more on my sign and sail.  This time I splurged and got the plate of 5 chocolate covered strawberries :)  I'm a big spender on cruises - haha.
I don't know why people spend so much on their bar bills.  This is cruise ship goodness.

I had wanted to do the Groove for St. Jude at 1:30, but it was the same time as Guess that Song trivia.  We had always really liked that in the past, but this was all obscure 80s songs, and Kevin actually gave up!  It was awful.  Should have gone and grooved!
Hanging out at song trivia.
At this point we did go back up to the Lido (second time this cruise?) and grabbed some ice cream, pizza, and fabulous lemonade.

At 2:15 was "The Game of Love" (Newlywed Game) and it was tamer than our last cruise, but always funny.  The cruise director filled in "the best answers" he had heard- which were all hysterical.  I always wonder if those are the best answers or if the entertainment staff sat around and said "you know what would be so funny?  If someone said..."

At 3:00 we went to Tea Time.  This was wonderful, although no one at the table really talked to anyone they weren't with.  I love the strawberries and cream.  I also had a cucumber sandwich.  Kevin had smoked salmon, and I think a macaroon with dark chocolate.

Afterwards we went to sports trivia and on to the main event: progressive trivia final!  After placing second by only 3 points on the Freedom (having missed the first day of progressive trivia) our strategy was simple: show up everyday.  One other team had the same strategy, but we got the win by, I think, 6 points.  We had so much fun with our trivia team the entire cruise, and we were rewarded with a bundle of ships on a stick, and a bottle of champagne.
Ship on a stick for all! (This is the only trivia event the entire team gets a trophy.)

We then grabbed some sushi and all went over the the Fun Farewell party (Cheryl ran to the room to chill the champagne), which is not a well kept secret on the Triumph. It was clearly in the Fun Times as being free drinks, and the place was packed. There was singing and dancing, and drinks were flowing. Unlike the past guest party there are no hors d'euvres. We had a lot of fun dancing, posing for pictures, and just goofing off.

Kevin drank whiskey sours (YUCK! Even the cherry was gross), Cheryl prefered to have beer.
Someone mentioned they didn't get to see the dinner show the previous night. It was essentially "shimmy-clap-clap-clap" so I recapped it for them.


The previous night I had a lesson in posing to look skinny, so we gave it a try.  The secret is chin OUT no, UP.
Errett started it...
Just being silly now.
Months behind the trend, we decided to go for the full Tebow.

At dinner there wasn't anything I wanted to eat, and as much as I really wanted the Indian dinner again, I didn't want to eat that much.  One of my favorite appetizers was on the menu, so I asked for it, and then it again for dinner. 
I had hoped to order off the kids menu, and just get a spaghetti or something, but they told me the kids menu pasta is the same as the adult pasta- just a smaller portion.  Well, it was a sea food pasta.  :(  I'm kind of surprised they do that, because I don't think most kids would like that.  Kevin had a study in sushi as his appetizer, and he had the seafood pasta, which he really liked. 
For dessert I did get the kids banana split, and I think I'll stick with warm chocolate melting cake.  The sauce wasn't so good- I think just hershey's syrup.  I've never had a banana split before though.
What? No cherry on top?
After dinner we skipped the Big Easy show and went to the family friendly comedy at 7:30, where we met up with LA ARIA and had our champagne.

Glasses for six?
Pretending to pour into a tower. 
The guy behind us who took a picture for us scored glasses for him and his wife, because 3 of our group were non drinkers.  (I didn't have any of it, so I can't tell you if their free champagne is any good.  Kevin says it was 'alright'.  But the main adjective to describe it was 'free'.) 

 The comedian was fantastic. Kevin thought we had seen him on comedy central before- J.R. McCollom, I think. He did a really good show, and apparently did a different show every time he performed. I imagine his notes for the show are an outline of jokes he thinks he might do, and then he just throws it away, because he spent most of the time picking on the audience. It was fantastic (and I did get picked on.) There were 4 unrelated kids in the front row. All who said they were at the show alone because their parents were taking "a nap." Poor J.R. he said "so many jokes, but this is family comedy time!".

We hung out for awhile until the next comedian at 8:30. I don't remember his name, but he said it would be the same show he did the previous family comedy time, he only has different adult shows. That seemed lazy. His show wasn't so good. There was a small portion set aside to pick on the audience, but he kept trying to make pre-concieved jokes work, rather than working with what he got. He needed someone with a tattoo, for example, but not many people in the room cheered when he asked if anyone had one. So then he kind of tried to force to make the show work. He also did too many bodily function jokes. Not my thing.

At 9:00, we chose not to go to The Big Easy, and just headed to bed. Kevin's duty free purchases had been delivered, and they tape up the box to make it really hard to verify things are correct (they were). We did not put our bags off, as we were going to do self-debarkation.