Saturday, June 30, 2012

When life gives you scraps...

As you may remember, I have been trimming all my scraps into workable pieces, from 2" up to 6" (cut in half-inch increments).  I have over 10 gallons of scraps now (sounds odd to measure fabric by the gallon, but each bag is a one-gallon ziplock).  I used some of the 3" pieces for the Girl Scouts to make into 9-patches (sewn by hand) and took the 2" pieces in the car to work on as a Purse Project while waiting at doctor offices, dojo, or in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school.  Now it's summertime...

I found a pattern in a magazine to use these scraps in the Fons and Porter magazine from a couple months ago.  I took out the bags and set to work making some 4-patches this weekend.  These are all scrap pieces that I cut up into 2 1/2" squares and are sewing in light/dark pairs, then the pairs into fours.  My plan is to make it into a Milky Way quilt for our bed.  This is what the pattern looks like:

Milky Way Quilt Pattern

Of course, this is going to be very scrappy and it'll be a King size, so there are a lot of pieces to it.  After making the necessary 144 four-inch 4-patches, I will have to make 288 four-inch half-square triangles (made from 144 lights and 144 darks), and 144 solid squares (72 light, 72 dark).  Then the border with a whole bunch of 4-patches...77, if I calculated right.  This will make it 108" wide and 104" long...although I may trim a row off to make it another 16" shorter since I don't need a pillow tuck and it tends to just puddle on the floor at the end of the bed anyhow.  We need the width, not the length.

Also, we are fighting a mold & mildew issue in the kids' bathroom.  I suspect that the fan isn't pulling enough moisture (or anything) out of it, and we have to determine if it's a venting problem or a fan problem.  I can hear it running, but it isn't strong enough to hold a tissue against it.  I'm not sure if there's a blockage or if the fan is backwards or what.  I'll have to find a handyman...especially if I need to get someone on the roof.

Sounders game day today!  Got my green on!  Hope they actually pull off a win today--they're in a slump.

Friday, June 29, 2012

First Few Blocks

Despite my longing to sit down and start cranking out shop hop blocks, a few other things keep getting in the way.  Cleaning house.  Laundry.  Grocery runs.  Taking kids to karate and various doctors.  I did manage to make five of them--a couple of them are very fussy and required to be made with the iron-on adhesive.  One of them is a 3" high bird, complete with little tiny talons.  I don't know how long it'll last, but I hope it'll be permanent.

I finished the blocks for the baby quilt.  I need to set them--not sure if I'm going to sash them or not, but I think I will--plus a border or two and quilt it up.  The baby shower was last weekend and due to the shop hop, I missed it, but I will get this to Diana and Miguel very soon!  I should probably make this a priority over the shop hop blocks, eh?

HOWEVER, I also have this quilt for Judy to work on that I need to have ready by July 9th meeting.  This is a round robin that she and a few friends worked on, so this is her personal quilt, not a store sample.  The tricky part is quilting around the 3-D flowers.  She gave me thread to work it, although I don't think I want to use it on the back due to the color difference; the thread is a pale lavender and the back is creamy white.  Mistakes will be brutally obvious.

The other day I took a couple of girl scouts out to the beach to look at ocean life.  Unfortunately, I didn't know enough about tides to be able to adequately read the charts.  Next Tuesday during the full moon should be a much better day for getting out to see all the oceanic life on the rocks.

Cammie did find a hermit crab that she placed on a rock covered with sea lettuce and we patiently waited for him to emerge...

And just before we left, we found some live crabs running around the rocks.  There are two itty-bitty ones in this picture...can you find them?

We were hoping to find some sea stars while out there, but this is the only one we could see from the water's edge.

To add to the watery discussion, we adopted these tadpoles from Kelly's parents.  They have a pond full of them, with hundreds of more eggs hanging off the lily pads, so we scooped a dozen or so and brought them home in a mason jar.  They're now living outside in Cammie's aquarium.  The fish she had gotten several months ago all died, so it's nice to be able to repurpose it as an outdoor habitat.  We threw in a few pieces of lettuce (which is, apparently, what tadpoles eat) and they are growing well.  Eventually we'll have a dozen little froggies living in our neighborhood...we already have frogs from a pond down the street, and I really enjoy the sounds of their croaking at night.  I don't know if they're going to be the same kind of frogs, but it'll be interesting to see how they turn out.  And, no, I didn't transport them far, so I won't be introducing a new species to this ecosystem...his parents live about an hour away.

Yesterday I took Ben to his well-check appointment (only six weeks after his birthday) and he's gained nearly 4 lbs since March.  NICE!  He's creeping back up the charts for height & weight, too.  No longer languishing on the bottom of the charts, he's above the 25% mark for both and is more height-weight proportional.  These night feedings are doing the trick!  He takes in nearly 1000 calories a night.  If only I could figure out how to get that done in reverse...taking away a few hundred calories while I sleep. should be a nice, relaxing day.  We'll see how that actually turns out.  Maybe I can crank out a few quilt blocks, or start on Judy's quilt, or do some laundry...ideally, all of the above.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

1,246 Miles in Four Days.

This last Wednesday thru Sunday was Shop Hop in Western Washington.  Usually we have four or five seafarers for our voyage, but this year it was just Linda, Lauri and I...and Lauri was only able to accompany us for Saturday & Sunday.  Oh, and Cammie joined us for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

This is a long post, so pour yourself a big cuppa and get comfortable.  Enjoy!

Day One:  Our first leg started with Cammie and I, setting sail at dawn and arriving at the northern port, collecting our navigator, Chicken Linda.  (Chicken Linda because she has chickens, as opposed to Sheep Linda who has sheep.  I also have two Sharons, one of which is "the wyfe" and the other is "Oriana"...who now goes by "Sarra" just to make things confusing.)  I didn't sleep particularly well the night before, but we needed to get up early for our journey to begin at 9 a.m.  We brought along our Pirate Booty--gold chocolate coins for the shop owners and workers to share.  There is only one other pair of hoppers that bring gifts for the shop employees as a thank you for all their hard work, whom we met on Sunday...but more on that later.  We run in and out of the shops yelling, "Arrrrr!  The Patchwork Pirates are looting!"  and we leave loot with them.  Sometimes we say we are "reverse pillaging" or simply "bribing".  As Jack Sparrow said, "What do you say to three shillings, and we forget the name?"  

With a pocket full of one dollar bills for raffle tickets (I must have bought 20 along the way), we went to the shops from Lynden to Everett, 12 in all, pausing briefly to ride the elephant in Anacortes.  When we first arrived at a shop in Lynden (not naming names...don't wanna get anyone irritated for causing trouble) there was a big sign that said something about the Tri-County Scavenger Hunt and had a question that needed to be answered.  Linda answered it correctly and they said, "Yep, you're right!" and that was it.  When we arrived at the second shop, there was another question on a dry erase board and a blue sheet of paper that you could get stamped at each of the participating shops in the Tri-County area, but we declined to participate.  We saw a question at the fifth shop in Bellingham, but still there was little information about what this extra activity was for.  Little did we know that this could have entered us into a drawing for a big treasure chest full of goodies that we didn't see until we got to Everett.  Wow...thanks for explaining the program, ladies.  We got to the end of the 12 shops on the first list, then returned to my house early enough to take the kids to karate, then home for dinner and some sleep.  

Day Two:  The next day, the three of us started out early by driving to Tacoma and working our way up the Olympic peninsula.  Our first stop was Parkland Parish, a former church, had set up its Quilter's Confessional.  This could have been dolled up even funnier had each shop hopper had to admit how many UFOs they had at home already, and how many they were creating on this Shop Hop journey...maybe even have each one enter behind the curtain to get their passport stamped and get the pattern kit.  

We then went to Lakewood, where an Asian-themed quilt store held a number of lovely treasures.  I picked up a charm to add to Emma's growing charm bracelet that she got as a gift from her friend, Rosie.  You may remember that our dear Rosie passed away four years ago from complications with diabetes.  This bracelet was given to Emma before she passed but it was broken and too small for her.  Emma made some basic repairs to it and added a piece of chain to extend the length, and has been wearing it for the past couple of weeks.  I would like to take it to a jeweler to make it larger and put a better clasp on it.  I thought she might like to add a few of her own charms to it, so I bought her an Asian crane with its wings outstretched.  

On to a shop in Port Orchard, which we got in and out of quickly...we have boycotted this store for several years, but if we are going to do ALL the shops, that means this one, too.  They were very nice and welcoming, so we have put them on Double Secret Probation and will visit them again next year.  Maybe we'll gift them with booty, too.  The last time we'd gone to them they were rude and were not following the rules of the hop by providing patterns to each hopper (we got one for our group of five) or three pieces of fabric (they ran out and refused to provide substitutes).  Clearly they've improved and we're willing to give them another shot.

Up the West Sound to Silverdale and Poulsbo, two very charming shops, and Kingston, a great place to shop while waiting for the ferry.  This is where we stopped for lunch at a non-chain burger place with fresh in-store-made fries (I hate to say "home made"...I mean, no one makes them at their home).  Unfortunately, I took the risk of eating at a place where they cook bacon on the same surface as the burgers, and my intestines let me know that was a mistake a little while later...

On to Port Gamble, a former logging and milling town that is now just a bend in the road and a tourist attraction.  Sad that a thriving industry town with homes that once housed families is now home to general stores selling tourist trinkets, information centers, and a museum.  I actually know a lady who used to live in one of those houses...and now it's a tourist destination.  The quilt shop is located in the horse barn.  After that, it was the long trek to Port Angeles, our furthest westerly shop.  It was a gorgeous drive out through the hills and along the coast, and we arrived at a cute little house full of fabric with a single car garage converted into a classroom space.  At the shop, we ran into a husband and wife who were doing the shop hop together on a motorcycle.  What a fun trip!  Of course, this can really limit you on how much fabric you can buy...unless you get the super-size saddle bags...or a side car.

Back on the road, we cruised east and finally made it to Port Townsend.  We realized that this shop was not in the cute downtown area--there was a shop on the main drag a few years ago--but about five miles outside of town, tucked back behind some other small businesses. It was sweet and charming, and I saw some fabric there that Lauri's MIL would have loved....but she wasn't there and I forgot to note what line the fabric was from.  Doh! 

Heading back into town and arriving at the ferries, we discovered that we missed the 2:45 ferry by about 10 minutes, so we got in line for the next one...about a 90 minute wait.  Looking on the old Google machine on my phone, I looked to see if the old quilt shop was still around but not on the hop, but it appeared to be gone.  However, I found another fabric store about 10 blocks away up the hill, so I suggested that we go have an adventure and find this store.  Now, when I say "up the hill," I really mean it.  There are sheer cliffs that are several hundred feet high, and you have to climb a lot of stairs to get to the top.  We set out hiking five blocks north and two blocks west, and came to a set of stairs with a lovely fountain at the base of it.  These funny little stairs were shorter than what we are used to since they were designed for women in the 1880s to climb with their high-buttoned shoes and very long dresses.  We took the stairs two at a time and found the shop a few blocks up and over.  It was a funny little shop...emphasis on little.  Two employees have been running the shop in the back room of a rug shop for the last three years, and is MUCH too tiny to be part of something like the Shop Hop.  With four customers (us three and a gentleman looking for velcro), the shop was full.  There wasn't even a full size table for the shop owner to measure out yardage--she'd measure 18", place a pin, then measure the next 18" until you got the yardage you wanted.  We also discovered that they also sold velcro at $1 a yard, but they measured the two halves separately...instead of just saying $2 a yard and you have to buy both halves.  Weird.  They did, however, have great prices on the couple hundred bolts they had in the shop and several at $6 a yard or less.  Quirky but fun!

We headed back down the hill and got back to the car just in time for the ferry to pull in and start unloading, and we headed toward Coupeville, taking pictures of the town as we sailed away.  We headed south to Langley and then North to Oak Harbor.  Across the street was a Chinese restaurant that claimed to have authentic Cantonese food, but I found it to be a rather disappointing Chinese dinner, then around the horn and back home.  Sleeeeep....

Day Three:  Friday...woke up and Linda and I set out to catch the weird, out-of-the-way shops...those that were scattered in odd places and required a bit more time to get to and fro.  We told Cammie that she was not invited this time, at which time she collapsed on the couch...there was great sobbing and shedding of tears when we left.  We went to the first Seattle shop, in a new location just outside of Ballard, then to Pike Place market area to catch the small one there.  We found a parking place at about 10 a.m. in a lot where the guy on staff gave us the "early bird special", a $14 parking pass for the day.  We climbed a bunch of stairs (in the pouring rain) to get from the waterfront to 1st Street, and walked about three blocks to the quilt store.  

Quickly getting in and out, we went back down the stairs and went six blocks down to the ferry docks and hopped on the Bainbridge Island ferry.  We caught it with just a few minutes to spare.  We sailed across and walked about six blocks to Esther's quilt shop, where I won a small door prize--two fat quarters and two cards of buttons.  NICE!  Since we missed the ferry we came in on, we thought we'd stop and grab a bite to eat before catching the next ferry.  We walked into the diner about half-way between the ferry and the shop.  We got a seat fairly quickly, and ordered lunch, asking if it would be possible to get in and out in about 30 minutes.  She said, if you order now, yes, I think so.  We got our food, asked for the check right away, paid cash, snarfed our food down, and dashed out of the diner--we knew that we were cutting it close.  We power-walked to the ferry, and getting in the building, found that the last cars were boarding.  The guy working there said, "You can hurry, but I can't guarantee you'll make it."  We ran...but there were three long hallways before you get to the ferry.  In the middle of the second hallway, the guy who was getting ready to close the gate saw us coming, so he held it for us...actually, I think the first guy radioed ahead and said, "Hey, two fat ladies are gonna run to the ferry...this'll be funny!"  Thankfully, we caught the ferry back (saving us another 45 minute wait), and we collapsed on the first bench inside the boat.  A few people were giggling when we got on board, saying that they had just done the same thing and thought they were the last ones on board.  

Back on the Seattle side, we stopped for a quick cuppa tea, then back to the car for the trip to the next location...Vashon Island.  Yes, this means another ferry.  Neither of us had ever been there before, so we didn't know where to catch the ferry or whether or not we could make it easily to the shop without a car.  We found our way to Fauntleroy ferry in West Seattle (which, oddly, is southwest of Seattle), and got in line to ride the ferry.  It was $20 to get there, but they let you get away from the island for free (that's darn decent of them).  The map on my phone said that they were just a couple blocks from the ferry, but we called the shop to be sure and they said, no, they're five miles in.  Had they mentioned that there's a bus that can pick us up and take us into town, I would have done that, but...they didn't.  Next time we'll know better how to do this, but it was an experience.  So we rode over, drove to the shop and spent a bit of time there.  They had several thousand bolts of fabric, stacked four bolts high...the top shelf I could *barely* reach with one finger and needed to borrow a tall person to help get it down.  Afterwards, we drove back to the ferry with the intention of catching the Southworth ferry and driving out to Shelton, but we discovered that we missed that ferry by just a few minutes and it was going to be 90 minutes before we'd catch the next one.  I made the executive decision to catch the ferry back to Fauntleroy and continue the hop to Des Moines & Kent, and that ferry was leaving in 30 minutes.  

Once on the other side, we made our way to Des Moines and parked in a spot in front of the neighboring Mexican restaurant since all the quilt shop spaces were taken.  I wasn't more than five steps from the car when an employee from this restaurant opened the door and cussed me out for parking there.  I knew I wasn't going to be there but a few minutes, and was actually considering stopping there for dinner since it was about dinnertime, but he helped make the decision for me to spend my money elsewhere.  The sign in front of his business, which I then noticed, was almost completely obscured by those tacky plastic banners that they hang out for Cinco de Mayo. Another hopper poked her head out of the quilt store and suggested that I park around back, but the alley to get there was blocked by a couple of pickup trucks, so I carefully navigated the streets to the insurance agency on the other side, which was closed for the day, and parked in their lot.  The signs there said, "No bank parking", but I wasn't going to the's all good.  I got inside the shop and recognized the helpful hopper as a fellow guild member, Deb!  I mentioned to the shop owners the way the restaurant was treating the quilt customers and she said, "That's so rude.  Their customers park in our lot all the time."

We got to Kent, where one of the shop workers was talking about wanting to join an online swap group.  I invited to join our swap group and gave her my business card along with the name of the group.  When we left, we and had enough time to run out to Maple Ridge and North Bend before the day was done.  The last shop was small and they had just joined the hop this year...they were a little discourteous, but I attributed it to a long day; they had a lot more customers than they're used to and I think they may have been understaffed and unprepared for the influx of traffic, and that they may have been just cranky and tired.  We left for home again to collapse in a heap.  Luckily, I knew that we didn't have to wake up quite so early the next day.

Day Four:  Saturday!  Our big day!  Lauri joined us and we left Cammie at home again (much to her disappointment).  We began at Bellevue, then worked our way through the small towns in the southwest valley.  First to Puyallup, then off to Buckley.  We ran into the same problem as last year when we arrived in the middle of the logging show parade.  The thing that made it more miserable was the monsoon-like rains that soaked our shoes, pants, coats, purses, and hair.  We had to park about six blocks away (again) and when we arrived at the store, several teenagers watching the parade had huddled into the shelter of the shop's doorway.  I shooed them away at the same time that the shop owner told them that they were still open for business and needed the space cleared.  When we left a few minutes later, new teens had filtered in.  I told them that they weren't so sweet that they'd melt in the rain.  They laughed...or maybe just humored me.  Back to the car...soaking wet...I turned on the heat to dry out.  I really could have used some waterproof shoes.  Note to self...

Then on to Orting, Graham, and Eatonville.  At that shop, I chatted it up with the shop's owner who knows my father in law.  Small world!  I bought the rest of the theme fabric from two years ago, a quilt that I want to try to finish this summer.  Yelm has a great shop with some 17,000 bolts of fabric...if you were looking for it, they probably have it.  Except for the grouping I was looking for--Moda's "Glace" line from 2009.  I had gotten the jelly roll some time back and made the Christmas quilt (seen in previous posts).  I found a couple of fabrics that match in color and I figured it would work well with them if I can't find any more of the fabric from that line.

On to Olympia!  We were in and out of the shop fairly quickly and then down to Tumwater and Centralia.  Then...the motherload...Chehalis!  I love this store.  While it has a measly 11,000 bolts, the staff is spectacular!  I went up to the counter and said, "Hey, I made this quilt top but ran out of the fabric.  Any chance you have some of it?"  The gal said, "Yes, I think we do."  She proceeded to lead me around the store where she found a dozen bolts from that series.  I selected 8 of them and got half-yards of them and a big chunk for the back.  Back on the road for Castle Rock, Kelso, and Longview's two stores .  The lady in one store at Longview, like a few others, said that she was anticipating our arrival with our gifts of chocolate, but then seemed a little disappointed when we all left without buying anything.  Sorry...I blew my budget at Sister's.

Finally, we went to two more stores in Vancouver.  The first was not where we remembered it...the doors were shut, the store was empty, but the signs were still up.  Looking up the address, I realized that I had gotten directions for the old store, and apparently they moved recently.  Got out the ol' Google machine and we found them, and happily, just two blocks away.  Unfortunately, they were set back from the street a bit and it took three passes to find them.  Afterwards, we used that same Google machine to find us a Mexican restaurant and we found one just a couple miles away.  When we got there, the restaurant had changed names, but we decided that we should try it anyway.  The service was less than stellar when they brought me the wrong dinner.  I ordered something called a Blanco Burrito, and they brought me Pollo ala Crema or something.  I handed it back and told him what I ordered, and while Lauri and Linda were enjoying their dinner, I waited for the replacement.  They brought it and it was some chicken in white sauce on rice with lots of onions and green peppers. Still not a burrito.  I stared at it for a few seconds too long and the server ran off.  I took a couple bites (I was starving) but it was so oniony that I knew I was going to hate it in the end.  It still wasn't what I ordered.  He came back and I said it still wasn't right and he looked at me like I was nuts and said something about how there were so many chicken dishes on the menu....  Dude.  Really?  So I told him to go get me a menu.  He returned a minute later and I flipped to the page and pointed to it.  Blanco Burrito.  He took it back and studied it like he never knew it was on the menu and went back to the kitchen.  The manager came over and saw that Lauri was done with her dinner, Linda was nearly done and I had no plate.  He asked how things were going and I told him that I hadn't gotten my dinner yet and that he had gotten it wrong twice.  He stormed off to the kitchen (presumably to chew someone out) and a few minutes later, the correct meal came out.  Sadly, I think they forgot to season it.  It was flavorless and not quite hot in the middle, and like the previous wrong dinner, the chicken was was so dry it was crunchy.  And then they still charged me a portion for it.  Horrible.  So bad, I went on Yelp and created a profile so I could write a review.  

Day Five:  The final day, and I only needed to get to three more shops.  OK, four, but we had to cut out Shelton due to its distance from I-5.  We were going to stop there either before or after Olympia, but it would have been a two-hour round trip, and that's if we only spend a few minutes at the shop.  Too far.  Too bad....  First stop:  Bothell.  This shop has pretty good prices, lots of bolts in their discount pile, and the shop is pretty close to my house.  Then Woodinville--where we met one of the ladies who gift sweets to the other shops.  She confirmed our suspicions that we are the only ones who do this, and we need to up our game a little.  They do the hand-made cards that say thank you and sign their names.  We did the hand-made booty bags, but we'll have to make some little cards with our names on it.  More ideas for next year!! 

We made two more stops--Duvall and then a repeat visit to Everett for Lauri and Cammie, who weren't there the first time around.  We handed in our finished passports for the drawing and went to lunch at the BBQ joint.  Wish our previous dinner had been that good.

Finally home...the loot.  Doesn't look like much, does it?  It's actually about 45 yards...that should make about four large quilt tops, but of course, these are for at least eight different projects.  In the brown bag are all the patterns from the 52 shops we visited, in front of that is the theme fabrics to fill in the bits that aren't included, borders, sashing, etc.; bugs and birds are the colorful half-yards in the front center; some koi fabric for something for Emma; behind that some monster fabrics to go with the monster blocks I got from friendship block swaps; the Christmas fabrics from the Moda line in the back right; a pile of bright Kaffe Fassett (who I call "Coffee Faucet"); and some blue sea glass fabrics for a future project.

I've got an appointment tomorrow, but I hope that I can spend a little time making some quilt blocks, design something for the Moda Christmas borders, and chop up the birds and bugs for the swap.  Oh, and sometime I'll have to come up with a plan for the Girl Scout outing on Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shop Hop Preparations & Father's Day

Emma and I worked on covering up her cork board that was covered with graffiti...she was obsessed with a particular anime and scrawled the names of all the characters on it in black magic marker.  I knew that she would eventually outgrow it, and I had this project in mind to cover the cork when she realized the error in tattooing the names of these fictitious characters on the board.  I dug through my stash gave her a choice of several Japanese-inspired fabrics, and she chose this one.  I also had her pick out a spool of ribbon from the craft store, which I strung it across, stapled the edges, and pinned it at the intersections.  The one thing I might have done differently is adding a little batting behind the fabric to make it a little more poofy, but otherwise I like the way it turned out.  When she grows tired of this fabric, I can easily remove it and replace it with another color and pattern of her choosing.  If she hasn't torn or tattooed this fabric, I can cut it into small squares and make it into a quilt later (I fully suspect that it'll have holes all over it from pinning and re-pinning).  I'll have to find her some more pins so she can attach more things to it, but in the meantime, she can tuck photos and papers into the ribbons.

I've been working on making quilt blocks for a baby quilt.   I was invited to a baby shower that is going on this coming weekend, but since this weekend is Shop Hop, I already have other plans.  I want to finish it up and have Kelly deliver it to the party on Saturday.  It's one of them new-fangled co-ed parties, so we were both invited.  I had found a quick-and-dirty method for making these Arrowhead blocks, but after making a pair of them, decided I didn't like having bias edges on the blocks, so I re-drafted the pieces and made the rest with quarter-square cuts.  I made two of each of these blocks, but then decided that I didn't want to repeat any of the fabrics in the top, so I had to make a few more to make 16 pairs blocks (32 total) and will be able to make two baby quilts. Now I can have a second baby quilt ready for the next expectant mama.  I'll probably take the leftover fabrics and use them in a scrappy border, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do for a stopper border...I think it needs to be something solid, or tone-on-tone, and I'm thinking it might need to be dark...maybe not black, but dark blue...or maybe cream or white.  I want it to be bright and cheerful, and black can set it off quite nicely, but I also don't want the black to make it dark...I'll have to interview some fabrics and decide what looks best.

Somewhere around here I've got some photos on a camera...Cammie's camera...I just have to find it and download them so I can share our weekend adventures at the family reunion.  By then it'll be old news, but there are some gems on there, I'm sure.  Part of our family adventure included me misplacing my debit card.  The last time I used it was at a fast food restaurant on the way home, and I haven't seen it since.  I'm thinking that either I dropped it in the car and haven't found it, or the guy at the drive-thru didn't give it back to me.  In any case, I called the bank and they verified that it hasn't been used since that date, so I cancelled it and went down to pick up a new one.  Easy enough.  I thought I'd have to wait days and days for it to arrive in the mail, but was told that my bank has the ability to make them up right then and there.  Magic!

While waiting in line to take care of this little piece of business, a little girl in front of me says, "Hi Mrs. [last name omitted]".  Turns out it was little Brittany from Ben's class.  She asked me to say hi to Ben, which was very sweet.  :)

Father's day was a hectic event...we watched Men in Black 2 on TV in the morning in preparation for seeing MIB3 at the theatre.  We got to the theatre with a good 30 minutes to spare, but the 2:00 movie was already sold out, so we got tickets for the 5:00 showing.  That gave us quite a bit of time for bumming around, getting some ice cream and candy, and a little window shopping.  Kelly picked up a copy of Seattle Weekly, which features an article about our local Evildoer, Rex Velvet.  He's the answer to the "superheroes" in Seattle, which he refers to as "silly nerds in tights".  He has a following and makes great You Tube videos.  Very amusing!

After the movie got out, we stopped at the store really quick, picked up some steaks and cooked them in the oven (of course it was raining), and before the dinner was even done, I started having blood sugar problems...I rarely have this kind of sensation, but I was shaky and had to sit down.  I figured it was just because it had been since noon that I ate, and it was just a granola bar at that...just didn't have enough fuel left to keep me going.  I had a few pita chips with some cheese on it and half a glass of milk, Kelly took over cooking and we finally sat down to eat at about 8 pm.  By the time dinner was over, I was feeling much better.

It's going to be a busy week with a lot of driving.  It looks like it will be just Linda and I, with Cammie and Lauri joining us one day each.  We plan on stopping at all 53 shops on the hop over four'll be an adventure!  Maybe we can have dinner with a very good friend or two in Vancouver when we get down into that neck of the woods...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two More Sleeps Til Summer...

Nothing says "summer vacation is coming" like a deluge of rain.  Well, what did you expect?  It's Western Washington.  Summer doesn't technically start until July 4th.  Or 5th, since it often rains on the 4th.  Then it goes from 50 degrees and dreary to 75, virtually overnight.  Or literally overnight...

Since Emma got out of school, we've been hanging out a bit...mostly shopping.  Before graduation, we went to several different stores looking for dresses for the big event, but of course the first three stores were a bust.  I couldn't believe that at this time of year, the only dresses the stores had could have doubled for a swim suit cover-up.  They were either drab, too informal, or what I would classify as hippy-dippy-trippy.  Nothing young.  Nothing you could go to a fine restaurant in (which in Western Washington terms means any place that has cloth napkins).  Certainly nothing for a celebration like a graduation or a wedding.

It finally occurred to me that there was a Fashion Bug store nearby that might have some decent options, so we headed over...only to discover that it was closed.  Dang.  However, just across the parking lot was Ross, and I remembered that this is a great place to look for dresses!  They have weird stuff all year long!  We went in and found six or seven great candidates out of dozens of options in her size whose styles ranged from "garden party" to "street walker", which we narrowed down to three favorites--a black and white dress with black roses around the neckline, a black and white floral print garden party dress, and a frilly pink number.  In addition, she found a pair of white pants and four shirts to add to her wardrobe.  The total for this haul was just under $100.  Today we went out and got her a new pair of shoes (Converse...which does not really go with the dresses, but whatever...) and a sketchbook.  Yesterday she came with me to visit the Girl Scout store to get badges for the meeting yesterday afternoon, but only with the caveat that I take her out to lunch.  We stopped for sushi and she ate me under the table, polishing off 9 plates to my 6.  We're going to have to run a credit check on her prospective dates before they take her out.  She's not one of them salad-eatin' chicks.

These flowery bushes were in the parking lot.  I don't know what they are, but the bees liked them.

We picked up the cake for the party, which went over pretty well--it was half chocolate and half vanilla and more heavily decorated than I thought it would be.  Like the last one I got from this grocery chain, it was they baked it on a crooked shelf in the oven.  I also stopped by one of my favorite places--the dollar store!  I picked up badmitten racquets and birdies, along with buckets and beans and little baggies (the kind they put mints into for weddings) to make bean bags for games.  I tried to find bean bags and hackey sacks, but you wouldn't believe how hard it was to find them.  Must be passe.  What do I know about these things?  My plan mostly worked, except the little organza bags ripped at the seams after a few dozen tosses.  I'll have to make some more durable ones out of scrap fabric.

I got my phone gizmo set on Pandora and played some Justin Bieber and Kelly Clarkson while they played games, ate cake, and ran in circles.  They had a great time.  I presented their badges to them and asked what they wanted to do over the summer.  We decided on a hike, a beach visit, sewing day, horseback riding, a camp out, and a few other things.  I hope we can get to do all of these things this summer.  I think I'll just schedule things and hope people can make it.  More than that, I hope that at least one other adult can come with--I can't drive all 10 girls in my car.

I quilted up Sharon's scrappy blue Goose in the Pond quilt over the last couple of days.  I finished it tonight and laid it out for a photo.  Ben decided he needed to give it a test-lay, and gave it the "splat" of approval.  I have a new quilt ready to load up and get quilted from Judy (the owner of the blue and green one I did the other day) who gave me one at the meeting on Monday.  It's a row quilt, which can present challenges for quilting.  I will have to look at it more closely and let it "speak to me", but I think I might want to do something row by row rather than an overall pattern.

Two more early mornings before the school year is over.  Both days are short--a half-day tomorrow, and a two-hour day on Friday.  Then I have a LONG weekend before shop hop begins next Wednesday.  I don't really need fabric, so I may just get enough to finish the shop hop quilt.  Linda and I may be the only pirates heading out this year, so we discussed the possibility of going to all the shops on the hop.  Every. Single. Shop.  There's over 50 of them.  We're talking hard core hopping.  I still have to figure out when we'll do which parts, but I'm thinking maybe starting on Wednesday morning and doing the Northern leg and getting back home in time for karate.  We'll see...

What I really need to do is spend the summer quilting up all my UFOs.  I have drawers and buckets full of them.  Sounds like a challenge...11 weeks.  How many UFOs can I finish in 11 weeks?  Bwa-ha-ha!  I'll assemble the unfinished objects, make a list, take photos and post them here.  Tomorrow...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Family Reunion

Last week our oldest graduated from 8th grade--a rather extravagant affair considering most of her class is going to go on to high school, college, and maybe post-grad educations.  If this is the the jumping off point, I wonder how elaborate it will get in 4, 8 and 12 years?  Hot air balloons?  Horse-drawn carriages?  A 30-man Pipe Band and parade?

We spent the weekend—Flag Day—in the lovely little town of Fairfield.  When I say “little”, I’m talking four blocks long and three blocks wide.  Little.  It’s an annual event that involves a parade, a fly-by from the local AFB, and lots of candy thrown from the floats!  Yes, it’s really a small town when there is still candy involved!  

Unfortunately, it was raining sideways, windy and cold, and my kids decided they were done with the parade business after just 10-15 minutes.  This picture pretty much sums it up.  Many of the floats were not rain-friendly, so they had to cancel several of them.  The parade was significantly shorter this year…sadly. L The funny bit of the parade was the announcer, who was sitting under a pop-up across the street from where we were standing (and where my MIL’s car was parked, and where my kids crawled in to stay warm and dry).  He let us know what each float was, who was in the cars (mostly conservative politicians, oddly enough), the year and model of each classic car, and some funny commentary.  They started with the Star Spangled Banner, where he sung the wrong words, and later sang, “God Bless America”, and he goofed those words up, too.  He was funny and charming and really made it worth standing in the rain!

We went back to the hotel and the kids spent about three hours playing in the pool.  They were the only ones in there, along with their cousin, Rory, until the very end when a middle-aged man settled into the hot tub, and just as they were leaving, another family of boys came in.  It was a perfect afternoon.  

Sunday was the big paternal family reunion.  I saw a few familiar faces, and a bunch of strangers that I had pleasant conversations with.  The MC for the day was a lady named Pat who, for all her organizational skills and efforts, ended up being a little short with people when they wanted to chat and she wanted them to sit down and listen to another family member sing karaoke.  My DH and I, along with his cousin, Joe, put our heads together and were brainstorming ways to make the event more fun next time.  The food was good, although I think it might have run smoother as a buffet instead of a served lunch.  Also, the should have done group photographs earlier, like just before the meal, instead of at the end when half the people had left.  They had, rather at the last minute, put together a family cookbook and family tree book, but only had 25 copies due to printing costs—they could have put them onto CDs instead for a fraction of the cost.  I also would have liked to have a collection of the original photos scanned in from the first settlers to the area in the 1880s, also on CDs.

We got into the car at 3:30 in the afternoon and headed home--what should have been a 4 1/2 hour trip took closer to six with at least six stops on the way.  We got home late last night and the kids got a little bit of sleep.  Emma needs less sleep, but she’s done with school for the year already.  Ben was probably a little sleep-deprived and started a new round of antibiotics to combat the new lung exacerbation that he’s got going on, and Cammie woke up with a tummy ache, and then proceeded to throw up.  Great.  Monday for sure.

BUT, it’s guild meeting tonight and Kelly took the day off work (I asked if he’d be a dear and drive the kids to school in the morning and he said no.   Sigh.), so as soon as he gets back from the movies, I’ll leave for the meeting.  Or as soon as all the kids are home and Emma can watch the younger ones.  Gotta go pack up the stuff!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weekend Blitz

I wouldn't be me if I didn't have 20 projects going on at once.  I'll do a photo montage of all my projects...just as soon as I have a minute.

I love taking pictures.  Unfortunately, the cheap $100 cameras don't take very good pictures.  

Photos indoors are generally blurry...

or dark...  

or sometimes it just has someone's head well-lit and in focus...but nothing else. 

I would eventually like to get a really expensive digital camera, but I'm afraid that I still wouldn't have any idea how to use it.  An expensive camera with an ignorant user is like buying a Ferrari for someone without a license. 

I find that I can take fairly good outdoor photos, especially of flowers and other things that just sit still.  Or move very slowly.  

Of course, some of the best pictures I've taken were with my phone.  Simple auto-focus technology.  Unfortunately, I don't know how to unload the photos from the camera without first posting to Facebook.  So anyone who is on my FB friends list will have already seen many of these pictures.  Sorry.  

Over the weekend, we drove over to the in-law's for the weekend.  While Kelly took Emma to a production of Fidder on the Roof at an outdoor theatre (waiting for potential rainout), me and the little kids went to June Faire and saw some great stuff in the Arts & Sciences area.  Countess Elizabeth, the new regent of Ithra, was spending hours churning butter.  When we came by, the fresh cream in the churn had turned into a liquid that resembled latex paint.  We chatted with her for some time--probably 20 or 30 minutes--and it was still paint consistency when we left, although it was getting more difficult to churn when we said our good byes.  Apparently the churning is an hour or three of pumping the handle and then suddenly it turns into butter.  Time varies depending on temperature, humidity, the cow's diet, etc.  There is no comparison to fresh butter and the stuff you get at the store, which is made to be more homogenized in flavor and color, so adjustments are made at the factory.  While butter is awesome, there's nothing like fresh-from-the-churn butter.  The booth next door was making fresh bread, so she and others were anticipating the marriage between the two.  We didn't stick around long enough to find out.

Up the path, the dye pot was bubbling some brazilwood and this piece of fabric was being sent through the dye on this sort of rotating wheel to make sure the fabric goes through the dye evenly and doesn't get splotchy.  The fabric may have been sewn end to end and rotated through the dye, straightening out the wrinkles as they went.  I was amazed at how bright the color was.  It inspired me to try the onion dye again using sock yarn, then follow their advise and dip one skein into ammonia afterwards to see what color develops afterwards.  I'd also like to try it with tansy later this summer, and perhaps with some period dye stuffs like woad and weld.

Here's a woodcut of the real thing, albeit a bit narrower through the middle.  I found another woodcut from the 18th century that is much larger, but hey, this was a Medieval faire...not an early modern faire.

Graduation night tonight.  First dinner.  No, first getting dressed.  Then dinner.