September 2018
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Stuff I Sewed in 2017

Oh, 2017. You dumpster fire, you. So much stress sewing. So little blogging. Here are some of the things that I made:

Giant Quilt Sampler for my Grandmother

It was my Grandmother’s 89th birthday this year. My grandmother taught me how to sew, and has been my biggest cheerleader when it comes to all of my projects. I wanted to honor her with a quilt. When Lilian plays with her 2nd cousin at grandma’s house, they invariably end up piling all of the quilts (and believe you me, grandma has a stash of them) on the dining room table and “camping” underneath. So, I made a camping themed quilt for them to use. In honor of all the sewing that grandma has done over the years, I decided to make a sampler. I used the The Quilt Block Cookbook (affiliate link), and I set the blocks with one of the settings that looks like giant thread spools. Possibly just a little too on the nose. But, hey, if you’re gonna make a big ol’ quilt to honor your grandma, I think you just go for it.

This was a massive amount of work, but I’m really proud of how it turned out. (The fabric is all from Rae Ritchie’s Trail Mix line. Grandma has it prominently display at her house. I think she kinda digs it too.

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Sister Quilts

Kristian has a really good friend (now he and his wife are my good friends!) who had a daughter about a year and a half after Lilian was born. I was too exhausted to make her a baby quilt. So, when they told us that they were going to have another baby, I decided to make two quilts at once. The pattern and fabric is the same, I just arranged the stripes differently. I really love how the navy blue and pink look together. Our friend loves the Rifle Paper Company, so I used a bunch of her fabric (plus some supplements from my stash). I also made the mom a coordinating mini quilt.

I love making quilts for tiny babies, but it sure is lovely to give a quilt to a three-year-old and have her drag it off to play with it! Quilts are made to be loved, right?

Starburst Quilts

Mini Quilt for My Mom

I dipped into my fabric stash (it’s rare, but it happens!) to make this mini quilt using Aunt Grace vintage reproduction fabrics. I think this one is just so sweet! As you can see from the photo above, I really love this heart pattern. (It’s from the Quilt Petite book by Sedef Imer).

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Yet More Pocket Pillows

I know, I know. I make too many of these things. But they’re so easy, and the kids all seem to love them so much! I made this set for one of the teachers at Lilian’s preschool. She wanted to give a special present to a couple of the girls who were also graduating to kindergarten (I’d already made a few of these for teachers’ children). She tried to pay me for them, but it was my pleasure to do something nice for someone who was so kind and caring with my child. Plus, you know, any excuse to make a pocket pillow!

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Coffee Cup Cozies

I don’t know, these might be the new pocket pillows. If anything, they’re even easier to make. Plus, you get to bust out a hammer to put the snaps in. I make these reversible, which means I get to pick two fun fabrics. I buy reusable cups, put names on them using my Cricut cutter and vinyl, and then cozy it up. They’re super adorable, and they encourage people to bring their own cup when they get coffee. That’s a win-win in my book! I made a ton of them as Christmas presents. Lilian even put the names on a bunch of them for me. That child is either a crafting prodigy, or it’s just not as hard as I make it out to be. :p

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Mermaid Quilt for Lilian’s Doll

I made a larger sized quilt for Lilian back in 2016. I thought I’d whip up a little mini one for her dolly using some of the leftover scraps. It ended up taking for freaking ever, because I vastly underestimated the extent to which I over-complicated this thing. There was… a lot of hand quilting involved. Lilian packed it away, because it’s “only for camping.” I don’t even know what to say about it.

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Tiny Tree Skirt

My grandma made tree skirts for every single one of her grandchildren (all six of us). And then some (there was at least one pet-related incident). Lilian begged me and begged me for a tree skirt for the tiny pink tinsel tree that she puts up in her room. So, I bought some fabric that’s similar to our tree skirt, and then reverse engineered a tiny version. It’s not quite an exact match, but I got it pretty close. And I finished it in just one night! Isn’t nice when an “easy” project actually ends up being fairly easy?

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Sasquatch Train Case

We call my Dad Sasquatch, because he has a shaggy beard and a pony tail. I made this for his wife. Which makes this both a gift hand-made with love, and an elaborate troll. It really is relevant to my interests. The pattern is the Crimson and Clover Train Case from Sew Sweetness. I think the directions for this pattern could be a lot more clear, but I’d already made one of these for one of my sisters, and it was a lot easier to sew the second time around!

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The Thing With Feathers Pillow

I’m a sucker for this poem by Emily Dickinson (gee, I wonder why…?). I made this pillow using a panel from Hawthorne Threads, plus a border made out of scraps, and pom pom trim. It should have been a relatively quick sew, but I kinda winged the construction, and then I made a couple of math errors. Oops.

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I’m currently working on a large-scale project that’s taking up most of my sewing time. Here’s hoping I have at least a few things to show you after 2018!

Tap Tap

*Steps up to the mic…*

Is this thing on?

I just went to see what my last blog post was, and I realized that it was an entire year ago. Where did the time go?! One day I was flying home from Florida, the next day I was dropping my daughter off at kindergarten, and then the next day she was coming home from her last day at school.

Some things that have happened in the past year:

That whole kindergarten thing. We had a few bumps along the way, but mostly I think the year went really well. Lilian is legit reading now. Like, can read the first Harry Potter novel (albeit slowly) reading now. It was so amazing watching it all happen in real time. First she had a few sight words, then she was sounding out words that she saw out in the world… then she knew enough to really read things. Once she was reading, she progressed really quickly. She’d grab a book and figure it all out herself. I take just about no credit for any of this, except that we have a lot of books in our house.

Lots More Travel. It is a blessing and a curse that I travel for work. The curse part is that work travel is exhausting, leads me to bad habits (less working out, more eating junk food), and takes me away from my family. The blessing? Cashing in points for fun family vacations. This year we took a bunch of weekend trips, as well as a big family vacation to Mexico. And, in April, Lilian and I went to California for a combo work trip and girls trip. We saw lots of friends and family, I introduced her to In N’ Out Burger, we went for a walk on the beach, flew a kite, did a day at Disneyland, and did a quick tour of the Getty Museum. It was awesome. Exhausting, but awesome. Especially the part where we got to meet Chewbacca.

 

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It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee…

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I won another big award! This one was for AVIXA (our trade industry) Educator of the Year. I secretly suspect that it was their way of saying “sorry everyone makes fun of you about living in the future now.”

Lots More Sewing Projects. I am working on a big project that’s eating up most of my sewing time (I hope I finish soon so I can show you all!), but I’ve made a bunch of stuff that I’m really proud of. I need to do a roundup. Given my track record, this will happen approximately… oh… never. There were quite a few baby quilts. There was a giant sampler quilt for my Grandma. I made some little projects here and there. Sometimes, I wish I could shut myself up in my craft room, put on audiobook, and sew uninterrupted for like 8-10 hours.

And here we are, back at the part of the year where I’ve recently returned from a trade show. This year, it was in Vegas (the show alternates between the two cities). This year, I went by myself (see: Family, Vegas not friendly too). There may or may not have been an adult beverage (or three) involved. I also got to see Cirque Du Soleil from the AV booth (#BucketList), and got an invite to one of the industry parties that I have never been able to get an invite to before. Which somehow meant that I got to dance up on stage with the band. It was pretty amazing, even if I do keep referring to the evening as “Aging Rockstar Karaoke.” Macy Gray sang, and that was all kinds of amazing.

Unfortunately for my polo shirt game, the trade organization completely rebranded this year. I had to toss my spare polos, because they had the wrong logo on them. Which means I got to wash my faculty shirts in my hotel bathtub (again). The re-branding is good for our industry. I guess this shouldn’t all be about me.

(But I’d better be able to re-use these dang shirts again next year….)

Ps. I made hats using my friend’s face (his last name is Watts) in the power equation. They were pretty rad. I’m still wearing mine all the time. #PIEinyourEAR

PPs. I think at least half of our students passed the certification exam after our class. I had sooooo much fun teaching this year.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that a lot more than that has happened in the past year. This is just what I remember/instagrammed. I suppose this is why people write blog posts more than once a year? I finally upgraded my personal laptop (it was older than my child who is going into first grade). Maybe that will make it easier to post more? Given my track record, probably not. :p

Infocomm and Orlando Vacation 2017

We just got back from Orlando, and boy are my arms tired. Did I say arms? I meant eyes. And arms. Tired. I’m wicked effing tired.

I flew down for an industry convention. I had the honor of teaching a three day prep class for folks who want to get their CTS (a generalist certification for our industry). It was a lot of hard work (I had to be in my classroom by 7am every day, and I was on my feet the whole time, plus all of the prep before the show), but incredibly rewarding. I know that at least six of our students passed (my co-teacher and I had a group of 40). Most of them probably just needed a little extra confidence and some vocab lessons, but I’d like to think that we taught everybody a thing or two.

I hope that they ask me to teach again next year, because then I’ll have 2 extra polo shirts, and I won’t have to do any laundry in the hotel sink. Plus, you know, passing on knowledge, helping people grow, all that good stuff.

Game Face!

I didn’t see much of the sun while I was at the convention center, but I did manage to take advantage of the crazy amazing hotel pool a few times.Crazy Amazing Pool

I mean, look at that thing. Just look at it! My only regret is that the water slide was always closed by the time I got there.

The day after classes finished, I presented as part of a day-long event about emerging technology and trends. After four straight days of attempting to sound intelligent while talking about technology, my brain had just about turned to mush. Which made that night just about perfect for dive bar karaoke with all of my industry pals. I sang Total Eclipse of the Heart and almost got the DJ in trouble for using a word that sounded an awful lot like an F-bomb (I steadfastly maintain that I said “I freaking need you tonight”). One of the bartenders was wearing a tie-dye bandanna as a headband, and busted out his own harmonica for Piano Man. It was a surreal night.

Inception

Kristian and Lilian spent the week that I was nerding it up on an actual vacation with family and friends in Miami and the Florida Keys. For my last day at the conference, Kristian left Lilian with his sister and joined me for a night. I got a big award last year, but Kristian missed the ceremony because he couldn’t find parking. I got another award this year… and Kristian missed the ceremony because he was parking.

(It’s almost like large convention centers have a great distance between parking facilities and event space.)

(At this point, it’s just a running joke.)

rAVers

We crashed a few more parties, took a class about IoT and security (nerd love, amirite?), and managed to amass an impressive amount of industry swag. We stayed long enough for me to attend the annual Women’s Breakfast, and then it was time to get back to a certain little cutie who was just dying to see me.Auntie Face

Our brother-in-law found us all an Orlando house rental, not too far from the theme parks. After a week of living out of a hotel, it was just what I needed. I didn’t have too much time to decompress, though, because next thing I knew, it was time for…


Princess Prepping

… Disney World!

I wouldn’t describe myself as a super Disney person, but I would describe myself as a very big fan of that little cutie up there. Probably her biggest fan (although it seems like we’re a pretty big club). From the security guard at the entrance who solemnly bowed towards her and said “welcome, Princess” to the cheesy “pixie dust” on the Peter Pan ride (I appreciated the use of projection mapping, but I have to dock them points for the fact that I could see all of the equipment just by looking up), she freaking loved it.

None of the waits were too terrible, the weather wasn’t too oppressive, and nobody ended up screaming “I hate you all! I hate you!!!” By theme park standards, I’d call that a damn good day. I found most of the rides to be rather underwhelming, although I was happy to finally get a chance to ride Space Mountain (I went to Disney World with some friends in college, but the ride was closed for repairs when we got there). I also may or may not have had a 2nd go on Space Mountain, because Lilian was too short to ride it and I took her FastPass.

( I got the front seat!)

(Sooooo worth it.)

Kisses!

Pro tip: if your in-laws suggest renting a stroller… listen to them. For the love of the FSM, listen to them. By the end of the day, I was legitimately concerned that my feet were going to fall off at the ankles. I spent a lot of time holding Lilian while we waited in line. I don’t even want to think about how painful it would have been to carry her everywhere.

Kristian likes roller coasters ok, but he’s not an adrenaline junkie the way that I am. I’ve always known that Lilian liked amusement park rides (we’ve taken her to a few crappy carnivals in our day), but I had no idea just how much she liked roller coasters. We all rode Thunder Mountain Railroad together and she smiled and yelled “yahooooooo-ie!!!!” the whole time. It would appear that I’ve got a little Six Flags buddy in the making.

We squeezed every ounce of fun that we could out of Disney World, but then it was time to go home, eat takeout, soak our feet in the hot tub at the rental, and rest up. We still had one more big day ahead of us.

Like I said, I am not what you’d call a “Disney Person.” I mean, I like quite a few of their movies. But if we’d gone to Disney World as children, I would not have been one of those people that ran around trying to get “autographs” from all of the princesses.

I am, however, very much a Harry Potter person.

Welcome to Universal Studios

(Lilian to me, just as we were about to take that picture: “We’re not muggles mommy, we’re witches.”)

I found all of the jostling at the Universal Studios entrance right before the park opened to be crazy stressful and more than a little off-putting, but it ended up being worth it… we made a mad dash over to Harry Potter World and got to take it all in before the place got crazy busy. And we got so lucky that day! Lilian’s cousins desperately wanted to go on the Escape from Gringotts ride, so we made the decision to do that first, before the line got too long. It was closed when we got there, which means that we had extra time to walk through Ollivander’s and be in one of the first groups to watch a wand “choose” a wizard.

Wingaaaaaardium Leviosa!

We splurged on one of those interactive wands (major thanks to the friend who gave me a heads up on them, so that I could budget accordingly!) . We were just starting to wander around when we started hearing the buzz that Gringotts was open! We made another mad dash over, hid all of our stuff, and managed to get in just as the crowd was growing.

After a day at Universal, I have to say that I’m kindof over simulated rides. After more than a couple of them, they make me queasy. And they’re not pure joy for me, the way a giant roller-coaster is. But Escape from Gringotts is a damn good ride. The details are incredible! It doesn’t even feel like you’re waiting in line, more like you’re wandering through the bank and taking it all in. I think it helps that the ride does move around quite a bit, it’s not just a bunch of action on a screen. Lilian loved it as well, “I wasn’t scared Mommy, until Voldemort showed up.”

After the ride, we wandered around Diagon Alley for quite some time. I remember reading other people’s accounts of Harry Potter World and how they could spend a whole day wandering around and taking it all in. I was kindof incredulous about it at the time, but now I totally understand! The details are perfect, and they’re everywhere. There is an enormous dragon on top of Gringotts that periodically shoots out flames. There is Hagrid’s magic motorcycle and they let you climb all over it. There is butter-beer ice cream.

We met up with a friend of mine and her husband and four-year-old daughter. She and I were gleeful about all of the Harry Potter stuff… and the girls enjoyed it as well. Lilian was very sweet about offering to share her wand, she even let the other girl go first when they came to their first interactive area.

I think our husbands were getting restless, so we decided we should probably go on some more rides, so we headed over to the Simpsons World. The main ride there is another simulated ride, but it’s also very well done. And, you get to wander around like you’re in an episode of the Simpsons! More incredible luck… we got out of the ride just as all of the characters were walking out. I had a major fan girl moment when Lisa Simpson walked by. I mean, I know it’s just a person in a foam costume. But… but… Lisa Simpson! I squeed so hard, she took me by the hand… and I got to be the first person in the little area where they pose for photos.

The Simpsons

I do believe that the fact that we went on the space aliens ride right after the simulated ride means that we are a family of iron stomachs.

A Third Party, Oh Sure THROW Your Vote Away!

You know, everyone talks about Harry Potter World, but nobody talks about the Simpsons World. Well, let me tell you… there’s a Quick E Mart, and a Moe’s Tavern, and a Duff Brewery, and I could have spent several hours there if we hadn’t had restless four-year-olds (and lunch reservations!).

The Seven Duffs

With so many references to the various episodes of the Simpsons where they make fun of theme parks, it all felt very meta. I laughed my ass off.

We took the “Hogwarts Express” over to Islands of Adventure for the afternoon. We missed walking through the wall (we took a back way in, because my sister-in-law needs a wheelchair), but it was just as magical as I could have imagined. Even the elevator ended up being a little magical… my brother-in-law told Lilian to use her wand to get it going, and the doors opened just as she motioned with it. I think her new career plans involve getting a letter from Hogwarts…Magic!

After lunch was when we really got into the roller coasters! We did the Hogwarts Castle ride, Lilian got her “yahooooo-ie” in on the Hippogriff ride, and I got to ride the faster of the two dragons on Dragon Challenge. We spent the whole afternoon wandering around with my in-laws, taking turns using Express passes to go on the rides. I think everyone got to go on just about everything they wanted. Except for poor Lilian, who didn’t understand why she’s about a foot-and-a-half too short to go on the big coasters.

(She was desperate to get on the Hulk ride.)

(I can’t say I blame her, it’s pretty much the greatest roller-coaster ever.)

It got stupid hot, but we went on a couple of flume rides, which helped a lot. And then it poured buckets, which really helped a lot.

Things that apparently don’t scare my child:

  1. A simulated T-Rex
  2. Large splashes
  3. A simulated King Kong
  4. Grownups screaming because they think that simulated King Kong is scary
  5. The Tower of Terror (I steadfastly refused to go on that one)

She will, however, get very sad when you don’t let her go on Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (or the aforementioned Tower of Terror).

We made a trip to Honey Dukes for enchanted sweets, took one last walk around to make sure we’d tried out all of the interactive wand areas and then, sadly, it was time to go home.

U-No-Poo

It was all a little overwhelming, but it was also an incredible trip. I hope that Lilian remembers at least parts of it! I’m duly impressed if you managed to read this whole post. I know I’m going to forget a lot about our visit, so I want to make sure I get as much written down as possible.

Mother’s Day 2017

Pro tip: sleeping in on Mother’s Day will feel extra luxurious if you go out drinking with your little sister the night before.

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Love these two 💕 #family

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We schooled some nerds at Hoop Fever, mashed some buttons on Mortal Kombat, and shared a bounty of tater tots with everyone sitting around us at the bar.

Poor Kristian… Lilian was so excited for Mother’s Day, she woke him up at 6am. He managed to hold her back by the coattails until mid-morning, and then I was woken up with a basket of bath products, flowers, and an ambiguously lettered donut.

I think the best Mother’s Day gift of all is that my daughter loves me so much she’d wake up early to celebrate (although, let’s be real, she was also pretty excited for donuts). My little girl stops me now and then just to tell me that she loves me. It doesn’t get much better than that.

(I probably have like 2.5 years before she stops me every now and then to roll her eyes at me).

What I really wanted for Mother’s Day was a few hours to myself to go paddleboarding or do some sewing. It wasn’t in the cards (especially since it was 48 degrees and raining), but I still got a 6-mile run in. I know most people think that a long run is more of a punishment than a present, but spending an hour or so pounding the pavement is a welcome retreat into my own thoughts for me. I felt so much better, mentally and physically, afterwards.

I’ve been feeling run-down and over-stretched lately. I tell myself I’m too tired to go running. But, if I’m being honest with myself, I feel way less tired if I get a regular run in. I’m glad that I made myself get out there today.

(Not to mention the fact that I have a half marathon coming up in about a month… eeks!).

Late in the afternoon, we met up with my mom, step-dad, and one of our nephews to go candlepin bowling. I enjoyed the old-school bowling alley vibe, the inability to throw gutter-balls (little kids like bumpers, yo), but mostly watching these two sweeties yelling “yahoo!” for each other.

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#latergram #cousins #oldschoolbowling

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I don’t understand the physics of how a slow roller can bounce off the bumpers a few times and then knock all of the pins down (actually I do, it adds spin and changes the direction of the ball). What I definitely know is that the kids kicked our butts the first game.

We headed back home (family in tow) afterwards, to watch the Force Awakens. The kids alternated between snuggling and stomping on each other. That’s pretty much childhood in a nutshell, right?

I used to sing Lilian to sleep when I put her to bed, but lately (and, by lately, I mean for at least the last year) she hasn’t wanted me to. And I’ve really missed it! Tonight, she was sleepy enough that she said ok to a song. And, more importantly, she sat still while I sang it (usually, she kicks and flails up a storm).

Watching your small child fall asleep is a gift. It was probably the best Mother’s Day gift of them all.

New Quilts: Starbursts + Les Fleurs

I just finished up three quilts at the same time (and boy are my arms tired!). I made two quilts (each of them has a slightly different layout) from this pattern (the Starburst Quilt from Prairie Grass Patterns), plus a mini-quilt using part of a pattern from Quilt Petite (referral link). For the fabrics, I used a mixture of Les Fleurs from Rifle Paper Co and blues, peaches, and pinks from my stash.

Starburst Quilts

Working on three quilts at once can be slightly overwhelming, but it was nice to sit back and see the finished products all at once.

We have some good friends who had a daughter when Lilian was only about 18 months old. I was still deep in the throes of new parenthood at that point, and I just wasn’t up to the task of making a baby quilt (I did throw the mom a baby shower, though!). They just had another daughter, so I decided to make quilts for both girls at once.

I’ve never given a quilt directly to a three-year-old before, but it was very sweet! She got super excited about it, and immediately started running around with it draped over her shoulders like a cape. My friend texted me the next day that her daughter had been playing with it all morning. I don’t generally recommend procrastinating baby gifts for a solid three years, but it sure was nice to see something I made get so much immediate love.

Here’s a PSA for parents: every now and then, pull out some of the stuff that you have stashed “for later.” Most small kids love love love things that were made especially for them. We are fortunate to have so many homemade blankets for Lilian that we have a quilt rack in her room that’s overflowing with them. She loves to pull them out and make little nests out of them, or choose one to sleep with. The other night, she got out of bed all on her own, and made herself sleeping area on the floor out of quilts.

I am really pleased with how these came out. I don’t think I would have thought to pair navy blue and pink if I hadn’t started with the fabrics from Les Fleurs, but I really like the effect. It’s sweet without being overwhelmingly pink. (Sometimes I like overwhelmingly pink, though!)

(I forgot to take a picture of the backs, but they’re all a pink flannel that has a slight orange-y tone to it).

I am really loving hand quilting these days (I have another mini-quilt that I hand quilted and haven’t blogged yet). It looks so pretty, plus it’s something that I can work on downstairs while we’re all hanging out as a family. I am very fortunate to have a little crafting retreat up in the attic, but I can’t really work up there unless Lilian is either a) asleep or 2) doing something with Kristian. I sometimes bring her up there with me, but that just about always ends up with her making an unholy mess and me having to do a lot of reverse sewing on whatever I was working on.

Sound proofing in a tucked away room: it’s a blessing and a curse.

I’m currently working on another little mini-quilt for a friend, and then I have to decide what I want to work on next. I have a lot of fabric and patterns stashed away, I just need to take the time to make something with them!