Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekend of Work

I had a busy weekend filled with working! Peter and Julie came up so that I could pin and alter a bridesmaid dress. They had also hoped to watch Caleb's soccer game, but that got canceled about an hour beforehand, due to a flooded field. David started cleaning up the yard, raking up dead leaves, picking up branches, general cleaning up. He put all the yard waste into neat piles, and I started filling lawn bags. TWELVE packed bags later, we have this. I've made it about 1/3 of the way around the yard. Yesterday, after I filled the twelfth bag, I decided to take a break from that, and replenish the firewood. I split and stacked a lot! Caleb and Calvin helped me a little bit, but mostly it was me. I was worried I might be quite sore today (with wielding an ax and sledgehammer, not to mention all the hauling), but I'm not! I guess that means I must be in pretty good condition. :) Caleb had another soccer game in the afternoon, and we ended our weekend as usual, watching Nature at 8, then bed.

We still have a few daffodils blooming. I like these ones with the orange centers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lions! Tigers! Bears!

Calvin had a class at the zoo today, and we spent some time looking around afterwards. We saw lots of animals (including lions and tigers. His class was all about bears). Connor was thrilled to see the elephants (he has an elephant obsession).

We saw giraffes. I didn't know this, but they can go for a week without a drink!

We spent a lot of time watching this little guy. It was moving around, and we were hoping to see it change color. (it didn't, as it stayed on the leaves)

It was cool to see the green tree python baby. We read Verdi quite often, so to see a real one was neat. The mama (I think? an adult one) was hanging out on a branch in the habitat too.

However, the MOST coolest thing was the new cat house. The cats can come right up to the glass, and you are inches away from them. The lioness was pretty attracted to Calvin - we think she kept noticing the reflection of his glasses:

I didn't get it on the video, but she even snarled and snapped, which made everyone jump the first time.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Asian Linen Skirt

Here is the first of at least 4 summer skirts I have planned. I used New Look 6596 , which I made last summer. I've admired Beki's various skirts that she made using the Favorite Things pattern, but didn't want to pay $10 for a new pattern, so I just whacked my pattern into gores. :) I made this a 6 gore skirt, and added 2.5 inches to the length of the original pattern. I flat felled all the seams (because I ran out of black serger thread), and lined it in ambiance. This particular skirt will be quite versatile, as it looks good with my boots, my wedge heels, and some black sandals I have.

I wore it today to a Nancy Erickson lecture on jackets that was held at Bigsby's (that's also where I bought the fabric). It was a lot of fun to see all her Chanel jackets -- the construction on some of those is just gorgeous. I came home with a new copy of her 1945 jacket pattern (my pink tweed jacket is from that pattern) because the boys ruined my original one. I also came home with some beautiful fat eighths of some asian cottons. Those fat quarters and fat eighths are like crack cocaine!

Connor was not happy that I was gone all afternoon and has been on me like glue since I got home.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Still Around

I've been very busy sewing! Last week I made a set of 3 juggling scarves for Caleb (out of silk organza). He plans to dye them with my silk paints. They are a little stiff, so we may end up getting some silk chiffon or crepe de chine instead. (anyone juggle? what fabric would you recommend?). I also finished up a few more pinwheel blocks for this quilt -- they had been half constructed and sitting on my ironing board for months. The baby that this quilt is for will turn one in July; I hope to get in done by then!

My big project was building 3 garments for Milwaukee Shakespeare. Their production of 1 Henry IV opens on the 21st (if you are in the area, do try and get to a show, they are top notch). My boys came with me when we delivered the first two (and I ended up with the 3rd), and had a blast watching the rehearsal (they were doing some fight choreography), checking out props, and just being behind the scenes. I am in the middle of doing a 4th garment, which I plan to finish by tomorrow at the latest. I've had a lot of fun doing this job!

I took Calvin to a kid's fishing clinic on Saturday. I've always said I dislike fishing (and I still will not eat any seafood), but I sure had a good time with him. He's really good at casting, and is so patient, sitting there waiting for a bite. He didn't catch anything, but I've promised to take him fishing a few times this spring (and now I know how to tie all the knots).

I also cut out and am almost finished with a skirt for myself. It just needs elastic and a hem -- pictures later on in the week.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spring Break

We are on spring break this week, and have been busy!

Monday we went to visit Peter and Julie for the day:
After lunch, Caleb wanted to carry Pabi home. He can carry his 33 pound baby bro up 2 flights of stairs; carrying his cousin in the bjorn is a piece of cake!

We went to the Notebaert Nature Museum (where Peter and Julie had their wedding reception), and played for a while.

We spent some time in the butterfly haven. It was hot and humid in here!

We managed to get some pretty good cousin pictures -- no easy feat with my wiggly Connor. Julie got some good pictures also, which you can see here.

Yesterday we spent the morning at Discovery World:
Calvin (and Caleb) tried out a bed of nails. Connor was going to, but changed his mind.

They also played with a bunch of robot stuff. I think here they are controlling a dinosaur. There was also a cool robotic elephant. The aquarium is really neat, with a petting pool and various fresh and saltwater tanks. Some of the tanks go under the floor, so it's like you are walking on the fish, and it took some coaxing to get Connor to walk on them!

We've got some other fun things planned for the rest of the week, plus I have a cool sewing-for-pay opportunity to do, so we'll see everyone next week! Happy Spring (ha! we are supposed to get 3-5 inches of snow sometime soon).

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

We colored eggs last night. I wasn't sure how Connor would do, but he figured it out right away, and made a lovely blue egg. We experimented by decorating some of the eggs beforehand with white crayon and white pencil, thinking they would act as a resist. The crayon did, the pencil not so much. Then we decorated plastic eggs with stickers. I was surprised with how much the boys liked doing this. I helped Connor do his eggs -- he'd pick the stickers and tell me where to put them. He tried sticking them on by himself at first, but he couldn't get the stickers off of his fingers and onto his eggs!

Our lovely dyed eggs -- we did a dozen. Next year I might even do more, as I love how they look on the table, and we love boiled eggs.

My mom brought Easter baskets for the boys. They were filled with all sorts of fun goodies: games, play-doh, candy. She also got each of them a bright beach towel with their name embroidered on it. Those will be fantastic for beach days this summer. Connor had a lot of fun with his basket. I had filled a bunch of plastic eggs to do a little egg hunt in the house this afternoon, but after our gastronomical journey, I didn't even bother getting them out. Maybe we'll do them later in the week.

After supper (ham, garlic mashed potatoes, 7 layer salad, fresh green beans), we had fun playing with a chocolate fountain. My mom bought this in anticipation for our annual Epiphany party for next year, but we had to take it on a test run. :) We dipped marshmallows (very good), strawberries (ruins a perfectly good strawberry, IMO), bananas (yuk, I don't like bananas more than I don't like chocolate), and pineapple (surprisingly I liked this). Somehow, Calvin managed to get chocolate on his back . Now that takes talent!

We ended our evening with a 'Family Fun Night' of games. We've been trying to do this every 2-3 weeks, taking turns between our house, my friend Beth, and my mom. Tonight we played The Game of Life, Scattegories, and Cranium Cadoo. (and yes, Calvin is climbing in the doorway behind me, and does that all the time)

Saturday, April 07, 2007


I stitched the binding down on Thursday night, and slipstitched it to the back yesterday. Here's a shot of the fun fabric I picked for the back: sock monkeys with the numbers one through five! It's a lightweight flannel, and I have enough leftover for some boxer shorts for Calvin. He's pretty excited about that.
The egg hunt was today, and it was literally freezing. When we pulled up, the car said it was 24 degrees outside -- I'm sure it was quite a bit colder with the wind chill. Still, we had a good time getting eggs. After getting about 10, Connor decided he was done, and wanted to go sit in the car. :) Not many people stayed for the raffle, and I have no idea who will get the quilt. I won a gift certifcate to Applebees.

Thursday, April 05, 2007



Quilting Progress

Last night I laid out the backing for the I-Spy quilt on my basement floor, stretched it taut, taped it down, and laid down my batting (Hobbs Heirloom Organic). Then I laid down the top and pinned it with a million safety pins. Ok, not a million, but a lot. I started quilting last night, and got about 1/4 of the way done. This morning I finished another quarter.

Here's the quilt, so far. I plan to do some largish meandering in the borders, and then a 1/4" black binding. My goal for today is to get the quilting completely finished.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I-Spy Top Finished

I finished the I-Spy quilt top last night. My only criticism is I think I should've cut the borders about two inches wider. Ah, well, it's done, and I have 4 days to quilt and bind it. I'll go get the backing and batting today.

click on the picture to see it full-sized and go "spying". :)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Still Foolishly In Love

Today David and I have been married for 15 years (and it's raining, just like on our wedding day). We went out to dinner on Friday night. Originally we planned to go to Coerper's Steak House (where we celebrated our first anniversary), but then decided to just go down the street to The Cheesecake Factory. It was just wonderful -- we went all out on cocktails (mango margarita -- very good), appetizers (tex mex eggrolls -- yummy), dinner (chicken romano -- enough for an army), and dessert (lemon-raspberry cheesecake). YUM YUM!!! We had such a lovely time.

Since the 'modern' gift for the 15th wedding anniversary is watches, I went with the theme of 'Time', and gave a gift of my time. I made David 6 coupons for various things to do together. The only stipulation is when he wants to redeem one, he has to give me at least a week to arrange things. Finding somewhere for 3 boys takes a bit of time. :)

I-Spy Layout

Yesterday afternoon I laid out the I-spy blocks on my design wall. First I just laid them all out in the alternate straight set layout, with no regard to what was next to what. Then I found I needed 5 more blocks, so I rummaged around and cut them. Finally I started moving stuff around, trying to make sure the lights, darks, and reds were arranged in a pleasing manner.

Last night I cut the sashing and started piecing the rows. I do one row at a time. To be sure I keep the blocks in order, I do each row the same way. I layer the blocks from left to right (leaving the last one on the wall) with the leftmost block on the top of the pile. Then I chain stitch the sashing to the right side of each block. When I cut the chain apart at the ironing board, I make sure to keep them in order. Then I chain stitch adjacent blocks together, adding the last block in a set, if necessary. Lastly, I stitch all those sets together, making a long strip, and I put it back in its place on the wall, and go on to the next row.

After working on it last night, I have 3 more rows to piece. Then I'll cut and add the wider pieces that fill in the short rows, and the sashing between the rows.