Sunday, March 27, 2011

Taking a Hike

We have spent a lovely, uninterrupted weekend together here, the highlight of which was a new adventure to Calvert Cliffs State Park for a little family hike.

It was cold, but sunshine and exercise made it comfortable. We all bundled up and set off on the 1.8 mile walk to the beach. William rode in the backpack for the first time and loved it, and Amy very enthusiastically walked along under her own power (taking a hike was, in fact, her idea).

The path was simply beautiful - easy walking through the woods, over bridges, and alongside a perky little stream that had Amy completely captivated.

Don was "wearing" the boy, and I was wearing the backpack with our lunch and other gear, and had my camera strapped to my front. To avoid too many stops for pictures I found myself just clicking the shutter once in awhile to see what I could capture - shooting from the hip, I suppose. I really liked the results!

But some cuteness still required a more carefully aimed lens.

We hoped to make it to the beach to eat our lunch, but the wind was getting stronger and everyone was hungry, so we stopped at the 0.9 mile marker for a picnic on a nice little bare patch by the stream.

Amy loved this spot and quietly ate 1.5 sandwiches. William just really wanted to eat some rocks. Or crawl down the bank. Our prevention of these two activities made him really mad. Amy was getting tired too, so we decided to quit while we were ahead and walk back to the car. Don and I were a little disappointed not to finish the hike to the beach, but we were also quite pleased to have had such a successful adventure with our very small companions.

Even if one of them fell asleep on the walk back.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy, Birthday, Quilt


::A brand-new box of 120(!) Crayola crayons, just for me.
Okay, okay, I'll share with Amy...

:: Two visits to the beach this past weekend.

:: My handsome, perfect little boy who is 10 months old today. How did that happen?

Birthday: (mine, today!)

:: My mom made me this beautiful bag for my birthday. It is made from fabric samples, and I absolutely love it. (The crayons are from her, too).


Finally, finally, I finished this quilt! I finished the binding and sewed on my tag last night, and sent it through the wash today. I'm so pleased. I designed it entirely myself to use a set of 16 fat quarters from Anna Maria's Good Folks collection. All I really wanted was a design that let the fairly large-scale patterns and colors shine, and to make the most use out of the expensive fabric. Honestly, at this point I don't really remember what my math was, but I made 12 over-sized blocks made up of squares and rectangles, the rectangles being equal in size to two squares. Within each block the arrangement was totally random.

I pieced the whole top in record time; within weeks of purchasing the fabric. Then it sat... I decided on batting and fabric for the back and binding, and pin-basted, and it sat... A few months ago I started free-motion quilting it on the machine, and while I've had plenty of success free-motion quilting before, but this quilt was just too large (60"x80") and the batting too thick (supreme loft cotton), and the fabrics too pretty to be scribbled over.
So it sat...

And at last I decided to try some straight-line quilting instead, and used the walking foot on my new machine. Wonderful! So that settled it; I ripped out the squiggles and ran my stitches up and down the blocks and in the ditches, making a grid of stitches about 4" apart. In my haste there are a few areas where the top fabric got a little pushed over on itself and bunched up, but since this is a quilt for snuggling, not scrutinizing, and one featuring the fabrics, not necessarily workmanship, I think it is okay. I'm not really sure where I will use it yet; I had started with Amy's bed in mind, but she really has plenty of covers and afghans and such already, so I'm leaning toward keeping it in the living room for general use, and possibly as a starting point for some redecorating??

So that's my Happy, Birthday, Quilt update as of this very luxurious bit of free time on my birthday afternoon. Curious George will stop entertaining Amy soon, and William will be up from his nap, so I shall sign off and wish you all a very beautiful and happy spring day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Projects Part I: Yarn

I've been promising posts of substance (such as it is) for awhile now, so here is a bit of an update on projects currently in the works. After completing my sewing room clean-up and reorganization (I did take pictures, and planned to write about it here with before and after shots but the photos just don't do it justice, so trust me when I say it is much improved and highly functional). As I was saying, after getting everything *under control* I wrote a new project to-do list, shown above. This is what I reasonably expect to accomplish this year, not counting Christmas presents.

And happily one can already be crossed off the list:

I finished this baby blanket a few weeks ago, after practically working it twice, having run out of my variegated yarn on the first go, and completely unraveling and restarting with a different yarn. This is for my college roomie who is expecting her first little one any day now. I love making baby blankets for any friend who is expecting, but particularly for old friends; as I crochet I think of them and fondly remember people and places and conversations from years ago.

Amy is peering in at the next baby blankets in the queue - a blue/green/white one for a neighbor here in Maryland who is expecting a boy in April, and a yellow and green one for another dear friend.

And here, in poor lighting, is my bag of other yarn of sufficient quantity to make more baby blankets... not for anyone in particular yet, but I have materials at the ready.

If people stop having babies long enough for me to catch up in that category, I really want to get back to this blanket. It is a really cool diagonal pattern that I'm working in colors to match our living room. I would love to finish it before I decide to redecorate.

And lastly, here's some lovely superwash wool that I bought, um, before Amy was born, to knit socks. I got approximately 45% done with one sock... and... well... we know how that goes. But it actually was going just fine before I abandoned the project, so I'm thinking of re-familiarizing myself with the technique and trying it again, with the goal of completing two pairs by next winter.

And for extra credit, I have a HUGE bag of scrap yarn that I'd love to knit into doll clothes for Amy's friends. I do want the knitting practice, because I would love to make sweaters for A&W at some point... but I'm not even putting that on the list for this year. I think I have enough to keep me busy for a little while.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The problem with a blog, at least right now, is that if I'm using up my precious block of uninterrupted free time writing about what I'm doing, chances are I'm not actually doing it. Namely, stitching down the batting on the remaining sides of this quilt. Yeah, Amy's a lot younger in that post... good grief... but I am so close to being done, at last! More on that when completion is achieved.

Beautiful weather here today, and I took the kiddos to the "Amazing Park" for a picnic and some mid-day play. It was wonderful. In the car on the way there Amy even told me, "Mommy, you are amazing."

Some weeks I do feel amazing as I keep my time organized and accomplish all sorts of projects and daily household business. Other weeks (like this one), not so much. For every bit of energy I devote to one project, there is something else that is most definitely not getting done. So if I'm sewing, I'm falling behind on my crocheting. If I'm crocheting, the magazines (which are supposed to be a pleasure to read) are piling up. If I blog, my email goes unattended. Oy! And that's just how I spend my evenings.

Inspiration abounds, and eventually I'll get around to a little bit of everything and slowly but surely it will all get done..... right?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sneaky Spring

Blurry cell-phone picture of one of the many trees in our neighborhood which are quite clearly getting ready to bloom. Cloudy, damp, and chilly today, but make no mistake, spring is nearly upon us. Until a week or so ago I had still been wondering if we were going to get any snow this winter (our CT family has more than made up for our lack, I suppose). And now, suddenly, all around our house things are most certainly growing and greening and leaving winter behind.

We're ready!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week(end) In Review

Sometimes - scratch that - most times I cannot believe how quickly the weeks zoom by. I heard it said once, about mothering young children: "The days are long but the weeks are short." True, true...

So, this week, in highlight form:

Amy and I made a whole town out of the same blocks my brother and I played with when we were kids. She did most of the buildings in this picture - her patience has improved.

Remarkably, this all stayed intact even after William was up from his nap, and she very graciously decided to put all the blocks away before he knocked them down.

We switched William to a big-boy carseat, as I suspect he has passed the height limit (and possibly weight limit, too) for the infant seat. We decided to get the same model Amy has, since it goes all the way to 100 pounds (though seriously, what 100 pound kid still sits in a carseat?). But anyway, hers has been serving nicely, despite a recent recall on the buckle. Now I believe every piece of our baby equipment has/had a recall on it (nothing major, all silly little CYA fixes the manufactures put out).

Moving on...

I told Amy she could choose: grow her bangs out or get them trimmed, and she wants to avoid a trim at all costs, so she has finally agreed to wearing a barrette. It's only taken 3 years.

And today she announced that she doesn't need to use the little potties any more, because she is a Big Girl. Yippee! Seizing on her enthusiasm I scrubbed those puppies out and stored them and now we have reclaimed a teeny bit of square footage in both bathrooms, and I have one less thing to wipe in my day.

William is on the move in a major way, crawling at the speed of light and getting his feet under him easily if he has something to hold onto. Look out world.

I spent much of my available time this weekend sorting through the kids' bins of outgrown clothes and readying my contributions to LL's Sale. Kind of a big project, but it helps with the outflow and returns a little back in to the ol' bank account. I had to take a break from it today, as I had been trying to be all ruthless with what I gave away, yet found myself getting a bit emotional over William's little baby clothes... and I put a lot back in the keep pile. Just not ready yet. *sniff*

When we'd all had enough of a rainy morning in the house we headed out to get new sunglasses for Don, since his dropped into the Potomac at work on Friday. Amy, who has been known to wear the same pair of pink sunglasses just about every day since age 16 months, found herself a new pair of Minnie Mouse shades, and for William, Captain America. He's actually pretty excited to have a pair of his own, though at this time prefers playing with them over wearing them.

Nothing like going out to buy sunglasses in the pouring rain!

So, that's my report for the week. And now, we begin another one!