Thursday, January 19, 2023

Really Random Thursday, 1/19/23

 Does the year feel like this to you too? I'm always so happy for January to roll around after the busy and often chaotic holidays. But I'm having a hard time believing that January is nearly 2/3 over already!

Last Friday we went to the awards assembly for 3rd and 4th graders. So fun to see both Ella and Amelia up there on stage.

(photo by Christa)

This week was the assembly for 5th and 6th graders.  We missed it because of a scheduling change, but Jason was there to take photos. Gabe and Ruby are very competitive with each other, and it's keeping them both at the top of their class.
It's unbelievable how much eggs cost these days!

On Sunday night, Mark and I were finally able to get to our local zoo to see illumiNature. Our zoo is amazing and this display was really spectacular.
One of the first things we saw was the peacock. Gabe had said to make sure we stuck around if the peacock's tail feathers were not fully opened. Good advice. We had to wait a few minutes for them to fully expand and then they became a really beautiful changing light show. 

Of course, I loved the flamingoes. When Aaron was little, we took a yearly photo of him standing like a flamingo with all of them in the background. 
These angel wings were fun.

This was my very favorite: a lighted archway--so colorful and intricate.
Every year, Mark's brother, Pete, wife Jane and daughter Rose carve an amazing snow sculpture where they live in Driggs, Idaho. It's fascinating to watch their progress. This block of snow will eventually become a very detailed dragon. I've been following their progress on Facebook and I can hardly wait to see it in all its glory.

The other day when we picked up Gabe and Ella from school, we took them to see Christa, who had spent the entire day on a street corner raising funds for human trafficking awareness. It's a huge problem here in the valley, and Christa is executive director of Central Valley Justice Coalition, working on education and prevention. So proud of the difficult work she does.

And finally, if you are someone who is a creative, does this ever happen to you?

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

WIP Wednesday: Embroidery Flower Quilt

 When I first saw this free pattern offered by Tilda Fabrics, I feel completely in love with it. It was last year and I had started tracking my fabric and trying really hard to not purchase anything that was not necessary--trying to keep purchases to backgrounds and backings. 

But the Embroidery Flower Quilt made me throw caution to the wind and order the kit. It checked all the boxes. Stunning design, gorgeous colors, and a line of solids I had not yet worked with--which seemed like reason enough. 

Initially I had buyer's remorse. After all, I had SO many solids on my shelves that I'm sure I could easily have made it from stash. However...there are 46 different colors in this quilt, which made me think that the kit was worth every bit of money. 

There are 2,268 2" squares in this quilt--1.5" finished. The pattern is broken up into nine blocks, 14 squares across and 18 rows down. 

To keep from messing things up, I knew I had to come up with a plan to be super organized. Fortunately, there were some hints along the way. The first thing I did was order some fabric organizer cards from JitkaDesign on Etsy. We already had eight stackable organizers. I don't remember where we got them, and they have never been used for anything, but they were absolutely ideal for this project.

I spent a couple of days cutting all the beautiful colors. I decided to cut the blue background squares as needed--1,164 squares is way too many for my arthritic hands!

Even the trimmings are pretty...

Then to come up with a plan to keep the rows organized.

I pinned post-it notes with the row numbers, 1-18, on my design wall. Then I put up all the squares for Block 1.
I sewed the squares in sets of two vertically, then sewed those into sets of four, etc., until each horizontal row was sewn together. I put a pin in the far left square of each row so that I would not accidentally turn the row around. 

I pressed all the seams on the uneven rows toward the right, all the seams on the even rows toward the left, and then I sewed pairs of rows together. The seams nested very nicely, and I pinned each seam for added insurance that things would line up. I was so excited when the first block was completed. Here you can see just how much the block shrinks in length when there are 18 rows! 

Block 2 was fun to put together because there was a lot more color.
This is definitely a slow process, but wow, it's just so stunningly beautiful. I'm hoping to get it completed and quilted in time for the annual MCC quilt auction. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Really Random Thursday, 1/12/23

 Here it is, almost the middle of January already. A few people asked if I had made a quilt calendar for 2023. The answer is "kind of." For my first two calendars, I had a theme. I have two more themes in mind, but I just didn't get around to photographing the quilts. But because Mark and I still needed a calendar, I kind of put something together and had 10 copies printed at Nothing professional, that's for sure. But I'm thinking ahead to 2024. 

We began our new year with family at the beach house in Oceano, on the central coast of California. Jason was not able to come this year because of basketball games and we really missed him.

The hills were so beautiful on the drive over. We rarely see them green like this--usually they are all dried up. 

If you have been watching the news, you know that California, a state usually in a drought situation, has been getting so much rain. So we knew we would most likely be spending a large part of our time in the house rather than out by the water. The beach was actually closed most of the time we were there because of the dangerous high tides. 

But we had lots of games to play. And while we don't normally do a lot of "devices," we also had the Nintendo Switch and the VR. Have you ever watched someone when they are on a VR? It's pretty comical. 

I had purchased little "learn to crochet" kits for each of the kids, cute little animals. However...even though there were lots of step-by-step videos, I don't think learning to crochet in the round is the way to go for a beginner. 
So my next plan is to use teach them to crochet a little 4" x 4" swatch to get the concept down, and then I think the kit instructions will make more sense. 

On Friday, there was no rain, so we were able to spend some time outdoors.

On Friday night, we were finally able to do our Saran Wrap game that we had saved from Christmas because Ella and Christa were home sick. It was a hit. We will definitely do it again this Christmas.
If you are not familiar with this game, there are lots of things wrapped up in layers and layers (and layers) of Saran Wrap. One person tries to unwrap as much as possible while the person next to them rolls a pair of dice. As soon as that person rolls doubles, things shift to the next person. Maybe you will unwrap lots of treasures, or maybe the person next to you rolls doubles on the first try and you have to pass the ball on immediately. Mark and I had fun finding things to wrap. There was a lot of penny candy, some money, weird stuff like a first aid kit, a set of mini screwdrivers, etc. 

Spending time with family is my favorite way to start a new year.
With everyone else headed home, Mark and I went to Pismo Beach (just a few miles up the road) for a few more days. Our hotel is up on a bluff, and there are steps that go down to the beach. We usually walk into town via the beach. But no way that was happening this year. The water was all the way up to the bottom of the steps. There was no beach!

On Monday, it rained nearly nonstop. We ventured downtown for lunch, and our favorite pulled pork restaurant was open, but nearly everything else in town was closed. The wind was really blowing. There was no way we would have made it back to Fresno on Monday. There was so much flooding and many road closures. There has been much damage here in the state, along with loss of life. And more rain is on the way. 

I love these plants.
And someone really decorated their balcony.
After all the rain, on Monday night we looked out our window at just the right time and were treated to this spectacular view. It was fleeting--the winds quickly blew clouds that covered up the sunset. But in those moments, it was absolutely stunning. 

The perfect ending to a great week.