Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Turned 30 and Gave a Lumberjack Party

Totally normal, right?

Well, the lumberjack party was for Jess whose birthday is the day after mine. 

The night before, Josh and I went to see Othello at Portland Center Stage as a gift from my parents.  I always get excited about a PCS show, not in small part because of their sets.  This one was definitely up to their high standards.  And can we talk about the actress who played Emilia?  Because she made those old, marvelous words come alive!  She stole the show for me!

Anyhow, I was glad that the birthday party was in the afternoon, because after a late night (I am 30 now, after all, and being on the train at 11:30 constitutes a "late night"), I needed the morning to finish the cooking and arranging.

I made the invitations from paper and fabric scraps we had from other projects.  We got a great response from family and friends.  I was excited to see 30 people join us to celebrate!

We set two long tables out in the backyard.  I made a burlap table runner like this last fall, so that came out along with some fabric bunting to adorn the tables.  I set the food on log rounds to add dimension.  I tried to think of lumberjack-y fare, so we had a big pot of chili and some freshly smoked corn on the cob.  I didn't get to take any pictures of the food until after the party was over, but the chili looked like chili and the corn looked like corn.

We had chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting with chocolate shavings on top that made me think of sawdust.  We had a dutch oven full of candied pecans.  We had mustache and tree shaped gingersnaps and sweet tea that we drank from mason jars.
Jess ate his cake oh-so-carefully, as we suspected he would.

Finger by finger, he ate that cake.  He took so long that the party moved on without him, as you can see!

When he finally finished, we moved inside to cool off and open gifts.  People were so generous, and Jess is having so much fun with his new toys.

The whole thing was simple to do, and largely free.  We let the trees and pond be the d├ęcor and used fabric and wood that we already had otherwise.  The only cost was the food, which took us another 10 days to finish eating! 
It doesn't seem like a year has gone by.  This kid.  Those eyes.  My goodness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Oh, Hello

Hmm, let's see.  Things I've done since last July...  We took 3 month old Jess on a hiking vacation to Colorado and New Mexico.  We bought a house in Boring, Oregon.  We named the house Hoquarton. We invited some friends to move into the basement and put a kitchen down there so they have their own apartment.  Josh started at a private practice.  And I made exactly one quilt.

It was supposed to be a Christmas present, but we just got it in the mail last week.  Oops!  My excuses are as follows:
1.  I was still the gift processor for the Red Cross, a job I supposedly left almost a year ago.  But as I am still on the payroll and the need remained, they would drive the gifts out to me in Boring so I could work from home with the baby.  As you can imagine, the holidays and year-end are an incredibly busy giving season!  I did train someone to take over in January, which has been a relief.
2.  We were building that kitchen.
3.  I really did sew other Christmas presents that arrived in a much more timely manner!

See!  There's a purse, two skirts, a fabric-scrap book about colors, a homemade memory game, and a little crocheted hat for our nieces!

Enough with the excuses!  Here is the quilt I made for Josh's mom:

She loves Taos, New Mexico, which was part of our summer trip with the baby.  I was inspired by that to make a sampler of sorts.  Each block design appears twice in varying colors.  It was interesting how much that changed the look of some of them.  Here are a couple of my favorite blocks:

And here is my cute little helper who was quite sure that we went out to the deck to pictures of him.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Family History in Fabric

A few months ago, Josh brought home an old quilt top that belonged to one of his coworkers. It was hand pieced by her grandmother out of fabric from clothes that belonged to her mother and her mother's siblings.  The top was beautiful, but there were some holes in the fabrics and some of the seams were coming apart.  She had heard I quilted and asked Josh if I could perhaps repair and finish it.

I'd never worked with anything like this before, but I did some research on restoring old quilts and decided I was game to give it a try.

First, I squared up the quilt, cutting off some raggedy edges.  This gave me some pieces of fabric from one side that were big enough to make patches.  With those scraps and some from my own stash, I made some patches that I pressed on with double sided adhesive paper.  I made sure to match the edge of the patches with existing seams so they looked natural in the quilt blocks.  Then I basted the top with batting and backing that she picked out.

I quilted it by just going over all of the seams because the pattern of the top was so interesting that I didn't want to add another pattern with the quilting.  In doing so, I was also able to reinforce the original seams, repair the ones that had come apart, and sew down the edges of the patches I had applied.  I also like seeing the unique shape of each block on the back of the quilt.

This quilt was fun to work on and neat to see completed.  Kara and her mom were excited about having it back in a usable condition and I was glad to be a part of the story of this family treasure!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Well, everybody, I'm feeling human again!  Jess is two months old, quite long (24.5 inches), and super chatty.  We're getting into a nice little routine together and that has made time for me to do some quilting and some Red Cross work again.

Officially, my Red Cross position goes away at the end of this month because of some national consolidations.  I wasn't planning to return after Jess was born, but I've gone back to work on a "consulting" basis until they're done with the transition to the new processes.  As of July 1, though, I can consider myself retired!

So when I haven't been snuggling my baby or back at work, I've been working on a quilt for the lovely Remington Bentley.  Remmy was born about five weeks after Jess and is already winning the hearts of the boys in her life.  Jess and Josiah got their first chance to compete for her affections last weekend!  Poor Josiah was at a disadvantage, having been given her feet:

Anyhow, Remmy's mom, Nike, had commented that these were her favorite quilts I'd done in the past:

I think the most striking thing these quilts have in common is that they used a wider variety of fabrics in smaller pieces.  So, with that in mind, I picked a bunch of fabrics in Nike's nursery colors (lavender and sage) and went to work!

I used the Kitchen Window block from Elizabeth Hartman's Practical Guide to Patchwork and followed her recommendation to make the "panes" scrappy so I could use a lot of different fabrics.  The blocks are 16x16" though, so I ended up with a long, skinny quilt top (her guide is for a full sized quilt and I was cutting it down to baby size).  So I added a strip made of all the different fabrics I used down the middle to make it a better shape.

To go with her colors, Nike picked a nature theme for Remmy's nursery.  So I quilted this swirly tree on each of the window blocks and surrounded them in circles that make me think of cobblestones or a creek bed.

Lastly, here is a picture of Remmy looking at Jess like he's the dreamiest boy she's ever seen.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Most Recent Creation

Look what I made!

Finally!  I can introduce Jess!  We had to wait an extra two weeks, which meant that I went into the hospital on the night of my birthday to be induced.  We ended up waiting around till the next day because there were too many active labors for them to start me right away.  Once they got to me, though, things really got going!  It seems I just needed a little nudge to be able to proceed on my own.

We had a really good experience with the induction, the hospital, and the midwife team.  They got a big kick out of Josh (who brought his own scrubs) as he floated between doctor-mode and husband-mode.  I was really grateful that he knew what everything meant and could help me make important calls like, "is now too soon for the epidural?"

Since I was having contractions with no break in between, we settled that question with a resounding "no!" and I got my relief.  The nurse told me I got the award for most constant contractions.  Hurray for me!  We passed a few hours after that with a Storage Wars marathon on cable.  It seems that whenever we have access to cable tv, there is always a Storage Wars marathon.  Which is awesome, because it's kind of our guilty pleasure.

Later that evening, after 2 hours of pushing, Jess was born at a whopping 9 pounds 13 ounces and 22 inches long!  The little guy had 42 weeks to grow that big, though.  He was a solid 33% of my pregnancy weight gain!

I'm so pleased that everything went so smoothly - from pregnancy to delivery.  Now all we have to worry about is recovery and baby snuggles.  Both of which are progressing well!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Waiting Game

As I mentioned in my new year post, though my due date was March 30, I didn't expect our baby to show up until April.  Here it is, April 3, and we're showing no real signs of his ever wanting to leave.  So, I've been using my off-work time to whip together a few necessities.

First, I made this diaper bag:

Josh picked out the fabric so it would be something he was willing to carry.  The plaid is canvas and the brown (which is also the interior) is plain cotton.

It has handles, a shoulder strap, and pockets on all sides.  It didn't occur to me until I was sewing the last side closed that the pattern didn't include any inside pockets.  Since you quilt the outer and liner fabrics together before cutting out the pieces, I don't know when you'd attach pockets to the inside without the seams showing on the outside or quilting over what you've added inside.  I would have to figure that one out.  Instead, I'll just make a little loose pouch that I can put smaller things in to find easily.  

Also, due to the piecing-the-interior-and-exterior-simultaneously construction method, you end up with open edges inside your bag.  I anticipated that, though, and serged the edges of each piece before I put the bag together.  So the edges look nice, won't fray inside the bag, and will stand up to washing.

Then I made a nursing cover.  Instead of just doing a rolled hem, I wanted to have a contrasting fabric around the edges, so I bound it quilt-style.  I've been wanting to use those cherries on something for a long time!

As with most nursing covers, the neck straps fasten together with D rings.  A friend recommended that I use a twist tie or something to fasten the two rings together before sewing them into the end of the strap.  This keeps them snug enough that your fabric won't slip out, extending your strap and revealing more than you intended while feeding.  It was a good tip - easy to execute and I can see the difference it made!

I also checked another quilt top off my list!  Assuming this baby keeps hanging in there, maybe I'll even get it quilted this week.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reese Niece Number 3!

Josh and I were a bit relieved when we found out we were having a boy because the existing Reese Girls, courtesy of Josh's brother, are the most awesome and adorable:

Before I sneaked into the hospital one night while Josh was on call so we could "borrow" an ultrasound machine to find out what kind of baby we're having, the "Other Reeses" came up to Oregon for a visit.  I was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, and we had decided not to tell them because five-year-olds are good at repeating things they hear - and we weren't ready to spread the news just yet.  But on the first day of our vacation, Dave and Ruth told us they were expecting!  Josh and I didn't react with hearty congratulations right away because we were so surprised.  Especially when they said Ruth was 10 weeks along, too!  After some frantic texting across the living room, and what I'm sure they thought was the weirdest response ever to such fantastic news, we let them know that we were in the same boat.  The exact same boat.  Crazy.

In fact, years ago, I had a dream that Ruth and I were pregnant at the same time.  In my dream we were both having boys and were racing to see who could have theirs first because we wanted to use the same name.  Until their ultrasound, I thought maybe I could have been a prophet, but we diverged from my dream's plot and discovered they were bringing another most-excellent girl into the world.

We're both still waiting on these moseying Reese babies, but I finally finished a quilt before a baby was born!

The blocks came together very quickly, but I mixed it up in the sashing by adding those pinwheels.  I think the simple blocks, mix of fabrics, and pinwheel sashing ended up working really well together! Here is a closer shot so you can see more of the fabrics:

And a picture of the backing where you can see the roses I quilted all over:

This quilt was really fun to make; and it put me back on schedule with my quilt making!  Oh my goodness, I can't wait for Reese Niece #3!