Take a hike

The weather here has been far to warm for our annual ski trip.  Since driving to Canada was out of the question, we had to find other opportunities for exhausting our children.  With yesterdays temperatures hanging in the 60's we headed out for a winter hike.  Armed with water bottles, snacks, and every possible electronic gadget known to man, we loaded into the Camery and set off for the higher elevations.

The kids love to hike. They love to be outside.  They love discover nature.  Most of all they love to joke, tease and harass one another.  Yesterday proved to be no exception to this rule.  The good news is that no one cried and no one ended up in the urgent care.  There was some bloodshed but that is to be expected, and was minimal.

We took off to Crowders Mountain State Park, which is on the border of NC and SC about 30 min from Charlotte. Let me say yesterday, it was more like Crowded mountain.  It soon became apparent that everyone in the metropolitan area had the same idea. It was packed.

After a quick stop at the visitors center, we took off towards the trails.  While Emma suggested that we start off slow with an easy or moderate trail, the boys would have none of that.  They declared that the strenuous trails were the only trails that were worth their time. After a short protest, which included a little whining, a few foot stomps and amazingly no tears, Emma relented and we were off to the Backside trail.

The trial is only .9 mile one way, but it climbs nearly 1100 feet in that distance.  Needless to say there were steep inclines and a lot of man-made steps.  Mark was not at all pleased to find actual steps.  In his mind strenuous means backwoods, no trail and definitely no steps. Trust me when I say, it may have not been strenuous for a near 15 y.o. who plays soccer year round, and works out 5 days a week, but for the rest of us strenuous was a good definition.

After climbing 343 steps, my thighs were doing a good bit of complaining.  Oh, but it was totally worth the climb.  The views were beautiful.  Emma and I rested on the large rocky cliff top while the boys explored the top.  After 20 minutes at the top, the boys were getting dangerously close to falling to their death or at the very least loosing a limb. We started our decent. (I am convinced that teenage boys loose all access to their brains at age 12.) Apparently I really do need to say things like, "No you cannot hang yourself out over the edge even if your brother says you wont fall" and "No, you cannot try rock climbing without a rope."

Our decent took less than 15 minutes, mostly because everyone decided to run down the mountain.  Knowing my limits, I chose to walk.  I arrived at the bottom just in time to watch the end of a game called "let's pelt dad with acorns."  Not a good choice for games if you are dad and a really, really bad idea if you are the one throwing the acorns.  (did I mention my brain theory?)
Although the hike did little to wear out the kids, it was wonderful to get outside.  After a week of baking, eating, cooking, sitting and eating some more, we totally needed it!


Cookie Party?

This week Emma decided to have a last minute cookie party for her and a few friends.  Always the social butterfly she wanted to invite everyone she knew.  I limited the number to 6, and even then I wasn't sure I would have enough to keep everyone busy.  I prepared the Gingerbread houses a head of time, whipped up a couple of batches of cookie dough to chill, purchased a few Christmas crafts and dug out a few cookie recipes I thought I could manage with 7 girls. Never the one to go overboard(HA), Emma and I whipped up some homemade cocoa mix, complete with hand made tags to send home with her friends.

With John working, I gave each of the boys assignments for assisting me with party.

Wouldn't you know that as soon as the pre-teen girls started showing up my assistants disappeared! Fortunately I only ended up with a total of 4 girls.  Thank heavens for even numbers.

That didn't stop the girls from getting to work, after all "duh" they are in 4th grade.  Everyone donned an apron and took turns decorating the Gingerbread houses. They filled their faces with candy and made sugar cookie cut-outs.  After 45 minutes of baking and decorating.  They were done.  Seriously, they were done.  They took off to play, leaving Jack and I to finish the cookies. And Mom to clean up the mess, as if that wasn't a given.

  I did manage to corral them for about 5 minutes.  Just long enough to decorated a few cookies, stuff their faces, roll their eyes at me and glare at the camera. Ah, pre-teens,  don't they just put the "Merry" in Merry Christmas.


Lego Quilt

Here it is, and just in time for Christmas.  The finished Lego quilt.

I know the picture is not the best quality, sorry.  Yesterday was a beautifully sunny day with a temperature of 70 degrees.  You'd think I would be able to take a nice picture outside, No!  I never remember until it is dark!  The picture doesn't show it but there are some navy blocks, lime green and some cream blocks hidden in among all of that.The back is this yummy flannel batik, so cuddly.

Here's a look at this cute little label I made up.  

I tried a new quilting pattern out on this quilt.  It is a free-motion circuit board.  I like that it adds an element of "building" to the quilt. I know one little man who is going to be warm and cozy this winter.



Whew!  The stamping is finished.  All told I stamp just over.... I don't know I didn't count them, but trust me it was a great deal of stamping.  I was rather frustrated with my inaccuracy.  First, I tried to eyeball them, (just channeling my inner slacker)  then I moved on to using a ruler, which worked much better, but still not exactly what I thought it should be.  When I was totally and completely at wits end Jack happened upon my stamping area, aka the kitchen counter.
 "Look at this Jack." I scowled.  "My stamps don't line up!  You would never be able to stack any legos on top of these stamps.  My bricks suck."  To which Jack replied.  "Mom, they don't suck.  It doesn't matter if they line up perfectly.  This quilt is an artistic interpretation of Lego bricks.  What matters is the emotion that you invoke from the viewer.  The image that they see needs to take them somewhere, make them experience being a child, remember the love that Legos brought into their life."  

Okay, no he didn't really say that.  What he said was "Mom, That Looks Awesome!"  Which was way better than the first and exactly what I was looking for.



When my cousin asked me to make a quilt for her son for Christmas, I knew immediately the perfect pattern.  Wee Wonderfuls blogger, author and general creative master Hillary Lang, created this LEGO Quilt for her Son this past March.  When I ran across it I knew I needed to make it.  My son, Jack, has an entire closet devoted to Legos, seriously I should have bought stock in the company.  I thought that someday I would be making it for him.  (and I still may be after he's seen this quilt).

Hillary created a templet for her quilt out of actual Legos, quite impressive.  I thought having a resident Lego-manic would make the design process easier.  Silly me.  He apparently is far to busy designing his own Lego items.  Rather than making the entire quilt random placement of blocks.  I decided to design 2 separate blocks of the same size. With graph paper in hand I set out. After a few consultations regarding the appropriate Lego colors and sizes, this is what I ended up with.
I cut copies the two blocks multiple times and came up with a pattern that was approved by the Lego-manic himself.  After several days of cutting and sewing I have this semi-finished product.

Not the best picture.  Sorry.  Now the really difficult part.  Carving the Lego logo stamp.  I had never carved a stamp before and boy is it harder than it looks on youtube!  After 6 attempts I came up with 2 not great but good enough stamps.

Now I am off to stamp, stamp, stamp away.  Keep you updated.


I'm Back!

Okay, I have been a total blog slacker.  I have been up to my eyeballs in quilt orders.  It is safe to say that I can now see the light at the end of my tunnel.  While I was away I was working on this...

And this...

And this..
A really bad picture!

Would you believe I was so busy I forgot to take a final picture of any of them!  Apparently blogging wasn't the only thing I slacked off on.

We had a number of un-quilting related things going on around the house as well.  There was this...
Mark's Broken Ankle

And this..
Emma and Kaela's First Concert

And don't forget...
OREO cheesecake!

Happy 12th Birthday!


The "Art" of self-esteem

Fostering self-esteem in your children is hard.  Fostering self-esteem in a pre-pubescent/ pubescent girl seems impossible.  One day they are high on themselves, they can do no wrong, and you quite obviously are always wrong.  The next day, heck the next minute, they are awful, can do nothing right and they dislike everything about themselves. (you however, are still wrong.)

Such is the case with my daughter these days.  Every day after school is a fit of tears,  sometimes they last a few minutes, other days I worry we will have to get flood insurance.  Tuesday was a day just like that.  The tears kept coming.  Everything was Wrong.  Everything I did or said was definitely Wrong.  I was at a dead end.  How do I help my daughter when she does not want help?  Then It came to me.

Years ago I watched a movie called What the Bleep Do We Know?  (click on the title of the movie to see a YouTube trailer).  The movie discussed how our thoughts influence our environment and our bodies.  I remembered a scene in the movie where the main character is writing positive statements of love all over her body.  Right then I was struck with inspiration.

I can still teach her to think positively about herself.  I dug out the washable markers and set to work. I explained nothing.  I just started writing on her leg.  I wrote.  "I am Smart."  then drew a heart and some flowers. She said, "HEY, why are you writing on me?"  But that was all.

After a second message.  "I am Wonderful."  She said, "I want to do that."  So I handed her a marker and we set to work.

All told we wrote 18 positive affirming statements and drew assorted pictures.  By the end of the evening she was tattooed from head to foot and there was not one more tear shed.

I believe I could use a little body art myself. :)


Go Bengals! Oops I mean Steelers!

Here is the newest quilt to grace my etsy shop.  I am very excited with the way the Steelers logo turned out.

I love it when you have a design in your head, then it actually turns out the way you pictured it!  I did, however, fail to notice how big the end result would be.  It was intended to be a lap quilt. It is really more of a twin.

I quilted a basic meander all over the surface of this quilt.  Just to mix it up, I used a small meander on the border and a larger meander all over the remaining space.

 I think it turned out quite well.( even if I did grow up in Ohio:)


Leaf Pile

Dr. Seuss
I've never known anyone yet who doesn't suffer a certain restlessness when autumn rolls around... We're all eight years old again and anything is possible.
Sue Grafton


baseball quilt announcement

It's the bottom of the 6th inning.  There is a runner on first.   Stepping up to bat for the Team Quilt is Kristin.  This 20 something quilter from South Carolina, is quite a little powerhouse. Her last at bat was a pop fly that still remains a UFO.  She seems confident as she steps to the plate. I believe I have seen that look of concentration before.  She's looking dangerous now folks. Here's the wind up, the pitch and.. It's a strike.  Kristin steps back, shakes it off.  This quilter is looking for a fight,  I don't think I have seen that look since the 2009 season, when she was just a rookie.  She lines up for the next pitch and ... Strike 2.  This is very surprising.  I thought for sure with that look she was going to make something happen.   Don't worry fans it's not over yet, I have seen her come back from much worse.  She takes her stance once more.  The pitcher winds up and it's a hit..IT'S going BACK, WAY BACK..

This one looks like it is... Gone!


Rockin' his new quilt.

How do you Make a baby quilt cuter?  Put the baby in it, obviously!

 Here is my new nephew chillin' out on his new quilt!  How can you not love that!


This year our Halloween was complete with a couple of royal characters.

Emma, the Greek Goddess Artemus, complete with Grecian Up-do, sandals and quiver.

She would have loved to have had a bow and arrows. However, mom felt that while that would be accurate it was a bit over the top for an hour of candy retrieval.

Jack, or should I say Count Jackula, was once again an evil character. I am beginning to get ever more concerned about the number of times I have painted my son to look dead or dying.

The twosome collected just over 8 lbs. of candy, ( Oh, yes they weighed it.)  Emma is happy to report that she feels this is sufficient enough to last until Easter.  We shall see.


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween Ya'll

Yesterday, we decided to carve our pumpkins. Jack and Emma had picked out their pumpkins, but we had yet to get Mark his.  I am never sure how much he will want to participate in the holiday activities now that he is a High Schooler.  Since he did not have a pumpkin, the boys set out to find just the right pumpkin.  7 stores later they trudged through the door with (and I quote) "The last pumpkin  available in Lexington."  Seriously?  John said they went to 7 stores and not one had a pumpkin in site.  Everywhere he asked, he was told they had sold out.  He also mentioned that people looked at him like he was the dumbest dad ever.  I Mean Really!  Who waits till October 30 to get a pumpkin!  When the boys did find a pumpkin, they came home with a tiny pie pumpkin.

We set to work cutting open the tops to the pumpkins.  I had no problems with Jack and Emma's pumpkins, but I could not get my knife into Mark's pumpkin.  I had John try and he got the knife in but could not get it back out.  Mark took off with his pumpkin and came back with a chisel wedged deep inside the pumpkin.  Great. Now we had a knife and a chisel stuck in the mini pumpkin!  After a few wiggles and a few curses (by dad) we were able to free the tools.  The pumpkin got microwaved for a few minutes in attempt to make it softer.  We failed miserably.  That was apparently the limit to John's patience.  Next thing I knew he and Mark were in the Garage with the pumpkin clamped into the vise cutting through the pumpkin with the jigsaw.  I have to say while I have never see that particular approach to pumpkin carving, it was effective. And for a 14 year-old boy, it was AWESOME!

Jack and Emma took the more traditional approach and  used patterns and hand carving tools.  Mark and Dad's more untraditional approach still yielded a great jack-o-lanturn.

For those of you who want to see the pumpkin project for yourselves Mark got every bit of it on video.