Metaphoric Poem by Mark

This is poem my son Mark wrote for an English assignment.  
Warning: Get your tissues out, it is pretty darn sweet.
My Family Tree
By:Mark Hoog
My Family is like a tree.
My mom keeps us upright and healthy.
Like the roots of the tree she provides us with food and the necessary resources we need to grow.
My dad is the crisp brown bark of the tree.
Like a shield he protects us from harm and takes the brunt of the storm.
My brother is the deep dark gnarled hole in the tree.
The one that holds many secrets and treasures but no one is sure how it came to be or how to access it.
My sister is the leaf that dances, swirls and sways in the swish of the breeze.
The leaf that exhibits the full beauty of the tree yet, easily is damaged when the storm gets to strong.
I am the trunk under the bark that holds the tree up right and helps support the tree when the bark is missing. I am there, always there, to help the tree.


Bags of fun?

The Wedding Of The Year is fast approaching.  I am burning the midnight oil finishing up a few last minute projects.  I have 2 pairs of pants to hem still and quite a bit of  packing to do.  However, I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Inspired buy a wedding I was at once,  I decided to make the bridesmaids little handbags for the wedding.   It wasn't until I was knee deep in fabric circles that I realized there are 7 bridesmaids!  I must have been having a small stroke at the time I made this decision.  Fortunately it was a very easy sewing project compared to the dresses.  I finished up the bags yesterday!  WooHoo!

I made these 7 bags out of the leftover dress fabric and lining.  I added twisted rope handles, one on each side of the bag.  I didn't get real fancy with the embellishments.  I added a bow and a melted ribbon rose for each bag.

Emma decided that the bags also served a dual purpose of acting as a nightcap when opened and inverted.
What a ham.


Baby Birds

All of this talk about learning to fly must have inspired our eggs to hatch.  Everyday Mark insists on doing the watering of this particular hanging basket.  He wants to make sure that the momma bird is safe and that the nest doesn't get wet. (He is such a care giver!) Wasn't he surprised this afternoon when he discovered that three of the eggs had hatched!  I have to say they are pretty ugly when they hatch.
Sorry for the cruddy pictures.  I didn't want to get too close.
Right now the babies are all pink and mostly featherless, with dark blue orbs on tiny heads. I still haven't been able to get a good look at momma bird to identify her.  She does have this peculiar habit of diving out of the hanging basket straight for the ground when we get to close.  Just when you think she is going to go SPLAT. she pulls out of the dive and flies away.  Maybe now that her eggs have hatched she will be so sleep deprived I'll be able to catch her unaware.

Teacher Gifts

Wow!  Is just me or did this school year FLY by! My kids have only 7 days of school left!  With that said.  I cannot believe I didn't start the teacher gifts before this week!  I know it shouldn't surprise me.  I have been a procrastinator for years, yet it somehow still amazes me that I am doing things at the last minute.

After Saturdays Etsy party, which in case you wondered went well, I picked up my rotary cutter and went to work.  I decided I needed to make this little 'basket'.  You can find the tutorial here.

This basket is for Emma's teacher.  She hands out Smarties when ever the kids have tests.  (Makes them smarterer)  I am having all of the little 3rd graders write their names in the large white space encircling the bag.

This basket is for Jack's ELA (english, language arts) teacher.

The little froggie print actually said, "leap into reading." prior to being hacked into little 2 inch strips.  In hindsight perhaps it would have been a good idea to make large strips.  Perhaps then one would be able to actually READ it.  But, I did have a really good reason for making the white strips wider.  Jack's class will be signing the white blocks on the last day of class.  Even though they are in 5th grade for the most part their handwriting is still rather large.

These little baskets are made from a tutorial found on the pink penguin.  I have used this pattern before and it turns out very cute.  The only problem is the basket is a little floppy.  This time I added a thick interfacing to the lining of the basket.

Unfortunately, this concludes my teacher making gifts. Everyone else is getting purchased gifts.


For the Birds

Just last week, I was out making my morning flower pot watering rounds, when out of nowhere a small brown bird shot out of the hanging basket.  Well, after I had recovered from the aerial raid, I snuck up on a stool to investigate.
Sure enough, there was a small little nest smack dab in the middle of my petunias, with 5 small grey speckled eggs sitting quietly inside.  I'll admit at first I was a little worried that all of the noise and chaos that goes on around my house would scare the momma bird away.  However, it seems nothing we do outside bothers momma enough to  leave.

Tonight, as I spent the evening forcing quadratic equations down my sons throat, my thoughts drifted back to momma bird.  As we factored polynomials and solved for x, y and z, I found myself thinking how much my current situation resembled the bird in my own backyard.  I sat and chewed and ground Algebra I to a pulp, helping my son to digest every little equation he could possibly come across.  Oh! How I wanted to get up and fly away!  But no matter how many times I heard, "I'll never use this in real life." or how many text messages interrupted our study session, I sat there on my little bird.

I wonder does momma bird ever just want to get up off of her eggs and take off?  Is she grateful for the noise and the chance to escape her instinctual solitary confinement? Given a pair of coordinates can she calculate the slope of the line that bisects those points?

I'll be the first to admit, he probably will never need to solve or graph a quadratic equation on a daily basis.  I like to think, that while he will never need the actual math equation, that I am equipping him with skills, problem solving techniques that will assist him in the "real world."

As parents we hope and pray we are doing what is right for our children.  We sit on them.  We force all matter of things down there throats.  And they fight back and poo all over our nests.  Is it instinct or survival?  My husband and I have an ongoing joke about our parenting skills.  We get through the frustrating times by telling ourselves,"If our kids are going to need therapy anyway when they grow up.  At least we can make it worth their dollar."

In the end Mark and I fought, argued and pushed each other's buttons.  I went for a walk.  He went to bed without his cell phone.  Have I given him enough to help him pass his End of Course Exam?  Have I given him too much? Will this be just another of the therapy sessions he is forced to pay for when he is older?

 I hate being the "bad"guy.  As I walked around the neighborhood, I realized I am neither "bad or good."  I have given my little bird all that I have in the hopes he is prepared to face the world. I also realize that I face the same conundrum facing momma bird.  How do I know when they are ready to fly solo? Sometimes, like the momma bird, you have to get up and leave, hoping that you have given your little bird all that they need to fly.


The aftermath.

I have to say, it could be worse.  The largest portion of the storm is now over and the damage is minimal.  The quilts have been mailed out and the batting has been depleted.  Now starts the clean-up.  I fear what I will find when I do finally vacuum up all of the stray threads covering my floor, my work table and myself.
Here are a few designs I worked on throughout the storm.

This weekend I am hosting the Columbia's Famously Hot Etsy Team Spring Cleaning Event. (wow that is a mouthful)  This will be our first Event outside of a holiday  party.  We will be selling/bartering many of our "extra" crafting supplies to one another.  Hopefully I can get everything cleaned up, priced and ready to be displayed by Saturday morning!  Wish me luck.


The Quilting Storm


There has been an Local Quilting Storm Warning issued by the local NQWS.(National Quilting Weather Service)  

At 5 pm local time the NQWS indicated a Quilting Storm Capable of using 2-3 spools of thread per week as well as large quantities of batting.  This storm was located by Doppler radar 11 miles west of Lexington and moving as fast as she could through a large pile of accumulated quilts.

The severe Quilting Storm was last seen producing large free motion quilting flowers and swirls. This storm could produce pantographs at any time.  Caution is advised. This storm will impact the communications in and around Lexington.

This is a potentially addictive storm.  If you are in its path... prepare immediately for lack of breakfast foods and laundry.  Large quantities of coffee are needed to survive this storm.

People outside should move to a shelter... far, far away from the storm.  The potential for this storm to grow is high.

Stay tuned to this blog for the latest information.


Emma's Dance Recital

This year Emma took Dance and Cheerleading as an after school activity.  At the beginning of the year she was incredibly excited about Cheerleading, but has now found it quite restricting.  She has tried many different things and she keeps saying, "I want to Dance."  I have been impressed that she has been willing to tryout new sports, and even more impressed that she certainly knows what she wants.  I have heard over the past 3 years. "I want to take Hip-Hop!"  I was hoping this class would introduce enough Hip-hop to satisfy her desire to learn.  Sadly it did not.  She appeared to have fun and did make many new friends.  Here dance recital was this past weekend and she did great!

She also received her very first trophy, which was really the reason she wanted to dance in the recital. Go Emma.

She performed both a cheer and dance number with her school class and with the entire dance and cheer program.  She rocked!  For those family and friends who are members of my flicker group Here is a sample!  Enjoy.


The Number Forty

On this most historic of days, I pass-on these facts regarding the number foremost on my mind.

40 is the atomic number of Zirconium

The planet Venus forms a pentagram in the nights sky every 8 years with it returning to its original point every 40 years.

40 mm = 1.57 inches

40 = 2 score

Quarantine (noun)- a period of 40 days

40 winks is to take a nap for a short period of time

Some russians believe that  ghosts of the dead linger at the site of their death for 40 days.

Interstate 40 runs form California to North Carolina making it the 3rd longest east-west highway.

40 is significant in Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Middle Eastern traditions.

In the Bible rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights.

Lent consists of 40 days.

The roman numeral for 40 is XL

The Number 40 is a Natural number following 39 and preceding 41

Today is my 40th Birthday.


State Champs!

Yesterday, Mark and his teammates played in the South Carolina U-14 State Championship game.  It was a tough fought game, both teams were evenly matched.  The boys on both teams played an incredibly great game.  Mark scored the only goal with only 15 minutes left in the game.  I thought the game was going to come down to penalty shots, something I never like to witness.  I am so proud of both teams.  Both teams are full of phenomenally talented players.  I am sure we will be seeing more of them in the years to come.  Great Game Boys!  Go United!


Happy Mother's Day

Last weekend Emma and I went up to Pennsylvania for a bridal shower.  On Sunday we made the 45 minute drive into New Jersey for the Luncheon,  The shower was wonderful and the bride was glowing.  We stuffed ourselves silly with a delicious Italian lunch and made new friends while we were there.  On the way out of the parking lot I passed this sign that I wanted to share with all of you.  

Happy Mother's Day, Jersey style.


Some Quilting Time

My Life is full of projects.  It's funny how I'll finish one project and look around wondering, "What should I start next?"  I should really stop saying that.  As soon as I start looking for trouble, boy does it find me!

I have been sewing non-stop for the last 2 months and yet very little of it has been done on my long-arm machine.  I have a stack of quilts waiting patiently for me to get quilting!  This week I took a deep breath and dove right in.

I was a little hesitant at first.  No worries!  Once the first edge was tacked down I was off and running.  Seriously.  I start off Quilting so fast!  Quilting to me is so flowing, I have to remind myself to slow down.  My machine has an alarm which lets me know when I am moving the machine faster that the stitch regulator can keep up.  Well, let me just say that think was constantly chiming.

Once I reined in my speed, I developed a nice rhythm and pumped out two quilts.  I am happy to report that the space ship quilt is FINISHED and bound.  It was deployed on it's mission at 1300 hours yesterday!  I hope the little guy is just as excited to receive  it as I was to send it.  

Funny how things start.  I had a plan for quilting this quilt.  I was going to just do a simple meandering star pattern over the entire surface.  I should have known.  This quilt has been such a lesson in creativity why would I think I could do just a simple all over design.  I started with the stars and then progressed on to a ton of other designs.

I used many patterns from the Free Motion Quilting Project and many old stand-by's.

What started out as a "simple" all over design turned into over 10 different quilting patterns in 6 different thread colors.  But let me just say, "This quilt totally rocks!"
The entire surface of the white rocket-ship is covered with vertical or horizontal lines, which are more or less straight.

 The alien windows are quilted in a stipple.

I tried several new patterns.  A square maze and a triangle maze on a few different spots.

This block was done using a pattern I typically reserve for water.  I think it makes this planet come alive.

Here is a Echo Flame which gives such a great illusion of Blasting OFF!

I tried 3 different patterns on the stars in this quilt. The Super Daisy from the FMQ Project,  The Echo Paisley and my version of the Echo Arch.

As you can probably tell I am just a little excited about this quilt!  I cannot wait to hear about the Birthday boy's reaction.  Happy Birthday Ian!



Recently I have been drawn to hand applique.  I am not exactly sure why, except to say that my current knitting project is giving me fits.  After putting the knitting project into a temporary time out, I needed a project that was portable.  I decided to re-try hand applique.  I took a hand applique class about 6 years ago.  While I enjoyed the peacefulness of hand applique, it wasn't something I could easily tote around with smallish children.  I chalked it up to experience and moved on.  I have tried several forms of machine applique and while the results are certainly not ugly, they are not always pretty.  Needless to say I have steered clear of applique projects for the most part, until just recently.

I started working on this applique for The Easy & Breezy quilt found in Spring/Summer 2010 Better Homes and Garden's Quilt Sampler.  I had gathered the pieces together as a back up project for a car trip we took last summer.  Since then the pieces have sat and gathered dust in my sewing space.  With back to back soccer tournaments and a trip to Philadelphia planned I decided to pull it out.

The bright and bold fabrics were a delight to work with.  I finished this up in just a couple of weeks.  I noticed just yesterday that the basket is tilted to the right, ever so slightly.  I decided to call it whimsical and leave it be.

I haven't decided what to do with this panel.  I initially was going to make the entire quilt.  The more I experiment with unplanned quilting the more I love it.  I thought perhaps I could add some 4x4 blocks around the panel and make a table runner or even larger blocks for a smallish wall hanging.

 I still need to pull out my embroidery floss and add eyes, beaks and feet to the birds.  But for now its tucked away once again waiting for inspiration to strike.