Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Arrow/Feather/365 days Quilt

Some quilts take a year to finish. This is one of them.
At the beginning of 2015, I had an idea of using up some fabrics from my stash in a color spectrum quilt of some sort. You know me and the color spectrum, after all.
With an Alison Glass quilt as my inspiration (I didn't realize there was an actual pattern until I was nearly finished with mine! Of course I didn't!) I started by gathering the fabrics I had from red to purple, and cutting them in various lengths to create feathers (I also saw arrow quills as I stared and stared and STARED at them for days, then months). This was one of my favorite parts, as I had time to think about each piece of fabric, when it originated, how I used it, etc. Turns out I can be fairly sentimental when given the chance!
(Jan 30, 2015)
(Jan 31, 2015)
I had more of the red/pink/orange than anything else, and soon my 5-row arrow quills became 4-row arrow quills. It's cool!
(Feb 3, 2015)
(Feb 9, 2015)
All during the process of arrow quill-making, I knew I had to find a background color that would really make the bright colors pop. No more white background for me, at least not then! I decided to be BOLD and go dark gray instead.
(Feb 17, 2015)
Oh, if only it were as simple as laying the pieces on the gray and calling it good! Instead, I had to create tiny little strips of gray for all my in-betweens, then somehow sew everything together while maintaining the clean, vertical lines. It was about this time that I wondered if a pattern were available and, upon finding one, saw how one was REALLY supposed to do this kind of thing. Turns out it's easier to hook everything together via paper piecing, then chop it all off together to create those nice verticals! Too bad for me, as I'd already cut everything out by then, and had to continue with my painstaking strategy instead. Again, it's cool! I continue to be me!
(March 11, 2015)
(Notice a few switch-outs in the green and blue at this point. Others were too dark for dark gray background!)
After all those teeny tiny grays, it was time to add long gray rows. This is the funniest part about quilting. I took that huge piece of gray material, cut it into 10 pieces, then sewed it back together again! 
(March 20, 2015)
Adding top, sides, and bottom was the next step. By this point I was a little tired of looking at all those colors. (So much for sentimentality!) We took it outside, snapped a picture, then I put it away for a few weeks.
(March 24, 2015)
In the meantime, I saved my money and bought batting and backing. The backing (which you can see here at the moment) went first to my old house in Florida, then back to California before making its third and final cross-country trip to SC. It was at this point in the journey I learned one should update one's Paypal account address more than once every 3 years!
(May 9, 2015)
Even though I sewed half the backing right side up next to the other half upside down, I called it good and made the sandwich. Then I took deep breaths, put it away again, and went in search of the right thread to do the hand quilting.
I found it here:
(June 17, 2015)
During my 2nd annual dream-come-true trip with these wonderful gals:
The thread was this awesome array of pearl cotton in BRIGHT red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Oh man I loved that thread. I had to sit and stare at it for a few months before I could even start the process.  Too pretty to mess with.
I finally started the hand quilting (long straight rows around each set of arrow quills, then on the outside gray, another set of "transparent" arrows) around the beginning of October. Here's a little preview of the finished product, so you can see the looooooong lines of beauty.
It is here my tale takes a disastrous turn. During an out-of-town trip in early November, I LOST MY BAG OF PEARL COTTON THREAD. I was 4/5 of the way through the quilting, BUT I WAS NOT DONE. And try as I might, I couldn't find those exact colors anywhere. Not at any stores, not online, nowhere. Now, that's not to say they weren't findable. I'm sure it would have been rather easy for the average thread-searcher, actually. However, I am hopeless at the online shopping world (as showcased in my earlier story about the backing fabric mix-up), and these threads just weren't getting found, not by me.
Well, the darn quilt might not have ever gotten finished had I not heard in early January about a special family who could really use a quilt to brighten up their lives! Once I realized they might enjoy this beauty, it was easy to finish. Turns out, I had regular ol' thread in my quilting stash that pretty much matched the fancy thread colors. And in fact, once quilted, I couldn't even see the difference. Silly me! Insert sheepish shrug here. I quilted and binded and washed this happy thing in about a week and voila! A finished quilt.
 (January 23, 3016)
(rainbow binding, of course!)
One might think I'd want to hang on to this pretty thing for just a bit before sending it off to our special friends. But seriously, I'd had it long enough, don't you think? Soren did sneak in a nap with it though. Who can blame him?
Be off, happy quilt! Spread sunshine!
(Ashley C., tell your mama I used my first mermade label on the back! Thanks to both of you!)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

February Fling 2016

Zane was at it again today with his swimming. This meet was the February Fling in Spartanburg, and we let him go mostly because he remembered it fondly from last year. Last year he was also less than a second off the state cut for his 50 butterfly; this year he had almost 2 seconds to cut and after cutting huge time in the last meet, we weren't expecting anything too exciting to happen today.
And then he went ahead and got under the state cut for his 50 butterfly again. He cut over 2 seconds in two weeks, from a 35.51 to a 33.20. Time to beat in order to go to state was 33.79. Well there you go.
He swam in 4 additional events, including the 100 IM (below) which he DQed in last meet. He ALMOST did again, but in the video you'll see he separated his hands at the end of his breast stroke in the nick of time--PHEW! He also won the heat with a 1:17.54.
The next video isn't a video at all, but a picture of his time in the 50 butterfly. Turns out, Brandon isn't perfect and only took a picture, no video for that one. Stay tuned for the state meet video instead! For now, Zane was in lane 2, 2nd place, with a 33.20 time.
Following the 50 butterfly, Zane swam the 100 free. This one is a fun video, with his little motor legs propelling him forward the whole race. That kid's a swimmer! Time on the race, 1:11.19  (33.2 split). Down from 1:15.97.
Then there was the 50 breast. Brandon wasn't directly in front of Zane's lane for this video, but managed to capture it nonetheless. Time was 42.02 (down from 45.03).
Finally, quick as can be after the 50 breast, the 200 fly happened. 200 fly, what?! And the last race of the day? Zane said he didn't even have time to put his towel back between races. The video isn't complete, but only misses the first 75, so you get to watch long enough to get tired yourself and wonder how the heck that kid is still swimming. He finished with a 3:03.24. Phew!
In fact, the whole day could be summed up with that one word if you ask me: phew! Better you than me, Zane!
We'll see you in two weeks at the State meet.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Real Deal Snow Day

I've wondered since moving here what exactly it would take to bring a real, sleddable amount of snow to our South Carolina home. Well, now I know. Aren't they calling the storm hitting the northeast this weekend THE STORM OF THE CENTURY? Bingo. Storms of the century bring awesome, fluffy snow to Clemson. About two inches of it. Juuuuuussstttttt enough.
In the spirit of fun family outing Saturdays, we actually woke up early, ate a quick breakfast, dressed in every piece of winter clothing we could scavenge, and headed over to the elementary school, hoping to beat the crowds and have some fun. We succeeded! (Victory #1) Only two other families were there, and the snow was fresh and ready. Sledding commenced immediately.
Ahem, did I mention how many items of clothing I made each child put on? This picture of Z below displays my insanity quite well. Can you even see the poor fellow under all that?
And THIS little creature was SET FOR LIFE in his clothes. Somehow we had ski overalls, snow BOOTS, insulated mittens, a parka with a hood, and of course I added a fleece hat AND a scarf.
Basically, we spent a lot of our time at the elementary school taking off layers.

Oh man, at one point I looked up and saw the most BEAUTIFUL scene below, with the morning clouds rolling out and snow dusted trees sparkling. Perfect moment! (Victory #2) 
We had only been there 40 minutes or so when I got a text inviting us over to a bit bigger of a hill by the University. Again in the spirit of fun family adventuring, we went for it! 
We were so happy we did! 
 Almost immediately the older kids found a brother/sister pair of friends with whom they played the entire two hours we were there. (Victory #3)
At first, Soren needed either me or his Pops to head down the hill with (or was that just his over protective parents needing HIM)? But after a time or two (or 10 if you were his pops) of hiking him back up that hill, we decided to just stay on the lower half and let him fly all by himself to the bottom. Which he did and loved. (Victory #4)
(By the way, Annie took this picture. I'm that black-beanied lady on the right!)
When he wasn't sledding down the hill, he was pelting me with snowballs. I'm not sure which activity he liked more.
Here was a funny capture, during the time Soren was still riding as a team with Brandon. See that kid just to their left? Yeah, things didn't end well for him. After Brandon tackled the poor fellow and asked if he was okay, Soren shouted out, "I fine!" Good to know, Soren!
 We left when our feet were frozen solid and the adults couldn't take it any longer. We got home and after taking off my soaking wet socks (all three pair), I got over to Soren and started unwrapping the snow person. When I got to his feet, I was FLOORED to feel that they were WARM AS CAN BE. (Victory #4) FLOORED! I will now be more vigilant in looking for snow-type boots for the rest of us. I'm a believer.
Most of us then found a floor/couch/bed to crash on for awhile, but not Annie. She claimed she needed a friend for her snowman! And out she went for more fun (not sure she belongs to me).
So there you have it, a perfect snow day! 
We followed it up with a delayed, shortened church today, and I just received word that schools are closed again tomorrow. I'm back to baffled.
PS: This is what a real deal snow day looks like at 5:27pm (Victory #5)! Slept all night too, and took another nap today. This might go down as the single most successful weekend ever.

{mini} snow friends

As we were going to sleep Thursday night, we received a message from our school district. In anticipation of a large winter storm coming through the region, schools were closed Friday. Woo hoo! I'll admit, I'm over the bafflement of previous experiences; I now know to just go with it. Plus, no school means no alarm clock, which is music. to. my. ears.
We woke up Friday, HOPING for snow to play with. Nope. Nada. Just rain rain rain. And as I went out for lunch supplies, icy rain. In fact, the run from my car into Publix was done in probably the worst weather I've experienced since moving here. "Ok," I thought. "This might actually go somewhere!"
Then I got home and the ice storm ended and slowly, slowly, sloowwly, snow started to fall. By late afternoon, there was FINALLY enough to build a snowman. Well, if you can even call this fellow a snowman.
Let's face it, he's darling and she had a ball. And the rest of us stayed inside and built Perler Bead hot wheels cars. 
Definite snow day win!
 As we were going to sleep that night, our ever-un-reliable-and-yet-so-convenient phone-app weather reports were telling us that maybe there wasn't going to be as much snow as anticipated. Oh well, I thought, At least Annie got her snowman. And I got a pretty picture of our snowy front yard at dusk for the blog. 
Little did I know what was coming!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snow, Clemson-style

Hey look everyone: IT'S SNOWING IN CLEMSON!!!!!!
 Wait......you mean you can't see any snow? Hee hee. Me neither.
Let's try again. After all, it's the ONLY thing being talked about at school this week. Snow on Wednesday! Snow on Wednesday! Snow, right after school, on Wednesday! Well, here we were, right after school on Wednesday. 
Some snow, eh?
Let's take another look.
 Oh, you mean those itsy bitsy teeny weeny flecks of white coming from the sky and melting upon impact? Look, there's one (and only one!), on Soren's forehead there!
 One was enough for Soren. "It's CHRISTMAS!" (He's been waiting for snow to come for weeks so that we can finally have Christmas. Hours later, he wept as I told him we weren't getting out the Christmas tree again.)
Look at this, one picture where it actually looks like snow might be falling! (And could my Annie be any happier about it, do you suppose? "Oh my word, these are the biggest snowflakes in the whole, wide world!!!" Poor girl. Maybe what she doesn't know won't hurt her.)
 The two littles were ready in case the possibility of sledding happened upon them at any point!
Meanwhile, Zane kept trying to catch snowflakes in his mouth. He didn't think he had been very successful, but I think his glasses tell us otherwise (even if those too changed to water on impact). 
Next, another idea. "Maybe if we move over to the yard we'll find more snow!" Okay kids! Good luck, kids! 
Snow. For about 15 minutes. Then back to life as usual.
And yet.... the schools were put on two-hour delay the next morning. 
(We expect to get another bit tonight--schools closed tomorrow, just in case!)