Sunday, November 30, 2008


Well, today felt like a big waste. I laid around on the couch most of the day and actually took a nap. My body just said ENOUGH! I hate when that happens. I feel worse tonight than I did today. I even bought Zicam, which is supposed to shorten a cold, but I've never found it to work. Has anyone else tried it and thought it worked? I don't know why I tried it again, maybe thinking this time would be different. Maybe thinking that for some magic reason it just had to work because I don't want to be sick. I don't know. I was at the store this morning because we were out of toilet paper (how does that happen?) and I was hoping that something out there would have been invented to cure the common cold. I know they have a cure, they just won't sell it because they will lose so much money on all of the cold medicines.

I have 6 lab books left to grade. Those will get done tonight and then they will come back to me this week, with another lab in them. I think we have three more labs before Christmas. I think I will just let the labs sit until Christmas break and grade all three at the same time. This time of year it is like fighting a losing battle. As soon as I get them graded, we turn around and do another lab.

I'm torn between wanting to work on quilts and not wanting to make more quilt tops that need quilting. Since I have to wait for my new quilting feet to arive, I pieced the quilt top for my daughter's cross country coach. I also put up a design wall in my oldest daughter's bedroom since that is the only room in the house with some wall space that is open. Right now, it has her t shirt quilt pinned to it. I have to find three more of her old t shirts so I can finish that one up for her for Christmas. It is going to be a big quilt and I think I will give that to my friend to quilt for me. I don't like quilting things that are bigger than about 60 inches long because then the last few rows are so narrow. My friend has a big machine and does professional long arm quilting and I had her do three quilts for me in the past, before I got the quilting frame from my mom. She does a great job on them and it wasn't too terribly expensive. I will have to hurry up and get this quilt pieced if I want her to quilt it before Christmas though. If not, and I am not really in that much of a hurry, I have until the end of January before my daughter goes back to college. I can give her the top and then have it quilted. Sneaky ;)

I can't believe tomorrow is the first of December. I'm going to start looking for some Christmas tree decorations to make with the kids. I have good memories of making them as a child and still have some of the wooden ones we painted. I'd like my kids to have memories like that too. If I find anything good, I will post links here and share what the kids are making.

final vacation day

The last day of vacation is always sad, but today is especially so. Both I and daughter #2 are getting sick. She is worse than me. My little guy had it all week and I'm not sure why it took so long for us to get it. Maybe we have something different. I think today calls for resting and watching TV and finishing grading the papers I have been putting off for so long. I'd rather get out and do something fun, but know that if I do, my body will rebel and I will be sick for longer.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

slowing down

I've had a couple people tell me that I'm being too hard on my machine and that I should slow down and that may be why the machine is breaking the feet. Well, silly machine! You claim to run 1500 stitches a minute. I'm just using you to your full potential. I ordered two different feet today. One online from the place I got the sewing machine and the other from Rosie's Calico Cupboard in San Diego. Both will have to come in the mail. The lady at Rosie's said that one was a super strength one, but it comes with a cover plate, which I really don't need, but if you remember way back to when I first got the machine, you will remember that I'm not using the cover plate because the hole isn't lined up right and it keeps shreading the thread. So, maybe a new cover plate is a good thing.

I went to my local JoAnn's. They have a sewing center in the store, that is owned by an independent Huskvarna dealer. I asked the ladies working there if they could help me and they literally snubbed their noses at me. They did not want to talk to me at all when they saw I had a Janome machine. I was in shock and so kept asking questions and finally, they turned away from me and just started talking to each other. I have never been snubbed like this before. It was very strange. With the slow economy, you would think businesses would try to get you to shop there, but these ladies acted like I had the plague (maybe there was something in my teeth) and I don't think they would have taken my money if it was gold plated. So, I will never be going to them for help again, or to get a machine from them, or telling any of my friends to buy a machine from them. I can't report them to the owner, because the one lady is the owner. I guess when she goes out of business, like the last lady did, she might get the idea that customer service is still important. Oh, well...

The local sewing machine repair shop didn't have the foot either so that's why I had to order it online. Yes, I ordered two because I have a feeling I will break another one and I don't want to have to wait again. I plan to call on Monday to see if I can get the first one replaced since it has only been a couple of months since I got it.

If I am abusing my machine, I'm sorry, but this thing is advertised to go fast and that's what I was doing. If the foot can't handle the speed of the machine, they need to make better feet. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

broke another foot

Well, I think I figured out what the funny noise was that the machine was making. I was working on another quilt and touched the foot and the little bar that holds the foot to the needle up and down thingy just fell off. It is made of metal and I guess all the millions of up and down times it has gone through just wore it out. Bummer, I'm so sad. I'm almost done with this quilt and now I have to wait until the new foot comes in the mail. I'm going to try and see if the local sewing machine shop has this type of foot, but I don't remember them carrying this brand before, so I think I will just have to do other things these last two days of vacation.

If you remember, way back, I broke the Big Foot that I bought when I bought the machine. I don't know what is is about me and feet! At least it isn't my own feet that I keep breaking.

I guess they don't make these things to stand up to my industrial use. I've made 60 or so quilts on this thing and gone through two feet so far. The feet aren't cheap either. This new one is costing about $23 with shipping. At this rate, it is costing about $1 per quilt just for the use of the foot! That's crazy!

Has anybody out there had better luck with your quilting feet? If so, what type do you use and how long have you had them?

so proud

I'm proud for several reasons tonight. First, I'm proud that I stayed away from shopping today! I had this terrible urge to go to JoAnn's for their $1.49 flannel. I really, really wanted to go and buy more flannel, eventhough I have probably 100 yards of flannel from the last time I went to their sale 3 years ago. I don't really like using flannel and if given the choice, I would rather use plain old cotton. I love the feel of flannel, so I'm not sure why I don't use up the flannel I have as backing for the quilts I have, but I have more flannel that a normal person should own and yet when I see a great sale, I have a hard time passing it by. Last year, I was in Southern California, vising with my brother and it was a little easier to resist the sale and the year before there was some other reason I missed it. But, three years ago, I was there at 6am with all the other crazy people and since I had gotten up so early and stood in line for so long, I had to buy more than I needed and still have most of it left.

I'm also proud of these couple of quilts and the new things I have been trying with my quilting. I just decided to 'go for it' and try new things and see what comes of it and here is what I did. Not perfect, but these leaves look better than my first attempts which looked a lot like marajuana leaves. Not good for kids quilts.

And finally, these are the Gelt Bags I made for my daughter's friends who are Jewish and want to participate in their gift exchange. I had a pattern I was trying to use for a knot bag and the directions were poorly written. I sewed that thing together several times and it just didn't turn out right, so I came up with this on my own. Sort of like a stocking, but not really.

For anyone out there who is afraid to try something new in your quilting. I say, just go for it. Try it. If it doesn't look like you wanted, that's ok. Try again. And again and again and again.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Well, the turkey was finally finished about 5pm and just fell off the bones. I'm glad I waited the 9 hours of cooking time for this bird. It was worth it. After making everything, I felt like I was forgetting something. Mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, what was missing? When I went to put the leftovers away, I realized that I had boiled eggs yesterday for deviled eggs and forgot about making those! Oh, well, we can have those tomorrow with the leftover turkey.

I got another quilt done and I'm so proud of the quilting on this one. I have to get my camera and upload the picture, but I'm getting better at trying new things and can't wait until you see what I did on this one! It is fun to try new things with my quilting and I'm glad I have so many quilt tops to practice on.

Happy Thanksgiving

Christmas? Yes, it will be here soon. I made 38 Christmas stockings to send to my daughter to give to her friends. They are going to hang them on their doors and then trade little hand made gifts and cards throughout the next few weeks leading up to Christmas break. Sort of like a secret Santa exchange. Everyone who takes a stocking agrees to make something for everyone else who has a stocking hanging on their door. I am also sending some things to decorate these stockings, fabric paint, pom poms, google eyes, I can't wait to see what they all come up with. Just a little thing to help beat the winter blues!

When I went to take the turkey out of the fridge in the garage, it was still frozen! I guess that fridge is set a little too cold! I bought the turkey on Monday, so I figured it would have plenty of time to thaw, but I was wrong. Oh, well, it will just take longer to cook. After 3 hours of cooking, I was finally able to pull the bag of gibletts out and the neck as well so things should go a little quicker now. We will have dinner around 6. That's ok because I made a black bean and salsa soup last night that is super good! I cooked it all night long and had the worst night's sleep. I kept waking up and smelling the delicious soup. I had the best breakfast this morning and lunch too. I got the recipe from the crockpot blog that I have been following for the last month or so. You can find it on the side bar of this blog.
Here is a picture of some turkey treats the kids have been making. I got the idea from another blog and then found out that it is out there everywhere on the net so I have no idea where the original idea came from. They are fun to make and delicious too.
And finally some more quilts I have been working on. This one was from yesterday... For some reason it is showing up twice and I can't make it go away. So, you get to look at it again here :)
And these two are from today so far. (no, you are not seeing double--there really are two of the same quilts this time) I'm hoping to get another two done at least today. Since it is just my family here and we don't have plans to do much, other than spend the day with each other, I have time to play!
I tried another pattern from the Pajama Quilter Reloaded book and really liked this one. Click on the picture to see the quilting. It is a flower and went very quickly!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

finished one found two more

I will never get ahead at this rate. I finished another quilt top today (by finished, I mean quilted, waiting to be bound) and then opened the bags of quilt tops my friend brought me that I found the other day. In some of the bags there were two quilt tops. SO, that means there were two more quilt tops that I didn't count the last round. This is why I don't count my projects. They keep multiplying!

Oh, and I changed the needle on the machine after about 20 quilts and it cuts like butter again, but now the machine is making a clunking sound. That can't be good. I will have to take some time to clean it out and figure out what is hitting what before I do some damage to the poor little guy. I will give him some oil tonight before I let him sleep and see if that helps too.

dog days

These last three days have been dog days. Literally. Sunday, I had to take the little dogs, Lily and Harper to the shot clinic to get their shots so I could take Lily to the groomer because she has gotten so matted and I just can't get the matts out. Both dogs had bad reactions to the shots and have had diarrhea and vomitting from the shots since Sunday. Having worked for a vet through high school, I know this can be a problem and I know what to watch for. The dogs are acting fine other than making a mess everywhere. Good thing I have a carpet cleaner! My carpets have never looked better, in spots :)
I moved her apointment to Friday and she is getting better which is a good thing.
Poor Mandy. She is 9 years old. We rescued her from the pound when she was about 10 weeks old. She is a boxer lab mix and a big baby. She has a mighty scary bark, but would lick you to death before she would bite you. I've always said this, but the pest control guy proved me right about a month ago. He came to spray the yard and we weren't home. He has been our bug guy for years and we have always put the dog away. Well, this time, he figured he would just try to get in the backyard with the dog there. He got his bag of treats out and gave her one and she became his best friend. He said she was a little scary at first, but then just wanted to lick him. So much for a guard dog.
Well, on Sunday, she started limping on her left front paw. I couldn't see a picker in there, but she didn't like me to touch it. Again, the ex-worked-for-a-vet in me couldn't see taking her to the vet on a Sunday for a picker in her paw and knew that she probably could get it out like she has done before. Monday she was worse and wouldn't walk on it. Tuesday I took her in and the vet examined her for about 30 seconds. He said it is either sprained, broken or she has cancer. No Xrays yet. He gave me some anti-inflamitories and said to come back in 4 days if she isn't better and strict rest. She is currently tied up at the bottom of the stairs. When she was on the medicine yesterday, she seemed better and could put some weight on the paw, but this morning she is back to no weight at all. My poor baby!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


These are the quilts I have been working on since vacation started. You will notice most are from Mary's Quick Stripie pattern, located on the side bar. Most of these tops were made by other people and given to me to quilt. Cory, Nancy and others made the tops and I did the quilting. I am making a dent in the pile of quilt tops I have sitting here, patiently waiting their turn on the machine!

This one I did some different quilting on. It was from the Pajama Quilter Reloaded book and was some pattern that reminded me of Christmas candy. I had a hard time with this one and it looked like fingers, not like the pattern in the book, but it turned out ok.

Close up of the quilting. I'm trying to do something new with my quilting. This was some swirls with echos from the Pajama Quilter Reloaded book. It took less thread than my normal meander and I like the way it turned out. I think I will try this one again.

Here are some pictures of the quilt tops I have finished this week. It is only Tuesday and I've been busy. I got another two done this morning. That brings my total this week (since Saturday) up to 7. Not bad to reach my goal of finishing up all of my quilt tops before the year is over. Plus there was that one quilt that was nearly done that I just quickly stitched in the ditch and then wrapped the edge over and bound.

Monday, November 24, 2008

2 more

I got two more quilts done last night. One was while the rice was cooking. I dug out my rice cooker and just threw the rice in and knew that it wouldn't burn so I would have enough time to get that quilt quilted. The other one was while the cookies were baking. I had 9 minutes while they were cooking and another 15 while they were cooling.

I just love how quickly these quilts get finished up. Of course, they still need bindings on them, which will take another 30 minutes to get done once I find and cut the binding fabrics for them.

I also need to take some pictures of them to post. Once my little photographer wakes up this morning, I will have him help me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I found more

I was digging through my fabric today and opened a bucket that I didn't know what was in and found 6 more quilt tops, needing backs. Wow, I didn't realize I had so many quilt tops waiting to be quilted. I know that I have more in the garage that I really should dig out.

So, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I picked out one (that wasn't counted yesterday because it was donated all based and everything) and just finished it off today. The person who donated it said she had started it 10 years ago and just left it basted and waiting for all of these years. It took me about 15 minutes to finish off. Really. 15 minutes to finish off this quilt that has been sitting for 10 years. It is a small quilt, car seat size, or maybe for a tiny baby in an incubator, but is perfect for someone out there who needs a little hug.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


If you know me or have read my blog, you know I don't like to count things. But that is just what I did this afternoon. I got curious as to how many quilt tops I had in buckets and started counting and matching tops to backing fabric. Here is what I came up with:

19 quilt tops with backs ready to quilt. The quilts are either just as wide, or narrower than the backing fabric, so no extra effort is needed. These guys are ready to quilt!

14 quilt tops matched with backing fabric. These are bigger quilt tops or the backing is in two pieces so they will need some more effort before they are ready to quilt. They are in a different bucket.

10 quilt tops that I couldn't match backing fabric to. This was just using the fabric that is out, on the top of my makeshift storage area. I did not open the chest of drawers to go looking for fabric, nor did I go in the shed, or go looking in the garage. These quilts will take a little more effort to find the right fabric to go with them. Not that I'm looking for the perfect fabric, but something that either goes with the theme of the front of the quilt or matches the color scheme of the front of the quilt.

99.9% of the quilts I make are given away to children in crisis, either through Binky Patrol or through my church quilting ministry. Children don't care if the colors match perfectly and color matching is not a talent I was gifted with so I do the best I can. I usually ask my #2 daughter for help, but she was out having fun today, riding horses, so I was on my own.

That's a total of 43 quilt tops ready to be quilted.

I also have a pile of probably 15 very small quilts that could use a border or two before they can be called finished. Most were given to me in this small size, some I made myself before I knew what the purpose of borders was.

With only 39 days left in 2008, I don't think I will get all of the quilts finished off this year, but I did get 3 quilted today, so who knows! It is always good to have a high goal to shoot for. Who knows, I just might get it done. And think of all those kids who will be warmer next year because of a little donated fabric and some time.

Progress on vacation

Today I have quilted two quilts so far. I hope to get another two done today and maybe even two every day this week. That would really help me catch up on the number of quilts that need quilting and put that stack right back on the cutting table! I have two that need binding from the old stack. I'd like to get all of the quilt tops out of here before the new year starts so I can begin with a clean slate, but I think that is almost impossible. I think I have over 50 quilt tops waiting. I worked last week on matching backing fabric to the quilt tops and I think I have about 10 paired up. Feels good to be making some progress.

Naming our machines

As I read a lot of blogs, I see that many of you name your sewing and quilting machines. I was feeling bad, because I hadn't named my machine yet. I LOVE my quilting machine that my mom and dad gave me because what used to take me 45 minutes to quilt now takes me 15.

My dad used to name our cars and when my sister got her first car, she named it Carmine. Get it, Car-mine. I have never named cars or other things like that, but I think since I love my machine so much I should name it. So, this morning, as I was working on a quilt, I decided to name my machine Pierce. Seems fitting, since it pierces the fabric and since my favorite actor when I was growning up was Pierce Brosnan. Remember him? Remington Steele???!!! Yeah, he also became 007 too but I loved him in the Remington Steele TV series, although watching it now, those shows are pretty lame.

So, here is Pierce, my Janome 1600P DB quilting machine that helps me make the wonderful quilts for kids in Kazakhstan and everywhere else that someone needs a little hug.

Thanks again mom and dad.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday is here

In case you didn't realize, Friday is here. That means my vacation has started! Hooray. And what better way to begin the holiday than a trip to JoAnn's. My friend at work is having a baby in March and she asked me to help her make the crib bedding. We have been hunting down the fabric she wants. She picked out sock monkey fabric and now we are trying to match the rest of the fabrics to the print she fell in love with. I just hope I do a good enough job on the set so that she is happy with it. I always doubt my abilities and am a little nervous. She found a set she loved online for $545 and I knew I could make it for much less than that. Of course, she has spent almost $100 on the fabric already and we aren't done yet. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


What are you counting down to? It seems I am always counting down to something. As a teacher, I count down to vacation. I have four days this week and then get a week off. Then, there are three weeks until another vacation. Without those vacations, I think teachers would go crazy. We all love our students, but you try being locked up in a room full of teenagers and not being able to go to the bathroom when you have to or getting to eat lunch on a daily basis and see if you don't go crazy! I challenge a doctor to treat a room full of patients all at the same time. Why is it they get to deal with each patient, one on one, for 15 minutes at a time, but I have to have 28 students, each with different needs, all who are just as important as each other and I'm expected to help them all at the same time? And then when I miss one (who didn't want to be there in the first place) I'm the bad one?

I also count down to when my oldest comes home from college. 32 days and counting. I can't wait to see her again. She sounds like she is having so much fun...not yesterday when she had to work with annoying kids who thought they knew everything, on a project. But, every other day, she is getting to experience seasons for the first time. Growing up in California, she saw snow once in elementary school. You can't even call it snow, it was just little flakes that fell and when they hit the hot cement, they melted, but boy did we think it was super cool! She has been 'up to the snow' a couple of times, but this is the first time she gets to live in a place that actually 'gets' snow. She gets to jump in piles of leaves and feel cold. That's so cool!

As I count things down, I have to remember to enjoy the now. My youngest is wanting to learn to read. He pretty much carries a book around everywhere now. He is constantly asking someone to read to him, which can get annoying after a while, when you are trying to do other things. I vividly remember my oldest going through this stage. She would ask how to spell things and try to read everything. The middle two, I don't remember. I'm sure they went through this because they are both very good readers and love to read and read all of the time, but I just don't remember them starting to read. I don't want to be in such a hurry to get through things that I forget these times as well.

I need to remember that as I am counting down, I need to count today for something too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Catching up with pictures

Here are some of the things I have been up to. These first two pictures are of the fabric crowns I made. My #2 daughter had a canned food drive at her school and she promised that I would make a crown for the winner. I had to make a practice crown since I didn't know what I was doing and my youngest son wanted that one for himself. This one is the crown for the winning teacher. I heard he wore it proudly all day long. It is held together in the back with elastic and a button so it would fit any size head. I'm pretty aware that there are many different head sizes since I have a ginormous head and 99.9% of hats will not fit me. I wanted to make sure it would fit anyone, so I added the elastic in the back. This is the practice crown I made at first. Turned out pretty cute for not having a pattern. It was a little too small, so I just added several strips of elastic in the back and it fits perfectly.

Here is one of the quilts I made for the Veterans Day dinner raffle. It is about 48 x 60.

Here is the 2nd quilt. This is the upside down one. You can see the writing in the top right corner of the quilt. What you can't see is the back, which when I am holding it is upside down for me. Of course, you can't see both the back and the front at the same time, so unless I tell you that the back is upside down, you never could tell. But, I know. And it is driving me nuts.

And finally, these are the dozen quilts that are going to the Friends of the Pine Ridge Reservation. There are 10 of the dark baby quilts, one that has bears and green squares and then one bigger quilt on the left end. It feels so good to get them out of the house and into hands of people who can use them. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the quilts bigger. They really are cute, just strange for baby quilts if you ask me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Random thoughts

Today I have been working on those quilts that need binding. I have three done and 5 more that need to be finished. I think I have enough of the binding to do maybe 3 more. I will have to keep going to see if I can get them all done or if I have to dig out more fabric.
The funny thing is each quilt is taking me 15 minutes to bind. They have sat for months, waiting to be finished and in 15 minutes each one is getting done. Why do I wait so long?
Well, one of my online groups, AC4C, put out the call this weekend for an emergency project to help the Native Americans and send blankets and quilts. These quilts are made with black fabric and are baby size and didn't really have a home. Since the reservation they will be going to doesn't have access to lots of washing machines, the black fabric will be perfect for hiding dirt and stains and will serve its purpose. I will have to get some pictures and post them when I'm finished with the batch. The tops and backs were donated, but I can't remember where they came from. I quilted them this summer and they went together quickly. I just did a stitch in the ditch on them and each one took maybe 20 minutes to make. The batting was donated too so they cost me nothing but a little time and I hope they will keep a dozen babies warm this winter.
Yesterday, the kid I took the phone from that is in my 6th period class was hanging out after school. He had come into class ready to fight another student. About a half dozen students told me that I had better watch out for him because he was going to fight another one of my students and I had better keep them separated. I figured if they were going to fight, this guy is about twice my size and there was no way I was going to jump inbetween him and anybody so he had better get it over quickly. Well, after school he was just hanging out, waiting for another student to finish something and he says to me, "Mrs. Lewis, when can I get my phone back?" I told him he had to have a parent come to the office and pick it up. He says, "oh." Then, he says, "Mrs. Lewis, you are my favorite teacher." Where did that come from? I just took this kid's phone and probably got him in trouble with his parents and now I'm his favorite teacher? I will never understand kids.
Why don't donuts like me? I used to be able to eat 6 of them for breakfast every morning in college and we got along just fine. Now, every time I eat them I get a headache. Yet, I still buy them sometimes and think that maybe THIS time I won't. This morning, I went out and got TWO dozen donuts (have to support the local donut economy you know) because they looked and smelled so good and now I'm paying the price for eating 2 of them. Why do I do that to myself? Why? When will I learn my lesson?
And finally, what is it about a resting mother that attracts everyone to come and gawk? I tried to take a little rest today and everyone in the house, including the dogs had to come and look at me, ask me a question, have me solve their problem, or tell me their life story! I even got licked in the face (by the dog). Why can't I just lay down for 10 minutes and close my eyes? Is that a crime around here? Does the world have to come to an end? I think tomorrow I will go into the garage and close the door and lock it and sleep there. Maybe nobody will find me out there!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Friday

Ok, more flowers. Just because I can. These were taken last January I think. Maybe not January, but last year sometime.
I have grand plans for this weekend again. It includes a little bit of grading--work before play, and some cleaning--to keep the kitchen nice and clean, but for the most part, I want to play.
I want to put binding on at least 4 quilts. I took all of the quilts that need binding and cut them and moved them to the banister in the kitchen. They are right next to the pile of finished quilts so they can see what they will become when I get enough time to finish them. I can get the binding on a quilt in about 30 minutes if I have things cut and ready to go. Since I sat and cut binding last weekend, I think I have enough for at least 4 quilts before I have to cut some more. These are just baby size quilts, maybe 36 inches or so, but they are still quilts and they still count in the total. I can't believe how many quilts I have finished this year. And yet the fabric stash is getting bigger by the second. Oh, well, I guess there is no need to worry if the cotton industry goes belly up or the economy gets worse. I will NEVER run out of fabric :)
I will also NEVER complain about getting fabric donated. I love mixing and matching all of the different fabrics to make such wonderful quilts for the kids.
I also have to make a quilt for my daughter's cross country coach. I had some of the kids (the ones who showed up to the pizza party) draw on fabric squares. I have the sashing cut and now just need to iron the squares and start sewing. That shouldn't take too long to get done and I'd like to have it done by Monday. We have one more week of school and then get the whole week of Thanksgiving off for a very well deserved break! I can't wait. I will NOT be bringing lab books home to grade. No matter what, those things will not be coming with me to ruin my vacation.
I'd also like to get a few Christmas stockings done and sent out to my oldest to pass out to her friends to hang on their doors at school. Then, they can play secret Santa and drop presents in them or notes of encouragement during the month of December.
So many plans...hope to get at least some of them done.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How about a nice Christmas poinsetta

to look at today. This was from last Christmas.

I'm ready for the holidays. Any holidays. Just a vacation from school would be nice. The people are getting on my nerves and the kids are ready to be done learning for a while. I'm tired of grading papers and giving tests and ready to spend time with the kids making cookies and eating them.

To prove how grumpy I was today, I took two cell phones away from kids. I NEVER take cell phones away. This is why! The first one I took from a girl who was texting in line for lunch. I asked her what her name was and by the time I got back to my classroom, I had forgotten her name. I asked my students if they could figure out what her name was from her phone and they pushed buttons and clicked all sorts of things and came up with her picture, but we never could figure out what her name was.

The second phone I took from my own student. I took his phone yesterday and talked to him about not taking it out in class. Then, I gave it back to him after school. Today, he pulled it out again with 5 minutes left in class. I had to take it and turn it in this time. He needed this lesson to make sense or he would have kept doing this over and over.

The kids can have their parents come and pick up their phones the first time. I think the third time, they get a Saturday school. When I was in the office turning in the 2nd phone, there were three parents coming to pick up their kids' phones. They didn't even wait a day to make their kids go without a phone. That's why the kids keep using their phones during class.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

upside down quilt

Ok, so the picture has nothing to do with anything, but these were in my yard last year and I love them. And I am too lazy to go find the camera to upload the real pictures that go with today's writing. And I love these flowers.
Yesterday I got the 2nd quilt done for the Veteran's dinner. I was so proud that I actually got two quilts done this time. I started them on Saturday and finished them on Tuesday. Not bad.
Here's the bad part. The first quilt was going along just great. I was quilting it with a simple meander and some loops and stars and then I got to the end and there was this nice red square at the very end of the quilt. It was perfect for writing a word in it. So, I decided to write the word Freedom in the red box. Great, everything looked so good and I was all done. I unpinned the quilt and then realized that by writing the word, I had made the back fabric upside down from the front! Argh. Ugh, ick. So, what to do? Unstitch the word and re-do it? Leave it as is and don't say anything? Hide the quilt in the closet?
I decided on option 2. I just called it my 'ode to the Amish' Veterans Day quilt. I have a lot of Ode to the Amish quilts around here. Legend goes they purposely put a mistake in each of their quilts because only God is perfect. Well, I'm very far from perfect that's for sure.
Of course, you can only tell the quilt is upside down if you are looking at both sides at the same time, which I think is impossible to do. Or, you have too much time on your hands.
The second quilt, I decided not to get fancy on and just quilted it with loops and meanders. That one turned out nice too.
Then, I graded lab books for 5 hours. No more playing for me. Oh, and I had the cleaning lady over in the morning for about 4 hours. The kitchen and bathrooms look great :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Big plans

Tomorrow is a day off of school and I have some big plans! Well, at least in my mind. I have a lady coming over to help clean the kitchen--deep cleaning to get all the icky stuff out from under the stove and off the floors that I don't want to do. I also plan to finish up the 2nd quilt for the dinner at the Veteran's Hall which is tomorrow night. I will post pictures of those tomorrow as well. I have some grading to do, but that is low on the list :) And I hope to get to play with some quilt blocks. I was sent some string blocks and they have been calling my name for some time now. I think there are enough blocks in there to make 4 tops and those are quick and easy to put together. I also have about 10 quilts that need binding and of course lots and lots of quilt tops that need backings picked out and sewn. So many choices, such a short vacation.

Then, it is a full week of school and we get a full week off for Thanksgiving. The school district decided that so many students were taking those extra couple of days, they might as well give us all the whole week and make us start 2 days earlier since they were losing so much money.

I met the new teacher today and she is really nice. I hope this mentoring thing is going to be good for both of us. I think I can learn a thing or two about art from her and she can learn a thing or two about the politics of teaching from me. Nod your head, smile and go back to your room and teach. If people think you are doing what they want you to be doing, they pretty much leave you alone. Just don't get caught with the phonics books. That was the best advice I got when I first started teaching!

I started when 'whole language' was the 'in' thing and phonics books were almost burned! If you were caught with those in your rooms, you were in big trouble. But all of the older teachers had them hidden in their rooms. And they gave them to me too (I started by teaching 1st grade). I knew it was wrong to have them, but I also didn't want the other teachers not to like me. The older teachers knew that kids learned to read by learning phonics. Here I was a new teacher, coming out of a teaching credential program that said, 'don't teach them phonics, they will learn to read, just by being read to often enough.' Boy, did we mess up a whole group of kids. Probably about 5 years worth of kids never learned to read because of 'whole language'. But, the older teachers knew better. Nod your head, smile and do what you are going to do in your own room. Just don't get caught with the phonics books.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Getting them done

Today I decided to just get some quilts done. They are doing nobody any good sitting on the cutting table. In fact, I can't even use the cutting table because it is covered in quilted, but not bound quilts! So, today, I grabbed some yellow with white polka dot fabric and decided to just cut it into 3 1/2 inch strips and see how many quilts I could get done. I finished 4 of them. (the four on the left of this picture) Plus, I started cleaning my kitchen and vacuumed the upstairs hallway AND sat and graded papers for 2 hours. Not bad for a Saturday's efforts. I still have a couple hours before bedtime. Maybe I could cut some more binding and get a couple more quilts done or maybe pick out some backing fabric for some of these quilt tops I have sitting here, waiting to be done. I really need to get the quilt started for Tuesday...too many choices...this is what gets me in trouble in the first place. I get paralized by indecision and then nothing gets done! Anybody else have these troubles?

Friday, November 7, 2008

another new job

well, call me crazy, but I agreed to do yet another job today at school. They needed another BTSA support provider for a brand new teacher because her first one quit. I had been one for the past two years. But I had it so easy. My new teachers were really good at what they did. One was in the military before becoming a teacher so had the classroom discipline down pat. The other was also older and not only knew the subject matter, but is also really good with the kids. Our meetings went something like this...need anything from me? Nope? Have any questions? Ok, see you next week. We talked about students who drove us crazy and how we liked chocolate and when summer vacation was. This new one may be a challenge. I don't know her at all. She is a part time art teacher, coming from a career as a photographer and is having troubles with her classes. I hope that I can help her to be successful. The statistics on teachers who quit before 5 years is pretty sad.

I also hope it doesn't take away from my quilting time! Maybe since she is an art teacher, she can teach me a thing or two about making art quilts. That would be fun.

This weekend I hope to put the binding on 2 quilts and make one for the Veterans Dinner on Tuesday. We have Tuesday off and I have a cleaning lady coming over in the morning because I don't feel like cleaning my kitchen and bathrooms and I'd rather pay someone else to do it for me now that I have 3 jobs :)

That will give me more time to play.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted

I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed. I was hoping for the long lines and waiting for my turn to cast my ballot as a citizen of the USA. I even brought along some knitting that I leave in my car to work on for those long unexpected wait times. When I drove up to the school, there were lots of people outside, so I figured there were lines coming out the door. Turns out, there were just lots of lost people who didn't have a clue where they were supposed to go to vote. I don't get that! How can you not know where your polling place is?

So, I went inside and they sent me to the wrong table. I figured I had a 1 in 4 chance of just guessing and that was the table I went to last time, so I just went where they told me. Nope, it was on the other side of the room. I got my ballots (yes, in California, we had so many initiatives, they gave us two!) and actually got to sit down at a desk with my ballots and a manilla folder to hide my answers. At first, nobody was there to peek, but then the line started to form and I had to put my folder up like I was in 1st grade so nobody could see what I was marking. There were so many choices! I had to double check my answers to make sure I hadn't marked the wrong guy.

Not that it matters in California who I picked for President...

But then there was measure T. I remember the signs...Ask a Farmer...Vote ________on T.

But, I couldn't remember what went in the ______. That one took me a while to figure out. I had to read it over and over to remember if I wanted to vote yes or no! Why don't I write these things down?

Two of my 'friends' are running, one for school board and one for Supervisor. I really have no idea what a supervisor does...I guess he supervises things, but he is a really nice guy and his kids are nice too so I voted for him. I have both of their signs in my front yard. I've never had yard signs before, but since I know both of these men personally, I decided to get their signs and put them up. I have no idea if it changed anyone's mind or not, but hey, it was cool! And I will save them for the next election too. I will put them up even if these guys aren't running and see what people think ;)

I'm just glad this whole thing is almost over. My students have really been into arguing politics and they really don't know what they are talking about!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Extra Hour Quilt

What did you do with your extra hour this weekend? I made this quilt! Well, it took a little more than an hour, but I decided that since I had that extra hour, I would NOT spend it grading papers, but doing something I enjoy instead. One of the preschool teachers at my son's school has a grandbaby who is about 2 pounds now. She was born very premature and is still in the hospital. I think she is almost a month old now. I decided she needed a quilt to help her grow faster and I had all of these leftover pieces from the 4 preschool quilts I made for his class. So, I just started sewing them together. I didn't have a pattern really.

Each of the strips is 3 1/2 inches wide. Since they are leftover pieces, each one is a different length. Some are just a few inches and some are almost 30 inches long. I just sewed them end to end until I had a really long piece. I ironed them and then cut 3o inch pieces. I randomly sewed them together and then sewed the inner border which is 2 1/2 inches and the outer border which is 4 inches. I think I could have done a little better job if I had a design wall to lay everything out so none of the colors would have touched, but I like the randomness of it as well and the bright colors make me happy. I know the teacher will love it and that is what counts. Done is better than perfect! Besides, I don't have room for a design wall anywhere in the house. I've looked...unless I take things off the wall in my daughter who went to college's you have me thinking. A little bit of felt, a few thumbtacks. Stay tuned. We may have something here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

feeling selfish

Today I have a to do list a mile long. I had to take two blankets over to a friend whose friend passed away recently. She left behind two little boys. I wanted to give these quilts to the little boys from the Binky Patrol. I meant to get out last week, but life happened and it is now Saturday and finally I got around to getting over there. Unfortunately, I woke her up, but the quilts are delivered and will be able to do their job. I didn't make them and forgot to take pictures of them too.

Then, I had to go get 1/2 price candy at the store. Read the word HAD to get the candy. You see, the little guy started throwing up last night before we got to go out and we didn't have any candy in the house! We had to skip trick or treating and so I was FORCED to have to go buy candy. How sad ;)

Then, I had to make brownies. I hate it when I have to do all of these terrible things!!

What is really on the to do list is grade lab books. I have about 40 of them and they weigh just over a ton. They are a pain to grade because you have to open them to the right page before you can grade the assignment. Each one doesn't take all that long to grade, but the opening and finding is the hard part...not really, but now I'm looking for any excuse not to attack them.

SO, I'm feeling a bit selfish and wanting to do something just for myself, like some quilting. I printed out a pattern but that would mean sorting through all my fabric to find the perfect choices before I could get to sewing. Maybe I will just pick something that is already cut out and give myself 15 minute lab book grading breaks throughout the day and then reward myself at the end of the pile if I ever finish today.

Of course, Monday I start a new lab in all of my classes. It is a never ending battle...