Sunday, November 30, 2014

It started with over 300

15 of 45 quilts for the remainder of 2014 (1/3 the way there!)

3 years ago, Carla cut out over 300 of these Super Size 9 patch kits and gave them to the middle school home ec teacher to have her kids sew together.  Those kids are now in 11th grade.  They sewed them all together in about 3 months and gave them back to us.  Wow, we thought this was such a great idea, until we realized that we had to quilt them all and then get someone to put the binding on them.  Yeah, who came up with this great idea?

I think I have about 5 of them left.  I keep finding them here and there as I think I have the last one on the machine, I find another one in a pile somewhere.  Just watch, when I think I have the last one done, I will find a box of them in the garage, or at school, or in my car.  The just never end!  But, I love them because every single one of them has a hand embroidered heart on it.  How special is that?

While they aren't the fanciest of quilts, they show that every person can make a difference in the life of another person in a special way and you may not realize just how you are doing that.  Those kids three years ago learned how to sew these quilts together.  They aren't fancy and they aren't perfect.  I can't tell you how many I had to fix as I was quilting them, but each one has made me smile when I see that hand embroidered heart.  My life has been forever changed through this project and I know that over 300 people have been affected because of the quilts that the kids made.  I bring these in to school to pass on to one of the many people who put the binding on them and sometimes the kids will see them.  They are surprised that the quilts are still around and remember working on them.  They like to see that their efforts are still being given away and remember sewing the quilt tops together.

I hope that one day in the future, they will pull out a sewing machine and join up with others to help out again.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

can you tell?

I got a little carried away last night with the scissors on my hair and started cutting and cutting and ended up cutting about 2 inches off the end.  This is the shortest it's been in about 10 years :)  Not sure anybody but me will notice.  I have really curly hair and I've been cutting my own hair for about 15 years.  When it starts to bother me, I just grab the scissors and hack at the bottom of it.  I know, bad me, but I can't see spending money on my hair when I can just take a pair of scissors and give myself a trim.  The ends don't have to be perfectly even because it curls up anyways and nobody can tell that I cut it crookedly.  Well, last night, I cut and slipped and there was a big chunk out of the left side, so I had to match the right side to it and then that was shorter, so back to the left.  When it dried, it went up about 4 inches shorter than it had begun.  Oh, well, it's only hair and will grow back.  The last time I got it professionally cut, it cost me over $100 because they colored it too and I looked like a clown.  They didn't know what they were doing with naturally curly hair and cut it too short and it shrunk up twice as short as they cut it and I had a giant poof ball on my head.  It was horrible.  I'm sure there is someone out there that's dealt with naturally curly hair like mine, but my hair is so weird that not many people have experience with my kind of hair.  Most of them want to experiment on it and 'see what it does when we try this' and then charge me $30.  You know how much fabric you can buy for $30?  Not much, but it's more than not buying fabric :)  So, I will just keep chopping at it until I get too old for long hair.

How many tumbler quilts is too many?

14 of 45

So my friend Nancy can do fancy tumbler quilts, but she's also an expert and the Kitchen Sink variety.  You know, the leftover scrappy, here's all the bits and pieces quilt.  If it were up to me, most of these bits would have ended up as a dog bed, but no, not my friend Nancy.  She saved them and then cut them with the Accuquilt Studio fabric cutter and then sewed them together to make a quilt. She is very frugal and I love her for that!  She has her daughter and four grandkids living with her (and their 4 dogs-and her own 4 dogs) and she still manages to find time to put together all of these great quilt tops for me.  She also has plans to come over this summer and pull out all 100 buckets of fabric from my shed and cut them all up into useable pieces and then sew them all together.  Yes, she most likely is insane, but I'm not telling her that and I'm NOT calling the guys with the white jacket just yet.  I'll wait until she's cut up all the fabric first.

Oh, did I mention that she teaches special education.  Being a bit crazy helps with that.  Those a some special kids who need lots of extra patience.  She's great at finding homes for lots of the quilts because she listens to her kids too and really makes them feel extra special.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving isn't just a day on the calendar

We had our meal today because my older son was at his girlfriend's family's yesterday.  The turkey cooking today smelled so good.

I'm so thankful for so many things.  Even though my girls couldn't be home this year, they will be home in three weeks and we will spend the Christmas holiday together.  So thankful for a family and the love we all have for each other.  So thankful for a warm house that is full of laughter and for everyone's health.  The minor aches and pains of growing older remind us that we have been on this earth a long time and I'm thankful for that as well.

I'm thankful for my furry friends.  I'm thankful for my job and all the papers that are waiting for me to grade and that I can procrastinate until this weekend to get them done.  I'm thankful that I have such a great hobby that I love so much and all the free time to enjoy it.  I'm thankful for the many talents and skills I can share with others through my crazy hobbies of quilting, crocheting and knitting.  I'm thankful for the many friends I've met because of quilting and this blog.

I pray a special blessing on you as you take time to be thankful for the many blessings you've received this year.

We are ready for you storms!

So, the forecast this week is RAIN, lots of rain, which is great for us because all they have been talking about forever is the drought.  Looks like that will be over soon.  They are talking inches of rain which could be a problem if you aren't ready for it.
 But, we are ready, thanks to my son, who is brave and climbed up on the ladder and cleared the rain gutters.  You see, when they built this house, they were lazy and did things wrong and put some things in backwards.  Not that they do things like that in other places, but they put some of the sashing in the wrong way and when the rain goes down the side of the house and hits the windows, they leak, so it's pretty important to make sure the rain gutters are clear so that doesn't happen.  The problem is, you don't realize they aren't clear, until it starts to rain and then you don't want to go out and clear them.
We have a pair of pigeons that nest in our roof and they are lovely birds except they poop a lot and fill the gutters with a ton of waste.  The old owners of the house used to shoot them with BB guns.  When we bought the house, two of the windows had to be replaced because they shot the windows.  That was an expensive way to get rid of the birds.  We just deal with the waste.  It only took two hours of cleaning to get the doo doo out and all the sticks and eggs and dead baby birds out and now we are ready for the rains to come down.

From the beautiful weather we've had the last couple of days, you wouldn't know there's a mighty storm a coming, but I believe the weather guys.  They've never been wrong before, now have they?

At least I won't have to worry about mowing the lawn or pulling weeds.  I will have a good excuse not to wash the car either.

I went to JoAnn's this morning to pick up some interfacing for a couple of Tshirt quilts I need to make and they didn't have exactly what I wanted, but I made a substitution.  After an initial disaster at the register, where the machine wanted to charge me $7.99 a yard instead of $2.99 for the whole piece, I got out of there quickly and pretty painlessly, then took the truck in for an oil change.  I'm trying to find some place online to spend some more money.  It doesn't really feel like Black Friday because I haven't hardly spent any money.  I went to Goodwill and only got 3 shirts.  They just didn't have any funny ones.  I got one for my blood donor t shirt quilt and two for my Obama t shirt quilt.  One of these days I had better start making those quilts.  They will be king size and then some before I know it.  I just have to count the shirts to make sure I have enough.  I have no idea who I am going to give the Obama quilt to, I just am amazed at how many different Obama shirts there are out there and think it's going to be an interesting quilt when it is finished.

My turkey is cooking in the oven today and boy does it smell good!

Strawberries wild

13 of 45

My friend Nancy is so clever with her use of fabric choices.  All of these fabric has something to do with Strawberries or picnic theme.  I just love this quilt!  Perfect for cuddling up with for a kid, or me :)  Too bad I can't keep half the quilts we make.  Or, maybe it's a good thing I don't keep them because my house is too full as it is.

I'm pretty proud of my efforts to clean over this break.  Even with traveling, I'm getting things out of the house.  I made one trip to the Thrift Shop so far and started loading the car up with the second batch.  I really should just go every time I put a bag in the car, but that would require a conscious effort and well, I don't always have that, but at least I'm not just piling everything in the garage, like I do with the boxes of fabric.  The front quilting room is coming along nicely and I cleaned off the entry way steps so you don't trip over everything coming into the dining/sewing room.  How many sewing rooms does a house need anyways?  I think the number is 4, but that's just me.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I feel so clever

 That tree I saw at UC Irvine and UCLA and Cal Tec has been driving me crazy, so tonight I did a google search and came up with the Silk Cotton Tree, or Kapok tree.  The seed pod explodes into a ball of silk like fluff that contains the actual seeds.  It has spikes on the branches and can grow really large.
I don't remember what we did before we had the internet.  I guess we used to have to use the encyclopedia set and pour over all the books in the set.  It took way longer to find any information.  Not that I will ever do anything with my new found information, but at least I can sleep peacefully knowing that I've learned something new.

My youngest son loves to watch Youtube videos.  I'm making him watch some educational ones while he is on vacation.  If you haven't discovered Crash Course yet, and you have kids, you should tell them about it.  They are brothers, one does science stuff and one does history stuff.  I like the science brother better, but then I am a science teacher.  He talks really fast (hence the crash course name) and covers the material really well.

It's a great way to study material for a test.  The other one I was having him watch was Khan Academy.  The guy (Khan) is a dad who made videos for his son.  He's really smart and the videos started out as mostly math related, but I think there are lots of subjects.

I want to make a difference

This is quilt 12 of 45 for the remainder of 2014.  I can't believe the year is speeding by so quickly.  My vacation week is coming to a close and then there are 15 days of school left.  3 of those are finals tests, so really only 12 days of teaching left this semester.  Ack!

Being down in Los Angeles this week and being so close to the protests because of the decision about the Michael Brown shooting case has me thinking.  No matter what you are feeling on the ruling, I think it is important to make a difference in this world on a daily basis.

From what people are upset about, they are feeling like people of colors' lives aren't as important as people whose skin is pale.  I teach high school and hear racial comments all the time.  I'm a very white person.  I didn't choose to be born with less melanin in my skin and don't feel like I judge people based on how light or dark they are, but I do need to make a conscious effort to make every student in my class feel like they are important.  I am sure to make eye contact with as many students as I can daily and to ask questions about things going on in their lives because I truly do care.  But, caring takes time and often hurts.  It is inconvenient.  It costs.  It isn't easy.  I can't do it alone.

As a Christian, I rely on God to give me the strength daily to make the choice to put others first.  The greatest command in the Bible is this:

Mark 12:30-31New International Version (NIV)

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]There is no commandment greater than these.”
I fail daily to keep these commands, but I get up and try again and hope that every time I try, I make a small difference in the life of those around me.  I pray for the people who are hurting and feel their only option is to block traffic, vandalize buildings, destroy property and hurt other people because they are in so much pain.
I hope that by making and giving away all of these quilts to children who are hurting, they will grow up and remember that someone took the time to care about them when they had pain.  Maybe they will realize that there are people who really do care and that with these little acts of kindness, we will be able to change the world one quilt at a time.

California Institute of Technology

 Yesterday's college visit was to CIT, California Institute of Technology.  You may have heard of MIT or Massachusetts Institute of Technology, well, this is the West coast version.  The average SAT score is 2300 out of 2400.  These are some smart kids!  My son isn't sure he can get in, but we are encouraging him to at least give it a try.

 This is a beautiful campus with LOTS of trees.  It's an older school, built in the 1800's so the trees have had a long time to grow.  I love the older campuses with the history and time to build a reputation.
 Maybe my dad can tell me what kind of tree these are.  They were on many of the campuses we visited.  They have these giant pods and some had turned into big puff balls.  Some had pink flowers on them and the ones with leaves were feathery.  They had spikes on them.  They were just very interesting.  I don't remember seeing trees like this before.

 At every campus we've visited, they have had a statue of the mascot.  We went looking for the Beaver, the mascot of CIT.  My son 'saw' it across the campus, so we walked toward it.  Here it is, a big rock.  He sat on his glasses last week and I think he needs to get them fixed.  The campus is beautiful with a central parklike walkway that goes the center of the campus with tall buildings on either side.

 This was the tallest building on campus.  I wondered if those ropes were for climbing, but I think they were for maybe a Christmas Tree at night.

 Everyone stared at us when we stopped to take a picture.  My son was covering up the giant stain on his shirt.  We ate in the dorms at he got pesto all over his shirt.  They have a weird system where you pay by the pound for your food.  This place may be very expensive for my son.  I know Humboldt is also on the pay by the pound food system.  It is supposed to cut down on food waste.
And coming home, we drove in this almost the entire way home.  Bumper to bumper traffic.  My right leg has a huge muscle from stepping on the break 10,000 times.  And a tip for anyone who drives on I5 coming up from LA.  Take the truck route on the right as you are leaving LA because you will cut off about 15 minutes.  I've driven this route many times and never gone that way.  This time I was driving a truck so felt I was ok staying in the truck lane.

Feels good to be home!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


 Thanks to my daughter for the best campus tour at UCLA.  She really knows her way around the school now that she's been there for just over a year.  She took us all over the campus in the dark and showed my son the side of the school he would attend if he decided to go there.

 I just love the architecture of the older buildings.  This one was made by an Amish architect and there are 53 differences between the right and left side of the building.  I've seen this building many times and never noticed it.  See how the right side has two columns and the left has three?  How obvious is that, but I never noticed until my daughter pointed it out.
 My favorite part is the library, where on the floor are tiles that look like quilt blocks.  So many details that didn't have to be there, but just make everything so beautiful.

 She took us upstairs in the Math Science building, which starts on the 4th floor and has no first floor and has a couple of telescopes on the roof.  You get a good view of the campus from up here.

 Another building on campus looks like a castle.  Who would think a California University in the middle of LA would be so beautiful?
 This is the biggest lecture hall on campus that holds 400 students.
 I just can't get over how much my daughter has matured this year.  She's also got so many friends.  Everywhere we went, people were saying 'hi' to her.  Made this momma proud of her.

 Of course the obligatory picture with the bronze mascot statue.  It's a bruin, which is a Grizzly bear.
 And then dinner in the dorms.  Yes, those were my desserts.  I walked 15,000 steps yesterday so I earned both.  Of course, my son stole the chocolate pie from me after I took one bite.  He ate a lot of food and declared UCLA dorm food the best out of all the campus food we've eaten so far.

Today we've decided to skip Cal State Fullerton and just go to California Institute of Technology because they are still protesting on the freeways down here.

Kids don't know anybody

This is quilt number 11 of 45 for the remaining days of 2014

Teaching high school is the best job ever.  I have so many days where I just laugh and laugh!  The quilt above reminds me of a story from my honors Biology class I have to share with you.  Not sure if you will find this as funny as I did, but man, I was laughing so hard, I was crying.  My kids think I'm crazy.  You see, this quilt was donated by a rather famous to us quilter from our area, Paula Baum.  She makes lots of fancy quilts and enters them in local shows.  I've seen her name around and when I saw that she had donated this little quilt, I got really excited.  Her name probably doesn't mean much to any of you, but to me, I thought, wow, I feel so lucky to quilt something of hers.
 Here's a face many of you might not recognize.  This is J. Craig Venter.  Do you know what he's famous for?  Well, in my Honors Biology class, we were watching a video about bacteria and he comes on talking about how they had mapped the DNA of bacteria and how important that was.  I pause the video to talk about how important this man is to biology and then compare him to Watson and Crick.  J .Craig Venter helped map the Human Genome.  Because of him and his team (and a competing team from the US Government) we now know where most of the genes are that are responsible for many genetic disorders.
 The kids look at me and ask, 'Who are Watson and Crick?"  I almost fell out of my chair!  I went on to explain how Watson and crick figured out how DNA had the spiral structure and the letters ATCG after stealing the idea from Rosalind Franklin who sat in on a lecture they were giving and when she saw the XRay images they showed, figured out the double helix design.  She doesn't always get credit for her efforts.  They ask, "who was Rosalind Franklin?"
 So, I had to resort to something they could understand.  I said, do you know who Beyonce is?
For those of you who don't know, she's a singer who has hair like me :)  I couldn't name a single song she sings, but I guess she's sold a bunch of them.  Do they even make CD's now?  I'm not sure.  Yeah, everyone knew who she was.  So, here I am comparing one of the great men of science to a singer with nice hair.  Sorry J. Craig Venter.  But the kids will always compare your work to Beyonce.  At least they will remember that you made a difference.  Or maybe that you sing well.  Or that I'm crazy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UC Irvine

 Today we visited UC Irvine and UCLA.  We had plans to make about a half day trip to each, but we spent almost the entire day at UCI.  We got there early and walked around the arts center.  My son's girlfriend wants to go here for their dance school.  She loves to dance and her dream job would be to join a dance company and tour the world.

 We spent about an hour walking around trying to figure out how to get into the building to see if we could watch a class.  We walked past the theater kids who were putting on a puppet show with paper bag puppets and looked in on a class of kids performing on stage.  We saw dancers waiting outside the studio waiting to audition, but never could figure out how to get inside.

 The mascot is the anteater and they had several statues on campus.  Of course, you have to pose for a picture.

 At the bookstore, my son found these two shirts next to each other.  Is it fate?  Of course, we bought them both :)

 This is the computer science building.  He loves the architecture of the buildings at UCI.  I think they are weird.  UCI was built in 1965.  You can tell it was built in the 60's.  Everyone there is excited they are turning 50 this year.  For a college that's young.

 I liked this building.  It is one of the new ones.

 This was one of the libraries on campus.  Modern.  The campus is built around a one mile circle.  Easy to find everything.  In the center of the circle is a big, open park setting.  There were lots of kids out there enjoying the 85 degree weather.  I should have worn shorts.  I also should have remembered to bring deodorant!  I forgot mine at home and had to buy some at the bookstore.  I was getting pretty stinky. :)

 This is one of the dorms we visited.  The room was pretty big for a dorm room.  We ate in the dining commons.  I think it's pretty important to eat in the dorms when visiting a college.  You can really tell a lot about a college by the dorm food.  The people on the tour were saying how great the food was at one particular dining common.  I wasn't impressed.  My son and his girlfriend thought it was good...until we went to UCLA.  UCLA food blew the other schools out of the water by a mile. :)
Another mascot statue.  This was at the end of the second tour and they are still smiling.  They both really liked the school.  There are 23,000 undergraduate students who attend UCI, but it didn't feel crowded and they both felt like they could fit in here.  We have added two schools to our list to visit tomorrow on our way home.

And I got stuck in the LA protests tonight.  It's been a long day.  I'll post about UCLA later.

number 10

This quilt was done on Saturday.  Getting ahead before my mini 'vacation' if you can call it that.  Traveling to visit colleges is fun, but stressful because it means another child is leaving the nest.  I'm proud of my kids, but sad when they leave home.  Unlike some teens, I actually like these ones.  They make me proud most of the time.

My son is so busy and active in so many things, but he does know how to relax and enjoys playing video games when he gets a chance.  He love music and is really good at the piano and trombone.  He also has a guitar and recently purchased a cello.  He's teaching himself to play, using the internet and a computer program he uses to audio tape his recordings for class for the trombone.  He plays in the school band and sits in with the jazz band and also plays with the community band.  If that isn't enough to keep someone busy, he has a job on the weekends at the Train museum.  He loves working with the public selling tickets and working in the snack shop.  He is supposed to help make a tour online once they hire one more person so he can have some more time, which should start around the new year.

He loves working with robotics and all this school year he has spent 4 days a week at his former elementary working with 5-6th graders getting them ready for competition last week.  They didn't win, but they sure had a great time.  he loves being a mentor to the younger kids.

He also works really hard and is a straight A student who takes every honors/AP class he can.  He wants to be a computer engineer.  I hope he picks a college that fits all of his interests and he finds friends that love to keep as busy as he does!

Monday, November 24, 2014

your name is Mudd

 Sorry, Dad, this one's picture heavy.  I hope it doesn't crash your computer :)  Today we visited Harvey Mudd College, one of many my son applied to.  On paper, it looks like a great college for Computer engineering, which is what my son wants to be.  In person, my son was not impressed and neither was I.  We got there after a long day of traveling and getting stuck in LA traffic.  I was surprised to find blue skies, which is abnormal for LA weather.  You might find that 3 days out of the year.  I grew up in Southern California and am used to having brown skies.  But coming over the Grapevine, the sky was clear and you could see for miles.  We didn't hit traffic until about 10 miles from the college and then it took us almost 45 minutes to get those last 10 miles.  So, we were late to the tour.
 We stopped in at the admissions office, figuring since we had missed the beginning of the tour, we would just ask some questions and then walk around the campus ourselves.  The campus is part of a 5 college system and my older daughters both applied to the other 4 schools and got in.  My oldest applied to Pomona-Pitzer and they recruited her heavily for their tennis team.  We met with the coach and she was really turned off by the coach's attitude.  She said that if my daughter got better on her own, that was great, but she really didn't see her helping my daughter out much.  She let the kids improve by themselves.
 What was the point in joining a team if the coach didn't take an interest in you after getting you on the team?  She (the coach) was a bit strange.
 Daughter #2 applied and got into Claremont-McKenna and then after not getting much in scholarship decided that she would rather come out with only $60,000 in debt instead of $240,000 in debt.  The campus is pretty small and she decided that going to high school for another 4 years wasn't her thing.  She would rather go to a school of 30,000 people vs. a school of 2,000 was better for her.  Harvey Mudd has only 800 students.  My son's high school has 1700.  That's a huge difference!
 After getting to the admissions office, we asked about scholarships because there is just no way we could afford the $60,000 a year the school costs.  My son asked about the President's Scholarship.  The secretary got one of the financial aid officers to come out in the lobby to talk to us.  In front of all the other people that were there.  AWKWARD.
 So the lady said the scholarship was for under-represented students-ethnic minorities, women, low income, students whose parents hadn't been to college...
 I was waiting for her to say, you are too male and too white.  She said, you can still apply, of course. Wow, way to encourage him.  Thanks so much!
 Almost everyone got around on skateboards there and they had these cool skateboard parking spots.  We also saw a lot of unicycles.  My son cannot ride either.  We even saw a guy on uni-skates.  They only had one wheel on each foot.  I wasn't quick enough to get a picture, he was really fast.
 We managed to catch the tour as it came past us when we left the admissions office.  They were about half way done, but heading to the dorms.  The girl took us into her dorm room, which was really great.  The rooms were really big, much bigger than any dorm room I've ever been in, but outside the dorms, they had really filthy couches and loud music and there was no way anyone was getting any studying done.  She told stories of kids jumping out of the second story onto their mattresses and how at 10:30 at night how they would have people banging gongs to call everyone out to play capture the flag and how great it was.  I'm thinking, if you are trying to sell the campus to a bunch of parents who are going to pay $60,000 a year to get an education, these might not be the stories you want to tell.
 The dorms looked like a bunch of Frat Houses with graffiti painted on them and trash everywhere.  She said each one had a different personality, but each story she told didn't include a 'study' dorm so I'm not sure where that group of students lived.  We walked around the campus ourselves and my son said he really didn't feel like he would fit in there.  He said he wanted a campus where he could study and get a good education, not be around kids who party all the time.  From what we saw and heard, this wasn't the place for him.
It is really important to visit potential campuses before making a really important decision like this.  Tomorrow is UC Irvine and UCLA.  From my daughters' experiences, when you step on the college you are meant to attend, you just know it.  You feel at home.

Sorry Harvey Mudd, you aren't home for my son.