Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry Christmas

 Another Christmas has come and gone.  My oldest didn't come home this year and she said it didn't feel like Christmas to her.  She's living in Florida and teaching and just couldn't afford the time or money to fly home.  My little guy isn't so little anymore, but still has fun passing out the presents and making sure everyone opens them in the right order.  He got enough video games to keep him busy for the rest of the break.
 I made a hooded Ninja Turtle towel for my son's girlfriend.  I made a hooded towel for my oldest when she was about 2 and I still have it around.  She loved it as a little kid and it's funny to see these making a comeback again.
 I purchased quite a few different embroidery designs and hope to sell some of these to make some money to buy quilt batting.  I haven't purchased any in over a year since my quilting machine hasn't been working.  I haven't needed to buy any more and have been slowly using up what I bought a long time ago.  I went online to and wondered if they had any on sale.  The batting I normally buy (Kodel) was on sale for 40% off with an additional 20% off total purchase, which was good, but the price used to be $60 and has jumped to $103 for 50 yards.  The other kind I buy (Soft N Crafty) used to be $12 for 10 yards and is now $35.  I guess with the price of oil increasing, it costs more to make the polyester batting.  Normally I wouldn't notice such a drastic change in the price because I would watch the price change a little at a time.  It was quite a shock.  I used to buy batting about once a month because I was quilting so much.
 I've been feeling a bit lost lately and needing to get my sense of direction back.  My focus has been all over the place and jumping from one project to another.  I took some time these last two days and cleaned up the sewing rooms a bit and now I can get to the quilting machine again.  I almost forgot how much I love to make quilts.  My binding buddies have been busy with other things too so it's been hard having stacks of quilts in various stages and feeling stuck.
 Tomorrow I will be delivering about 50 quilts to Nurse Family Partnership, one of the biggest places we donate to, along with about 60 crochet baby hats that I made over the summer when I was 'babysitting' my dad.  Just seeing that big bag of hats again, brought back good memories and made me want to start crocheting some more.  Again, I'm jumping from project to project, but trying to get a focus for the New Year and plan for my crafting time.
 I'm hoping to have a little more time this semester and hopefully be a little better steward of my time at school.  I am hoping I won't have to bring as much work home with me and when I am at home, to stay off the internet, which is a huge timesuck.  I go on just to check one thing and then next thing I notice is it is an hour later and I've forgotten what it is I wanted to check.
My adopted daughter and I will be reading through the Bible this year.  We both purchased the One Year Bible NIV version and hope to keep each other accountable.  In 2016 I turn 50 and I'm realizing that time marches on, despite my best efforts to keep things the same.  Kids grow up and move out, wrinkles show up where there were none before and I don't have as much energy as I used to.

But having a plan for the day helps me keep focused and get more done than if I just let things happen.  Here's to looking forward to a great year in 2016.

Monday, December 14, 2015

puppets and sweaters

 I'm making a set of Dr. Who finger puppets for my TA for Christmas.  He loves the show and I know he's going to love this set of puppets.  He wanted a an Easy Bake Oven, but this will just have to do.  Who says teenage boys are too old to play with toys?  He's a pretty funny kid!
 This is also my first attempt at a dog sweater for my daughter's dog for Christmas.  It's way too big.  The yarn is really soft and stretchy and lasted on my dog for about 2 minutes before he managed to wriggle out of it.  At least I learned a few things about knitting dog sweaters, so it isn't a total loss.
I'm hoping I can find someone with a dog a little bigger who is a little calmer who might be able to keep it on to give it to.  I also hope to get another one done and sent off before Christmas, but if not, her dog won't know what day it is.  Maybe I need smaller needles for the next one to make the stitching a little tighter.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

New washer and dryer

 I've never been so excited to do the laundry!  My new washer and dryer are finally here!
 I got the biggest top load washer (Maytag) and it's energy efficient and water saving.  When the guy hooked it up, he forgot to hook up the drain.  He said I had to let one cycle run before I could use it, so he started it and then left.  My son and I were checking out the dryer and looking at how he had hooked up the vent.  There was a dog leg in the hose and so we moved it so the vent was straight.  I'm sure it will be easier for the lint to escape if the vent is straight, even though the dryer is further from the wall.
when we started to look at the washer, I noticed that the drain was just hanging down by the floor.  I guess the guy just forgot to hook it up.  That would have been a big mess!  The first load is washing now.  It has a see through top on both the washer and dryer and everyone was entertained for a few minutes while the wash started.  I'm sure the novelty will wear off quickly, but for now, I'm enjoying my new toy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Penguin obsessed

 I'm having way too much fun with my embroidery machine and making little stuffed toys for the dogs and my son.  I've been finding penguin patterns (seems they are a popular pattern) and making them when I get a few minutes.
 You can see just how much Spot loves his squeaky toy.  He get so excited when anyone will throw the toy for him.  My son was trying to see if Spot could pick out his toy.  He was pretty good at choosing the one with the squeaker in it.  Probably because it smelled like slobber.
 I made these two little cuties this morning.  I like them because they don't have the extra wings and feet attached and I was able to get both in one hooping.
 Of course Spot loved his toy.
Star was excited to get a chance to play with a toy too.  Usually Spot takes the toy and runs, but since there were two, Star actually got to chase a toy.  He usually runs away when he hears the squeak, but maybe from watching how much fun Spot has with the toys, he decided to take a chance and see what all the fuss was about.  He played with this one for a couple minutes and actually played fetch too!  Maybe Spot taught Star how to fetch.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pet bed day

Yesterday 14 students and I got together and made pet beds and squeaky toys and donated them to the local animal shelter.  We worked for 4 hours and made a huge mess.  We watched two Christmas movies, ate pizza and donuts and had a lot of fun.  The kids put their sewing skills to work hand sewing the seam on the toys and talked about boys, their favorite teachers, upcoming finals and world religions.  It's amazing what you can learn from a bunch of teens!

We were supposed to meet at a different quilt shop than we normally meet for our Binky meetings, but I think I scared them a little with how enthusiastic my students are.  I got more volunteers than they had room for so I moved the venue to my classroom.  I was the only one using the sewing machine and these kids kept me busy sewing up the pillows.

We made 55 squeaky bones, 24 finished pillows, 41 unstuffed pillows for next time, and at least 30 cut pillows that didn't get sewn.  There are bags and bags of stuffing that need to be processed.  I found out that the leftover strips and bits of fabric need to be cut small enough that if a dog eats it after ripping a pillow apart, it won't get tangled in their gut.  Good to know.  So, we used the Accuquilt Studio cutters to slice and dice those leftover bits into small pieces.  Worked like a charm!

The kids are already looking forward to the next pet bed day!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Guinea pigs

 I had some fun today making these little guinea pigs on my embroidery machine.  When my kids were little, we raised guinea pigs and showed them through 4H.  We had a lot because once you get 2, they turn into 50 before you know it.
 I put a squeaker inside this one and my dog, Spot, claimed it almost before I had it finished.  He sure loves his toys.
 Good thing these guys are quick and easy to make and don't cost much.  The squeakers cost $.10 each when you buy them 50 at a time.  Tomorrow a bunch of students and I will be working on pet beds and some bone toys with squeakers to donate to the animal shelter.
 This dog is just so much fun.  He loves to play with toys and fetch.  Of all of the dogs I've ever had, this is the first one who has liked to fetch.  I remember when I was little I tried to teach my dog to fetch.  I would throw the ball and then crawl over and pick it up in my mouth and crawl back.  She would sit there and just look at me.  I would do it over and over at least 1,000 times.  I wonder what she was thinking?
 I made the bigger one for my daughter's dog.  He loves his toys too.  Spot thought I should let him check it out first, just to make sure it worked.  He kept trying to sneak it when I was taking the picture.  Then, when I put it on the couch, he kept trying to slink closer and closer and finally reached out and grabbed it by the ear.  I guess it passed his inspection.
These little guys only take 30 minutes to make and I have a feeling I will be making many more in the future.  Like I said, 2 guinea pigs will very quickly turn into 50.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A little bit of quilting

 I did manage to get a bit of quilting done over my break.  Not as much as I had hoped for, but a little is better than none.
 These first three are really big ones, big enough for a full size bed.  They take more than a day to complete because each row takes more than 30 minutes to stitch out and then I will get busy and forget to go back and move the quilt on to the next row.
 I do love these super scrappy quilts where all of the leftover pieces are used.  They are probably my favorite quilts.  They are easy to pick a quilting design for and easy to choose a backing fabric.  Anything goes with these guys and they are great for a guy or a girl.
 The bold colors are beautiful on this quilt too.  These quick strippie quilts are easy to make and fun to quilt up as well.  They make the perfect lap size quilt for an adult and are great for kids.
Someone donated some really fluffy batting so this quilt will be really puffy and warm.

I managed to get all of my grading done over the break, despite having a 4 day migraine.  I still can't figure out what is triggering them sometimes.  I had grand plans to get more done, but managed to clean the kitchen a bit.  I have two weeks until my kids are home from college and need to get the quilts out of my daughter's room so she has a place to sleep.  I guess having a deadline will motivate me to get moving on some of the projects that must be finished.  Or at least that's my hope!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

winding down

 I know you aren't supposed to have favorites, but this dog is my most favorite dog ever.  He actually fetches and loves to play with toys!  I found a free stuffed dog bone pattern online and made him his very own squeaky toy.  I have a feeling I will be making many of these with all of the fabric scraps I have around here and how much he likes to squeak them and then proceed to try and destroy them.
 He's quite the clown too.  My son will get him excited and throw a toy up the stairs or on top of the railing and Spot will twist his head around and try to figure out how to get the toy down.  Yesterday my son put the toy on top of the quilt rack, thinking it was too high.  He turned around and Spot had jumped up about 4 feet on top of the quilt rack and was squeaking the toy.  He looked like he was laughing at my son.  They play together for a couple of hours every day, which is great for the dog, but even better for my son, who needed a friend :)
 After grading three boxes of lab books in the last two days, I figured I should reward myself with making a little doll.  I know, my husband is a grown man and doesn't need a doll, but he does love his super heroes.  I love making these little things.  I'm not exactly sure why, but taking some fabric and a little time and coming up with a smiling doll at the end just makes me happy.
I think my husband enjoyed the little break from grading papers for a couple of minutes.  If only I could break this migraine cycle.  I've had a terrible headache for the past three days and I'm not sure why.  Surely it can't be from stress...maybe anti stress?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

 It's Thanksgiving week and I've been grading papers and making finger puppets.  My daughter who teaches English in Florida asked for some character puppets so I've been working on lots of different ones.  I guess I'm wishing I had grandkids :)
 There are days I love my embroidery machine and days I wish I could throw it out the window.  Sometimes the thread breaks every 5 minutes and other times it works without trouble.  Just when I think I have the problem figured out, the thread starts breaking again for no apparent reason.
 Yesterday we had our Thanksgiving meal.  My son is home from UC Davis and wanted to spend today with his girlfriend's family.  I'm learning to accept my new place of importance.
 I also got a flu shot and tetanus shot on Tuesday this week.  I figured I'd take a chance this year with the flu shot.  Every couple of years I get one.  Working with teenagers I have less of a chance of getting the flu then when I worked with the little ones.  At least the bigger kids can usually make it to the bathroom before they throw up, but now always.  One of my teacher friends just had a kid puke in her room last week.  There have been lots of kids out for a week so bad things are going around.

I just wish I could multi task a little faster.  I got a couple of patterns for some cute little stuffed animals made with the embroidery machine.  My youngest loves penguins.  I have so many little bits and pieces of fleece and felt and want to make a bunch of these little guys for him.  I'm also working on some dog toys.  Our newest dog actually likes to fetch and play with squeaky toys.  He's pretty funny.  The first thing in the morning, he will go out to the bathroom and then run to his toy hiding spot and pick out a toy and start squeaking it.

Only three days of vacation left and still so much grading to get done.  But at least there are only three more weeks of school until break again.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

more superhero finger puppets

 So today was supposed to be Binky Sunday and I totally forgot about it until almost 11am.  It starts at 1pm and so I hadn't sent out an email to everyone.  I figured there wouldn't be a lot of people show up, but I really did need to cut out those Christmas stockings for the Veterans that we've been making for the past five years or so.  So, I loaded up the car, sent an email to Carla to see if she had remembered and headed out to the quilt shop after lunch.
 When I got there, the ladies looked at me like I was crazy.  They said we had agreed to move it to last weekend and they wondered why I hadn't shown up.  I couldn't remember having the conversation and wondered why they hadn't called me last Sunday, or any time this week to remind me that we had moved it.  So, with an extra 3 hours on my hands of course I came home and cut out those stockings right?  No!
  I decided I'd try and get this finger puppet set done for my husband.  Every time I'd finish another one, he would act just like a little kid and get so excited.  It was just the motivation I needed to keep working on them.  They take about 30 minutes each to stitch and cut.  I do have to admit, they are pretty adorable.
 Of course, he had to sort them into the DC and Marvel sets and put them on his fingers as to who is friends with whom.  I wasn't even sure who the red and yellow guy was.  He appreciated the break from grading papers and is looking forward to taking them to school tomorrow.  I haven't told him about the villains yet.  Those will be next weekend, or maybe one a day this week instead of grading papers :)
The Hulk made us both laugh, It looks more like the Jolly Green Giant.  He has no muscles, so maybe he is baby hulk.  Who says you have to grow up just because you get older?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Me time

 This school year has really knocked me on my butt.  Every weekend and day off I've been grading papers and I haven't had time to do anything fun.
 This weekend I decided I wanted to do something for myself and decided that I would stitch out one embroidery design.  I've been eying these superhero finger puppets for a long time.  They are from Gracefully Geeky and right now they are having a 60% off sale.
 While I don't have grandkids to make them for, I do have a husband who is just a big kid at heart and who still loves comics and superheroes.  I knew if I made them, my husband would love them!
 As you can see, one turned into four.  I have seven more to make from this set and ended up purchasing the villains and a couple other sets as well.  My husband teaches high school and has several little toys that decorate his desk.  Kids have given him these trinkets over the years.  He will add these finger puppets to his collection.
It felt really good to do something just for fun.  Tomorrow I will have to get back to grading papers.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

U C Davis Crew

 My children are interesting people.  In high school, my son wanted nothing to do with physical activity.  He was a trombone playing robotics kid whose focus was solely on academics and getting high grades.  He competed in band performances and collected data on robots and the only heavy lifting he did was carrying his computer to the car to take it to a friend's house so they could create dungeon and dragon characters.  When he announced that he was going to try out for the Crew team in college, we all smiled and thought this would be a passing dream.
 He started two weeks before school started.  They practice at 5am and run, lift, crawl and push up.  He's lost 30 pounds in 5 weeks.

He earned the name 'Mama Bear' because one of the exercises they do, the bear crawl, is still pretty difficult for him.  The first time they did it, he was by far the slowest guy on the team.  Everyone else had finished and half the team came back to encourage him to keep going.  They told him to pretend he was a 'mama bear' and that his cubs were at the finish line.  They told him he had to go and save his cubs.  The nickname just stuck!
 Crew has to be the worst spectator sport.  I left home at 8:30 am so I could pick up some snacks for his team.  He had asked for some granola bars, lunch meat, crackers and bananas.  When my kids were little, I used to bring snacks for their soccer team, so it was nice to do this again.  I got to the venue around 10 am and expected a couple hundred people.  I was very surprised to have to park miles away because of the thousands of people there to 'watch' the event.  There was a shuttle that took us to the lake and then I had to wander around with the bags of groceries, trying to find the team.  The high school teams had their boosters with their bar-b-ques all set up and their tents and chairs.  After about an hour of the shuttle ride and searching through the huge crowd, I finally found their team in the bushes.  They had no booster support and they were all happy for the little bit of food I brought.  They were all so grateful and so nice and thankfully there were no leftovers for me to have to carry home!

The boys launched the boat around 11:45 for their 12:50 race and I thought that meant they would be racing early.  I was worried my husband wouldn't make it on time.  What I didn't realize was they had to row the boat out to the starting line and then wait for their turn to start.  I was starving, but didn't want to miss the race, so found a seat near the finish and watched boat after boat come past.  I couldn't remember what color their boat was, or what color they were wearing and wasn't sure if I had missed them passing.  My husband and son showed up around 1 and I thought that maybe they had missed the race.  He kept making fun of me because I was having such a hard time remembering what my son looked like!  Who does that?  But then I was listening to other parents say the same thing.  'I think that is my daughter's boat, but I don't know if that is my daughter in the boat!'  Then, I didn't feel so bad.

 Finally after more than an hour of waiting, my son's boat came past and I remembered his boat was white and they were wearing white shirts. :)  They did get passed by a green boat.  Instead of starting all of the boats at the same time, they start them 10 seconds apart, so you know if a boat passes you, they are faster.

 But, according to my son, his boat was 13th out of 14 boats in the novice race and they were the fastest on the UCD novice team.  Some of these guys have only been rowing for 3 weeks.  I guess the hard part is keeping everyone in the same rhythm.  One of the guys kept getting his oar stuck in the water, which slows the boat down.

My son is most proud that he is pushing himself physically.  He says he has never done that before and it feels good.  I'm pretty proud of him too.  It takes a lot of discipline to get up so early every day and go out and do something you aren't very good at.  At least he can see the progress he is making.

Row, Row, Row your Boat~