Sunday, January 31, 2016

last day of January already?

Not all of these quilts were done today, but I've been saving the pictures so I had something to post every day.  I know you love to hear the troubles of my life, but having a nice quilt to look at makes the story go down a little easier. :)  Since it is the end of the month, I figure I had better show the rest of the quilts I did so I can start February off with February's quilts.
I was hoping to get one quilt done every other day and I've passed my goal so far this month.  I still have a quilt on the machine and the day is young, so I may get that one and one more done before the day is over.  I have a killer migraine and had to sit down because I started feeling nauseous.  The pain of the headache isn't as bad as the other symptoms that go with them.  Earlier my ears were stuffed up and I was so dizzy.  I find that if I distract myself with keeping busy, I can get through the day easier than if I sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself.  Plus, at the end of the day I have something to show for the time spent.
I don't understand what people do with their time if they don't have a hobby.  How are their days spent?  Just sitting and watching TV?  Surely they must regret all of that wasted time.  Or, maybe they enjoy cleaning and keeping things spotless.  I know it takes a lot of effort to keep the dust at bay.  I've never gotten much satisfaction from organizing and making things tidy.  I know the inevitable will happen and the next thing I know, the piles will have grown back and the job will need to be done again.  Cleaning must be done, but it isn't something I look forward to on the weekends.
You would think with all of the quilts I've been cranking out lately that the piles would be getting smaller.  I'm pretty sure someone is breaking into my house at night and sneaking more quilt tops, fabric and scraps back into the piles.  I have managed to move all of the quilt tops into my son's closet and matched up 75% of them with backing fabrics.  It makes it so much quicker to grab a quilt and backing and throw it on the machine when they have already been pared.  Especially if the backing is already the right size.  I really love it when I can get two or three quilts out of the same backing fabric.  But, the closet is jammed with more than enough quilts to keep a small country warm.
40 finished quilts will be going to Middleton, Ca for the families who lost homes in the fires this summer.  Our school district union meets with theirs on a regular basis and I will give the quilts to our union president who is the mother of one of my son's friends and she will give them to another union guy who will deliver them.  It's nice to have connections.  I think that will be the last batch to go, but I never quite know if more are needed or if people are still wanting to make more.  I had a cut off date of Dec 31, but the quilts keep coming in.

I've also been giving quilts to kids at school.  One of my students had surgery because his ribcage was pushing on his heart and he had a bar inserted in his chest.  He ended up in the ICU on Friday because the doctors think his body is allergic to the bar.  You would think they would check for that before doing the procedure.  Another quilt went to a student who attempted suicide and I have another one in the works for another student who is out for the same thing.  Being a teenager is no easy task these days with social media and the bullying that goes on.  I think I also told you about the one I gave last week to the middle school boy who lost his home in a fire over the Christmas break.  I'm glad to have so many helpers so that I have lots of quilts ready to go to offer comfort.

penguin dog

 Poor Star doesn't know what to think when I try to dress him.  He just sits there and will not move until I take off the jacket.  I wonder what goes through his little mind?  He must think I am trying to kill him!
 Lily on the other hand is a good sport about it all.  She just puts up with me trying these silly outfits on, but is happy when I take them off.  This penguin dog coat was pretty easy to make, after I figured out how to sew the front and back together instead of sewing the wrong pieces together and having to unstitch.  I thought about several ways to change the pattern to make it easier to sew and nicer once finished and can see myself modifying it to make different animals.
 But, who wouldn't want a penguin puppy?  My son's favorite animal is the penguin, so I had to get this pattern when I saw it.  I'm hoping to make several and donate to a local dog rescue group so they can make some money to help find homes for more dogs.  I know, call me crazy.  Dogs shouldn't wear clothes, but if you are never going to get grandbabies, you have to make cute little clothes for someone right?
And I don't think it is illegal to torture your dog by dressing them up.  I swore I would never put clothes on a dog, but it is kind of fun making things for my dogs.  My time would probably be better spent cleaning or grading but things just get dirty and the piles of paper seem to reappear again so quickly.  A simple diversion is better than therapy sometimes.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

relaxing? what is that?

 Star does not like to wear sweaters.  The fact that this is purple, probably doesn't help, not that dogs can see color.  When you put a sweater on him, he freezes.  I guess that would be good for making sure he doesn't run away!
 Spot on the other hand could care less what you do to him as long as you play with him.  I made this sweater a week ago and in that week, the poor toy as lost the battle of tug a war.  Its head has separated from its body, but now there are two toys to play with!  Win for Spot!

I would say this is a winning crochet dog sweater pattern.  I like the texture on it, but the one thing I don't care for is the neck.  It isn't stretchy enough, so I will have to do some modifications on it the next time I make the pattern.

It was a free pattern found here

I made this quilt top a long time ago and bought the backing fabric for it.  I put the backing fabric some place safe when my quilting machine broke.  I have been looking everywhere for it and finally gave up last Sunday and went out and bought new backing fabric.  It is now bound and ready to gift.

It's nice getting back into the quilting mode again.  I just wish I could quilt and sew and crochet all day and that the house would clean itself.  I wish I could push a button and dinner would be on the table, the dishes would self clean AND put themselves away.  Oh, well, I spend too much time on the computer dreaming of my next project.  I'm sure I could get more done if I unplugged for a while.

Friday, January 29, 2016

I survived the week, how about you?

Yesterday I had the worst migraine and ordered pizza for dinner.
I'm happy this week is over and the weekend is finally here.

I have lots of plans to sew, sew, sew this weekend. I printed out a few patterns for dog coats and hope to try out a few of them. I know, I need yet another obsession to keep me busy.  What I really need is to win the lotto and be able to stay home so I have more time to make all of the things I'd like to make.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

seriously, can the week be over already?

So, this morning I woke up to a couple of rotten emails.  I run the County Science Fair and mostly feel like a fish swimming upstream trying to keep this thing running.  Everyone loves the fact that our high school hosts the fair and that I've kept the fair going when everyone thought it was doomed to die.  I brought it back from the brink of death and poured my own money into it the past 10 years, but I swear every year will be my last.  Not only do I not get support from teachers and administrators, I practically have to fight them (figuratively and literally) to keep the fair going.  When the paper comes out to interview, they are so proud of the job I do, but when it comes time to help me out, they are nowhere to be found.

I had asked for $13 worth of supplies for a student project yesterday and you would have thought I asked for the Hope Diamond.  Of course there is no money in the budget for such a thing.  No mention of the thousands of dollars in grants I've written over the years.  I dared to ask for a $13 slime mold kit so a kid could learn something.  Crucify me.

I should have known then to just take the day off.  But, no, I opened another email to read another bit of government bureaucracy and runaround.  The standards have to be changed for a few of our classes and people didn't fill out paperwork in time and now once again the ball was dropped and is bouncing back to the teachers to fix.  It was a simple click of a button three weeks ago, when I first noticed the glitch, but because nobody can see the problem, make the decision and fix the trouble, there has to be the 'proper chain of command followed' and I skipped several steps, it has taken three weeks to get to the spot I was in 3 weeks ago and now there is a massive amount of paperwork to fill out for about 120 students.  The ball dropper can't say, oh, my bad, but has to keep placing blame on others.  If only I could just teach and let all this just go.  Oh, why do I care so much?

Then, I get to school and the principal is in our building.  That never happens.  He asks if I've read my email.  You mean while I was driving to work?  Supposedly a man called saying a student was bringing a gun to school to shoot up the school.  We were supposed to keep an eye on the students since we knew them best and alert the office if we suspected anyone or if any students were acting 'shady'.  I said that sounded like all of the students.  I asked if we were supposed to frisk the students before letting them in class and got a strange look.  Hey, I just want to teach, not be a police officer, profiler, prison warden.

Why has this world changed so much that I have to be afraid to go to work and do my job.  Hopefully my students like me enough that I'm not their first target.

During my first class of the day, one of my students must have sensed my need for something positive and came up to the board and wrote, Mrs. Lewis is best.  I asked what I was best at?  Was I THE best?  Or, were they just trying to suck up so they wouldn't have homework?  Hey, whatever it was, I will take it.  Sometimes the kids just know.

But, I am ready for the weekend.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

tiresome Tuesday

I didn't sleep well last night so today I was dragging a bit.  I want to cut out and sew together some dog sweaters, but first I have to recuperate a bit from the drain of the day.  I love teenagers because they have so much energy and sometimes their energy is contagious, but sometimes their energy sucks my energy.  I wish I could figure out a way to tap into the free energy source teenagers provide.

There is a new student in the morning class that shares the room I have in the afternoon.  He is a student with autism and he LOVES science.  He was there yesterday and today at lunch to make sure he had the information correct and I think I have a new best friend.  Yesterday he explained to me about how high frequency light waves get trapped in our atmosphere and how they can be used to create artificial intelligence.  He knew all sorts of things about electromagnetic radiation, the earth's magnetic field and the ionosphere.  He drew me a picture of how a rocket could be built using the earth's magnetic field as a power source.

Today he was back with some new drawings and explained his ideas for vehicles powered by magnetic fields.  He said of course, they would be invisible.  When I asked him how they would be turned on and off, he said there would be a switch, but I wasn't so sure you could find the car to turn it on.  He's a very interesting student to talk to because he has so many ideas and has really thought them through.

I hope he is able to connect with a mentor who can help him try out some of his ideas.  Every child needs a mentor to help them reach their potential.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Sometimes I'm not really sure what to say about my day.  How about I survived?  That's always good right?  I didn't change the world, or solve global hunger problems, but keeping 150 kids safe for 7 hours is pretty noteworthy.

Some days I feel like I'm doing it alone.  Two of our administrators have cancer.  One just had surgery and will be out another 6 weeks and the other just announced he's starting chemo soon.  The only remaining Vice Principal isn't really good at communicating so it's hard to feel like you are holding on to the end of a limb and aren't sure if someone will be cutting off support when you need it most.  I'm just really glad I'm not a new teacher in this situation.  I've got a lot of tricks in my bag to try if something isn't working for me.  And I also realize that I'm only a small part of the entire puzzle and no matter what I do, not every student will be successful this year.  I've had enough students grow up and come back after several years and let me know they just weren't ready to learn.  They needed some life experiences to show them that education really is important.

One student in particular was really difficult in my class.  He is now a manager at Safeway.  Every time I go through his check out line he apologizes for not paying attention and giving me a hard time in class.  I just laugh and thank him and tell him how proud I am of what he has become.

Now, I try to focus on the whole child and making sure they know they are important, no matter what their grade is in my class.  So, even though the administration wants every child to be successful and to pass every class, some kids just need a safe place to be during the day.  They have so many things going on at home or in their families, they can't really focus on learning about Black Holes or the wave vs particle theory of light.

So, how was my day?  I'd say pretty successful.  And tonight I think I will crochet something, either a baby hat or dog sweater.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

jumping trout

I bought this quilting design for a retirement quilt for a guy I worked with and really like the way it looks.  It stitches out so nicely and looks great on dark colored fabrics.  The little burgundy fabric has fish on it, so I thought this would be the perfect fabric to go with this design.  The greens in this quilt are really just patterned fabric so adding the fancy quilting design really makes this quilt.

My son came home from college again this weekend.  He got a call from the robotics team asking for help with some programming and figured it would be easier to help in person.  Plus, the rowing team was having another party last night and he really doesn't like hanging out with drunk people.  I guess he needed an excuse to not have to go.  They are supposed to show up if they are in town to help build team spirit.  His team participated in a competition yesterday and they only took 40 of the 48 guys on the team.  He said he didn't get to go because he was too slow.  It seems like he is getting discouraged a bit.  Maybe it is the almost daily rain we have been having, or the cold mornings, or the fact that only the best guys get to go out on the boats and the slower guys get stuck on shore having to fill their time on the rowing machines, but he doesn't talk as fondly about the crew team as he did at the beginning of the year.  I'm really proud of him for sticking with it, even though it isn't as fun as it used to be.  The exercise is doing him good and he does have a couple of good friends from the team.  Plus it's good for him not to be great at everything he tries.  I think this is the first time that's happened.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

my next obsession?

 My daughter posted to my Facebook today that the animal shelter where she adopted her dog in Miami is asking for new or used dog sweaters because of the frigid temperatures.  I had to laugh just a little.  Most of the country is experiencing snow and blizzards and even here in California, we are having lots of rain and it's pretty cold, getting down to 50 at night, but frigid?  I wouldn't go that far.
 I mean, dogs are born with a fur boat, so do they really need a sweater on top of that?  I guess if they have short fur, having a nice, warm, handmade sweater will keep them a little warmer, especially if they are sleeping on cement in an animal shelter.
So, now I'm on the hunt for a really great knit, crochet or sewn dog sweater pattern.  I've tried a couple different ones from the internet and from books I've purchased.  My dog, Lily is the only one who will let me try them on her.
When you put a sweater on Star, who probably needs one the most, he won't move.  He looks at you like you've given him a death sentence.  He will literally lay there forever until you feel sorry for him and take the sweater off him.  It is the worst form of torture.  

Has anyone made a sweater and do you have a link to the pattern?  I need one more project to keep me busy. :)  and I really need to win the lottery so I can quit my job and stay home to knit, crochet, sew, quilt and do embroidery all day.  That would be great.

Oh, and adopt more dogs. :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

what makes a good day?

Most days I ask my son how his day was at school.  I get the usual, fine, ok, nothing exciting happened, boring.  Yesterday he said he had a great day.

I was thinking he must have done a really cool lesson in science, or maybe played something fun in PE.  So, I asked him what was so great about the day.

He's such a funny guy.  He pulls down the top of his pants to reveal his underwear and says, "I was wearing green underwear!"

Not sure how the color of underwear makes your day better, but hey, I'm all for improving my day too!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

ever have one of those days?

Most of the time I love my job, but every once in a while, there is a situation that really makes me wonder about my sanity.  This year has been really rough with a new teaching situation.  I am not specially trained to deal with special education students and all their special needs, yet I was given a special ed class to teach.  Not asked, not prepared, just given this class and then the special ed teacher that is supposed to be working with me got sick and has only been there 2 days.  I've had 9 different subs at the beginning of the year and after much complaining on my part, there is finally a qualified sub in for the rest of the year.

I've done the best I can with everything I could find myself by reading books, internet articles and talking to anyone and everyone who would listen to me.  I've tried to modify the curriculum to meet the diverse needs of these students.  The most crazy part about this class is there are 12 special ed students, 11 honors students and 8 regular ed students.  Quite the combination for a high school science class.  I think anyone who is a teacher would agree this class might challenge the best teacher.  At first, I took it as a compliment that the administration thought I was the best teacher to give me such a challenge, now I'm not so sure.

I think I need to remind myself to focus on the positive things that have happened this year, rather than the little setbacks.  These past couple of days I've had one difficult student who has really made life difficult for me and it's taken my focus off all of the positive changes I've seen in some of the other students.  Sometimes that's hard to do, but my focus today will be the 11 other special ed students who are successful.

And the 149 students who actually like my class :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

our lake is back

 This is the road I have to take to get to work.  They have shut down the main road to build an overpass that should be open next year and there is now only one way to get to work if you don't want to take the freeway.  It is a 20 minute detour and some pretty poor planning by the city.  The road floods when it rains.  Who would have thought after 4 years of drought that this would be the year of rain?  There were some pretty big puddles in the morning and we got word by 1pm that most of the road had been flooded.  Luckily by 4:30 when I went home, the road had cleared.
This morning I woke up to see our lake back!  So exciting.  I haven't seen it in about 5 years.  It is full of Canada Geese as well.  I'm sure they missed it.  They come back every winter and hang out in the little creek that goes by the house, but I'm sure they like the lake much better.  There are probably 100 of them and it's really fun to watch them fly in formation in the morning and evening in groups of 10 or so.  I just love where I live, right on the edge of the city and I hope they never develop this area.  The field is usually filled with cows and I've seen foxes, skunks, raccoons, otters and lots of different kinds of birds.  We have access to the gravel path which goes about 1/2 mile to the right and 1/4 mile to the left and it's great for walking the dogs.  The little creek is where I get the snails for the 'snail lab' we do every year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

a very rainy Tuesday

As I sit here this morning, the rain is just pouring down outside.  I'm so appreciative of a nice, warm, dry house.  When we bought this place, we didn't notice all of the stains on the roof, or mushrooms growing out of the walls.  Whoever built this house, didn't pay attention to the way they sealed the walls or put the  gutters on.  We had about 20 places where water came in.  We called the roofer that was recommended by the real estate lady and he came out many times to try and fix the roof.  Every winter, we put out bowls and buckets to catch the drops.  We had towels by every window that had to be changed every couple of hours.  The water poured in the garage.

Finally, I asked for some recommendations from friends and found a different roofer who came out and sent some guys up into the attic.  They found a hole in the roof about 3 foot square that had just been covered with shingles.  No wonder the rain was just pouring in.  Once that hole was fixed, the rain stopped coming in.  Crazy, who would have thought that putting a bandaid on the problem rather than getting to the source of the problem isn't the way to go.

We still need to paint over all of the stains, but they are a reminder to always look for the root of the problem in any situation.

We live next to a field and for the past five years or so, the little lake hasn't been there in the winter.  Just yesterday, the little lake showed up.  Looks like we are getting enough rain to start solving the drought problem here in Northern California.  I don't know what we will talk about now.  Flooding maybe?  Seems we always need something to complain about when it comes to weather.  It's not like we can actually do anything about it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Make a Difference Monday

What did you do to Make a Difference today?  In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I graded lab books.  Yep, that will make a difference in the lives of my kids who were lazy and turned in terrible work. :)  I also worked on organizing my quilt tops and did some more quilting.

Supposedly there are 7 stages of grief.

When my son moved out to go to college, it hit me really hard.  I was really sad and didn't want to do much of anything.  Yesterday I moved into the acceptance phase and decided that since he wasn't using his really big closet, I might as well use it to stage my quilt while they are waiting to be quilted.  My current system isn't working out for me with piles everywhere, so I started hanging them in his closet.  The problem is, he came home yesterday. :)  

He says, so I see you've started to take over my room.  Yeah, that makes four sewing rooms now.  If my daughter had taken more of her clothes with her to school, I could use her closet too.  I need to get the quilt hanging rack out of the kitchen, but that's a project for another day.

I think I matched up about 30 quilts with backing and there another 30 or so needing matches.  I pulled a bunch of really big pieces of fabric from the garage and will get back in there after I drop him back off at college.  I have a feeling I'll get stuck in traffic on the way home.  3 day weekend plus lots of snow equals a long drive home.  Oh, well, at least I got most of my grading done earlier today.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My cute, crazy son

AFter 6 months, I finally found time to get my little guy in for a haircut.  He doesn't really care what it looks like, long or short, combed or not.  I like being able to see his face again.  Two weeks ago, he took scissors to the front so it was out of his eyes and yes, it has taken me two weeks to finally get him in to get it fixed.  Like I said, he doesn't care.

having plans and keeping count makes for a better day

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 
Psalm 90:12

I find that the days I have plans, I get more accomplished.  Last year when my machine was broken for almost the whole year, my piles of quilt tops built up to the point I was almost buried under them.  I started to feel so overwhelmed by the amount of donated fabric and quilt tops that I thought I would never get out of the piles.  But, then I remembered when I had so many of the Super Sized 9 patch quilt tops that the middle school kids made (over 300 of them) and I thought I would never see the end of those.  I think I might have one or two of those left and now I'm afraid to finish them up, because they will all be gone.  They remind me of how much love the kids put into making them with their little hand embroidered heart on each one.

So, today, I started cleaning and organizing and counting.  Not a total count of how many I have, because that would scare me, but counting the quilts I've done this year and how many I can safely complete each week and make progress to dig myself out from under this pile.  My binding buddies had a year long break and are having a hard time keeping up with my quilting increase so I can't overwhelm them too much either.

OK, so I'm sitting here forever trying to figure out what the words on the quilt are supposed to say.  Can you figure it out?  I'll give you a minute.  

Got it?

DEBBIES DINER.  Yep, took me a while too.  The thing in the center is a teapot and it is surrounded by teacups.  I hope someone named Debbie gets it :)

I just found out that my friend Debbie donated it to me.  I probably should keep track of who gives me what, but I never was good at writing things down.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

a drizzly day

 You would think someone would get out there and fix that fence.  It was coming apart when we bought the house 11 years ago, and every year a few boards fall off.  I like it better without the boards on it because I can see the open field and cows (which must be hiding from the rain today) across the gravel pathway.  I could just tear down the whole thing, but I kind of like watching it decay over time.  Or, maybe I am just that lazy.  It's much easier to throw away a board here and there rather than a whole 100 yard long pile of them.  California has been in a drought for the past 4 years and this winter the prediction was for El Nino.  Looks like the weatherman predicted correctly.  We've had a lot of rain the past 6 weeks or so and although I know we need it, days like this make me want to just curl up on the couch under a warm blanket.  The problem is my dog Spot, doesn't seem to understand that I don't want to throw his toy 700 times.  When he sees me sitting on the couch, he brings me the toy and then smiles at me until I throw it.  Again and again and again.  I'm betting he could fetch all day if my arm didn't give out first.  It does make me feel just a little guilty.
Guilty enough to work on a quilt, do a load of laundry (our new washer makes it so I only have to do one load a week-it's that big!) and even a load of dishes.  If only I could harness the energy that dog has, I could be a millionaire without playing the lottery.  My son now has lotto fever and keeps asking if I'm going to be buying another ticket for tonight.  He thinks I have a better chance of winning now that everyone isn't playing.  Sure, there are fewer people to split the prize with, but at only a few million dollars, is it even worth the investment?  I mean if I had to move away from this house and the great view out my window, I'm not sure I could find a suitable replacement :)

Friday, January 15, 2016

morning routine

My dogs bring such joy.  Every morning I have the same routine.  After getting myself ready for school, I wake my son up and we sit on the couch together watching TV while he eats breakfast.  Spot loves to play fetch and will bring one of his 'babies' for me to throw.  He gets so excited to run and bring the toy back over and over again. The smile on his face just makes me so happy.

This little guy on the other hand finds a way to curl up on my son's lap and get a few extra minutes of cuddle time.  My son always claims he can't get off the couch to go to school because he can't disturb Star's morning nap.  

Every day it is the same.  Both dogs are not happy to see us leave and are very happy to have us return at the end of the day.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A really cool science lesson

This week we are learning about light and waves. We haven't taught this in a couple of years because we just haven't had the time with all of the state testing and furlough days.  This year there isn't money in the budget for testing days and we got our furlough days back last year, so we have a few extra days of actual teaching.  We've rearranged some things in the schedule and so I'm having to come up with some new lessons.

A couple of the new teachers did a demonstration of measuring the speed of light using a microwave oven and some marshmallows.  I'm not one for doing things for the kids.  I like the kids to do the science and have the experience for themselves, so I started working on changing the lesson around so the kids could do the experiment and come up with the answer themselves.  It took a couple of days of playing around with things and searching on the internet, but the lesson I came up with (with the help of a colleague) was better than I had hoped.

We used marshmallows set in a line on a piece of paper along the bottom of a microwave.  You have to take the turntable out of the bottom.  I remember way back to when we got our first microwave.  It didn't have a turntable and the food would not heat evenly.  There was a heating element in the top that looked like a stirring whisk.  I remember my brother was little, maybe 5 or so and he asked why the stir-er wasn't working.  He thought it was supposed to come down and mix the food.

Anyways, you remove the turntable so the paper stays in place.  There are natural hot spots in the microwave that will show you where the nodes, or crests and troughs on the wave are.  You use that to calculate the wavelength and then using the formula for speed, multiply the frequency of the microwave (which is 2450 MHz).  The coolest part about the experiment was about half the students laid their marshmallows out in a straight line and cooked them for 10 seconds and when they pulled the paper out with the marshmallows on it, the marshmallows had moved into the shape of a sine curve.  It was really neat to see how the heating caused the marshmallows to form into the wave on the paper.  Only the students who actually followed the directions go this result, so if they put the paper in crooked, or pushed it too far back in the microwave, it didn't work.

Then, after doing the calculations, the kids got to eat the marshmallows.  I think they will remember this lesson better than if I had just told them light goes really fast.

My daughter who attends UCLA said her friends said they really didn't do many experiments in high school.  She said she really feels like she learned a lot by doing so many experiments and hands on activities.  I'm glad that I teach in a school that allows for these kind of things and allows me to play most of the day.  Even though sometimes the money for supplies does have to come out of my pocket.

I was really hoping to win the super lotto last night.  I had great plans on how to spend it.  I guess I will just have to keep going back to work.  At least I enjoy what I'm doing most days :)  I mean where else do you get paid to cook marshmallows in the microwave or soak potatoes in sugar water and figure out the concentration of sugar in a potato cell?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Slow internet?

Our Router is upstairs in the bedroom and I usually use the laptop downstairs on the couch.  I'm not sure if it is the distance, or the angle or what, but the internet is so slow downstairs.  Not only in the living room, but I can't get service in the sewing room and it is hit and miss in my son's bedroom depending on the weather and time of day.  I heard about an internet extender and figured I'd give it a try.  I plugged this thing in upstairs in the hall and what a difference it makes!  It connects to the router and then my laptop connects to it and I can get quick internet pretty much anywhere in the house.  I wish I had found this sooner.  It sure makes life easier!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

sometimes the process moves quickly

It took 7 weeks to get started on this quilt and 3 hours to cut and sew the top.  Once the top was finished, it was the next quilt on the quilting machine.  Sometimes I can get things done quickly.  Not often, but sometimes.  Now that it's ready for binding, I'm hoping one of my binding buddies will help me out.  I took it to school yesterday and totally forgot to give it to my friend who also works at my high school.  I got so involved with the lesson that I forgot to have my TA bring the pile of quilts over to her classroom until the bell was about to ring.  Hopefully this one will be ready by Friday to gift.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Properly aged

This quilt top was donated a while ago and finally reached its turn to be quilted.  A lot of effort went into making this quilt and now it will finally be given to a child to love.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Binky Sunday

 Today was Binky Sunday.  I never know what to expect because some days it is only me and some days we have a full house.  I guess with the new year, people made a resolution to help out more because we had a very full house.
 One lady came with her three daughters from far away to help out and get some community service hours in.  I put them in charge of cutting all of the fabric to make more quilt kits.  We tend to run in spits and spurts.  We will have 50 kits and then we will have none.  It's always nice to have a kit ready to hand off to someone who needs something quick and easy to work on when they pop in to a meeting, but don't have time to stay.
 We use the quick strippie quilt from a lot.  If you haven't made one yet, you really should.  It uses three coordinating fabrics and can be made in under 3 hours from start to finished quilt, including the binding.  And that includes the quilting.  If you need a quick baby shower gift, it is a great quilt to make and our group has probably made 2,000 of them over the years.  Sometimes I wish I was better at counting things.
 We used the Accuquilt Studio cutter, which was one of the best investments ever.  I can trust an 8 year old and a teenager that when they leave, they will still have all of their fingers intact.  Not so with a rotary cutter.
 We used every square inch of the classroom space and worked on lots of different things.  Here, the ladies are squaring up some string blocks that the middle school kids made.  Nothing gets wasted, ever.  We sent a huge bunch of strings down to the middle school home ec department and they worked on sewing them together.  Great practice for the kids to sew and sew and sew and get the machine going in a straight line and we get the fruits of their labor.  We finish off the blocks and then sew them together into quilt tops.
 Carla and I will quilt up those tops and then eventually the quilts will go back to kids needing hugs.  Some of the ladies were working on string blocks as well.  We have lots and lots and lots of strings from all of the cutting we do.
 Some of the ladies were working on tumbler quilts.  We like the 3 1/2 inch block for cutting some of the smallest pieces of fabric we have.  The girls actually cut through a whole bucket of fabric that my daughter sorted about 2 years ago.  Quilt making is a long process.  Not that each step takes a long time, it's just that after you do one step, it takes time for the fabric to age properly before moving on to the next step.  SO, you might pick out the perfect fabrics, but then you can't cut them right away, they have to sit for a year or 17 before they are ready to be cut into.  There are other projects that are so important while you are waiting for the fabric to reach the perfect stage to be cut.  Then, it gets cut and sometimes has to sit for another year or so before it is ready to be sewn.
 After you make the quilt top, sometimes it needs more time to sit and wait for the perfect backing fabric or the perfect mood to strike you so that when you add the quilting, the finished quilt will be just right.  Of course, the person you bought the fabric will probably have moved on, or you forgot who you were going to make it for, but that's ok.  A new perfect person will come along.
We would love to have you join our little party next time.  We meet the 2nd Sunday of the odd months at A Quilted Heart in Vacaville from 1-4pm.  If you can't join us in person, you can join us virtually.  We take fabric, batting, thread, quilt tops or finished quilts and will find everything a perfect home.  This month we are working on getting quilts to kids at the local schools.  One is going to a student who lost his home to a fire over the break.  Another to a student who had heart surgery and one who tried to commit suicide.  You can also donate to your local elementary, middle or high schools.  Take the quilts to the front office and just let them know you want them to give them to a child who needs that extra hug.  I promise you that there are many hurting children who need to feel special out there and your efforts will be appreciated.

a special request quilt

Sometimes people ask me why I don't make quilts and sell them.  This is a perfect example.  I was asked to make this quilt on November 21 by a friend for a little boy who is 9 and loves the Disney movie Cars.  It took me a while to find the Cars fabric.  I guess it isn't popular anymore, so had to special order it online and then found some in the quilt shop.  So, that was my first excuse.  Then, vacation was over and finals came around and things got busy and then vacation came again and I got a new embroidery machine and I was having fun playing and this was put on the back burner.  I kept thinking of how I really needed to start working on it, but something else would always come up and be more interesting.

Finally, 7 weeks after being asked, I sewed the top together.  It only took about 3 hours so far from finding fabrics to cutting and sewing the top together.  Now I need to quilt and bind.  If I had a paying customer, I'm not sure they would have waited 7 weeks for a quilt.  I'm lucky I have friends who are patient.

I have one quilt on the machine right now and the needle has broken on me twice.  I guess the machine and the design aren't getting along very well.  It keeps getting stuck with the needle down and the machine keeps trying to move.  It's broken in the same spot twice, so maybe I should go babysit the machine.  It's a bummer because it is a feather pattern that I like a lot, but I can't have a pattern that breaks my needle every time I use it.  I may have to play around with some of the settings on the robot to get it to lift the needle faster, but I've forgotten a lot about how to do those things, which means research.  It's a good thing this quilt is almost done.  I'm not sure why the machine started doing this at the end of the pattern, maybe the quilt is on too tight?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The first week of a new semester

The first week of the new semester is finished.  I ended the week well keeping grades up.  Every day I checked off homework as it was turned in and only had two students who didn't do their homework this week.  Those students got detention and sure enough, the next time homework was assigned, they had their homework.  It wasn't done well, but at least there was a small attempt, which is better than last semester.  I'm happy with the progress.  And I'm happy that I didn't have to bring any work home this weekend.

I didn't find any quilting or embroidery time this week because I was exhausted every day, but the weekend is here and it's a Binky Sunday tomorrow so I definitely have plans for working on quilts and making some more baby hats.  I have lots of crochet hats ready to donate the next time I drop off quilts at the Nurse Family Partnership.

Are you playing the PowerBall?  I plan to get a ticket.  I told my students if I win, I won't be at school on Monday.  I heard you have a better chance of getting killed by a vending machine falling over on you and squishing you, but hey, you can't win if you don't try.