Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day

 These are the last quilts for the month.  No, they weren't all quilted today, but over the last couple of weeks and since I haven't posted much due to my super migraine, here they are.
 We are still having beautiful weather around here.  So much for our El Nino prediction of lots of rain.  We sure could use a little more to help us through the coming summer, but I really can't complain too much about days in the 70's.  I know many of my friends are stuck in the snow and cold.
 Last week in Biology, we did a fun activity where we used a DNA message to make Rice Krispies.  The kids had to follow the DNA code, change the message into mRNA and then into tRNA and finally into the protein (the final product-the treat).  If they do it wrong, they end up adding things like ketchup or soy sauce.  The kids had a great time practicing what they have learned about DNA.  Today when they had to summarize the activity, most students really had a grasp of how proteins are made in cells.  When I went shopping on Saturday, I picked up some marshmallows and Rice Krispies for my son and showed him how to make the treats.
I never realized that we've never made them before.  He loves to cook (if you call heating marshmallows in the microwave cooking!) and we've made two batches so far.  He also loves helping make pork chops too, so we don't only make junk food.  It's nice to have a helper in the kitchen and I know he will appreciate having the life skills when he is off on his own.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

some quilting getting done

A little bit of quilting is getting done around here despite the really bad migraine.  I got this one stitched out last weekend.  You may be able to see the quilting design if you click on the picture.  It is two cats with a heart in between.  I do love having the robotic quilting machine and all the designs to choose from.  I try to pick up a new design here and there when they go on sale or at at their daily deal.  I have a hard time paying $15 for a quilting pattern so will only do that if there is something I just have to have for a special quilt.  I have quite a variety of designs from animals to flowers to geometric designs that pretty much match any quilt I have.

Today I need to finish up some more hooded towels for the kids in New Mexico in the homeless shelter.  I had planned to get the box mailed off, but it wasn't full and I hate wasting space in a half full box.

I also have a ton of grading to do.  I sure wish someone would invent a grading computer where you put lab books and reports in and they could be scanned and analyzed with the push of a button.  I know once I get started it won't be as bad as I imagine.  I should just set up a chair in the quilting room, then I wouldn't have to walk from the couch to the quilting machine, but then, I wouldn't get as much exercise either.  But the first thing to do is get off this computer!  Hope your day is full of fun too!

Friday, February 26, 2016

my Etsy shop

 So I've been quiet on the blog lately because I've had a killer migraine since last Thursday.  I've finally started feeling better today.  The last time I got botox was October 12 and I really didn't think it was doing much this time around.  I had the doctor skip the temple shots last time because #1 they hurt really badly and #2 they made it hard to move my jaw to chew.  I thought maybe that was what made the botox less effective or maybe it just gets less effective over time?
 And then after the fourth day in a row of a killer migraine, I realized I hadn't had one like that since getting the botox in October.  I emailed the doctor on Monday and his office called me around noon saying they would try to fit me into the schedule that day.  They asked if I could come right then and I might have to wait a little.  I explained that I am a teacher and can't just leave work.  So, the nurse asked if I could be there at 2.  No, you see I'm a teacher and can't just leave work.  So, she said, can you be here at 3?
 One more time, I'm a teacher...I figured she'd just hang up on me, but instead, she said, well, what time can you get here?  I said 3:45 was the earliest and knew she would just tell me to come in a month, but said she would ask the doctor (since the latest I've ever been able to schedule an appointment was 2) and she came back to say, come in at 3:45.  I didn't get there until 4 because of traffic and parking and he got to me right away.
 18 shots in the head later and I was out by 4:15.  I do have to say I love Kaiser sometimes!  I'm finally starting to feel some relief today so I do believe the botox is working on the migraines and I don't think I will wait as long before getting it again.  I'm supposed to go back every 3 months, but it is so painful.  All of those shots into the forehead, temples (those are the worst) and back of the skull are some of the worst pain ever.  I wish the doctor could numb the area first.
 There is a fundraising event tomorrow for some of the local dog rescue groups and the local animal shelter where I got two of my dogs and I'm donating a bunch of stuff.  Some dog hats, a couple of handmade dog sweaters, the butterfly wings for dogs and the leftover cat keychains I made for my son's Egypt study.  I was hoping to get a quilt done too, but this migraine has really kept me from doing much at the end of each day.
 Plus, I had basketball duty this week on Wednesday.  It was a playoff game and I guess a big deal.  I'm not into sports so I didn't realize the significance of the game.  Our kids were winning for most of the game and then the other team pulled ahead.  We were losing until the last 2 seconds of the game when we got the last basket and won by 1 point.  You should have seen the crowd.  Our fans ran onto the court like it was the national championship or something.  The other guys were not happy and the coach from the other team punched the door to the locker room and had a few choice words that should not be said in front of children.  I had to open the door for their team and was not impressed with the sportsmanship shown by the coach.
I don't think the focus should be on the winning or losing, but on if you played well or tried your best.  I gave the coach a 'I'm not happy with you' teacher look as he walked past me.  I doubt he cared very much. :)

I hope my donations help raise some money for the homeless animals.  Since I'm not allowed to bring any more dogs home, it's the least I can do to help out.  Now, if a stray puppy happens to follow me home, I can't help that and my husband might not even notice.  The neighbors behind me got another puppy this week.  He's a little cutie!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

hooded towels

I read this article online about kids at a homeless shelter being given hooded towels and thought, hey, I have been making these towels with no real purpose, other than to make them because they are cute.  I contacted the lady in charge and she said she had some who couldn't send some towels she had promised because she didn't have the money and so now I know what to do with all of these towels!  They will have a good home at the shelter and I hope the kids like them.
 I'm learning new skills with each towel and maybe one day I will be ready to sell them in my etsy store.  You have to be very careful to cut closely to the outline stitch so the satin stitch covers over exactly and that's the hardest part about the whole thing.  They go together pretty quickly once you have the applique picture done on them.
They aren't just for kids either.  I made one for my son's girlfriend for Christmas.  The towels are pretty big and I make the hoods big enough for a grown up to fit.  

When my oldest was a little girl, I made her one without anything on it.  That was her favorite towel.  She loved being able to keep it on her head when she got out of the bath.  I still have it 25 years later, holes and all.  You would think I might get rid of it since I own about 50 towels, but for some reason it sticks around here, along with the kitchen towels with cows on them I got as a wedding gift.  I guess I'm a bit sentimental or just a packrat.

Monday, February 15, 2016

not quite 10

 Well, having a goal is great, because there is something to aim for, but I don't beat myself up if I don't reach it.  I managed to get 7 quilts done this weekend.  Today I decided to finally take in the recycling which I had put off for the past year.  $115 later and you can figure how much of a job that was!  I made quite a bit of room in the garage and made a promise not to put it off so long next time.
My son wanted to come home from college again this weekend, which meant two trips there and back and while school is only 30 minutes away, that's 2 hours out of the weekend.  He's having a bit of a struggle this quarter.  He joined the Crew team this year and found out that most of the guys on the team think drinking and partying is the way to go.  The team wants all the guys to participate and they have mandatory parties (you don't have to drink, but you do have to contribute to the booze fund) and my son wasn't too happy having to hang out around that.  He crashed on his bike a couple weeks ago and got a concussion.  The doctor said he needed to rest for a week and so couldn't exercise or participate in the last rowing event.  He got a couple nasty emails from some of the guys on the team strongly suggesting he quit and after some careful thought, he decided that he could find people who he had more in common with him elsewhere.

He really enjoyed the sport and made a few good friends and loved pushing himself physically.  He's in much better shape because of the experience and I hope he is able to keep up with all of the things he learned.  He's looking forward to new experiences now and I think this weekend gave him some grounding he needed.  I'm glad he picked a college close to home.
If you haven't checked out my Etsy page yet, take a look.  I'm having fun making clothes and supplies for dogs.  I swore I would never be one of 'those people' who dressed their dog, but now I've jumped in with both feet and have to admit it is really fun.  I'm not sure I will ever have grandkids, so little dogs are the next best thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Love Day

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

My husband and I don't really celebrate the whole Valentine's' Day thing.  Some years I will go out on February 15 and buy up a whole bunch of half price candy and chocolate and even a few orchids if it is a weekend or if I happen to be at the store anyways, but we've never bought into the whole spend a bunch of money because the calendar says you need to thing.

I'm more about show your appreciation for someone every day.  Today, he's working on the taxes so the kids can apply for financial aide for college.  That's love.  It always takes him hours to get them done, mostly because he has to dig through the boxes of receipts and papers he's saved all year to make sure he has everything he needs.  Then, he shows his love by doing the taxes of our three kids who should probably be doing their own taxes by now.  I mean, at what age did you start doing your own taxes?  18?  20?  25?  Yep, that's love, or maybe enabling :)  He figures that while he's at it and being tortured, he might as well fill them out for everyone.

This quilt was a special request for a student who hasn't been in school since November.  She has anxiety and other mental health issues and is really having a hard time.  I wish the mental health system was better in this country.  We try to hide mental health issues and pretend they aren't real medical problems.  If a student had cancer, everyone would talk about it and ask what they could do to help.  There would be fundraisers and donations and people would make cards.  But with mental health, people just want the person who is suffering to go away.  They are weird and scary and nobody wants to deal with the problem.  
I hope this quilt shows my student she is loved and missed.

I hope someone showed you love today and that you had the chance to show love to others as well.  If not, you could always go to the local animal shelter and adopt a pet.  Unconditional love is waiting for you.  As I type, I have one furry friend on my right and one on my left.  They have been keeping me company all day.  I spent about 2 hours grading papers this morning and they were right by my side, and at my feet, keeping me warm and company.  Hoping I would stop and give them a scratch or throw the toy for them.
I still wonder why this guy's owner never came looking for him.  He's just the best dog ever.  So full of energy and fun and always ready to chase a toy or play, but just as happy to curl up in a ball and sleep at your feet.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

towards the challenge

 I have four quilts towards my goal of 10 this weekend.  I got a little distracted because I decided to open an Etsy shop to raise some money for some of the charities I support.  I've been making and donating lots of things to these charities over the years, and figured that maybe I could sell some items to offset the cost of all of the supplies.  Most of the fabric I use for the quilts has been donated, but if I buy fabric for just one quilt it costs about $50.
 One roll of batting, on sale is about $60.  That's for 50 yards and will make about 30 quilts, depending on the size of the quilts.  I'm not saying I'm going broke making and donating all of these things, but having a little extra to spend would mean I could do even more.
If you want to take a look at some of the crazy things I have for sale (don't laugh at me dad) click on my North Hills Quilter Etsy Shop.  I'm hoping to add lots more items as the weeks go on and hoping they sell quickly.  The more I sell, the move I can give.

can I do it? 10 in 4 day challenge

I have challenged myself to quilt 10 quilts over this 4 day weekend.  Do you think I can do it?  Of course, I have papers to grade and a house that needs cleaning.  There are aluminum cans to be recycled (why is that the worst job ever?) and dinner to cook.  Dishes need washing and I must sleep sometime.  But, I think it can be done.  This is quilt #1.  I have a whole bunch to choose from and I would love to see the quilting closet with a little more room by Tuesday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Where do I begin?

I started working on this quilt over a year ago and then got stuck.  I couldn't figure out why I didn't want to finish it.  It is for my son's girlfriend.  They have been dating since 8th grade and are now both in college.  I cut the pieces with my Accuquilt Go! fabric cutter and cutting and sewing the blocks was a breeze.  They took longer than most of the quilt blocks I'm used to making, but weren't hard to make.  Then, the quilt sat on my design wall for a very long time.  I had hoped to finish it up for her birthday in May.  Then, maybe June for graduation.  Then, maybe when she left for college in August.  Then, how about Christmas, that would make a nice gift?  Finally I couldn't' take it anymore and decided to just sew it together.  Now I realize why I didn't want to finish it.

There are so many issues with this quilt.

First, a Snail's Trail quilt should not be made scrappy.  The pattern just gets lost.  Or, if it is scrappy, the lights should stay together and the darks should stay together because at the top, you can't see the twirl design.

Second, do you see the block I messed up?  Yep, it just jumps out at me.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong, thinking it was just because it was scrappy, but it isn't.  I sewed one of the blocks with the black and purple corner triangles in the wrong places.  If you figure that out after you have quilted it, it's pretty much going to stay that way.  Ugh.

Well, I learned from this quilt and will try again, with two colors so the pattern shows up.  I like these quilts (when someone else makes them) and will make another one, but not today.  Today I need something that makes me happy and not frustrated.  But, I will put the binding on and send it out before she graduates from college.  That's a promise.

4 day weekend

I am so happy this is a 4 day weekend.  We are celebrating Presidents' Day and it couldn't have come at a better time.  Between all of the sickness going around school and the beautiful weather we are having here in Northern California, it is the perfect time to get away from each other for a few days and take a mental and physical break.  The kids need it and the teachers do too.  It seems that whenever we have a long weekend like this there are quite a few families who like to extend the holiday by a couple of days of even a week.  I have two students who took the whole week off and there were quite a few absent on Thursday.  It's great for the kids to get to spend extra family time, but hard when they expect that we don't do anything while they are gone.  Some expect to not have to make up any work when they come back to school and then wonder why their grade suffers from the extra holiday days.  I often wonder what kind of employees they will make as they get older if they aren't learning the responsibility early on.

This week I had the nice surprise of some former students coming to visit me at lunch and talking about some of their favorite memories from my class last year.  These two girls said how much they looked forward to coming to my class every day.  They weren't outstanding students, but I guess I really made an impression on them.  So much so, that they took time out of their lunch to stop by to say thanks.  It was a welcomed break from having to scold naughty kids who don't do their work.

My 6th period class this year is quite the challenge and on Wednesday they were being especially chatty.  I was getting a bit frustrated with them and using up all of my 'teacher looks' by the end of the period trying to keep them quiet so I could finish the lesson.  I was afraid my face would get stuck like that.  The next day, one of those students came in and told me I was his favorite teacher.  I had to laugh, because I thought I was being so mean!  I guess he thought my mean teacher face was funny or entertaining or something.

And some people say they have no idea how I could be a teacher!  The kids make me laugh every day.  You can't put a price on that.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

cute cowboys

Wow, whoever picked these fabrics has a really good eye for color.  These little cowboys are so adorable.  If you haven't made a Quick Strippy quilt yet, you really should.  They take an hour or two to sew and then just a bit of time to quilt, depending on your favorite method.  You can make them little or big and I love them because they look great as lap quilts or baby quilts or can be sophisticated or adorable.  Check out all of the great free patterns at

Can you make a quilt and donate it to your local school?  Elementary, middle and high schools are full of students who really need to know they are cared about.  The student I gave the quilt to who tried to commit suicide tells me almost every day how much she loves her quilt.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Halloween in February?

Who says you have to keep your holidays in the right month?  When you have the right color backing fabric on the machine, you go with the theme.  I love these black cats among the pumpkins and I'm sure some child will too.  The backing fabric is a gorgeous orange flannel.

I bet there is someone out there who loves Halloween and would pick this quilt out of a stack.  When my brother was little, everyone had a favorite color.  Since everyone in the family had picked the common favorite colors, red, blue, green, yellow, the only color left that had pieces in a game was orange.  So, my sister and I told my brother his favorite color was orange.  He didn't get a pick, we chose for him.  I'm not sure if he ever wanted to change to a different one, but he's a pretty easy going guy and was happy enough taking the orange piece in the game every time.

I don't know why we wouldn't let him share a favorite color.  It's not like I am the only person in the world who loves red.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

a special quilt

This was a special request quilt for the Vice Principal at my school.  He has cancer and started chemo today.  When I found out he had cancer, I asked what his favorite color was so I could make him a quilt.  He said purple so I gathered all of the purple fabrics that weren't flowers and got started.  The blocks are 4 1/2 inch x 8 1/2 inch and the squares are 8 1/2 inch.  It is a random pattern of color and my design wall isn't big enough so everything is just put together as I went along.  The only thing I was watching for was to make sure the squares didn't touch.  The rest just came out however I happened to grab a square.  I believe I will be making more quilts like this.  I'm thinking it took about 6 hours from cutting to binding, with quilting time included.  It's a really big quilt too, being 64 x 88 inches.

When I gifted it today, the VP wrapped it around himself and said that at his church they bring the new babies up to the front of the congregation and wrap them in handmade quilts.  I told him he makes a really big baby!  He was quite happy with the finished quilt and excited I actually finished it and gave it to him.  He was surprised I kept my word and made the quilt in time for his first treatment.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February quilting

So February is already a week underway and I haven't shown you any quilts yet.  I've got 4 done and one on the machine that will take a while because it is so big.  This week has been long with two parent conferences that didn't really amount to much.  I'm trying to hold out hope that behavior and academics will improve for both students.  It really does take a village to raise a child and that village starts at home.  When a parent expects the school to do everything for the child, including discipline, things start to fall apart.

I'm so glad to have my quilting machine working again.  It gave me a bit of a scare this week when I turned it off over night and the next day came back to it acting up.  It wouldn't work and then started racing.  I was afraid I was going to lose it and then started wiggling some wires, unplugged a few of the wires and plugged them back in again.  That seems to have fixed things for now.  It scared me a second time after turning it off a second time and it wouldn't start.  Again, unplugging several wires and plugging them back in got it going.  I'm not sure why other than the cables have loose connections.  There doesn't seem to be a problem if I just leave it on all the time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Egyptian Keychain

 My son's class is learning about Egypt and he gave his report on Egyptian Gods and Goddesses on Friday.  I worked on keychains for his class for the past couple of weeks.  These were pretty quick to stitch out on the embroidery machine, but then there is the cutting out and attaching the snaps.  He told me he didn't want to take them in, but I convinced him they would be a big hit.  When he took them in, the kids loved them.  Many of them asked for a second or third keychain!
I forgot to take a picture of the first batch I made, but since his class and another class buddy up and switch for science and social studies, I needed to make a second batch for the other class.  These pictures are of the second set.  All together I made about 80.  This group is for the other class of kids.  He gave some of the extra ones to the principal and librarian.

I love being able to share my love of crafting with so many people and I'm glad the kids liked them.  Now, 6th graders don't have keys (well, most of them don't anyways) but my son put his horse keychains on his backpack this summer.  They could also put them on a jacket as a zipper pull or on a suitcase to make it easier to identify which one is yours at the airport.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hello February

This is the final quilt of January but I didn't get time to post last night.  I have one quilt on the machine that I hope to get finished before I head off to bed, but there is a long piece of backing so there will be probably three quilts worth there.

We had a gorgeous day today, although it is very cold.  I know, most of you are dealing with snow, so cold is relative.  Cold for California means 50 degrees with a bit of a breeze.  My nose got a bit of a chill and I had to wear a jacket, although I didn't button it.  But, that's why we pay so much to live here.