Friday, July 31, 2009

Patchwork Stripe Quilt

I just recently got back in touch with an old friend, and hurray! She's knocked up! I have no idea which kind of baby it is. Other than the human kind. So I dipped into my very favorite bright happy gender neutral fat quarter stash.

There's my usual quilt model up there, back on the job. What strong arms she has! That's a really soft tan cotton flannel, between the stripes. And I backed it in an old linen curtain. I am finally making a dent in that pile of linen curtains I've been carrying around for years.

And here's her "helper"...Did you notice? Oh my yes...those are big girl panties she's wearing there...

I can't believe it either. Except then 20 seconds later I could totally believe it when she peed on the floor. Yeah I saw this coming when I ripped out the carpet a year ago. So far she is averaging 80% pooping in the right place, 10% peeing in the right place. But she's not quite two, so hey I'll take it. 1% poop in the potty is 1% I'm not bent over scraping off her chunky thighs with a grubby wipe in the Costco parking lot. Not that I've ever done that, or anything. Just theoretically, I guess.

The secret to potty training Jane has been a carefully calibrated balance of neglect and chocolate. I used the same system with Wren, but it was surprisingly less effective in her case than the patented "let's go stay at Nana's house for a week" system.

So here's the finished quilt, washed and dried and wrapped up in a bow I stole from Jane's baby. I don't think the baby will miss it, since it was being used to suspend her by the neck from Wren's wagon.

Ah, sisters.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Strawberry Scones

It has been a long time since I've made scones. Years. I used to make them all the time, and I guess maybe I burned out? Maybe I no longer have the patience for cutting cold butter into dough if there's not a pie on the other end of it.

Enter the food processor. In my personal kitchen economy, I balance the labor of making something by hand against the hassle of hand washing whatever contraption I would otherwise use. So the food processor and the stand mixer don't get that much play. I'd rather have the pleasant (tedious) process of a pretty bowl and a wooden spoon, when the other option is quick baking, followed by the nasty hot process of wrestling big sharp heavy slippery objects in the sink.

But this morning, kids + scones = food processor. And if I save some scones for Chase, maybe he will do the dishes when he gets home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

log cabin quilt

I finally finished it! Usually I ask Wren to hold up the finished quilts, but this one was a little bigger than crib size, and it was hard to fit in the picture. Anything to keep my "crazy lady in the apartment complex courtyard" rep.

I'm really happy with it, and I'm proud of it. Although I'm not proud that I started and finished it while ignoring a pile up of overdue gift projects for deserving friends. Oh well.

Here it is in it's future home. For now it lives in Jane's crib, but she'll be making the transition to "big girl bed" soon enough. And there's the big girl herself, with bangs in her eyes and brownie on her face. Soon to be on the quilt.

Once I finish my hand quilted whole cloth quilt (which I'm still working on, a few stitches every evening) everyone in the house will be sleeping under quilts made by me. So that's a nice goal. Maybe 2015?

sick kid survival kit

Poor Wrennel caught Jane's bug, and so far she has been a trooper. She has shared some crazy fever dreams ("And then the crabs talked to me and you told me to hold them like this and we were in this place but it was just a dream place so I can't really tell you about it...") and expressed confusion at some aspects of sickness ("You still have to go potty when you're sick?!") but other than that, she's been pretty low maintenance.

The big blue barf bucket is just of frame in this picture, and if you are at all susceptible to this kind of illness, be very glad you are far from the playgrounds and toy stores of Central Texas. Everyone we know has had some form of this thing in recent weeks. Like solid 100+ temperatures every day outside aren't enough in the middle of the summer. Little bodies add FEVER on top of that.

Jane got over it in a few days, and I'm sure Wren will too. I'm bummed to miss whatever socializing we had planned, and Janey might possibly tear the house apart in boredom, but other than that, we'll be fine. Wren definitely takes after me in sickness- loving to be babied and taken care of. And I have endless patience for indulging that particular quirk (notice the stacks of games and toys in that picture) so we're fine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

morning kid craft

We played outside this morning until it got too hot (approximately 20 minutes). And then I remembered seeing these great paper dolls on Kidley and we gave them a try.

Wren immediately began planning outfits for the dolls. The templates come with a bear costume (!) and a few dresses and skirt/shirt combos, but Wren said "she needs a mermaid tail, and a shell thing on top, and a crown, and another friend doll..."

This is definitely more of a Wren craft than a Jane craft. Jane spends most of her coloring time painstakingly peeling the wrappers from every crayon that crosses her path. It's good practice for Wren though- she needs to build patience (don't we all), and fine motor control.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Even though I have a midterm due tonight, and overflowing sinks, laundry baskets and diaper buckets...

It's good to be home.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Beaumont Wrap-up (and leaving for Dallas)

So the girls and I had a great time on the trip, and Chase did too, on his alternate trip. It's really good to be home though. Happy-running-through-sprinklers-Jane, of this picture from my Grandmother's back yard, is no more. Now she is pukey-feverish-summer flu Jane. Poor, poor kid. We have not had much sleep in the last two nights.

Here is some of the amazing canning bounty from my dad and Shawn's pantry. In happier times, Jane could put away a jar of those pears all by herself. Those are figs and pears, with a few blackberry preserves leftover from the spring I think. And mayhaw on top, mmm...

And there are even MORE figs on the trees. Apparently if you keep picking them, they keep growing! Who knew?

And this is a picture to demonstrate one aspect of my strange family dynamic. That's my mom's house, as viewed from my dad's backyard. Yep. My aunt lives next door, on my dad's other side. It's cozy.

Sometime soon I'll post a real wrap up of the trip- including the soon-to-be-legendary in our family CREEPIEST HOTEL EVER. The hotel we stayed at in Houston on the way home was hands down the worst place I've ever stayed, and remember, I have camped in haunted cacti ridden state parks while pregnant. Just saying. This weekend I'll get a chance to try out a fancy name brand hotel, though not La Quinta, alas. We're going to Dallas, for my one graduate school class meeting. It's for my preservation class, and I'm actually really looking forward to it. This has been my favorite class so far, even though the summer schedule makes it hard to keep up with the workload.

And I got the internship I wanted- I'll be working at the Episcopal Seminary next to UT in the fall. A small academic/special library, and I get to bounce around and work with everyone there- acquisitions, collection development, serials, ILL, and (eek) cataloging. The library shares space with the Episcopal Archives, and I am looking forward to the experience. However, even though I'm currently studying library environmental systems, and I have previously worked in the "too cold for hobos" PCL, I spaced for my interview and wore a sleeveless shirt. I thought I was going to freeze to death. A good library is approximately the same temperature as a pastry kitchen. I will definitely need to invest in more sweaters (what a hardship- I know).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Texas Energy Museum

After about 5 days in Beaumont, my mom and I were running out of ideas for what to do with the girls. My sweet grandmother is easily tired these days, and Lord knows my kids can really exacerbate that shit. It's too hot to be outside all day, if you're not planning on swimming, and although we swam a lot, constantly keeping Jane from drowning herself can get a bit stressful.

So my mom saw an "Ocean Life Exhibit" at the Texas Energy Museum, and thought Wren might like it. What you have to understand about the museum is that it could really only exist in Beaumont, otherwise known as Hurray Petrochemicals!, Texas. It's sort of like if Nabisco funded a museum about how awesome snack foods are. In other words- it's completely awesome. If the girls were more impressionable, I might have tried to follow it up with a counterbalance of some kind. A couple of years in the Peace Corps might have done it. Or a stint on a Greenpeace boat... As it is though, the whole thing was totally enjoyable and I highly recommend it.

In spite of the fact that every single time I have driven by a refinery with my dad (approximately 4000+ times) he has tried to explain the crude oil refining process to me, I have always missed some essential components. I can distinctly remember one time when I was desperately wishing we were talking about -anything else- when my dad was determined that I understand the fluid catalytic cracking unit. And hey dad! Now I do! Thanks Texas Energy Museum!

Also I got to see the girls use teamwork to safely pilot an oil tanker down the Intercoastal Canal into harbor at Port Arthur. Good job girls!

This is Wren briefly considering interacting with some creepy ocean life. I think it's awesome that it's where you go in Beaumont to see an Ocean Life Exhibit, because duh- ocean life eventually dies, and over the course of eons is transformed into wondrous oil. If you don't find that connection completely obvious, you might not be from the Golden Triangle, or surrounding areas (it's golden because of all the oil, see?)

Here's Jane learning about "controlling the flow." Although they have a really interesting historical collection of photos and archives on the second floor of the museum, I spent most of my time up there chasing Jane off the original Lucas Oil Spindletop rig.

The first floor of the museum is dedicated to the "modern" refining process. This exhibit lights up various areas of the refinery ("like shining beacons" says the narrator) while it explains what they do. Later you see what all the molecular components can be broken into- for instance lipstick! That will bring over the skeptics for sure. Wren particularly enjoyed the movie narrated by a molecule of crude oil, making its way through the refinery. The jolly little fellow spent some time in the distillation unit, and it was touch and go for a while there- edge of the seat stuff. Anyway, money well spent, if you are in Beaumont for some reason. Also, swing by the world's (3rd) largest fire hydrant. We seem to be really proud of that?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hello from Beaumont

What we've been up to:

Eating overpriced Dip n Dots at a water park in Lumberton.

Helping Grandad fly a rubber-band plane.

Sharpening sticks for hotdogs

And pretending to be alligators in Village Creek.

Also, I'm working in a good amount of study time in the evenings. Just ask me about Victorian bookbindings. ASK ME.

As much fun as we're having (proportionate to how sunburned or napless one is at the time the question is asked), it will also be good to pick up Chase and get home. Ramona, who is stuck in the yard with Pete the puppy, desperately agrees.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

july crafting update

So I checked out Heather Ross's book from the library and totally blew my interlibrary loan privileges by keeping it waaaaaay past the due date (that's right people- they are a privilege- not a right. librarian rant over). I kept thinking I would just try out -one more little project- but first I had to yadda yadda whatever and all of a sudden I am a terrible person who keeps a library book even though I know it's on hold for someone else.

So I have a few things I'd like to make from that book, and a few other projects I've bookmarked, but mostly I've been putting my crafting time in on two quilts I really love.

First up is Jane's log cabin quilt. I finished putting the binding on (messily) yesterday, and now all that's left is a few more squares of quilting and I get to wash it and pull a big, fluffy warm quilt out of the dryer. Then I get to deposit it on a bed that is more often than not coated in gritty sand and dog hair, but I am fine with that. The more often it's washed, the softer it will be. And in the Velveteen Rabbit school of mythology, if Jane loves it enough, maybe it will turn into a real live Quilt, and when she recovers from Scarlet Fever, the quilt will hop from the burning rubbish pile and roll (waddle? gallop?) into the forest, to live with all the other once beloved relics of lost childhood.

Is it coming through how much I hate that book? I'm sorry to anyone who has given me a copy of it since I had kids. I will -never- read that to my children. I am still battling guilt that my stuffed animals remained stuffed, and did not transform. My love was not sufficient to save them from a slavish stuffed existence.

So here's Jane's quilt. Which she can love exactly as much as she wants to. I hope she does like it though, since it's sized to Wren's bed, which is what Jane will be moving into once she's old enough to assure us that she won't just hop up in the morning and turn on all the gas burners.

Next up is a quilt for my bed, that I've been wanting to make for a while. It's a whole cloth quilt with white work. In the pictures the stitching looks pink but it's actually just a pink quilting pencil I used to sketch out the designs. I really hope that washes out of the thread eventually.

For the whole cloth I used top sheets we already had- both sheets we received as wedding presents 7 years ago this summer. We almost never actually use top sheets, I don't know why, but Chase can't stand them. He's weird. Anyway, since most people buy sheets in sets, I have a stack of top sheets sitting unused in my closet, and there is not room for anything in this tiny house to sit unused. So now they are in the process of becoming a quilt, with my beloved 80/20 as batting.

I am using mostly traditional quilting motifs, like the pumpkin seed in the corners, and the cabled borders, but I'm drawing on the quilt without the use of stencils, or even really rulers, so everything looks a bit wonky and off balance. I long ago embraced that as my "style," if half-assedness can be classified as a style. Really, I just used whatever edges and curves I had at hand (in this case, plates and books) to make templates. The center medallion is traditional Amish feathering, which is a total bitch to do. I was originally considering a feathered border, but once I finished the circle I was done with feathers.

So that's what I'm working on now. As soon as it gets cold, I'll pick up my knitting again. And when Chase is back in town, I might be able to sit down at the sewing machine again. But for now it's hand quilting, since I can drag it from room to room, and drop it anytime I need to enforce time outs or open string cheese wrappers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

summer is slipping by

Every time I look up, another month has gone by, and it's another 15 degrees hotter. It's funny how summer is not actually -busier- than the rest of the year, but it is definitely harder to keep track of time.

For instance, see how quickly Jane is growing up? Thank goodness her fingers and nostrils continue to grow apace. At least she can breath through her mouth.

It's an hour and twenty minutes past "bedtime" and I can hear Wren and Jane chattering to each other in their bedroom right now. I really should sneak in one night and leave a voice recorder in there. I know it would be priceless.

This picture I'm posting as proof that my children -do- occasionally lock themselves in the bathroom closet. Whether or not I leave them in there...? A question for the ages, or for CPS I guess. Melissa are you reading this? JK! HAHA!

Here they are alive and well, pursuing out-of-closet adventures, if anyone was worried. I love that turtle. Jane always desperately wants to be ON THE TUTTLE, and then at some point all her hard work pays off and she is ON IT and then you see her face go "oh. huh. well, so....this is... huh" and then she says GET DOWN NOW.

I am starting my summer class (preservation woo!) this Monday, and Chase will not be around for kid-herding, so I am heading to Beaumont, to visit my parents and take advantage of their affection for my children.

I am going to give my dad these waterproof zipper pouches I made for his boat. See how nautical I am? Embrace the theme, if not the actual boating (at least not without dramamine).