December 17, 2009
November 20, 2009
(Assistant on the phone behind our examining room.)
November 19, 2009
I've started a Christmas gift quilt (for a family member, none of whom read my blog or even remember I have it) that is way outside my comfort zone. Its super simplistic and modern, stretch number one. And it involves curved piecing, stretch number two. Each half circle block (half circle, not the whole circle) takes me close to an hour. Whew. Thankfully, I'm only planning on four circles. The rest of the quilt is just a big block of the gold. I think I'm going to like it, and I know I'm going to be proud of it. (And its exactly the recipients style, so I know she'll love it.)
I'm considering seeking out a machine quilter for this one. I've never done that before. But, I'm going to feel rushed by the fact that I really want to give it for Christmas, and my quilting skills aren't all that great to start with. With the big expanse of solid gold to fill in, I think my stitches will really show and I'm not sure I can live up to that. I haven't decided, though. The opportunity to do some fun quilting in that big expanse of gold is also pretty hard to pass up.
October 28, 2009
October 15, 2009
October 11, 2009
This is the project on my design wall this weekend. The design wall I created specifically to be able to do this project.* I've always had a well-defined plan before starting a quilt. Not necessarily a pattern, but always a clear plan where I've done some math and drawn out a sketch. But this week I launched in to a completely improvisational quilt. It started with the large bird in the middle and one of the rail fence sparrows. Then I hung them up on the wall for awhile before deciding to make three more sparrows. That hung overnight, and I'd stop by the sewing room just to look at them hanging on the wall and to occassionally audition ideas for what became the floral pieces this morning. I've never worked on a quilt like this before, and I'm loving it. I find my cutting and piecing is actually significantly more precise, because I'm working in smaller steps. (And I definitely don't miss cutting 125 squares at a time.) And its fun watching the quilt unfold naturally. I don't even know what size its going to be, and its already one of my favorites.** Now I'm contemplating what's next. A 1" brown frame? The bird sillhouettes down the sides? 3" blocks of both or maybe even other fabrics as well?
*By "design wall" I mean a craft size package of batting hung on the wall beside my sewing machine with push pins.
** I'll admit I'm hoping for a lap quilt I can keep on the couch, and not a baby quilt I'll be giving away. But, I honestly don't know yet which it will be and since I'm the one designing that is wild. Follow the fabric...
September 30, 2009
- Living spaces are small. Appliances are small. Personal space is small. Europe is small. You can get to Vienna from here, by bus, in well under a day. If the cafe is out of tables, someone will ask to share yours. (At least my experience is they will ask; in the german airport they just sit down in your empty chairs.)
- Showers are not in a separate space, but are in the middle of the bathroom and the drain in the middle of the floor. I have never seen a bath tub. The toilet may also be in this room, or it may be in a separate room. (I much prefer the latter, so I don't have to figure out how to shower without getting the toilet paper wet.)
- If you use a public restroom, there is the possibility that you will need to pay and/or squat.
- When you visit someone, you will sit at the table and you will be offered food as well as drink. You should accept, because if you don't they will just assume they haven't found the right thing to offer you yet.
- You will probably spend the evening drinking, discussing politics and swapping jokes. You will be asked for American jokes; I suggest you do some research because you won't remember any on the spot.
- If you ask, there's a good chance that any cafe or restaurant will have a menu in English and the server may very well speak some English.
- The waiter or waitress, however, will probably be intimidating. Its less scary to go in to a small store than to try and order coffee at a cafe. They also expect to be largely ignored by the customer, and if you ask their name or initiate any conversation it will be a surprise. For some it is a pleasant surprise.
- Regular coffee here means espresso. They will probably have nescafe and might have cappuccino. They will not have drip coffee. I don't know that they even know what a latte is.
- Pizza will probably have corn on it. And maybe an egg.
- Bulgarians are still pissed off about the time they spent under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, which they call the Ottoman Yoke, and they build monuments to the revolutionaries and soldiers that helped free them.
- This is because it lasted 500 years - this is more than twice as long as our country has existed.
- They do not consider themselves in any way, shape or form, Turkish or related to the Turks. And muslims are very much a minority. 500 years or no.
- Many gypsys live in Bulgaria and always have. They are not considered romantic or exotic, and though their music has had significant influence many Bulgarians still have mixed feelings about it.
- This is very much a cash economy. Most stores don't have cash registers. The person in charge of taking the money simply has a purse or wallet from which they make change and where they keep the money.
- I can not figure out if we pay tax on anything other than electronics, and it seems to be factored in to the price advertised. Maybe. I'm still a little confused on this issue.
- Family is huge and sprawling. Your parent's cousin is your uncle, and your cousin's child your nephew. There is a term to define the relationship between you and your child's mother-in-law. It is very common to call someone by their title (wife, brother) when addressing them or talking about them. I wonder if this is because names are recycled so much within families.
- There are parks absolutely everywhere and the children run free in them until 10 or 11 at night. Most restaurants have a play area for the children, and it is expected they will be running and playing. After age 5 or so, parents only expect them to check in every half hour or so and older children much less often than that. However, any older person feels free to correct a child that is not behaving properly.
- The soil is amazingly rich. Flowers, vegetables and grape vines are grown all around the base of apartment buildings.
- Stray dogs and cats roam the city and are routinely fed at restaurants. They are immunized, spayed/neutered and released by the city unless they become aggressive. They are not aggressive and I have not seen any animal waste in a public space. Pet dogs are kept on leashes at all times.
September 13, 2009
September 01, 2009
August 30, 2009
August 24, 2009
Sunday: 1/2 light gardening, cardio**
* After a stressful morning at work, my reaction was "I need to go to the gym at lunch." I'm excited that the gym is finally getting to be a default for stress management.
** My first time on the elliptical machine. Oh, mama.
August 21, 2009
August 17, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 11, 2009
August 10, 2009
My work week unexpectedly fractured in to a dozen meetings of varying sizes, spread out all over central Florida and spilling in to several of the evenings. I was doing my best to keep up, and getting to the gym wasn't in the cards. By the time the weekend came, I wanted a nap much more than a work out.
I'm paying for it, though. My muscles feel so tight that my entire body aches. I managed to pull a muscle in my back during a nap Sunday. Yes, that's what a said - I pulled a muscle napping. You'll have to excuse me now. I need to go to the gym. Obviously.
August 03, 2009
August 01, 2009
July 22, 2009
July 20, 2009
July 14, 2009
July 11, 2009
With the Surprise Jacket done, I am able to return to my own sweater. I made alot of progress this winter, with the torso finished and the sleeves almost done, and then put it down in favor of Sabine's quilt and Maggie's sweater. It was nice, though, to pick the project back up and immediately make such visible progress. The sleeves are attached and I'm working my way up the bodice. It's an easy patter, but with just enough thought required to keep it interesting. I knit enough over the 4th of July weekend to bruise my left pointer finger, the one I use to help push the stitch off the needle because the yarn tends to stick.
July 10, 2009
July 06, 2009
July 03, 2009
I really enjoyed making this sweater and I love how squishy and comfortable it turned out. I used a new yarn, Bernat Cot'n Corn, and the finished sweater does feel really good. But, I won't knit with Cot'n Corn again. There were way to many knots in the skeins, the yarn had a tendency to split and it would even come out of the ball unraveled enough to require me to cut away large sections. Then end result just wasn't worth the hassle, and I'm concerned about how it will wear over time. Fortunately, the baby won't fit it for long anyway.
June 30, 2009
My job requires a good bit of travel during the day, but generally its not to the prettier areas of my home. Last week, though, it took me out of town and in to the Ocala National Forest and the surrounding rural area. I took a short break in a national park, enjoying the cool lake water on a 100 degree day. I checked out the 50s era sign reminding me that Black Bears will come eat my food if I leave it out and said hello to some less reclusive native life. And I found a grape orchard, which my father in law would love, using peanuts as groundcover, which my mother would love. A lovely reminder of why I love Florida, made extra special because it was a work day.
June 29, 2009
"Or an electrical fire."
Followed by a check of the dishwasher and billowing black smoke. I can now confirm that an electrical fire (or maybe the near miss of one) does indeed smell like popcorn. I'm sure glad Alex knew about that.
June 22, 2009
June 21, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 16, 2009
Monday - light yoga
Wednesday - cardio, stretching and strength training
Friday - cardio, stretching and light strength training
Sunday - a long walk on the beach (yeah!)
I'm having alot of trouble with the muscles in my neck, so I'm pacing myself right now. I had a (painful) massage last Thursday that really helped, and I'll be going back tomorrow for another. But, I'm still getting the exercise in, so that's something. Tonight I'm planning to try the yoga again and see if that helps.
June 15, 2009
I've felt that bubble again over the years. Shortly after moving to D.C. and meeting Alex, it came as I was walking down the sidewalk to shop at Eastern Market. A year or two in to law school, watching the lights come on in my neighborhood on a cold Fall evening. Walking the dog around my apartment complex back here in Florida. Its my touchstone, that feeling, my signal that I'm making the right choices in my life. That the world is simply right. Not an every day thing, but a little message from myself that I hear in moments of peace.
Last week I realized I haven't felt that bubble in quite a while. Instead, I've been feeling a nagging disquiet. Nothing is wrong, but I wasn't entirely sure it was right either. Too often irritable voices have snapped out at one another, leaving bruised feelings that never quite have a chance to completely heal. Too many work concerns have followed us home, intruding and casting a shadow. Life has felt too full, too uncertain - too much. My attempts at something different have provided only momentary relief, followed by frustration when the simple task of choosing dinner leaves us in our separate corners. I've started to think again about what I would do if I left my job, what the after might be if this job I have loved is becoming a weight I can't bear. To reconsider choices and wonder if its time to adjust our plans, but with no idea what the alternative might be.
And then we spent this weekend at the beach, just the two of us away from everyone. It wasn't the clean escape I had hoped; those irritable voices managed to find us there. But, it was a chance to find our rhythm again. Lying together watching an afternoon storm rage on the ocean, holding hands as we walked on a quiet beach at night, listening to live music in a smoky bar - none of it planned but simply unfolding. The next morning I took my coffee out on the beach and walked by myself there in the quiet, alone with nature. And in that moment of peace, my touchstone welled within me. All is well.
Its reassuring, this knowledge that my disquiet is superficial. That what resides deep within is happiness. I can't be done looking for the shift that will put things in place; I know that. Superficial disquiet can become something deeper if I don't respond to the message being sent. But, it helps to know I'm playing with the right pieces.
June 13, 2009
June 11, 2009
Of course, air conditioning is changing that. You keep moving to get to that blessedly cool air, to breathe a little more easily. I'm not going to shake my fist at technology. I am glad for the relief of air condition and remember the years I lived without it with a touch of awe. But, I want to remember the natural rhythm of life too, the value of a slower pace now and again.
June 10, 2009
June 09, 2009
June 01, 2009
May 26, 2009
I took an extra day off today, which turned out to be tons of fun. After just a little time on laundry and gardening, I went out and explored. I started out to finally go in to a food co-op I think I should check out every time I drive past. They are open a whopping 18 hours a week, as it turns out, and today wasn't part of that. But, the asian grocery store was open. And full of people buying interesting things. I wandered through with Alex and his co-worker after lunch and found my kissing candy.
I also discovered they have live animals there. I don't remember that from my childhood. They fed the crocodiles (why crocodiles and not alligators, which actually live here? I couldn't tell you) crickets while I was there. I ended up spending three hours there. Great fun - I highly recommend visiting a museum by yourself on a weekday. The self-paced exploration can't be beat.
May 25, 2009
May 23, 2009
It's raining. Again. We desperately needed good rain after the drought, but we didn't need it all at one time. On the other hand, I know just what to do with a rainy Saturday morning. Brew a cup of tea and turn on the sewing machine.
This morning its back to the Wrap Skirt. I'm really enjoying sewing it, particularly in such a relaxed manner. I went slowly and was careful with my french seams, and for a change they came out perfectly. I also realized that sewing such a large skirt is alot like sewing a big quilt; there's alot of fabric to guide as you add the panels. I could probably have finished the skirt this morning (having browsed Flickr and decided to go with the yellow after all), but I ran out of fabric and I need to cut more panels. Or I at least think I do.
Heather has published errata regarding the number of panels you need, but I still read them to mean that I need six. But, warned by all the other comments about adding more panels, I've tried wrapping it around my waist and I think I need a seventh panel. The overlap is so small that, without another panel, I think I'll be flashing every time I move. So, if the rain ever lets up enough, I'm going to go buy more fabric. And then hope I can figure out how to adjust the waistband to fit.
Hmm - I guess I also need to decide whether to change from the yellow waistband and ties or not, since I'm going to the fabric store anyway...
I'm still slogging through my Carnival Tumblers quilt. My pleasure in it is definitely waning as I try (and try and try) to settle on a layout, and then have to figure it out again as I screw up the order. I don't think I'm a truly scrappy quilt girl. The lack of color control seems to be frustrating me, and thats even though I made sure I had a unifying color scheme. But, my sewing room helper keeps holding the blocks out to me and encouraging me to finish. I'm almost there now, and I suspect that putting the border on (the Carnival Bloom that was the basis of this quilt) will pull it together for me. Either that or I'll finish it off and give it to my sister, who has commented that she really likes it every time she's seen it on the floor of my sewing room, regardless of what permutation of the lay out it happens to be in. Then I won't have to look at it anymore.
May 19, 2009
May 17, 2009
May 14, 2009
May 11, 2009
May 04, 2009
Monday - cardio and strength building at the Y
Wednesday - cardio and strength building at the Y
Saturday - a 30 minute walk on the beach (wimpy, but with the soft sand around here it counts)
Sunday - 7 hours of heavy gardening
And just in case you think gardening shouldn't count, my thighs, back and shoulders hurt so much more from a day of gardening than they ever do from the gym. That was a serious workout. Serious enough that I'm worried I'll hurt myself if I try to do a full gym workout today. But, it didn't give me much in the way of cardio and I am really trying to establish a habit here. I've settled on a half hour on the stationery bike, which shouldn't hurt my back and will give me the cardio. Whether I can walk afterwards or not remains to be seen.
May 03, 2009
- blooming Vanda, always reliable but always a thrill
- Desert Rose, my show off that will hold through the summer
- almost ripe tomatoes that I haven't eaten right off the vine yet
- a bean sprout from the beans planted just days ago
- the first of the new caladium bed unfurling
- summer portulaca ('moss rose') for the turtle
I really did go buy more plants, but I only planted what I could work on in the shade and then waited until this evening to put in the rest. I mostly bought plants to fill in pots and then a few for the front bed, which still desperately needs plants since January's landscaping project. The bed still looks bare to me, but many of the plants in there are spreading plants and I need to give them a little time to fill in. Patience is a virtue. And, of course, I bought a few vegetables since I seem to have a serious weakness for them. Its almost past tomato season, but I put in two new cherry tomatoes since they'll last in to the heat yet. And I couldn't resist a couple of zucchini plants for my zucchini loving husband.
After all of that, I gave myself a pass on the gym work out today.
April 28, 2009
April 26, 2009
April 17, 2009
April 01, 2009
March 01, 2009
February 24, 2009
February 16, 2009
February 15, 2009
And with chores done on a rainy Sunday, what's a girl to do but play with scraps? My tumblers quilt was named today - Carnival Tumblers. After all, it was the Carnival Bloom scraps that were the inspiration and how I chose my color palette. I am counting on that color palette to tie it all together, since I spent several hours today chain piecing blocks together at random. I did pay some attention to contrast, but that's really it. Now I have a basket of two-units and single pieces to play with in putting together rows. If I'm smart, I'll do that tomorrow and go to bed now... I'm guessing I'll be tired tomorrow.
February 12, 2009
Wedding preparations have begun in earnest, and we've upped the ante with handmade bridesmaid's dresses. Fortunately, there are only two of us. Mom is making the one for our young cousin and I've begged help from a friend who is a much more accomplished seamstress. And by help I was clear that I meant "I'll cut out the pattern and follow instructions, but you'll do all the alteration and actual construction of this thing." I've just begun to develop some ability to construct simple garments that I'll actually wear. I am not ready to be responsible for my own dress when I'll be standing beside the most important person in my life on one of the most important days of hers.
January 26, 2009
With nothing going on at the sewing machine, I have pulled out a stack of scraps and started a project that I'm in love with. Using the wonderful Michael Miller Carnival Bloom print to set my color scheme, I am cutting out tumblers. I love the movement of the design and pulling all my favorite colors out of my scrap basket. Each little tumbler is about 3" at the bottom, 1 1/2" at the top and 3" tall. Then you add triangles along the edge to finish them off. I suspect I'll be at this for awhile.
January 22, 2009
You know, I vaguely remember a time when my yard was always covered with ice and snow by late January, where I watched for blizzard warnings, and had an ice scraper handy in my car. The dog even went for walks in the snow and knew that it was possible to potty before the temperatures rose above 40. Neither that girl nor that dog live around here these days. We consider this very cold, and the fact that the heat is (still) broken gives us license to curl up on the couch with the down comforter and refuse to move. Fortunately, the boy still harbors a love for the cold weather and is willing to indulge us.
You'd think, then, that this would be prime crafting time. Not much sewing would be getting done, what with that whole refusing to move off the couch thing, but definitely knitting, right? Yeah, not so much. Instead, I'm all about a lazy novel and a glass of wine. And since you can't hold a book or a glass of wine while knitting, well not much knitting is getting done. The sweater sleeve crawls along at a snails pace, though, and I'm okay with it. Right now, reading a trashy novel with my cuddly dog, warm comforter and cool glass of wine is working for me. We're hibernating. See you when the weather warms up. (You know, like 24 hours from now.)
January 20, 2009
- taking off 3 hours in the middle of a work day simply to witness;
- my respect for George W. Bush, whatever my disagreements with his administration, as I saw the honest smile reaching his eyes as the history of the civil rights movement is invoked in recognizing this moment;
- Obama visibly straightening his shoulders during the invocation;
- Malia taking a picture of her Dad as he gives his first speech as President;
- the humor of the oath being taken a few minutes after noon, despite all the warnings that it had to be taken before noon, and of the Chief Justice and Obama having to correct a line Roberts got wrong;
- Tuskegee Airmen and other veterans of a segregated military witnessing the first African American commander in chief take office;
- watching it again in the evening, and tearing up again.
January 15, 2009
January 02, 2009
Every corner you turn has another beautiful building, statute or plaque explaining the history that occurred right where you are standing. Often, it has all three. I couldn't resist taking picture after picture of the beautiful buildings. This is the Congregation Mickve Israel, founded by Jewish settlers who arrived in Savannah in 1733. They received a letter of congratulations from George Washington when they were later "founded in perpetuity." We had a great day, with a bit of romance and alot of fun. Alex was able to set aside the mess waiting for him at work until he could actually do something about it, and I was able to enjoy the time we had without regretting it was being cut short. It's a great way to start off the New Year, and if it means that in 2009 we'll be able to roll with the punches and focus on one another I'm all for it.