Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Emerson Quilt

Something I've learned about myself over the years is that when I'm busy, I find ways to make myself even more busy all the while attempting to not be busy.  Huh?  For example, the past two weeks I've been inundated with teaching (preparing for and grading for) two classes;  creating, editing and distributing our state's OKTESOL newsletter; working with the folks; running around with an-almost-one-year-old; planning a gigantic one-year birthday party; counting down the days until Alliday apps are due; and general living (eating, showering, sleeping...) so of course I decide that I need just a *little* more to do like paint rooms in the house, completely rearrange every piece of art on our walls, make the birthday girl a dress for her party and, oh, make a quilt within a week for some friends.  Yeah, long story short (after you've already read the long story), I started and finished a quilt last week for a baby that was due last week but who has yet to make his appearance.  Shew, my brain hurts just writing all of that! ;)

So, here's what I had to work with - navy blue, baby blue, white and tree brown.  I knew that the mom's favorite color is green so my accent fabric seemed perfect!  I believe that accent fabric is the only vintage fabric in this one, actually.  The striped brown and white fabric was what I used to make my ridiculously large maternity dress last year.  When I start to build any sort of work with multiple fabrics, I pull out more fabrics than I'll ever end up using and I usually only use 5% of the options I pull out but it's all part of the process for me.  I've been wanting to do some sort of random placement, line quilt for a while now so this was my opportunity!

It was SO easy.  I just cut strips 3 inches wide but at different lengths and then laid them all out until I was happy with the placements.  I guess that means it wasn't really all that random though ;)  I had a few strips left over once I did the main eight rows so I decided to add that perpendicular line out which I love!  The blue filler fabric was hand-me-down fabric that was just perfect and that I had tons of so I knew I'd be able to use it on the back as well.

In regards to quilting, I just stitched in the ditch along each of the strips and then did the four lines in the blue fabric and called it done!  I learned my lesson with my last quilt after unpicking alllllllll of my quilting that less is more! :)
 
I bought my binding again this time around.  SUCH a time saver.  I actually picked some up at an estate sale that was the perfect length but it was a single-fold bias so it wasn't quite wide enough to hide my edge stitching so to the store I went to buy double-fold tape.  
The mister has declared this his favorite quilt of mine so far.  I've only made six so there aren't that many to choose from yet but I sure appreciate his encouragement, support and enthusiasm :)  Baby Emerson was due last Tuesday and if he doesn't show up by this Tuesday, he'll be served his eviction notice...on my birthday!  We're quite excited to meet this little guy, as I know his parents are as well!

Next quilt's due date = 3 weeks.  I've got this.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Life with Rio: *Almost* One Year

In twelve days, this kid will be one year old.  Unreal. 

Finally, after teasing us early on, this kid sleeps.  Like sleep sleeps.  For the past month or longer, she typically goes down about eight at night and sleeps close to twelve hours straight in her crib.  Now, there are some nights (maybe once a week.  maybe.) where she'll wake up and not be able to put herself back to sleep which ends up with her between us in our bed but more often than not, she's that champion sleeper I once boasted about.  It's awesome.  Also, white noise machines could be the greatest invention ever.  

She's still pretty much a one-nap-a-day kid but it's usually a solid 2-3 hour nap.  There have been times when she'll squeeze in a quick power nap in the late afternoon but typically she goes down around 12 (without nursing!) and sleeps her little heart out during that one nap.
Speaking of nursing, we're still going at it!  I somehow kicked that infection's ass (take that!) and it looks like we're going to hit our goal of 1 year nursing and no formula at all!  Last month we did some weaning to prepare for me to go back to teaching and while I was nervous about how the transition would be for her and me, it's been smooth as buttah.  We now only nurse three times a day - around 7 or 8 in the morning, around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and for bedtime around 8.  That's that.  After her birthday, I'd ideally like to really push to completely wean within a month or two.  

So now, naturally, she eats more 'grown up food' than ever before.  We still do the same breakfast routine of oatmeal with fruit followed by sharing a banana with me.  For lunch which is right before her big nap, we give her a pouch of pureed food.  The reason for this is that she is usually at the shop for lunch and honestly, it's the least messy thing we could feed her which is perfect for this time and place!  For dinner, she feeds herself (lots!) and has for a few months now.  We always start with cottage cheese which I believe may be her favorite food.  We buy the stuff in bulk now since all three of us eat it like mad.  Then she'll eat some vegetable, often with some sort of carby goodness.  We finish off the meal with a little fruit and then a big bath since she's usually covered in food by the time she's done.  Before we hit this stage of feeding, Mondo was never really allowed people food but now, that rule has gone out the window and he gets whatever drops on the floor.  It's safe to say that cottage cheese could be his favorite as well.
Developmentally, this kid is changing daily.  She started taking steps about a month ago but seems to find comfort in continuing to hang on to things while she walks.  Every once in a while though, she'll surprise us by walking from this to that with no support.  In fact, as I typed that sentence she took a few steps from a chair to her toy, unassisted.  When she's not taking steps here and there, she is a crawling machine and often does so without her knees touching the floor.  It's a sight.  And she's fast at it.  I'm still amazed at how quickly she can move in that position.  

Dancing.  Her favorite.  Sometimes we'll try and put a cartoon on TV and she won't even look twice but put music on TV and she's enthralled.  She's been dancing for months now and it could be my favorite thing that she does.  She has all sorts of style of dance and will stop what she's doing to bust a move.  So much awesome.  A close fave of mine is the wave.  It started when we would say 'bye-bye' but now she does it without a prompt and it's. the. cutest.  She waved at Vera the other morning and I about died.  Waving, who knew it could be so adorable.
Her six teeth haven't seemed to impede her new found vocabulary.  That's right, we've got words, ladies and gents.  I'm not sure how articulate a word has to be to be considered a first word but I'm going to go ahead and declare her first word as 'kitty'.  It sounds like 'itty' but she DEFINITELY uses it to refer to the cats often.  If she hears a cat in the other room, 'itty'.  If a cat comes within her vision, 'itty'.  We have also been working with 'doggy' but it hasn't caught on quite as fast as 'kitty' although there is a mumble that sounds like it.  She has called Mondo 'kitty' a few times though :)  It's cool, her mom calls all birds 'chickens' so she's on the same path ;)  She also knows 'dada' and will call Brent that.  That's pretty stinking endearing.  No 'mama' yet but that's ok...'kitty' and 'dada' are more important!  So she may be limited on what she can say but she certainly knows lots of words.  She knows 'book', 'bird', and 'nose'.  Genius?  Maybe.
So a few extra tidbits.  She's discovered the piano and plays it at least once a day.  She's at the perfect height to reach the keys and will tickle the ivories for about five minutes all the while looking back at us with a huge grin on her face.  She's obsessed with flat objects.  She has a fake, plastic letter that she carries around everywhere and also has these flat wooden shapes that I bought at an estate sale that she loves.  She loves to have more than one of any flat object in her hand at a time and will rub them together or slide them across the floor.  That will keep her busy for quite some time.  She is also a fan of books although she's rather chew on them than read them.  I'm hoping the book eating phase passes sooner than later.  That being said, she has a few cloth books that she loves and doesn't eat!
She battled her first real illness last week.  She had a little virus that presented itself in a low-grade fever, a slight rash, fussiness, extra naps and the desire to just be held all of the time.  It was sad to not have our happy little girl for those few days but she is certainly back to her bubbly, entertaining self. Even through it all though, she was still a dream baby...if we can still consider her a baby, that is!

She's definitely more vocal with her opinions as in if she wants something, she lets you know and if she doesn't want something, she lets you know even louder.  She's also entered the stage where she likes to drop things.  Over and over again.  And she thinks it's hilarious.  It is when you watch her crack up at us picking things up for her :)  She's figured out how to put any sort of fabric over her head to play peek a boo which is another 'game' that leaves her in stitches.  I often give her my scarves to play with.  She seems to like the different fabrics and colors and I like that it keeps her busy for five minutes :)
 
A friend of mine with a teenage daughter once told me that every age her daughter has ever been has been her favorite age.  I love that.  While it's crazy and bittersweet that our baby is growing up so quickly, I make a point not to be sad about that but to embrace whatever the next stage may be and to love every bit of it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our Gentlemen of the Road Adventure

A few months ago, we made an impromptu decision and bought Gentlemen of the Road tickets for their Guthrie stop.  They weren't cheap and it was months in the future but we figured that the kid would be older and a big weekend like that would be more feasible at that time.  
We weren't sure then if we'd be bringing the kid with us or not but just in case we did, we decided to book a room instead of camp.  All rooms in Guthrie were booked the day tickets went on sale so we grabbed one just 15 minutes down the highway in Edmond.  A hotel = best decision ever.  We did end up bringing the kid and it ended up being about 100 degrees all weekend so the small drive was worth an air-conditioned room, showers and continental breakfast.  The first night we also had two of my best girlfriends stay with us on the floor which was tons of fun and reminded me of the good ol' days :)  Poor Brent was the lone man but he survived!
Night one, we saw a band whose name alludes me at the moment followed by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  We saw them once before at Cains but this show blew that one out of the water.  We had packed in a blanket and set up a little pallet for our family of three to enjoy the tunes.  Rio danced with her little headphones on and later fell asleep on my back as we trekked back to the car.  It was a great memory.
On Saturday we farted around town, popping into the local shops here and there for some cool down and made it in time to see our friend's band, Welcome Little Stranger, make their stage debut.  It was hauntingly awesome.  If you ever make your way into Guthrie, make sure to squeeze in a visit to Prairie Gothic and Hancock Creative.  They are next door to each other, making it that much easier :)  
If you're lucky like we were, you'll also get to witness an old school gun battle in the street!  
It was really impressive the way the town transformed to accommodate more than triple their population.  Each day we were able to park riiiiiiight by downtown, the first night free even!
After quite a few hours meandering through downtown, we decided to take a reprieve in the car for a while so Rio could squeeze in a quality nap before the evening festivities.  I worked on some needlepoint, Brent watched some Simpons and the kid got in some much needed snoozing.  
Saturday night's big stage featured many acts but the two we caught were Alabama Shakes and Mumford and Sons.  The place was PACKED.  More than double the amount of people than the night before.  Not going to lie, there was a moment that I got really overwhelmed inside due to the amount of people.  BUT everyone was really chill and positive which says tons about who this festival spoke to :)   And yes, Rio kept those headphones on the whole time.

It was amazing to me how many people were there that we knew!  Many we didn't see but there were also SO many that we did run into and several that we got to hang out with!  It made the experience that much sweeter.  
I will say, bringing a baby to something like this got us a lot of attention.  I guess it's like a single guy taking a puppy to a park ;)  There were actually lots of babies around but none quite as cute as our happy, dancing, ear-phone-wearing Rio.  Despite the heat and wonky sleep, she was a Rockstar with a capital R.  I'm so glad we did decide to bring her along.  It wouldn't have been the same without her.
It was no surprise that Mumford and Sons was fantastic live.  They seemed very grateful to be there and enjoyed performing.  We did leave a few songs before they were done due to a passed out baby and me wanting to avoid leaving at the same time as 30,000 other people.  Sucked to have not seen every tune but glad we made our exit when we did.
Had we not had a kid in tow, we probably would have taken advantage of the non-stop street parties or the DJ that took the main stage after M&S ended.  It was truly a memorable weekend with some of my favorite people, my much-loved family and one of my favorite Oklahoma towns mixed in with some great music.  We won't be forgetting this experience anytime soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Cameron Quilt

The strangest thing happened to me a few weeks ago that I never saw coming - someone actually asked me to make them a quilt.  I don't know why but for some reason, I never really thought that someone would WANT me to make them a quilt but I was beyond honored and excited by the request!

So, my guidelines were simple, green, black, small (crib size), for a newborn boy, and done by the end of September.  Um, green and black?  You are speaking my language!  And small?  Yes!

I had a very small amount of the green striped fabric leftover from other projects and decided to use that as my focal point.  One thing you should know about me is that I'm very mono-chromatically-minded meaning I'm all about grouping different shades of one color together.  It just works for me.  You should see some of the rooms in our house :)  That being said, I had absolutely no problem mixing the greens in this blanket!

The two smaller green stripes are leftover fabric scraps from my biggest quilt yet and the larger, lighter green stripes are from some vintage fabric that I had previously used as random table coverings at shows!  The black and white fabric is actually not vintage but man oh man, is it cool!  I bought it at a garage sale I happened upon a few months ago where I cleaned up on some amazing fabrics for pennies!  She's supposed to be destashing more soon so I've been keeping my eyes open for those signs to pop up :)

I began by building the middle section of the top first.  I had no idea where I would go from there but trusted that I would figure it out!  I toyed with doing something fancy but simple on the backside and ended up HAVING to put that strip in the middle as the backing fabric that I pulled out to use wasn't quite long enough.  I'm glad it worked out the way it did though because I love it!
 
When I finally got to the quilting stage, I decided to just 'stitch in the ditch' and then decided to free-style stitch in the larger green areas...which I ended up HATING when I was done.  So after I had completely finished the quilt, I went through and unpicked alllllllll of that free-style stitching and am SO glad I did because it made all of the difference in the world!
 
In regards to my binding, I bought my bias tape this time around instead of making it!  Knowing I just wanted a simple, black edge, I figured buying it would be my smartest option.  It was. 

Of course it's a given how much I love the colors but I also love so much more.  I love the design, I love the different textures that will be perfect for little hands but mostly, I love the fact that someone wanted me to do this for them!  :)

Now on to my next one...
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