Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Little Bit of Everything

It seems when I get back into the classroom, I get a bit more quiet around these parts.  I feel like blabbing on and on today (hello procrastination!), so that's what you're getting...prepare yourselves!
I started back to teaching a few weeks ago so much of my time is being spent in the classroom or grading here and there.  It seems to be a nice semester with a large Reading class and a small Speaking class which is ideal for each!  I have a surprisingly large group of students from Burma/Myanmar and almost as many Syrians.  Eight years into this ESL teaching gig and I love it more and more each year.  The things my students teach me about their cultures and life in general is something I can't imagine learning any other way.  School is cool, man.  So is getting to know the rest of the world and its people. 

Aside from teaching and various sewing sessions, I've been knee deep in working with StreetCats.  I started volunteering with them when in moved back to Tulsa in 2002 and have been with them ever since.  Three years ago, I was asked to join the board and have been working hard on behind-the-scenes work for them ever since.  We just completed our 15th annual fundraiser, My Furry Valentine, which I did a figurative song and dance for on the news a few weeks ago.  I'll totally embarrass myself for anything craft or cat related.  It's how I roll.
This past weekend was a dandy.  Friday night my mom hung out with the kid so I could hear Brent's new band play for the first time at Mercury Lounge!  He was asked just a month or so ago to be their new drummer and it couldn't be working out better.  He loves playing live and I love that he has that back in his life again.  It was a great night out and I was beaming with pride.  It was also crazy cool to look around and see so many of our friends there to support him.  Made me feel all grateful and shit.  ;) 

Saturday was Valentine's Day and Brent gave me the best present ever - 3 hours at home all by myself!  Since we moved, I have been at home alone TWICE so this was a priceless gift.  He and Rio had their own adventures and returned with a few odds and ends including the book Holy Cow by David Duchovny.  Yup, that guy from the X-Files wrote a book.  I flew through it and enjoyed every moment.  Some of my reading time was even spent in the hammock in a tank and barefoot before our weather went all crazy, like it does.

As much as I love my time at school, I will never stop loving snow days.  Sunday night while my Oklahomies slept, Mother Nature dropped some white stuff upon us.  It was pretty adorable seeing Rio's reaction to the snow this time around now that she's older.  School was thankfully cancelled but Brent braved the roads to go to work, leaving Rio and I home for the next two days to cause trouble aside the new, crazy kitten. 
All in all, I ended up spending four days at home without leaving the house!  I loved every bit of it.  The highlight of the weekend was baking with the kid for the first time.  Sure, she's watched lots of meals being made and has sprinkled some cheese here and there but this was the first time that I felt she was really and truly ready to get her hands dirty with me.  I don't think it's a moment I'll ever forget.  She loved every moment of it (as did I) and wore her little apron with pride.  I grew up cooking right alongside my Granny (and mom, of course) and felt her presence again and again that day.  I know her and Rio would have loved each other deeply.  
I've been spending my 'free time' keeping ZeeBee from climbing the walls, getting in some fabric play, reflecting on how the great Tex impacted my life and so many others (it's somehow been one year today), reorganizing things that were neglected during the move, finding new music, and just breathing deeply.  I feel good.  And I'm thankful for that.
Now back to my regularly scheduled program of grading, toddler herding, and binge tea drinking.  Cheers to you all.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Vera Quilt

I made a quilt!  I know, no big deal but it's been over six months since I set out to build a quilt and I missed it terribly.  Yes, there were smaller projects here and there but I was craving something bigger, more involved, and creative.  It just kind of happened, right when the new year began.  I started playing around with the circles that I had cut out at Sew-OK and built from there.  There weren't any rules, there was no recipient in mind, and there was no deadline. 
This quilt was pure therapy.  After everything that happened in the past six months and the lack of time and energy to cathartic-ally create, I was way overdue for a quilting binge.  Boy did it feel good.  I've dubbed it the Vera Quilt because she was also my therapy through that rough patch and she was my sidekick while making this monster.  When I wasn't working on it, she would be asleep atop it, waiting until I returned.  And she coordinated so well with its colors.  It made sense to name it after her.
Design-wise, I freaking love this.  Love, love, love.  The colors are soothing to me, the fabrics work incredibly well together and are a nice mixture of vintage and modern.  I utilized new techniques in my top construction which led to some cool elements (hello circles and points!) but also brought about some issues.  I know that many quilting purists are totally against serging their quilt tops but I personally love it.  I feel it gives it extra security which I value in my quilts because I want them to be used and used!  With this particular work though, I decided to traditionally piece it which meant no serging.  Everything seemed fine until I washed it all and I then had several popped seams.  Talk about gutted.  I didn't touch it for weeks.  I was SO upset!  I finally sucked it up and went back and hand stitched all of the popped seams.  I owned it and I learned from it.  And honestly, I don't think any of it is even that noticeable except to me. 
I pieced the back with scraps and a large vintage sheet that I thought complimented the colors well.  I straight-line quilted the whole thing which I love the effect of.  I was lucky enough to find some bias tape that matched the background color and went with that.  It ended up being a perfect queen size quilt and with the lines, it looks SO good on a bed top.  I attempted photos of it on our bed but could never get the lighting quite right so you'll just have to trust me.  ;) 
Another random thing I encountered with this quilt was photographing it!  At our old house, I would hang everything on our deck.  It was the perfect situation.  At our new house, we don't have anything that high to hang something this large!  We tried standing on a ladder which produced a few shots but I wanted to try something else as well...  At our new shop, we have a large two-story fire escape that I thought may work well to hang things from.  Borrowed some clamps from my dad and two of the guys to hold the corners (thanks Oklahoma winds!) while I shot a few and was pretty pleased with the outcome!  I wasn't able to get detail shots like I normally do but I'll figure that out in the future.  Quilt photography learning curve! 
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.  It doesn't have a designated home yet I have offered it to a few that have mentioned wanting a queen-sized piece.  It can certainly live at our house...I'm sure Vera would be ok with that!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Meet ZeeBee

For almost two months now, we've only had one cat.  For the past 13 years, Vera has always had another cat around and honestly, I think she prefers it that way.  When I adopted Pimmy, I brought her in for Vera primarily.  That cat needed a feline companion.  Now, she's never been one to seek out the other cats but the others have always found friendship through her and she welcomed it.  It's when she's not had another cat around that I notice her to be more frantic, much more vocal, and just not content. With our recent kitty losses, she needed another kitty friend.  I also deeply needed another cat around.

We've somewhat been looking for that right cat but hadn't come across one that would work for our household.  I met a litter of gorgeous feral kitties in a friend's backyard, stopped by StreetCats a few times to meet some cats that caught my eye, and watched online for youngins up for adoption but none of them were right.  Then, last Friday as I was scrolling through Facebook, a little orange kitten made me stop in my tracks.  I tagged Brent and he promptly called telling me to go get him.  I wasn't fully convinced because I truly believe you need to meet an animal first to make sure it's right, but I was sure motivated by his excitement!  Rio and I packed up from work early, bid my dad adieu, and were on our way to Feline Specialties after a quick phone call to inquire about this guy.
His story was short and simple.  A man in town for the holidays found two kittens while hiking at Turkey Mountain.  FS was the only vet able to take the two in which is perfect because they are tops in cat care.  They nursed the brother and sister duo to health and got them ready for adoption.  It's obvious these kittens were handled often and were well taken care of in the vet's care.  They averaged them to be about 8 weeks old the day they put them up for adoption. 

So back to our adventure.  I was SO nervous on the drive over.  Was I ready for another kitten after what happened with Opal?  Would they approve us after hearing of our losses?  Would it not be the right cat again?  My nerves were for nothing.  Rio and I arrived at the vet to find out the sister had been adopted before they could even get her online.  We made our way to the brother's cage and saw him curled up sleeping like a little angel.  It was heart-melting, of course, but I still needed to interact with him before I made the decision.  They let us spend time with him alone in an exam room and it was immediately evident that this guy would be coming home with us.  The way him and Rio connected was one of the cutest things I've ever seen.  At that point, there was no choice to make.

This guy is the bravest thing I've ever seen.  One-hundred pound dog?  Ain't no thang.  Toddler who wants to lug him around?  He purrs throughout the journey.  He's equally bonded with both Brent and me and he's made himself right at home.  He plays SO hilariously hard which is promptly followed by crashing wherever he is.  It's been a week today and I've not once doubted the decision to bring him home.  He's adventurous, he's curious, he's loving, and he's just what our household needed.  He's ZeeBee.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Rio's *New* Room Tour

In a house with never-ending projects, it feels pretty damn good to say that we've completed a room.  When we moved into this new house, it was right before Rio's second birthday.  We did have a little party for her with a some friends and family but didn't even get her a present, if memory serves me correctly.  It was a pretty chaotic time!  We did, however, vow to at least get her room put together by her birthday.  Well, we DID get it painted, large furniture stabilized, and some curtains (kind of) made but never got around to those little finishing touches until this past weekend.
We had planned to go out of town for the weekend and to leave the kid with my folks but we ended up deciding to stay in town.  My folks were still up for a sleepover so we took full advantage!  The weather was crummy, Brent and I both weren't feeling tops so we opted for a night in which ended up being a super productive evening in Rio's room!  It's SO much easier to work in, deep clean, and purge a toddler's room without that toddler in the room.  :)
We cleaned out toys that she had grown out of and reorganized what was left, which had been driving me crazy!  It was loosely put together, but it just needed refreshing. We pulled down the curtains so I could finally hem them (for those interested, I have tons of this fabric available in my shop) which made a world of difference, at least for us!  We also finally got odds and ends up on the walls and moved a few pieces of furniture around.  Sounds pretty lame for a Saturday night, I know, but we sure welcomed it and were glad to get so much done in there!
All of our bedrooms have high ceilings on one side which I love, but I hate to paint!  Ha!  It's also a challenge to figure out what to hang on those larger walls but we're figuring it out slowly but surely. Rio's room color is the same that we used at the old house in her room (the nursery and beyond).  It's a light blue-ish grey that we knew would work with everything we already had.  We've had to do SO much painting already here that I really had no interest in choosing another new color when I still liked her old color.  Just bought a bit more and we were good!
We decided to remove her closet doors for a few reasons.  First, crushed fingers.  I know now though that she would have been fine with them as she operates the other closet doors just fine.  I liked the idea of her closet being a continuation of her room and, in a way, a sort of play house within her room.  I also like that having the closet open would motivate us to keep it more clean and organized than we would if we had the option to hide things behind doors!  And how exciting is it that she finally has an actual closet and that my clothes aren't stored in her room?!  I painted her closet a pinkish-purple color that I matched to a small reoccurring color in her curtains.  We also painted the little corner shelf and her vent cover the same pink color.  Her wall color, dresser color, and closet color were all used in her kitchen, as well.
One of the first things we did when we moved into the new place was replace flooring throughout.  We knew that we'd never change out the flooring once we moved in and the carpet that came with the house had seen much better days.  Since we had a month before we had to get out of the old house, we decided to make it happen.  The bedrooms and my workroom received new carpet and two other floorings went in other areas.  Choosing what to go with wasn't the easiest decision but ultimately we went with a grey since we're a house full of animals, a toddler, and a mister who works in construction - a light colored carpet was not in our stars! 
In regards to the original curtains, those have already been deconstructed, cleaned, and made into new things!  In fact, we inherited many amazing fabrics from the curtains in the house.  Most we're changing out but the fabric sure won't go to waste! This house has windows upon windows so it's been fun (and a bit overwhelming!) figuring out how to give them facelifts on a budget.  The windows were all heavily covered and hidden so we're trying to give them new life and let them breathe again!
I could talk for days about this room and tell stories about all of the furniture and such found throughout but I'm sure I've already bored you to tears.  :)  To finish up, I love this room and I hope Rio does too.  It's such a happy, bright space that I think it's hard NOT to enjoy it.  It will evolve, no doubt, just as the rest of our home will.  I hope you've enjoyed the tour as much as I've enjoyed giving it!  More rooms coming soon-ish!
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