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Back It Up!

Quick post! I put together the backing for the infamous purple quilt.

Now the tricky part: deciding how I’m going to quilt it! If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to them.  My mom thinks I should dive off the deep end and stipple it- but, since I’m such a newbie, I don’t know.

Here’s what the front looks like, in case you’ve forgotten.

Happy Good Friday! I’m going to spend it cooking and baking with my family. Polish Easter here I come!

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Quilting

 

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Spring is on it’s way!

Finnegan has been giving us a bit of trouble lately. Last year we nicknamed him “Houdini”- he’s our little escape artist and loves to put on a show. This dog is really really smart- I’ve seen him testing the fence line to find weak spots and he’s developed a pretty effective strategy for getting out. He digs a shallow hole and then uses his teeth to PRY the chain link fence up. He’s even UNlinked the fence before.

The worst two parts about it are: 1) He prefers to get out after dark, which makes it 1,000 times more scary for me 2) He usually comes back full of mud and in need of a bath.

He doesn’t go far when he escapes- he just sprints and sniffs around a territory of about 5 neighbor’s yards. And he always comes back, but it’s still pretty scary. We’ve tried to reinforce the chain-link by staking it down and putting big rocks down, but nothing works to keep Finn in and our backyard is starting to look like a junk yard.  So Brian and I decided that we’re going to use our tax return money to get an electric fence. Hopefully that will do the trick- I’ll keep you updated.

In other news, this is the first official GARDENING post of 2012!!! Woo Hoo! Spring is just around the corner! The trees and bushes put out buds weeks ago- they are just as confused by all the mild weather as we’ve been. I have some bulbs sprouting in the front yard that I’ve started to check every few days. All this means that it’s about time to get started on my vegetable garden!

I ordered seeds from the same company as last year. You can read last year’s seed post to hear why I chose this company in particular. I didn’t have the best luck with the garden last year: squash bugs and the curly top virus were particularly damaging. I’m going to give heirloom seeds another shot before I give up and go back to Burpee. This year I decided to shop a bit smarter, so I went through the seed catalog and only selected seed that included the phrase “disease resistant” in the description. Hopefully that will make things easier for me this year. I was really disappointed by the ineffective organic pesticides I tried last year, so my goal is to not need them.

Here’s what I purchased: 4 new tomato varieties

2 beans, 1 eggplant and a yellow squash:

I also got this packet of peppers, but plan to use them mostly for decoration rather than eating. These will go on the side of the house, outside of our fence line, so the dogs have 0% chance of eating them.

I also got some flower seeds this year! I’m going to try to make my landscape beds feel fuller by adding some annuals grown from seed. I’m especially excited about those sunflower seeds!

Lastly, I got some different basil seed that promised a bushier plant, with more leaves per stalk.

Now I just have to get a move on starting some of these seeds! Some will eventually get direct-sowed into the ground, but some need to be started indoors to get a head start and produce fruit in time for harvest. Yay for the growing season starting!

Of course I’ve also been doing some quilting. I’ve mostly been working on that secret surprise project that I mentioned, so there’s not a whole lot I can share with you on that. Good news is that it’s a pretty simple project, so I should be able to reveal the secret sooner rather than later.

Since I finished the front of the purple quilt, I moved on to planning the back. One trend I love in modern quilting is the pieced backs, so I decided to give it a try on this quilt. Here’s what I planned out:

As you can see, it’s going to require a good amount of fabric, so I went ahead and ordered some more. I also needed to get some for the border I’m adding to the front. (This is going to be one expensive quilt! Don’t tell Brian.) I got started on the back by piecing together those two strips of blocks you can see in my plan.

I’m pretty excited about this back coming together. My mom told me it’s always a good idea to try something new in each quilt you make. So this time it’s going to be the pieced back and I am going to make my own binding. I am itching for my fabric to arrive in the mail so I have more to work on!

The 1,000 mile challenge is still going, slowly but surely. It was a low mileage week because I had a race yesterday! I ran in the Indianapolis Polar Bear race. It had two races, a 3 mile and a 5 mile, and it had the option to double up and do both. I decided to be a little crazy and do both. So, I “raced” the 3 mile, and ran about 8:20 pace. My friend Sarah ran too and finished about 30 seconds ahead of me. It’s one of my goals to be able to finish a race with her rather than behind her!!! Then, I ran the 5 mile. My 1st mile was ridiculously slow- about 10:10 or so. I hadn’t felt well (nauseous) running the 3 mile, so I started out REALLY conservative. I’d also had about 20 minutes between races, so I was starting out cold again. Since I’d felt so bad during the 3 mile I decided my only goal for the 5 mile was to run at a pace that felt good. Eventually that meant picking up the pace, so each mile I ran got a little faster, and I finished in 47:17. Not my best time for 5 miles, by far, but not bad following up a fast (for me) 3 miles. So here’s where I’m at:


Last, but not least, I might have a new job! It’s not in place of teaching, but in addition. I don’t have all the details yet, so I can’t say too much about it. All I can really say is that I’m excited about it and I’ll know more after Tuesday. To be continued…

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Dogs, Garden, Quilting, Running

 

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Ta Da! It’s Magic!

Look:

Some little quilt gnomes came and sewed all my rows together! No, not really. It would be pretty amazing if there were magic quilt gnomes though. What really happened is my mother-in-law loaned me one of her sewing machines. Thank goodness, because I was afraid I was really going to stall out waiting for a new machine.

I’m pretty lucky- her Singer is a huge upgrade from my busted machine. It took me a little while to get “settled in” with it… adjusting tension, stitch length, etc. But now I’m obviously cruising! I need to add on the vertical sashing on the sides still, and I want to add a border too. It’s not quite wide enough to drape as far down on the bed as I want it to, so I’m considering just adding this border to the sides and not the top and bottom. I don’t know if I’m “hip” enough for that asymmetry though.

That’s the bed it’s going to go on. Please excuse how completely undecorated and basic this room is. The quilt is going to be the first element of style injected into this guest room. We haven’t put anything but hand-me-downs in here, so it’s not a great looking room yet. I’m hoping to change that in the near-ish future. Hoping is the key word there. We have so much to do in other rooms that get much more use. After nearly three years we still don’t have a dining room table! That is a subject for a completely separate post though… the list of things I’d like to do to our house… sigh. It’s a long list.

Here’s the quilt that’s on this bed currently. I love this quilt so much. If my house were burning down and I only had time to grab like three things, this quilt would be one of them. My mom made it for me and it was one of the first bed-sized quilts she made.

Unfortunately, I haven’t taken very good care of this quilt. Or, maybe I should say this quilt has been loved pretty aggressively:

I feel pretty horribly about all the rips on the top of this quilt. I know exactly how it happened, too. We let Truman on the bed. Lesson in quilt care: sharp puppy nails not only hurt, they will disembowel that priceless quilt on your bed.

My mom is supposed to be making a double wedding ring quilt for me (it’s probably not the last time I’ll mention this fact), and I’m wondering what I’m going to do when (IF?) I get it. I love having my dogs to snuggle with on the bed. Honestly, I’d be okay with kicking Truman off the bed (gasp!) but it makes me sad to think about kicking Finnegan off. He’s just so soft and snuggly.

On another domestic front- last night I made a pretty awesome meal for my Valentine.

I made a whole roast citrus chicken, red wine risotto with peas, and carrot celery root puree. All the recipes were from Giada on the Food Network. I usually love her recipes and these were no exception. We definitely got a full serving of vegetables! I took a few pictures of the cooking process, but I decided not to post them. When you don’t have a very good camera it’s really really really hard to make food look good. In fact, I’d say the photos I took made all my food look pretty unappetizing. Which is frustrating, because not only did the food I made taste really good, it DID look good. Just another reason to get a Digital SLR. If I only had about $500 to spare…

Anyway, these recipes were all pretty simple. I mean, if you don’t mind diligently watching the risotto so it doesn’t scorch and getting out the stick blender to puree those vegetables. Dessert was even easier, since I just went out and bought it, but can you blame me?

Cupcakes from The Flying Cupcake and candies from The Best Chocolate in Town. The candies were 2 caramels, 2 sea salt chocolate caramels, and three truffles: Sun King Weemac (flavored with a brew from a local brewery), Rosemary, and Fiery Pepper. I bought some of these chocolates for Valentine’s Day last year and, man! They do not disappoint. The cupcakes are a little more fun to photograph, though, so here are the stars:


Here Comes the Bride (almond flavored and gigantic)!

Pucker Up. Lemon flavored and very pretty.

Salted Caramel Chocolate. Seriously the best frosting ever.

Irish Car Bomb: Chocolate Guinness cupcake with Irish Cream frosting. Can’t wait to try it.

We did NOT eat all of those treats. I think tonight we’ll finish everything up for sure! I don’t know if Brian should trust me home alone with them until then though…

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Quilting

 

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Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Whoopsie Daisy! You might think I’ve not written on the blog because I’ve been incredibly busy… but, you’d be wrong. I don’t know what I’ve been keeping busy with lately, but I haven’t had much to blog about. I stalled out on the purple quilt, but I just got back to it over the last two days. I had to buy a new 12.5″x12.5″ ruler to square off my blocks. I don’t know how it happened, but they were all different sizes! Some needed just about 1/8″ off on one or two sides, but some needed 1/4″ off! It’s not very fun to square off, so I took a long time doing it. Anyway, here’s where I am now:

I have my first row sewn together. This means I decided to add the white sashing in. I draped this row over the bed I want to use the quilt on and somehow it ended up much, much shorter than I originally planned. I must be awful at math or something, because it seems like everything is coming out a surprise for this quilt. To compensate for the shortness I’m going to start thinking up a border. Time to check out all the scraps I made while cutting this fabric and see what I can come up with.

Speaking of fabric, I did get some more. My excuse is that I’m building my stash. Actually, two out of three of my purchases were for specified projects, so only one is to stash away.

I got this fun flannel from Joann’s to use as the backing for the denim quilt. I even got it on an awesome sale- just $2.50/yard! I love all the bright colors. Too bad I have no idea when I’ll even be able to start piecing this quilt together.

This is the fabric I bought just for fun, to stash away. It’s Chez Moi Hunky Dory Garden in Blue Sky and I bought it here. I don’t remember how I found this fabric, but once I did I noticed not very many people had it in stock, so I bought some up before it totally disappears.

My last purchase I can only give you a sneak peek at, because it’s going to become a surprise for someone special.


It’s a fat quarter bundle, but that’s all I’m sayin’. I can’t wait to start on this project!


On the running front, things are going pretty slow. I only ran 10 miles last week because I still felt sick. I think I started running too quickly when I started to feel just a little better, so the cold came back for a second round. I’m starting to get a little worried… if I want to make it to 1,000 miles I have to start running at least 20 miles per week pretty consistently. That’s not too bad if you’re running every day, but I’m taking 2 days a week off (Tues and Thurs, when I teach). So either I’ll have to start upping my miles per run, or I’ll have to suck it up and start running on either Tues or Thurs. In any case, NOT looking forward to the February weather that’s coming our way this weekend. Not at all.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Quilting, Running

 

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Runny Nose & Building Blocks

Am I three again? No, but I have been puttering around the house with a runny nose while I play with my blocks. I’ve been sick the last few days, so the only thing I’ve really had any energy for is quilting. That said, lemme show you the progress I’ve made on my purple & aqua quilt.

We started out here.

Then things started growing…


And things really took off after I figured out a better process: chain sewing a bunch of components instead of doing one block at a time!

And, thanks to two solid days of pity-parties and a bad cold…
Voila!

It took forever to figure out the layout of all those blocks. I ended up deciding I wanted the blocks I liked the most closest to the center. Sorry the photos aren’t the best quality- my camera stinks at taking pictures inside, and it was rough trying to fit everything in the frame. Truman got pretty bored of me taking pictures…

Or maybe jealous. He figured out how to get my attention though…
Smartie Pants! Trumie really likes this one. Sorry Oso, this one is not going on our bed.

Although I took two days off of running, I got back to it today. Technically I took a sick day off of work, but I guess I shouldn’t have because turns out I felt good enough for a run. It was 57 stinkin’ degrees today- how could I not run?!? The glory of running in a single layer of clothing!!!!!

Here’s something I’ve been liking a lot on my runs:

It’s a Tervis Tumbler that Brian got from one of his athletes. I kinda stole it. In this household we’ve kinda got a use-it-or-lose-it mentality. The reason I really like this is because it holds a lot of water, keeps it cold, AND it fits into the cupholder in the car. AND it has the Bulldog on it. I was using a Nalgene bottle (remember those?) for a long while, but that did NOT fit in the cupholder. Plus, I like sipping out of this lid better.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Quilting, Running

 

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Three for One!

Winner, Winner! Chicken Dinner! Today’s your lucky day because today you’re getting three posts in one. I’ve got quite a bit to share, so I’m throwing it all together in one ginormous post- I hope you enjoy it all: a running clothes review, recipe and quilting update.

1. Running Clothes Review

I buy almost all my running clothes online from Runningwarehouse.com because they have a huge selection, the best prices and free two day shipping. But, the one thing that’s a drag about buying your clothes online is the missing tactile experience- you can’t feel the fabric, try it on for fit. Luckily, Running Warehouse also has a sweet return/exchange policy, so on the rare occasion something hasn’t worked out it wasn’t a big deal to ship it and swap it. So I would recommend the site 100% to anyone.

That said, I am in love with my most recent purchase and I thought I’d do a bit of a review in case any of my running buddies out there are looking for a good piece of winter gear. I bought the Pearl Izumi Women’s Infiniti Windblocking Hoodie in pink & black. Here I am modeling it (giving my best snooty modeling face):

All the pink is a wind-breaking softshell. I really like the feel of it and it’s been keeping me pretty warm in this 20 degree weather we’ve been having. This hoodie is tiiiight, and I don’t mean snug- it has some really awesome details in the design. Notice how nice and high the collar zips up?

It has a protective wind-flap behind the zipper and at the top so the cold doesn’t seep in.

The sleeves are nice and long AND they have these extra cuffs with thumb holes that you can stretch OVER your gloves for ANOTHER seal against the wind.

This is showing the muff-pocket in front, which is sizeable and there is another equally spacious pocket on the lower back. This is perfect for me because I insist on carrying my cell phone when I go running and all too often designers only include a pocket big enough for a key.

But, wait, here comes the BEST PART!

The hood! Brian tells me I look like someone straight out of TRON, but who cares?! This hood blocks the wind and STAYS ON when I run. But- it gets EVEN BETTER!!! Check this out:

Yep- you are seeing right- there is a pony tail slot in the hood. I really, really like this. It just goes to show that they really thought it through and thought about WOMEN when they were designing this hoodie. I hate it when I see “women’s” winter running hats that have no ponytail hole, when they’ve just taken a men’s hat made it pink and marketed it as specifically designed for women. Well, Pearl Izumi, you got this one right. Be still my geeky running-gear obsessed heart.

Isn’t it amazing how much clothing it takes to gear up for a winter run?! I swear, our washing machine has been running 24/7 and that’s without any running clothes coming from Brian. 4 more weeks until he can run again. Maybe he’ll be so out of shape that I’ll challenge him to a race! HA!I My chances of winning that are slim to none. Here’s my progress on the 1,000 mile challenge:

2. Recipe

We ate this last week and I’ve been meaning to put the recipe up. Say Hello to Jerk Chicken Salad a la Mindy.

This was super-yummy! Here’s what it includes (enough for two salads):
Romaine lettuce
1 can rinsed black beans
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped mango
1-2 sliced scallions
Sprinkling of Sunflower Seeds
1 stove-grilled chicken breast marinated in Jerk (marinade recipe & Jerk seasoning from The Spice House)

This was so good because I’d been feeling like we’d been eating nothing but cheesy casseroles for two weeks. So fresh in the middle of winter without being wimpy. I’ll definitely make this again.

3. Quilt Is a GO!

Look!

I finally chose a pattern for all those pretty fabrics I showed you! It was though finding one because some of the fabrics have a large print. I found an inspiration pattern on Etsy, but decided to just figure it out myself because it’s just a bunch of simple squares. The pattern I found is here. I also didn’t buy it because I want to make it bigger than the sizes Lulu offers, so I figured why buy it when I’m going to have to re-figure it all anyway? My mom suggested I take out the white sashing (in the inspiration pattern), and I’m debating that. Luckily I don’t have to decide until I get all my blocks done.

So far I cut up the fabric and put together two blocks.

I decided to fussy-cut the centers for SOME of the blocks, but not all. I think it’ll look good- now just to get to work putting all the blocks together! I’m going to make it bed-sized to fit the bed in our guest room, so I’m going to make 49 blocks, I think. A 7 column by 7 row square quilt. Another thing to figure out when it’s time to add sashing or not!

Since this will be only the 3rd quilt I’m piecing on my own, I’m still learning. One thing I have to work on is being more precise in my 1/4 inch seam allowance, so I marked it on my machine by taping down a bright ribbon.

This makes it really really easy to keep my seams straight and even because the raw edges of my fabric butt up against the ribbon. Hopefully this little trick will pay off and help make all my blocks the same size.

Phew! I’m excited to really get going on this quilt. I noticed all ladies on the quilting blogs I follow name their quilts (NOT like “oh, I’ll call this one Megan”, but names like “Peppermint Twist” or “Modern Meadow”). These names usually have something to do with the quilt-top pattern, fabric line, or colors. I like this idea- kind of like naming a crayon color, so I think I’ll try it. I’ll have plenty of time to think about it while sitting at the machine…

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Quilting, Recipe, Running

 

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