Monday, July 21, 2014

How Fast it Goes

germany flag

bee

shakespeare and co

lily

tofu

miso

pink rose

follow your arrow

These past few weeks have been flying by! Germany won the World Cup which was awesome! I love my baby lions and I'm so happy they did well.

Without soccer engagements every weekend, I'm feeling at a bit of a loss as to how to spend my time. Just in the past month, I've read The Borrowers and The Borrowers Afield, The Book Thief (so good!), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 (so funny!) and I'm currently reading the first of the Maisie Dobbs Mysteries books (like Downton Abbey but with mysteries!). I've also embroidered a few blocks for my dad's quilt...just 6 left and then I can finish sewing the blocks together.

In the past two weeks, Ian and I have been to two Shakespeare plays, both performed by Shakespeare & Company. They perform at the outdoor stage at Century College not too far outside the city. People bring blankets, chairs, children, dogs, picnic baskets and bug spray. Ian and I always pack a huge assortment of breads, spreads, fruit and everything wonderful. We love the casual, welcoming environment and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every play we've seen over the years. Next weekend we're going to see Molière's: The Bourgeois Gentleman with our friends Karrie and Mike. We're planning a French-themed picnic!

For my birthday I received the Follow Your Arrow shawl pattern from my lovely friend Sara. The thing I love most about this shawl is that it's a choose your own adventure pattern with 32 possible combinations. I also love that shawls starting with different clues turn out so differently. I was originally going to knit the half circle style like Sara's but after looking at everyone's finished shawls, I've slowly become obsessed with the asymmetrical wedge version. It's totally not my style but I'm drawn to it anyway. Plus, I already had the perfect yarn...originally chosen for a sweater but you know how these things go.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Good Summer

plants

radishes

beans

flag

bunting

blankets

fireworks

fireworks2

fireworks4

Ian and I had a lovely 4th of July weekend. We had dinner with friends and walked to the State Capitol grounds to watch the fireworks. It's been a decade or so since they were at the Capitol so it was a special treat.

The last time I even thought about going to see fireworks was the summer of '09 when I made a fireworks-watching quilt and then didn't actually go to see any fireworks. But this year the quilt finally saw some fireworks action.

On my to-do list this summer are two non-project-related items: Read Hemingway, Drink Absinthe. So far I've managed to do a little of both but not enough of either. What I'd really like to do is read Death in the Afternoon while drinking Death in the Afternoon. Both written and invented by Hemingway himself. "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." Oh dear! Methinks I'll have to add "take nap" to the to-do list.

Ian's little container garden is going strong...so far mostly just leaves but so many leaves! And tiny green tomatoes! His community garden plot is coming along too. So far he's harvested a few radishes and a huge bag of Swiss chard. The chard went into beans and greens paired with a grilled vegetable salad. Ian is cooking so many good things these days. Just yesterday we ate coleslaw for lunch. That's it...just coleslaw. We were both stuffed to the brim with tangy, crunchy, sweet and summery coleslaw. It's the first time since I was a kid that I haven't wanted summer to end. All the heat, all the sun...I find little enjoyment in it. But this summer, on our shady little balcony...this one is turning out to be just about right.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Road Trip Daydreams

pink flower

squash

potion

ladies

ladies2

wallpaper

coconut

blocks

blocks2

I had a lovely birthday. The USA lost to Belgium but that's alright. I mostly just enjoyed showing off one of my favorite old haunts. I knew my parents would love the history and 1950's restoration décor. My favorite is the women's lounge. Kittycat wallpaper...be still my heart!

As a birthday gift, Ian made me a coconut infused vodka. He's been infusing vodka with all sorts of things this year: Meyer lemons (from his parent's lemon tree), ginger and even horseradish. So far, everything is really good (although our limoncello remains my favorite)...except the horseradish! I'm just not sure I'll ever learn to love that.

As you can imagine, will all those vodkas, Ian has been concocting some pretty fancy drinks. The digestif in the little glass was made with our Meyer lemon vodka and a bit of dry ice that came in the box of croissants I just ordered. (An aside about croissants: seriously, people...these croissants are SO GOOD! They're made with real butter and you bake them straight from the freezer. They will make your house smell like a French bakery, which is not an exaggeration because they actually come from France. They are worth every penny.)

When I'm not drinking vodka or eating croissants, I've been working on a quilt for my dad. All the blocks are finished and now I'm embroidering the names of places we visited on all our camping trips over the years. The idea came to me a few years ago when I saw the "Happy Campers" print from the Circa60 Beach Mod Collection by Monaluna. This is the first quilt I've made for my dad...three years in the making and hopefully finished in time for Christmas this year.

As much as I struggle to find enjoyment in embroidering, I have enjoyed the memories that each stitch has brought back to me. Tiny bits of adventures keep popping into my head as I work: cliff jumping at Lake Superior, the tornado in North Dakota, the donkeys that ate our pretzels and blocked traffic for three hours (it made the local papers and was totally our fault!), driving to the west coast and back with only three cassette tapes for road-trip music (in case you're curious: one mixed tape I made by recording my favorite songs when they came on the radio (I was 16 and it was 1997 so you can just imagine the gems I had on there), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (staring my mom's fav. Donny Osmond) and a Greatest Hits tape with only one song we all liked: The Cover of the Rolling Stone).

We actually came home with four tapes...I bought Mariah Carey's Daydream one day when we got a flat tire and had to spend a few hours waiting for it to be fixed. And my poor family, upon my insistence, added it to the music rotation for the entire rest of the trip. For that and the many other times that tried my dad's patience (oh god...I just remembered I put MMMBop on that mixed tape!), I will dutifully, nay, cheerfully finish embroidering the last 12 blocks this summer. And listen to Daydream over and over...it's THAT good, people!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Birthday Wish

knitting

plants

vector

tomatoes

grilled

flower2

bunny

rose

It's my birthday today. Thirty three. This afternoon, Ian, my parents and I are going to the Riverview to watch the USA v. Belgium game and then out to dinner. Then after, maybe Ian and I will spend the twilight hour out on the balcony with the cats.

I've been reading The Borrowers on my walks to and from work. Did you read these books when you were growing up? My mom read them to us when we were little, each night a chapter, my brother and I snuggled up in her big bed. I remember the bedside lamp, the white and orange and brown glass lampshade turning the yellow walls and bedspread a cozy shade of amber. And each night we'd live under the floor for a time with Arrietty and Pod and Homily.

Reading these books as an adult has been such a treat. I remember very little about the Clock family's adventures but very much about how they made me feel. How I longed for spool chairs and matchbox drawers and handkerchief sheets. How I dreamed of the world outside Arrietty's grate, to experience the immensity of it all from the perspective of someone so small. Flowers for parasols and hedges as tall as buildings, thistle brooms and wild strawberries. I wanted to find the badger's set more than anything, even though I didn't know what one was.

It all has me thinking about a little cottage in the woods...not much bigger than a boot is to a Borrower. A tiny kitchen with lace curtains and a gingham tablecloth. Or gingham curtains and lace tablecloth...I can't decide! And wildflowers and blackberries and sun falling through shivering leaves. And a candle in the window and a quilt on the bed. Adventures over every hill or beyond every bend in the road. That is my birthday wish...a wish for someday...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Selvedges

selvedges2

rainbow

selvedges

selvedges3

curtain

selvedge blocks

For the past two months, I've been diligently working to cross items off my to-do list. These are mainly small goals that will keep me on track for finishing up holiday gifts, like the grandpa shirt quilts and a quilt for my dad that I started years ago.

By this weekend, I'd finished most of this month's to-do list items and thought that making a few flag quilt blocks wouldn't throw me too off track. And then as I was sewing those, I cut the selvedges off my newest fabrics and added them to my two bins of selvedges. And that made me annoyed that I'm low on storage space in my sewing room and totally out of bins and yet I'm using two of them to store selvedges. And then I thought that if I'd just make a few selvedge blocks for my someday selvedge quilt, I'd be able to free up one of the bins. And that lead to an hour of looking at selvedge quilts on flickr to help me decide on a design.

And an entire day later, I finally finished a couple of selvedge blocks. I will say that making these blocks is super fun! I can't believe I waited so long to give it a try. As I sew each strip to the next, it's so fun to look at the selvedges and remember all the fabrics I've purchased over the years. It also made me feel a little sick about all the fabrics I've purchased over the years. I need to get sewing again and use some of it up.

The good and bad news is: after an entire day of sewing, I have not even put a dent in the pile of selvedges. I'm really curious to see how many 6.5" blocks I can make from my enormous stash. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 23, 2014

World Cup Weekend

soccer

soccer2

flags3

flags1

popcorn

riverview

It was a three day weekend for me and Ian and I spent pretty much all of it watching soccer. We saw the Italy v. Costa Rica game at Merlin's Rest, a pub a little ways from our house. They have a nice screen they pull down for games. We drank cider and ate things with curry on them!

In between games I sewed some flags for my someday flag quilt. So far, so good. My favorite is probably Côte d'Ivoire (bottom left) because of that great green on white print I found at the fabric store this weekend. I put in another order to Hawthorne Threads, this time for white on white fabrics. I don't really want to have any solid white in the blocks since I'm planning white sashing.

Last night Ian and I went to the Riverview Theater to watch the USA v. Portugal game. What a heartbreaker! It was so exciting to be in a packed theater eating popcorn and watching the game. And it was a good game and we tied and we're not out yet...but still. If only the game had ended one minute earlier! The best part of the whole game (aside from our two goals) was when Cristiano Ronaldo
was pouting. Which was pretty much the entire game. ...sigh...so adorable...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Lazy June

black beans

Extra Cat

bouquet3

fabric

It has been a lazy June so far. I walk home from work, some days are sunny, some cloudy, most are hot. When I get home, Ian is usually already cooking fabulous dinners and we eat out on the balcony.

Extra Cat loves to come outside with us and is trying so very hard to be good. But she can't be good for long because she likes to squeeze underneath the railing to sit on the very edge of the balcony. Or jump up on the railing. Both are terrifying to watch and so we pluck her fluffy squirmy body from certain doom and put her back in the house. And then she looks at us through the window and it is so sad.

Mostly, though, Ian and I have been watching World Cup soccer! If you recall from four years ago, I am completely in LOVE with World Cup soccer. My favorite teams this year are the powerful and gloriously ponytailed Italians, the golden and beautiful baby lions of Germany, and the chiseled and triangle-torsoed team from the Côte d'Ivoire.

If it sounds like I'm mostly into soccer for the hot guys, you'd mostly be right. But I do enjoy the games and the suspense and the watching guys running and the skintight shirts and...wait...what?

Watching the games has put me in the mood to make more flag quilts...only instead of mini quilts, I want to make one huge quilt with all the flags. I had zero cobalt blue fabrics in my stash so I used the Hawthorne Threads color grid to help me pick. I'm very much looking forward to watching the games and making some flags this weekend.

Are you at all into the World Cup? Which is your favorite team? Did you see the one where it was raining and it was like a two hour wet t-shirt contest? That was a good game...