30 April 2009

A good movie

This week Corey and I watched (rented on DVD) "Henry Poole is Here." 

In short - it's one of my new favorite movies. 

What is is about, you ask? According to imdb.com, "Henry Poole moves in to a house in his old neighborhood, to spend what he believes are his remaining days alone. The discovery of a 'miracle' by a nosy neighbor ruptures his solitude and restores his faith in life." It stars Luke Wilson, as Henry Poole. 

I am impressed with the timeless "gotta have faith" message in the film. It's touching and empowering without being overbearing or cheesy. The cover doesn't do it any justice, so don't judge it by that. 

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Oh and it's rated PG, so it's great for the whole family.

29 April 2009

Join in the fun - it's a quilt along

As if I don't have enough quilting projects going right now, I decided to join Amanda's nine-patch quilt along (crazymomquilts). I think it will be very manageable - only one block a day!

I'm going to make this one with all red and green fabrics, with white sashing (the same color combinations as this tree skirt I made).

Quilted tree skirt completed

It will be a Christmas quilt. I've always wanted a quilt dedicated to Christmas. What could be better to snuggle under on a snowy December day?

If I stick to the plan (I'm already three blocks behind - eeek) I'll have enough blocks for the quilt top by mid summer. Yippee!

If you'd like to keep tabs on our quilt along group, visit our Flickr page.

Update @ 9:30 pm
I have my first three blocks done! yay I'm in the game!

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27 April 2009

A little trip to the fabric store and a new friend

I made a decision. Well, kinda. 

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My next quilt will include these fabrics (I even started cutting them - yippee!). It'll be very colorful. I'm still deciding if I want the blocks to be composed of nine squares or 16 squares. It will roughly resemble this quilt (with blocks of nine squares) or this quilt (with blocks of 16 squares). I think will use either the Alexander Henry pears and apples or the numbers for most of the backing (I adore both fabrics too much to decide right now - maybe both?). The blocks will each be one color collection - either blue/purple, yellow/orange, aqua/green, or red/pink. Each of the little squares will be cut to 2.25 inches square and the final block will be bordered in white.

As you can see, my yellow/orange collection was very lacking so I made a quick trip to the Bismarck, ND, Quilt Haus to stock up. Thankfully, I did find a few to beef up my collection :)

While at the Quilt Haus, I met Vicki, of WillowBerry Lane. I felt like it was a celebrity sighting - a real live fabric and pattern designer! She's (one of the lucky ones) going to the Quilt Market in a few weeks and needed some help finishing a few sample quilts. I was so honored to be asked! I'm making the Baskets in Bloom wall hanging.

25 April 2009

Sunny slacker Saturday

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Today is Saturday and it is sunny. I'm happy to see the sun again because it snowed yesterday. Yes, the white cold stuff. It was kind of crazy since Thursday was sunny and 80°F, then on Friday it snowed.

In honor of the warn sunshine, today while doing laundry I rigged up a temporary clothes line by tying string between the supports of our backyard arbor. I hung our sheets to dry in the sun and hung the comforter to fluff up in the breeze. I think they'll smell great when we crawl into bed tonight.

With all the spring to-do's around the house I've been a quilting slacker. So until I finish the quilt that I'm currently quilting, I'll show off some of my past projects.

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This one is definitely my (ahem) brightest creation. The pattern is from this book (one of my favorites). It's a large throw ... about 57x72 inches. The blocks are 8 inches (8.5 with seam allowance).

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I think I made it in 2005. Unfortunately, I didn't label it (bad bad bad) so I'm not sure exactly when it was made. This quilt is kinda funny - some people see it and like it and others think it's rather ugly. I like that about it. 

I'm going to get back to quilting this afternoon so hopefully I'll have something new to show off soon.

22 April 2009

Just keep quilting ... just keep quilting ...

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I'm busy quilting good 'ol "red white and black all over." I'm quilting it with straight-line spirals in each block. I think it'll look pretty cool when it's done. I'm about 30 percent finished with the quilting.

It never fails. At this point in finishing a quilt I get super excited to start the next one. I'm thinking about a fun spring colors quilt. Maybe greens, blues and pinks. Lately I've seen lots of quilts with a similar design to this. Some have white borders (as that one does) and some don't. I like the simplicity and how it displays fabric well. I can't wait to get started!

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In weather news - I mowed our lawn today (the first time it has been mowed this year). It wasn't really 'lawn' per-se, but rather a bunch of dead grass, lots and lots of dust, and some leaves. But, its gotta start somewhere. Some day soon it'll be fresh and green. 

That's yet another interesting thing about living in North Dakota (or I suppose anywhere where the winters are long and cold). Every winter, the grass in North Dakota becomes completely dormant, or as I say, it dies. In the spring, the grass grows back and is what I call "baby grass" — it's soft, new and bright green. Compared to my parents' lawn in Northern California, which grows year-round, ours is very different. I won't pretend to know all about the varieties of grass, but I assume they are also quite different.

Okay enough of my lawn ramblings. I guess I'm just excited it's not snowing.

Happy spring!

20 April 2009

Black, white and red all over

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This poor quilt has been a work in progress for way too long and I have changed my plan for its finished size too many times to count.

Last time I posted about this quilt I wasn't sure if I liked the look of the blocks with or without a white border. Obviously I settled on both - some with and some without.

I also decided on a wall hanging versus a throw quilt. I made this the width of a quilt bed (approximately 58 inches), and plan to hang it above the headboard in out guest bedroom. I have quite a bit of the fabric left and decided the large print fabric might be better suited for other projects.

This is another improvisationally-pieced quilt for Project Improv - no pattern, no rules. Just lots of sewing and creativity.

Any ideas for quilting it?

Easter 2009

After reading the wonderfully thoughtful comments about my Six Crosses quilt, I realized that I never posted about Easter and my confirmation.

I could never even begin to explain and describe all the wonderful details of the day so I'll try and touch on a few of the highlights.

The Mass when I became an official member of the Catholic community was at 9 pm on Saturday, April 11. That afternoon and evening, Corey and I hosted an open house at our home. It was a great evening of fun and celebration. Thank you to all our friends and family who joined us (and helped prepare food). At about 8:30 pm, we headed to the church. It was fairly mild outside, so Corey and I walked - it was such a peaceful and relaxing journey to church. 

I was one of five people being confirmed at the service. The Holy Saturday Catholic Mass consists of many different parts and was about two hours long at our church. It was a beautiful Mass - lots of candles, lots of singing, blessing of the Holy Water and fire. After Mass, Ascension Parish (our church) hosted a breakfast (yes, at 11 pm). Although it was well past my bedtime, it was lots of fun.

This was such a special day and one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

I have to apologize - I was so busy that day I forgot to take any photos. Thanks to my bonus mom, Andrea for snapping a few for me :)

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Before Mass: my Grandparents (Darwin and Irene), my sister (Caitlyn), me, and Corey

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At breakfast: my bonus parents (Corey's parents - Andrea and Gary), me, and Corey

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At breakfast: my grandparent's best friends (Rick and Rosemary), me, and Corey

19 April 2009

Porch swing makeover

One of the best decisions I ever made: purchase a house with a porch. 

I love our front porch. A few years ago, my dad and grandpa helped me install a porch swing. I had always wanted a porch swing but I wasn't quite sure why. Now I definitely know why. 

Sitting on a porch swing is incredibly relaxing and also quite fun. Every little kid that come up to our porch asks to sit on the swing. It's neat. Our porch is covered and sheltered on two sides, so it's the perfect way to enjoy being outside without getting sunburned or windblown. It's also fun to sit on it during a thunderstorm - a great storm watching spot.


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Anyway, as you can probably imagine, yet another reason I'm excited for spring and summer is because I can sit on the porch swing. This weekend I cleaned up the swing since it had gotten quite dirty being out in the elements all winter. Today I put the seat cushion on. 

Hmph. The seat cushion just didn't do it for me.

So I recovered it.

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Added bonus: I got a steal on all-weather clearance fabric at Joann's today. 

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I made it a pocket cover, so it is easily removable and washable. I may add buttons to this side later.

18 April 2009

Gone. And a winner!

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The snow is gone.

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Every last pile, ball and flake. All gone.

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There are even little blades of green grass starting to grow.

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It's been a fast journey and fun game. 

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I'm actually surprised that it only took 16 days for our mountains of snow to melt away.

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Nobody picked today ... or yesterday ... or tomorrow. But, my Grandma Katy's friend, Cricket picked Monday, April 20 - so I made the executive decision that she is the winner! Congratulations!

17 April 2009

Quilt Festival 2009: my entry

I'm participating in a virtual quilt festival hosted by Amy (Park City Girl). Visit her blog and click on some of the other quilters. There are many beautiful and amazing quilts.

six crosses finished

Six Crosses
I started this quilt shortly after completing my first Right of Christian Initiation in Adults (RCIA) course (in January 2009). I wanted to create something that represented my journey through the process to become Catholic.

Each of the six crosses are made using tiny scraps of quilting fabric, sewn improvisationally. The six crosses represent the six RCIA courses I will be completing from January to April, 2009. No pattern was used in the construction of this quilt.

six crosses - close up

16 April 2009

Pillows and food: a lovely pair

There's a designer (Orla Kiely) who just so happens to make some great fabrics (and clothes and dishes and purses) and just so happens to have a beautiful line of dishtowels at Target that (just so conveniently) can be sewn together to make beautiful throw pillow covers. 

Just my kind of project.

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So ... I bought the dish towels (one pair makes one 14x14 inch pillow). And followed this pattern (pdf).

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And viola!
The front is the green/white/brown pear fabric, the back is the solid green pear fabric.
Orla Kiely makes other dish towel designs but these matched our living room the best.

The pattern is very easy and very fast - I made two covers in about an hour.

While I was sewing, my mom called and told me about a great article in the May 2o09 issue of Bon App├ętit magazine. 
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I just so happen to have a subscription to that magazine (pure luck - I only get three magazines - two about quilting and this one). 

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Anyway ... there's a great article in it about the best things to eat and drink in each state. 

Let's check out North Dakota.

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This is so exciting!
It says "what to buy: chocolate covered potato chips from Carol Wideman's Candy Co." I have to agree with this. I've had them and they are good. And I don't even like chocolate. It continues with "what to eat: knoephla soup at Fried's Family Restaurant." The sky is falling! Fried's! Little old Fried's - in a real live MAGAZINE! What is this world coming to?!

I love eating at Fried's. If you've been to Fried's, you know. Fried's is a very hometown type of diner with a super casual trucker/farmer like client base. The "ambience" (if you can call it that) is country crafty and the food ... oh the food. Let's just say I really like this place. This is the prime example of a locals hangout - except that many of the locals don't even know about it. I guess it's more of a neighborhood thing? I only know about it because my grandparents live about a block away. And yes, the review is right - the knoephla soup is excellent. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, this fall Fried's had a pipe break and the restaurant flooded. They've been closed ever since - but word on the street is that they will be opening soon. I can hardly wait. Yippee Fried's!

Oh, and it's pronounced free'd not fry'd :)

14 April 2009

Going ... going ... almost gone

before after - April 13
It's another "hot" day again today (it was in the mid 60s yesterday). Will there be any snow left this evening?

I can't describe how wonderful the sunshine feels. After work yesterday I got into my car, and for the first time since September, it was warmer inside my car than outside it. I sat there for a few minutes just soaking up the heat.

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In Bismarck (and I assume most northern midwest cities and towns), when spring hits, it's as if the town wakes up from a long hibernation. Yesterday, everywhere I went I saw sidewalks crowded with people walking, running, and biking. Kids finally getting a chance to ride their Christmas bicycles. People raking the fall leaves that got trapped under mountains of snow. Neighbors trying to figure out what to do with all their sandbags. Yes, the city is finally awake!

On Easter morning I woke up to the sound of birds. I was instantly happy for the rest of the day.

I was walking around our yard yesterday and was baffled at how flat and empty our lawn looks. It reminded me of the feeling after removing a big piece of furniture from a room and the amazement of the space that is created. I had this feeling. Now that most of the snow has melted, and our grass is matted down (and is a very ugly shade of brown), our yard looks very peculiar. It's so flat! Like something missing. Hmm. I think I prefer it this way.

Today we're in the low 70s, with a clear blue sky, and a light breeze. Simply beautiful. This temperature puts us about 10 degrees above the high temperature today in Santa Rosa, CA. Ha ha. Go figure.

---

It's (obviously) easy for me to get wrapped up in the fun and joy of warm weather, but all the while I can't help but pray for the thousands of people in North Dakota that are still very much affected by the flooding. I can't even begin to try to list all the communities ... but I'll try ... Valley City, ND, evacuated about half of the homes, including my bonus brother Andrew; Linton, ND is in danger of flooding again; so is Beulah, ND; Apple Creek (in Bismarck) is well over its banks and is threatening many homes and had closed quite a few roads; homes in Minot have been threatened by the river there; the interstate was closed (again) from Bismarck to Jamestown and is flooded in many areas; Fargo is expected to have another river crest ....

See what I mean? It's crazy. And very sad.

12 April 2009

Come Hell or High Water

I'll post a Easter weekend wrap up soon, but before I do, I must caution everyone against watching "Come Hell or High Water."

Tonight, Corey and I decided to relax and unwind by watching a rental movie. We each picked one - I picked "Chronicles of Narnia" and Corey picked "Come Hell or High Water." We decided to watch Corey's movie tonight ... or shall I say we decided to attempt to watch it. 

It's supposed to be a western. Corey's on a western kick so he was pretty excited to see it. First,  it is labeled as a BluRay DVD but it's worse quality then most regular DVDs. Secondly, the acting and story are on par with a low-budget high school play (no offense to high school plays, but when I rent a DVD I expect a bit more, ya know?). Seriously. It's so horrible. We only got about 17 minutes into the movie before turning it off. Please, I beg you, don't waste your money.

We were both wondering if maybe the disc got switched with another one or if we were being punked. So I did some googling.

The reviews are quite entertaining. This one cracks me up. I totally agree.

Good to know we're not the only ones who think this movie stinks.

P.S. this weekend was AWESOME!!!

P.S.S. yes, we still have snow.

10 April 2009

Happy Easter!

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This is our Easter tree. I guess it could be called a family heirloom ... all the ornaments were mine and my sister's when were were little girls. They're all so darling. Lots of little bunnies.

Saturday evening we'll have a full house of guests for my open house and then we'll head to Mass for my confirmation. I'm going to be Catholic! I'm really excited :)

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Tonight we decorated eggs. As always, it was lots of fun. We tried a "magic glitter" kit. It did add sparkle, but it wasn't quite "magical" ha.  I let the fun marketing lure me in. Go figure.

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The Sisters of Annunciation Monastery (the sponsors of the University of Mary) had a recipe for hot cross buns. I decided to try it and ooh are they good. I'm still in shock that I actually made bread. Check out the recipe and story behind the buns on Bison Girl Cooks.

Going ... going ...

Not quite gone but the snow is definitely going down. 

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With all the melting snow comes lots of water. It's draining quite well.

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Wow, check out how low the snow level is! I took the April 9 photo yesterday after work and shortly after that, the temperature dropped down below freezing, so it looks the same today (so far).

09 April 2009

Finally back in action

I'd been itching to get into my sewing room again. So last night, after Corey went to bed (early because he wasn't feeling well), I tip-toed down to my sewing room. I didn't have much time to dive into a quilt project, so I whipped-up a ....

... Yoga Mat Carrying Strap

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Yesterday after work we had our weekly yoga session. Sister Kathleen didn't have a strap to cary her yoga mat, so it kept shifting and coming unraveled. What a bummer. By pure good luck, I stumbled across this pattern yesterday.

So that's what I made. And boy is it cute - and super easy too!

I think I'll make one for myself and trash the shoe-string strap that came with my yoga mat.

07 April 2009

The sun will come out tomorrow

"Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun!" – Annie

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The forecast is looking great ... unless, of course, if you are a snowman. It was 44°F today and will be partly sunny and in the mid 40s again tomorrow. By Saturday it's supposed to be 54! Wowie zowie. That sounds like great Easter weather.

So how's that snow coming along, you ask?

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This was our side yard at 5:30 p.m. today. Yes, I managed to save a few sandbags. I'm the paranoid type.

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And the back yard. Look, there is grass peeking though. It's brown grass, but at this point, I'll take anything that's not white and wet.

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I spy some green! This is snow on the mountain - it's super hearty and makes a great ground cover.

before after
In case you're a visual learner like me, here's a little comparison of today's snow level with April 2. Lots of the snow melted but we still have a long way to go.

04 April 2009

Pick a day, any day

Voting for "guess when our yard will be free of snow" doesn't close until tomorrow (Sunday) at 11:59 pm. So get your vote in.

Thanks for your votes everyone! This is going to be fun :)

It was getting kinda confusing figuring out what days were available, so I made some calendars to show the chosen dates. The dates with blue dots are already taken. There are still many open dates! Vote today!

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may snow 1
june snow 1

Just another Saturday ...

You know ... like every weekend ... moving sandbags and having my art displayed.

It's a strange day for sure.

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My quilt, Six Crosses, is on display today at the Artists Celebrating Christ Art Show.

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It's flattering being part of the show. There are so many amazing pieces of artwork and my little Six Crosses quilt is hanging out with them. I think that's neat.

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Corey is busy removing our sand bag wall. The Missouri River is back to it's normal level (finally) and we're told that there is no longer a threat of flooding. Luckily, we know two folks who want the sand in our sand bags, so Corey helps them load them up and they get free sandbags. What a deal :) Turns out we had a lot of sand bags - six truck loads full.

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Speaking of sand bags - check out this blog that does a great job comparing the Fargo sand bag effort to the space that they make up. It's really neat.

I'm slowly getting my quilt room put back together. I'm super anxious to get back to quilting.

02 April 2009

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Since it is April and the snow is still here (and in abundance), we're going to have some fun with it.

Let's play 'when will the snow be gone?'

It's quite easy ... just leave a comment with your name and when you think my yard will be completely clear of snow and ice. My best guess would be July 29. Haha. Just kidding. Or at least I hope I'm kidding.

Please play along. The more the merrier. There is even a prize! If someone guesses the exact day, on the nose, they will win their very own, brand new copy of The Children's Blizzard. I'm about 80 pages into the book and it's great.

Here are some photos I took about 30 minutes ago to document the snow depth.

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The front yard snow pile. Thanks to shoveling and snow blowing our driveway, it's quite dense.

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The deepest area of snow - the back corner. Measuring in at 48 inches deep.

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The back yard tundra.

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This spot is a measly six inches deep.

Thanks to my sister Caitlyn for being the official snow measurer.

One vote per person. One date per person, so if two people pick the same day, the first voter wins. Cut off date for voting is this Sunday, April 5, at 11:59 pm.

I do allow cheating, so if you'd like to come over and take away all our snow, that would be totally OK. Actually, please do that.