Friday, September 23, 2016

Dusk mosaic #2

I couldn't figure out how to do two images on the contest link thing, so here is part 2

Dusk Mosaic Contest

The other day my older son showed me a list of questions his class was supposed to use for a writing exercise, but didn't have to because they were "impossible!"  I thought they were lovely.  My favorite was "Which is louder, sunrise or sunset?"  That question has tickled me every time I've seen either this week, so I definitely wanted to participate in Stitched in Color's Dusk mosaic contest.

My entries:

1- Shouting sunset:  our sunsets have been glorious and assertive lately.  The eastern half of the sky will be dark, while the sun spills loud bright golds and reds in the west:

2 - Whisper sunset:  for the time after the sun has dipped below the horizon, but its fading light still colors the sky.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Finished #quiltsforpulse top

The Friday before the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, my husband and I went to a concert.  My husband is the concert enthusiast in our marriage, I tag along because I enjoy his company.  I have a love/hate relationship with concerts.  With a few notable exceptions (looking at you Brian Fallon -- RIP Gaslight Anthem -- and The National), I don't really like any one group enough to want to listen to it for that long, that loud, with people I don't know at all spilling drinks on me and "accidentally" grabbing my breasts when they "stumble" while holding a one-person mosh party in a crowded venue.  I especially have trouble enjoying the opening bands, who are often more miss than hit.  This is a problem with me, not them.

Long way of saying I did not have high expectations when we mistimed our arrival at the venue and did not miss the opening band.  Best mistake ever.  The opening band was Told Slant, and they were awesome.   After a few songs I told my husband I was really glad we came early.  A few more, I told him I was going to buy their t-shirt at the break.  At the end of the set, I told him to buy the album when we got home, please.

So then there was the most deadly mass shooting in the US.  I learned through a post on the Stash Bee that the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild was collecting heart blocks to make quilts for the survivors, victim's families, and first responders.  The blocks were easy, so I made a few.  Then I made a few more.  Then I decided that they were so easy I should just make a whole top.  Told Slant's first album, Still Water, was playing on an almost uninterrupted loop every time I sat down to sew.  The music fit the project.

A line on one track says "I hope your sister grows up, and thinks that the world is beautiful."  My middle child happened to walk into the room once when that line played.  He looked at me very earnestly and informed me that "actually mommy, the world is beautiful."  My daughter, who is now 4, saw all the hearts on my design wall, and said that they were pretty, and "I sure do like that quilt!"  That is her way of hinting that she sure would like the thing for herself.  When I just thanked her for her compliment, she gave up hinting and just directly asked who it was for.  I explained the quilt drive.  She got quiet, and said "what were their names?"  We looked up the names and pictures of each of the victims - I thought she'd want to stop after a few, but she looked at every single person.

So now my quilt top is done.  But of course there has been another shooting, in the city where I live, and another albeit smaller, quilt drive.  And the lyrics from another song from the album seem appropriate:

there is no one way the world should be 
because we all get bored of all our favorite things 
and I don't mind that you are not like me 
because I don't feel like I'm a lot like me

Sunday, June 19, 2016


A fellow member of Stashbee 2016 posted about the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild's Quilts for Pulse quilt drive.  More details here.  At first I was going to sign up as an individual and send a few blocks, but I decided to take the plunge and join the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild and send mine along with their donations.  I hope to be able to complete a full top, but we'll see!

I started with the paper-piecing templates from don't call me Betsy, because I love paper piecing.  I learned, however, that I much prefer smaller scale paper piecing.  Since I do not actually mind the stitch and flip of the original, I went back to the original tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew.  As I was cutting the corner pieces, I realized that the paper templates and the stitch-and-flip tutorial use different sizes for the corners.  No biggie, I just measured the templates, and used a 2.5 inch square for the smaller pieces, rather than 2 inches.

My goal is to make 4 blocks each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, and 6 rainbow blocks, for a final quilt that is 6 blocks by 5 blocks.  For each color I am doing one block as patchwork or stripes, rather than just a straight cut of fabric.  We'll see - the improv patchwork I did for the purple and orange took longer than I imagined it would.

Here's what I have so far - I just stuck them up as I made them - I'll arrange them into vaguely rainbow order when they are all done.  I think I will also end up scrapping the red on the upper left.  The strips ended up wonky from one side to another.  I stuck it up there hoping it would grow on me, but it isn't.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Birds and Clouds

When we bought this house, we told the boys they would be able to choose the paint colors for their rooms, within reason.  My older son went back and forth with a few different choices, from golden to turquoise to black (vetoed by mom and dad).  When I was looking for stencils for my daughter's room, my older son decided he wanted something stenciled in his room too.  He ultimately decided on having birds on his ceiling, using this stencil set from Cutting Edge Stencils.  Of course he wanted the clouds too.  There's no stencil for that.  But I'm a sucker, so I said I'd try.

Step 1:  Let child choose wall color.  My child wanted green, because if the ceiling was going to be blue for the sky, of course the walls needed to be green for the trees.  He went with Green Energy, by Behr.

Step 2:  Paint walls.  Curse the texture on them again, as it makes it really difficult not to get wall paint on the ceiling.

Step 3:  Stand back and admire, and cross your fingers that your kid will be so happy with the new wall color, that he forgets all about painting the ceiling and doing clouds and birds.

Step 4:  Admire your kid's tenacity and determination.

Step 5:  Choose ceiling color.  We went with something called something like "blue skies" from Sherwin Williams.  It seemed appropriate.  Figure that as one gallon was more than enough for all four walls, one quart will be sufficient for the ceiling.

Step 6:  Realize that assumption made in step 5 was wrong, and run out of paint 2 hours after paint store closes.

Step 7:  Buy more paint, which won't quite match the first quart because you go to Home Depot instead of the local paint store since the local paint store is closed on Sundays and there is no way you are leaving the ceiling 75% done.  

Step 8:  Rationalize that the sky isn't uniform, and any slight variation is fine, or can be covered up with clouds.

Step 9:  Google "how to paint clouds on a ceiling."  Watch a few tutorials, and realize that the existing tutorials fall into two camps.  First, people who are just winging it, and it's turning out just fine.  Second, people who actually know what they are doing, have artistic talent, and whose results I will never be able to duplicate because I lack those two characteristics.

Step 10:  Buy paint sponges, mix up various blue and grey paints, and just start dabbing it randomly on the ceiling, forming rough cloud shapes.

Step 11:  Curse as small pieces of the sponge break off and land in your eyes.

Step 12:  Have child come in to check how things are going, and request a cloud that looks like a creeper from Minecraft.  Attempt to fulfill request, but realize that you don't really know what a creeper looks like.  Explain to child that finding objects in clouds is more of an exercise in imagination than one in precision.

Step 13:  Tape bird stencils to ceiling and try out using the small roller to apply the paint.

Step 14:  Go back to old method of dabbing paint on with a stencil brush, after roller causes paint to be pushed behind the stencil, resulting in birds with no heads.

(See the bird on the far right?  No head.)

Step 15:  Watch child be happy with ceiling.

Step 16:  Pretend you can't hear when child asks when you're going to start the trees on the walls.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I was working from home on Monday.  My husband was home too, because he hurt his knee at a soccer game and couldn't walk (MRI today, discuss options with the orthopedist on Friday).  I wondered vaguely around noon how the Boston Marathon went.  I never really watched much of it in person, despite attending undergrad at Boston College, which is right along the race route, and living there for around four years after law school.  One year we took our son (then an only child) to the Red Sox game the afternoon of the race.  For some reason I know longer remember, we got off the T near Copley, and walked to Fenway.  Part of our walk was along the end of the race route, and my son clapped for all of the runners.  I never went to work on Marathon Monday (a/k/a/ Patriot's Day), preferring to avoid the mess of traffic on the T.  I remember you'd see people all around town that day though, wrapped in the mylar blankets you get at the finish line, finisher's medals around their necks, and pride on their faces. 

In February, we went to Austin to cheer my husband on in his first marathon.  The kids and I made posters the night before, and plotted where we would try to get to see him; we wanted to go to at least 4 places, we made it to 4 1/2.  My husband was worried the kids would be bored; they weren't.  The only real complaints from them were when we were waiting for a Starbucks to open at 6 a.m.  My oldest son was worried we would be late, and miss his dad running by.  We found a parking spot right along the route, around mile 4, and waited, and waited, and waited.  I had downloaded the Marathon's app, which would notify us when my husband reached the 5k marker so we could keep a sharper lookout.  The kids drank their hot cocoa, ate their pastries, and cheered wildly when we saw the first runners.  They held their posters up, and cheered and clapped for everyone running by.  When they saw their dad, they were ecstatic.  After he ran by, we packed the car up, and headed to our next spot.  We repeated this for four stops, always managing to find a parking spot within a block walk of the race, finding other spectators to cheer and yell with, and people to laugh at the zombie poster my older son made to "scare" the runners into going faster. 

The 1/2 stop was the finish line.  I'd read the marathon map incorrectly, and managed to end up on the inside of the race route, when I'd wanted to stay on the outside.  That meant that instead of a relatively quick run down 1-35 to downtown, I had to wind my way by the University of Texas campus, and try to find parking downtown.  I ended up parking about 4 blocks from the finish line, and we all ran as fast as my 4 year old's legs could carry him.  When we were half a block away, we got a "Finished!" text from my husband.  In that instant, I was so incredibly happy for and proud of him, and so disappointed that we missed it.   

There's never a good place for a bomb to explode.  Having one explode at the end of a popular marathon route seems so especially painful to me right now, because of how easily I can see it be my family, or the family or friends of any of the runners I know.  The happiness, pride, and energy that surround a marathon seem so purely good, and someone tried to destroy that.  It makes me want to run a marathon in defiance, but then I don't even know what that even means.  The person who did this doesn't know me, won't know if I run to spite him, so does it matter?  I think I still want to do it.  But I'll also donate money to the relief funds, and keep on donating blood every 8 weeks, and try to remember to not just look for the helpers, but be a helper.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Flowers Everywhere

There has been an explosion of flowers in my daughter's room.

It all started on black Friday.  I hadn't intended on going shopping that day, but we finally decided on two potential colors for the study, and I wanted to get test pots so we could think think about it with the actual colors on the wall.  While I was waiting for the test pots to mix, I noticed a box of free mini Glidden samples, with a sign that said "Free!"  There weren't many left, but I was intrigued by a dark purple one.  There were three bottles, and I took them all. I had been wanting to do a stencil pattern in my daughter's room, and thought that the free sample pots were perfect - I'd just have to decide on a stencil.  Deciding was more difficult than I thought it would be, as my husband decided to have an opinion.  Darn it.  He liked a lot of the same stencils I did, but not, he said, for a little girl's room.  He said I was skewing too old.  Bah.

Because his opinion does count too, I made a concerted effort to think like a two year old, and narrowed it down to two; one with butterflies, another with flowers.  The winner was Daisy Crazy #1 from Cutting Edge Stencils.  I also bought some stencil brushes. 

I had been picking up sample pots from Home Depot's "oops" paint shelf (which has totally disappeared from my local store [/sad]), but realized as I was setting them all out that I didn't really want a dozen different colors in there.  I decided to go with the original free purple test bottles, a blue, and then I mixed up leftover red paint from the front door with leftover white paint from my son's desk.

Yay for getting started!

My older son was really eager to help out.  I was concerned, as his idea of helping paint walls usually involves glopping as much paint as possible onto the brush, and flinging it at the wall.  Not exactly the technique I was hoping to use for the stencils.  I told him he could help though, if he let me put the paint on the brush.  He promised to do "quality work." (Thank you first grade teachers everywhere!)  I did the first one, the smallest stencil, to show him how to carefully do it.

I just used painter's tape to keep the stencil on the wall.  I was a bit worried as our walls are textured, but had forgotten to pick up a bottle of craft adhesive, so thought I'd take a chance with the small stencil to see how it worked.  It worked well for the smaller stencil, and actually for the largest one too, but for the medium one, the points around the middle of the stencil tended to want to curl up.  I also think the spray adhesive would have made doing stencils around corners or on the edges easier.  We made do with tape though, and it worked fine.

Of course my son didn't want to do the small one.  He grabbed the biggest one, with small fussy sections for his first.  He did a great job though; he let me load the brush with paint, and carefully dabbed the brush up and down to get the paint on the wall.

He also got bored after doing two or three.

After putting a bunch of pink and blue flowers up, I turned to the purple.  The beautiful purple that started this whole project.  I noticed when I poured the paint onto the plate I was using that the Glidden was a lot runnier than the Behr paint that I used for the other colors.  I was also worried that the purple was a lot darker than the pink and blue, but thought I'd put one up on the wall just to see how it would look.  I used the small stencil so that if it didn't turn out well, I could cover it with the medium stencil.  Good plan, as it did not turn out well.  No matter how little paint I put on the brush, and how carefully I tried to go around the edges, the paint was so runny it went all over.  The dark color and runny consistency combined to make the paint job look blotchy with just one coat.  But more coats was not what I was looking for when stenciling, as it was just more opportunity for the paint to bleed around the edges.  Purple paint fail.  But of course, I had to try again.  Just in case the first one was a fluke.  It wasn't.

But I really wanted purple!  I looked through the other sample pots I had, and thought I had enough blues and reds to make purple, but I really wanted a lighter purple.  I mixed more of the red, a blue, and a light grey blue and finally got a purple I was happy with.  The light grey blue was also from Glidden, and also fairly runny, but not as runny as the original purple.  The resulting paint was thinner than the Behr, but not so much that it was bleeding everywhere.

I finished the first wall, and decided to do the whole room, rather than just one accent wall.  Because I decided to do the whole room, I had some of the flowers go around corners, or go off the edge of the wall.  The stencil material is pretty flexible, so it just took some bending and smushing to get it in place.  The adhesive might have been helpful here, as the painters tape on the edges didn't really help hold the parts along the wall contours very well, and I ended up holding those sections to the wall with one hand, while painting with the other.

As I worked around the room, I kept coming back to some sections, thinking they needed another blue to balance it out, or a big pink one there, or maybe some more purple in that corner.  Before I knew it, the walls were covered, and there are probably a few more flowers than are strictly necessary.  Lesson learned. Next time I plan random placement of stencils, I'll do a bit more planning of the randomness.  My daughter loves it though!